I made my Christmas bread today. I didn't want to. I didn't want to AT ALL. It takes forever. It makes me grouchy. But I made it.
Here's a step by step (sort of) guide on how all this magic happens.
Let the yeast bubble and rise.
Mix sugar and eggs.
Add two cups of hot milk.
Add four cups of flour.
Add melted shortening.
The spice that gives the bread it's amazing flavor. This spice is not cheap. Luckily you only use two teaspoons. One bottle lasts me a few years.
Dump in the spice. When I first started making this bread, I used to shell the actual seeds and grind the cardomom up into a powder. Um, yeah. That's not going to happen anymore. Besides, I haven't seen the actual seeds at the store in years.
My favorite part of the whole process: make pretty swirls.
Dump in four more cups of flour.
Ditch the spoon, and use your hand to mix the ingredients.
Keep mixing and kneading the dough until it doesn't stick to your hand anymore.
Put the dough in a warm oven to rise.
For 90 minutes.
Go get allergy shots. Clean the kitchen. Make some phone calls. Surf the web.
The phone died, so I failed to get a photo of Hudson "punching" the dough down after rising for 90 minutes. You put the dough back in the oven for 45 more minutes of rising. It will look like this.
Enlist two small people to punch the dough down yet again.
At this point, you need to relinquish the next hour or so of your life so you can roll the dough into strips. This part sucks.
I made 24 strips.
I have to admit, the braids are pretty.
Braids have to rise in a warm oven for 30 minutes. In the meantime, pretend to be a good mom by letting a small child make green cookies.
Paint on an egg wash.
Sprinkle on cinnamon and sugar.
Tell as many people as you can how you slaved away in the kitchen. Wait a year before doing it all over again.