Candy Cane Bread
by Emily Wert


1 1/2 cups chopped dried apricots
2 cups boiling water
2 pkgs dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105º to 115º)
2 cups sour cream
1/4 cup plus 2 Tblsp sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, beaten
6 to 6 1/2 cups flour, divided
1 1/2 cups chopped maraschino cherries
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tblsp plus 1-2 tsp milk
Halved candied cherries

Combine apricots and boiling water; cover and let stand 1 hour. Drain well, and set aside. Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Combine sour cream, sugar, butter, and salt in a bowl. Microwave 30 sec at a time until butter melts. Cool to 105º to 115º. Add sour cream mixture, eggs and 2 cups flour to yeast mixutre. Beat at low speed until smooth. Stir in enough of remaining flour to make a soft dough. Turn dough out on a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 8-10 min). Place dough in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. Punch dough down; divide dough into 3 equal portions. Roll each portion into a 15 x 6 inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface; transfer to greased baking sheets. Make 2-inch cuts on both long sides of rectangles 1/2-inch apart, leaving a 2-inch uncut strip down the center. Combine apri-cots and cherries; spread down the center of dough rectangles. Alternately criss-cross strips over the fruit; gently stretch dough to 22 inches long, curving one end to resemble a cane. Bake at 375º for 15-20 min or until brown. Brush each cane with melted butter; let cool.* Combine powdered sugar and milk; stir until smooth, and drizzle over coffee cakes. Garnish with chopped candied cherries.

* This is my family’s traditional Christmas morning bread. I make these ahead to this point, wrap in foil and reheat on Christmas morning, adding glaze and candied cherries then.