Author Notes: This traditional Russian Easter bread is baked, believe it or not, in an empty 2 pound coffee can. This unusual baking "pan" is what allows the bread to achieve its stately height. It was traditional to lay a single red rose on top of the glazed top of this impressive bread, and, providing your rose has been grown pesticide free, it can still make an impressive picture today.
To serve, cut off the frosted crown and place in the center of a serving plate. Cut remaining loaf lengthwise, then in half crosswise and arrange on plate around the cut top.
2 1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup currants
Scant 1/4 cup sherry (preferably a sweet or cream sherry)
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons milk
Instructions: Butter a 2-lb. Coffee can. Fold a doubled sheet of aluminum foil around the top of the can to extend it about 2 inches. Soak currants and raisins in sherry for about 1/2 hour before beginning dough.
Combine yeast, 1 cup flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl of an electric mixer. Heat milk and butter until butter is melted and mixture is very warm (about 115Â° on a candy thermometer). Pour milk mixture into dry ingredients with mixer slowly running, then beat until smooth. Beat in eggs, egg yolks and lemon zest. Gradually add remaining flour, beating well after each addition. Beat in almonds and sherry soaked raisins and currants. Knead until smooth and satiny. Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft free place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Pre-heat oven to 350° F.
Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead a few times. Shape dough into a ball and place in greased 2 pound Coffee can. Loosely cover top of can with plastic wrap or foil and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, or until dough almost reaches the top of the can.
Bake for about 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean and the loaf sounds hollow when thumped. Let cool in pan on a wire rack, remove from can after about 10 minutes and let cool completely.
To mix glaze, blend confectioner's sugar and milk until smooth. Spread glaze over top, letting it drizzle down the sides. See notes above for serving and cutting suggestions.