Cranberry Orange Braided Bread

This holiday sweet bread is great for gifting, or for sharing at a festive breakfast or brunch. Its subtle orange flavor; soft, tender crumb, and surprise sweet fruit and nut filling are sure to please gift recipients and guests alike.
Prep
20 mins
Bake
30 to 35 mins
Total
2 hrs 50 mins
Yield
one 12" to 14" loaf.
Cranberry Orange Braided Bread

Instructions

  1. To make the starter: Combine the starter ingredients, cover, and leave at room temperature overnight.
  2. To make the dough: Mix the starter with the dough ingredients, kneading until elastic and satiny. Let the dough rise in a greased, covered bowl for 1 to 2 hours, until puffy.
  3. Divide the dough into three pieces. Flatten each piece into a 6" x 12" rectangle.
  4. Mix the filling ingredients together, and spread each rectangle with some of the filling.
  5. Starting with a long edge, roll each rectangle into a log. Braid the logs together.
  6. Cover the braid, and allow it to rise for 1 to 2 hours, until puffy.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  8. Combine the egg white with 1 tablespoon water, and brush onto the braid. Sprinkle with pearl or sparkling sugar.
  9. Bake the braid for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown; a digital thermometer inserted into the center should register 190°F.
  10. Remove the bread from the oven, and transfer it to a rack to cool.
  11. Yield: one 12" to 14" loaf.

Tips from our Bakers

  • If you don't have Fiori di Sicilia, replace it with 2 teaspoons vanilla extract + 1/4 teaspoon orange oil (or 1 tablespoon grated orange rind).
  • If you don't have Sticky Bun Sugar, replace it with brown sugar; the filling may seep out of the loaf a bit as it bakes.
  • SAF Gold instant yeast is specially formulated for sweet dough; but use SAF Red if that's what you have, understanding that your dough will take longer to rise, both the first and second times.