A pretty holiday bread made with your choice of dried fruit.
In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the milk. Add the sugar and proof for 5 minutes until foamy. Stir in the orange juice, butter, vanilla, orange rind, salt, whole wheat flour, and 1 1/2 cups of the white flour, and beat well with a wooden spoon. Gradually beat in the rest of the flour.When it gets too hard to mix, turn it onto a floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes, adding more flour as needed. Place dough onto a lightly floured board and cover to rest for 20 minutes, until it relaxes and starts to rise. Add the dry fruit and knead briefly until incorporated onto the dough. Transfer to a lightly-oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover with plastic and let sit at room temperature to double, about 1 to 1 1/2 hour. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and divide into 3 equal pieces. Cover and rest for 10 minutes. Roll each into a 22-inch rope. If one resists, let it rest and go on to the next one. Do not taper the ends. Braid the ropes together and then shape it into a circle. Join the ends together, pinching to seal, and keeping the braid looking smooth and continuous. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet that has been sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover and rise to double, about 45 minutes. Brush with milk-sugar mixture. Bake at 350°F for 25 to 35 minutes until golden and hollow sounding when tapped on the bottom. Cool on a wire rack. Leftovers taste terrific sliced thin, with cream cheese or peanut butter.