Saint Lucia Crown Coffee Cake

 Saint Lucia Crown Coffee Cake

Saint Lucia Day is tomorrow!  Last year, I made the traditional swirled saffron buns (click here to see it).  In honor of Saint Lucia, I made a sweet bread braided into a crown and a tablescape.  The crown centerpiece is filled with golden raisins, almonds and lemon zest.  You can use candied citrons, lemon or orange peel instead of raisins if you'd like.

For the tablescape, I chose gold and white to symbolize light and purity. The gold beamline chargers (purchased in 2007) are the exact ones that I used for my wedding.  They are a perfect champagne gold color.  The napkin rings are also from Pier 1 Imports and were purchased this year.  The beaded plates were from the Dollar Store and, believe it or not, the crystal goblets were from Goodwill!

If you aren't familiar with how to bake bread by hand (and don't have a bread machine or Kitchen Aid mixer to knead for you) I would highly suggest that you read these two articles from The Kitchn:
 How To Tell When Dough Is Kneaded
Under Kneaded Bread vs Over Kneaded Bread

Coffee Cake
1/8 teaspoon crushed saffron
  cup warm milk (105°F to 115°F)
  packages regular dry yeast
  cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
  cup granulated sugar
  teaspoon salt
  eggs, beaten
  cup butter, softened
4 1/2
  to 5 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour (I used half of each type of flour)
  cup golden raisins
  cup chopped blanched almonds
  tablespoon grated lemon peel

Egg wash
1 egg beaten
1  to 2 tablespoons milk

Garnish: pearl sugar (or sanding sugar), royal icing poinsettias and holly (or candied cherries).  

    1.  Stir saffron into warm milk. In large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in saffron-milk mixture, granulated sugar, salt, eggs, butter and 2 1/2 cups of the flour. Beat with spoon until smooth. Stir in citron, almonds, lemon peel and enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.
    2. Place dough on lightly floured surface. Knead about 10 minutes or until smooth and springy. Grease large bowl with shortening. Place dough in bowl, turning dough to grease all sides. Cover; let rise in warm place about 30 minutes or until double in size. (Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.)
    3. Grease 2 cookie sheets with shortening or cooking spray. Gently push fist into dough to deflate. Cut off one-third of dough for top braid and reserve. Divide remaining dough into 3 equal parts; roll each part into 25-inch rope. Place ropes close together on cookie sheet. Braid ropes loosely; shape into circle and pinch ends to seal.
    4. Divide reserved dough into 3 equal parts; roll each part into 16-inch rope. Place ropes close together on second cookie sheet. Braid ropes loosely; shape into circle and pinch ends to seal. Cover both braids; let rise in warm place about 45 minutes or until double in size.
    5. Beat egg and milk together.  Brush egg wash on top of both breads.  Then sprinkle sugar on top.   
    6. Heat oven to 375°F. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from cookie sheets to wire rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
    7. In small bowl, mix glaze ingredients with spoon until smooth and thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle glaze over both braids. Make holes for 5 candles in small braid. Place small braid on large braid. Garnish with cherries. Insert candles.
    Recipe Adapted From: Betty Crocker


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