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Treat your guests to warm-baked goodness with a gorgeous bread ring that combines sweet bits of fruit with savory nuts—and is easier to make than you think!
1 pkg. (3/4 oz.) active dry yeast
1/2 cup, plus 1 tsp. granulated sugar, divided
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, at room temp. and divided
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups flour, divided
1/2 tsp. salt
2 large egg yolks
1 orange, zested, juiced and divided
1 cup dried cranberries and/or apricots, chopped
3/4 cup finely chopped almonds
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1 cup powdered sugar
*1. *In bowl, combine yeast, 1 tsp. sugar and 1/4 cup warm water. Cover; let sit 10 min. or until foamy, stirring once. In pot over medium heat, cook milk, 1/4 cup butter and 1/2 cup sugar 2 min. or until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla extract.
2. In mixer fitted with paddle attachment on low speed, beat 2 cups flour, salt, yolks and milk mixture 1 min. Add yeast mixture and 1 cup flour. Beat 2 min. or until smooth dough forms. Transfer to large greased bowl; cover with plastic wrap. In warm place, let rise 1 1/2 hrs. or until doubled in size.
*3. *Heat oven to 350°F. In bowl, mix 1 Tbs. orange zest and next 3 ingredients. On work surface, roll out dough to 30" x 14" rectangle; spread with 1/4 cup butter. Sprinkle with fruit mixture. Starting at long edge, roll into log.
*4. *Create wreath as shown in the photographs below.
First, place rolled dough log seam side down on work surface. Cut log in half lengthwise.
Next, twist dough pieces together, turning each half to keep the cut side facing up.
Then carefully shape twisted dough into wreath, securing ends by pinching together.
*5. *Place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 30 min. or until golden, covering with foil if dough browns too quickly. In bowl, blend powdered sugar and 1 Tbs. orange juice, adding more juice if needed. Drizzle over warm bread.
For an easy variation…make it a cinnamon ring: Simply omit the dried cranberries, swap out the ground cardamom for 2 tsp. of cinnamon and use 1 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts instead of the finely chopped almonds.
*Active time: *20 min.
*Total time: *3 hrs.