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1. In a small bowl combine the 1/4 cup warm water, the yeast, and the 1/2 teaspoon sugar, stirring to dissolve yeast. Let stand about 5 minutes or until bubbly.
2. In a large bowl combine 1 1/2 cups of the flour, the 1/2 cup sugar, and the salt. Gradually add the yeast mixture, the 1/2 cup milk, the melted butter, one of the eggs, and the vanilla, beating with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Beat for 2 minutes more, scraping sides of bowl constantly.
3. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can with a spoon. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough that is smooth and elastic (3 to 5 minutes total). Shape dough into a ball.
4. Place dough in a large greased bowl, turning once to grease surface of dough. Cover; let rise in a warm place until nearly double in size (about 1 1/2 hours).
5. Line an extra-large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place dough in center and sprinkle top lightly with flour. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough into a 15x10-inch rectangle. Spread cherry preserves lengthwise down center third of the dough rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border at the top and bottom. Set aside 1 tablespoon of the almonds for topping; sprinkle the remaining almonds over preserves.
6. Using a sharp knife, make diagonal cuts, 1 inch apart, along both long sides of the dough rectangle, cutting from each edge almost to the preserves. Starting with a strip at the top of one side of the rectangle, fold strip over preserves; fold a strip from the other side over preserves. Repeat with the remaining strips, alternating sides. Pinch ends under to seal.
7. In a small bowl beat together the remaining egg and the 1 tablespoon water; brush over dough. Sprinkle with the 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar. Let rise in a warm place until nearly double in size (about 30 minutes).
8. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake about 25 minutes or until golden brown. Carefully transfer bread to a wire rack; cool completely.
9. Drizzle Almond Glaze over top of cooled bread. Sprinkle with the reserved 1 tablespoon almonds.
1. Stir together powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon milk, and almond extract in a small bowl. Stir in enough additional milk, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, to make glaze of drizzling consistency.