Preparation / Directions:
New Year Bread is traditionally cut at midnight on New Year's Eve. After baking, a coin is inserted through a slit in the base. The person who finds the coin will have luck in the New Year. Long ago the coin used to be a gold one, then later a silver coin was used. These could be incorporated into the dough before baking. Nowadays because of the nickel content of coins it is undesirable to bake a coin in the cake.
Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup of the milk. Add remainder of milk, eggs, orange rind and sugar. Sift 3 cups flour, salt and spice into a warm bowl and make a well in the center. Pour in yeast mixture and stir to blend in flour, gradually adding warm melted butter. Mix dough with hands until it comes away from sides. Turn on to a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, adding remaining flour as required. Knead for 10 minutes. Place ball of dough in a clean bowl brushed with melted butter.
Turn dough over to coat top with butter and cover bowl with a cloth or plastic wrap. Leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk. Punch down and turn on to lightly floured surface. Knead lightly and shape into a round loaf. Place on a large greased baking sheet or in a greased 25 cm (10 inch) deep cake tin. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled - about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Glaze with well-beaten egg and arrange blanched almonds in numbers to denote the New Year, pressing in lightly. Bake in a moderately hot oven for 45 minutes until golden brown and cooked when tested. If bread browns too quickly place a piece of greased brown paper on top. Cool on a wire rack