When I was about 10 years old, I won a baking contest with this. It reminds me of holidays and genuine scratch baking still. I usually make it at holiday time. My daughters love to help with this. I'm writing the original recipe. (With all my inclusions or exclusions).
1/2 cup warm water
2 pkg active dry yeast
1 1/2 cup lukewarm milk; scald & let cool
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup shortening
7 to 7 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp grated lemon or orange rind
1/2 tsp mace
1 cup raisins (or craisins or dried bits of cherry)
1 cup chopped nuts of choice
Dissolve yeast in water.
Add milk, sugar, salt, egg, shortening & half of the flour.
Add rind, mace, fruit & nuts.
Continue adding flour until dough handles easily.
Turn onto lightly floured board & knead until smooth.
Round up in a greased bowl.
Cover with cloth and let rise in a warm place until double -- about 90 minutes.
Punch down and allow to rise again; until almost double -- about 30 minutes.
Divide into 2 equal portions, to make two braids. Divide each of those portions into four equal portions. Shape 3 parts into a strand and braid. Divide the fourth part into three equal parts and braid. Place the smaller on top of the larger braid, fastening loose ends and tucking under to secure. Cover. Let rise again; until nearly double -- approximately 45-60 minutes. Brush with egg white glaze; bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. Frost, if desired.
* Note: I'm not a fan of the egg white glaze; I like flour covered old fashioned bread, but it it's for pretty, the egg white really makes it shine.
1 lb powdered sugar
1 tbsp vanila
1/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup margarine
Beat with a mixer until smooth. Drizzle over warm bread. If too thick, just add a few drops of milk.