Adapted from Julia Child's Baking With Julia recipe for Pulla bread.
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dark raisins
1/2 cup dried appricots, chopped
1/4 cup dark rum, preferably aged rum
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105 F)
1 cup milk, scalded and cooled to 105-110 F
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 stick (4 oz) sweet unsalted butter, melted (I use Land O'Lakes. I don't recommend Price Chopper's)
4 1/2 - 5 cups floor
1/2 cup unblanched or blanched almonds (doesn't really matter), coarsely chopped
2 tablespoon heavy cream
chopped blanched almonds
Ahead of time
Combine raisins, appricots and rum in a small bowl with cover. Let it sit until most of the rum has been absorved by the fruit (e.g. overnight).
Directions (using Kitchen Aid mixer)
Scald the milk (heat until right before it simmers) in a pan or the microwave. Let cool until it reaches 105-110 F (about 20-25 minutes).
In mixer bowl, combine the yeast and the warm water and let sit until the yeast is dissolved (about 5 minutes or until the hot milk reaches its desirable temperature).
Add the milk, sugar, cardamon, salt and eggs and mix on medium (#4) with paddle attachment until combined.
Add 2 cups of the flour and mix until combined.
Add the melted butter and mix until combined.
Change from paddle attachment to dough hook and add the rest of the flour (on a dry day I would add 2 1/2 cups and on a moist day 3 cups). Knead with dough hook on low (#2) and then medium (#4) speed until combined. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.
Continue kneading with dough hook on medium (#4) speed for about 10 minutes or so. The dough should stop being sticky. If it is still sticky, add more flour.
After ten minutes, add the chopped almonds and continue kneading for 5 minutes or so. Then add the rum-soaked fruit and knead until they are well incorporated (5-10 minutes more). You could choose to finish the kneading by hand but you don't have to.
Remember to watch the mixer as it tends to get quite hot after 20-25 minutes of keading. Let it cool if it gets too hot so you don't burn it.
Grease a large bowl with butter and place the dough in it. Turn the dough so that its surface is greased completely. Cover with wet towel and let rise until almost doubled; about 45-60 minutes.
Turn dough onto table and punch down slightly. You can now do whatever you like. I usually cut the dough into two, then each half into thirds. I then roll each third into 14" cilinders which I then braid together, ending up with 2 braided loaves.
Cover prepared loaves with a warm wet towel and let rise until almost doubled; 45-60 minutes.
Beat heavy cream and egg together and brush it over the loaves. Sprinkle with pearl sugar and almonds. If you don't have pearl sugar you can use regular sugar as well.
Bake in 350 F pre-heated oven for 25 minutes. Enjoy!