1-1/2 cups warm whole milk or warm water (110° to 115°)
2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
6-1/2 to 7-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1-1/2 cups butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 pound raisins
1/2 pound chopped blanched almonds
1/2 cup chopped candied fruit
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1-1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine milk or water and yeast. Let stand 3-5 minutes. Add 1 cup flour; mix well. Cover and let rest in a warm place until light and foamy, about 1 hour.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add salt and lemon zest. Stir in the yeast mixture and enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down; knead in raisins, nuts and fruit. Divide into two parts; roll each into a 15x8-in. oval. Fold each in half lengthwise and place on a greased baking sheet. Brush with melted butter. Cover and allow loaves to rise until almost doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
Bake at 350° for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks. Combine all glaze ingredients; brush on tops of cooled loaves.
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