My German grandmother made this yeasted fruit bread every Christmas and when the rum-soaked fruit hits the dough, the smell bring me right back to being a little girl. She never had a recipe written down, so after 3 years of tweaks, I think I have it just right. Stollen is traditionally made with glace cherries and candied citrus peel in addition to dried fruit, but I prefer my favorite dried fruits and a good does of rum. The sweet buttery dough flavor is optional, but adds something special. I buy mine every two years from King Arthur Flour. —Nicole Dula
dried apricots, quartered
dried cherries, roughly chopped
3 1/3 cups
all purpose flour, divided, plus additional as needed
Combine raisins, currants, apricots, cherries and rum in a medium bowl and let stand at least 1 hour or overnight, stirring occasionally.
Prepare a rimmed baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.
Place slivered almonds in a large skillet and toast over low heat. Stir often and watch closely so they do not burn. When light brown, transfer to a small bowl to cool.
Stir together 2 C. of the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in large bowl. Heat milk, water, butter and lemon zest in a small saucepan until butter just melts. Remove from the heat and let cool to 115-120 degrees, the optimal temperature for the yeast. Add liquid mixture to flour mixture along with eggs, almond extract and buttery sweet dough flavor (if using). Beat at low speed in a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer) until flour is moistened. Beat at medium speed until well combined.
Stir 1/3 C. of the flour into the bowl with the soaked fruit and toss to coat. Add toasted almonds into the fruit mixture and toss to combine. Add fruit/nut mixture into the batter and mix on low to combine. Start adding flour in 1/4 C. increments until the dough is moderately stiff and pulls from the side of the bowl.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes; shape the dough into a ball. Add 2 teaspoons of grapeseed oil to a large bowl and coat the inside. Place the dough in the large bowl and turn to grease the entire outside of the dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down, cover and let rest 10 minutes. Turn onto lightly floured surface and divide in half. With a rolling pin, roll each half into an 8×14 inch oval. Fold 3 inches of the dough in on one side and continue rolling until the dough is all rolled up. Keep seam side down. Use the rolling pin to lightly press down on the folded dough and bring the folds together. Place loaves on the prepared baking sheet. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Uncover. Bake until loaves are golden and sound hollow when lightly tapped, 20 to 30 minutes (If using a convection oven bake at 325 degrees F for 25-35 minutes). Transfer to wire racks and brush with melted butter and sprinkle with powdered sugar. When the loaves have cooled, sprinkle with another generous layer of powdered sugar. When completely cool, wrap in aluminum foil and store at room temperature for several weeks. The flavors will develop more with each day. Try toasting the bread and adding a bit of unsalted butter for something extra special with a cup of tea or coffee.