My mom has made this bread/coffee cake during Christmas time for as long as I can remember. She would spend a day making quite a few of these Candy Canes and then we would go around the neighborhood delivering them to our neighbors.
I don't know what the real name of this bread/coffee cake is... but we just call it the Candy Cane Coffee Cake. Although it's more of a bread than a coffee cake. So call it what you want :)
CANDY CANE COFFEE CAKE
2 packages of yeast (or 5 tsp.)
1/2 C. Warm Water
1 1/4 Cup buttermilk
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup of butter, softened
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. salt
5-6 Cups Flour
2 jars of merischino cherries, chopped
2 packages of cream cheese (8 oz packages)
1 Cup chopped or slivered almonds
2/3 Cup sugar
1 tsp. almond extract
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a bowl combine your yeast and water. The water should be on the hotter side of warm. I always let me yeast sit for a few minutes to make sure that it has activated. The easiest way to tell if it's activated and you haven't killed it (by using too hot of water or too cold of water) is to give the water and yeast a good stir and to let it set. Watch for it to foam and create bubbles. If it does this then you're good to go!
Add your buttermilk, sugar, softened butter, eggs, baking powder and salt. Use your mixer and combine all the ingredients. Add one cup of flour at a time and continue to mix. Once your dough has formed somewhat of a ball take it out and knead the rest of your flour in until the dough is no longer sticky.
Place it back in the bowl. Put a clean towel over the top of the bowl and set someplace warm. I usually set my bowl on top of my preheating oven.
For the filling combine cream cheese, almonds, cherries, sugar and almond extract (I didn't have any this last time and it still tasted delish!). I like to add a splash of the cherry juice from the jar to give my filling a pink tint!
Take a portion of your dough and roll it out to create a long rectangle. You can make as many or as few candy cane breads as you like. I made one extra large bread for our family and two smaller ones to share.
Take part of your filling and spread it down the center of the rectangle.
Cut strips with a knife along the sides of your dough.
Take one strip of dough and fold it over to the other side. Then grab a strip from the opposite side and cross it over to the other side. WOW...can we say that sounds confusing? Just look at the example :)
Once you have "braided" the whole loaf you will place it on a cookie sheet. As you place it down make sure to curve one end around so that it resembles a candy cane!
I like to sprinkle leftover cherries and almonds along the top of mine.
Bake your breads in the oven for 18-25 minutes. Depending on the size of your candy cane.
Watch for the tops to brown just a tad.
Let them cool for awhile.
While they're cooling make a little glaze out of powdered sugar and milk. You want the glaze/frosting to make sure it's not too runny and not to thick that it won't drizzle over the tops of your bread.
I don't know the exact measurements of what I used. Just pour some powdered sugar in a bowl and continue to add milk until it turns out the way you want it :)
My mom was a genius when it came to packaging these yummy treats up!
Instead of buying a baking sheet for each neighbor (which can get spendy!) here's what you do.
Cut pieces of cardboard to fit the size of your candy cane.
I wrapped mine in brown wrapping paper. Then on top of the wrapping paper I added a sheet of plastic wrap. Place your candy cane on top and cover with another piece of plastic wrap. Finish it off with a ribbon or a scrap of fabric!