1 (2-1/4 tsp.) envelope Fleischmann's® Active Dry Yeast
1/4 cup warm milk (100° to 110°F)
1/2 cup butter OR margarine, softened
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 to 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (5 ounces) almond paste
1 egg white
1/2 cup slivered almonds, chopped and toasted
1/2 cup chopped candied cherries (OR substitute maraschino cherries, rinsed
Almond Icing (optional)
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
Place warm water in large warm bowl. Sprinkle in yeast; stir until dissolved. Add warm milk, butter, sugar, cardamom, salt and 1 cup flour; blend well. Stir in eggs and enough remaining flour to make soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 4 to 6 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
For Almond Filling, combine almond paste and egg white in a small bowl. Mix with a fork until well blended. Stir in almonds.
Remove dough to lightly floured surface.
To shape as a wreath (ring): Roll dough to 30 x 9-inch rectangle. Spread Almond Filling over dough to within 1/2 inch of edges; sprinkle with cherries. Beginning at long end, roll up tightly as for jelly roll; pinch seam to seal. With sharp knife, carefully slice roll in half lengthwise to expose filling along entire length of roll. Carefully turn halves so cut sides face up. Twist (braid) halves together, keeping cut sides up so filling is visible. Transfer dough to greased baking sheet. Shape into ring; pinch ends together to seal. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 20 to 40 minutes.
Bake in preheated 350°F oven for 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from baking sheet; let cool on wire rack. If desired, drizzle top with Almond Icing.
For Almond Icing, combine powdered sugar, almond extract and milk in a small bowl, adding milk as needed to reach drizzling consistency. Stir until smooth.
To shape as a figure 8: Roll dough to 15 x 10-inch rectangle. Spread filling to within 1/2 inch of edges; sprinkle with cherries. Beginning at long end, roll up tightly as for jelly roll; pinch seam to seal. With sharp knife, cut roll in half lengthwise. Carefully transfer 1 half, cut side up, onto greased baking sheet. Form into "S" shape. Form second half into a reverse "S"; set on top of "S" shape, cut side up, forming figure "8". Pinch ends together to seal.