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Catholic Recipe: Twelfth Night Bread I

    INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 3 tablespoons warm water (105-115 degrees)
  • 1/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 2-2 1/2 cups flour
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • Confectioners' Icing
  • additional nuts and candied cherries Filling
  • 1/2 cup candied cherries
  • 1/3 cup chopped Brazil nuts or walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
  • Details

  • Yield: 1 cake
  • Prep Time: 3 1/2 hours
  • Difficulty: • •
  • Cost: $$$$
  • For Ages: 15+
  • Origin: England

Since Twelfth Night concludes the Christmas holidays, people traditionally have marked it with a big party closing the season. The Twelfth Night revels in many countries feature parties, dancing, and feasting. At the feasts, people often eat a special bread or cake with a bean, coin, or figurine baked in it. The person getting the piece with the good luck token becomes the Twelfth Night King or Queen, leading revelers in their merrymaking.

The holiday also carries solemn religious overtones. It is one of the three major Christian holidays, along with Christmas and Easter. The name Twelfth Night simply reflects its occurrence twelve days after Christmas. But in some places it is known as Feast of the Three Kings because the Three Kings (also known as Wise Men or Magi) are believed to have reached the Christ Child on January 6. And, with emphasis on the religious character of the occasion, Epiphany notes that the holiday marks a special revelation of Jesus' divine nature - the arrival of the three Magi as the first manifestation of Jesus to the Gentiles.

Here's a traditional bread for your own Twelfth Night revels. The first recipe is baked in a Bundt pan; the second has a ring shape. Add to the fun of this bread by including two porcelain figurines (ideally a king and a queen). Wrap them in tinfoil and insert while shaping dough.

DIRECTIONS

1. Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add milk and 1/2 cup flour. Set aside; let rise until double - about 30 minutes.

2. Combine butter, sugar, salt, egg, and yeast mixture in mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly.

3. Add enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth - about 10 minutes.

4. Place in greased bowl, turning to coat top. Cover; let rise in warm place until double - about 1 hour.

5. Combine cherries, nuts, and orange peel in small bowl. Roll dough into rectangle 6 x 9 inches. Spread fruit mixture evenly over the dough.

6. Shape into a ball, make a hole in the center, and place in greased 6-cup Bundt pan. Cover; let rise almost to top of pan in warm place - about 30 minutes.

7. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven 45 minutes or until done. Cool on wire rack.

8. Drizzle Confectioners' Icing over cooled bread. Decorate with nuts and candied cherries.

Recipe Source: Festive Bread Book, The by Kathy Cutler, Barron's Educational Series, Inc., 1982
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