Vanocka; Christmas Breads

2 cups lukewarm milk
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 cup melted butter
4 eggs
2 tbsp. granulated yeast
1 cup very warm water
1 tsp. sugar
4 cups flour
2 tbsp. lemon rind
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup red and green cherries
4 + cups flour
1 egg
2 tbsp. milk

Put in a bowl , milk, sugar, salt, butter and eggs. Beat thoroughly with mixer. Meanwhile raise the yeast. (Stir sugar in warm water to dissolve; add yeast, stir and let rise 10 minutes.) Add risen yeast to mixture in bowl and beat thoroughly. Beat in 4 cups of flour. Remove beaters. Put mixture, called a sponge, in a large bowl, big enough to let it rise to double its size. Cover with tea towel and let rise in a warm place for about 40 minutes. Stir down, add lemon rind, vanilla, almonds, raisins and cherries. Now blend in 4 more cups of flour, enough that it almost forms a ball.Put in a greased bowl, turn once and cover and chill in refrigerator for 1/2 hour. Punch down and put on floured board.

Knead on a floured board and make into 4 loaves. Take the dough for 1 loaf and divide it into 9 ropes about 16" long. Braid 4 ropes, put on top, then braid 3 ropes, put on top, then twine the last 2 ropes and put on top. Hold together with toothpicks. Brush with melted butter, cover and let rise for 1 hour.Repeat for other loaves.

Brush with a mixture of part egg, part milk and bake at

350 F for 35 to 45 minutes or until done.