Christmas revisited

......don't blink or you'll miss it.

Christmas came and went so fast! I spent most of the time relaxing and spending time with my family...I suppose that is what the holidays are for.  I meant to write about my new Christmas tradition (as of 2 years ago), a while ago but am only getting around to it now.

Stollen! The "other" Christmas bread.  I have already covered fruitcakes on this blog...because what are the holidays without a little fruitcake so I thought I would write about the fruitcake's prettier, healthier more popular older sister, Stollen.  Stollen is the made-for-breakfast, not-that-sweet, more-like-bread-than-cake holiday fruit alternative.  My grandfather used to bake bread and made stollen every Christmas.  I haven't yet mastered his other breads but I am getting close to perfecting the stolen!

I found a recipe in the big yellow Gourmet cookbook and have used it ever since.

For Dried fruit mix (can be made up to 4 hours ahead)
1/4 cup glaceed cherries, halved ( I used 1/4 cup of golden raisins instead)
12 cup diced mixed glaceed fruits (oil knife when cutting fruit) ( I used dried apricots)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup currants (dried!)
3 tablespoons dark rum

For Sponge
1 (1/4 oz) package (2 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
3/4 cup warm mile 9105-115 degrees)
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

For Dough
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 oz) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus 2 tablespoons melted butter
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds ( I left these out...but feel free to add them in!)

For Brushing and Glaze
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons confections sugar

Make the Fruit mix
Stir together all ingredients in a small bowl.  Let stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally for at least 2 hours.

Make The Sponge
Stir together yeast, sugar, and warm milk in bowl until yeast is dissolved.  Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (if mixture does not foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)

"happy yeast!"
Make the Dough:
Add flour, 8 tablespoons melted butter, eggs, and sugar to sponge and beat at medium speed with paddle attachment until incorporated.  Switch to dough hook, add almonds and dried fruit mixture, and beat at medium speed until dough is smooth and pullling away from sides of bowl, about 5 minutes.   Beat for 5 minutes more (it will be a little sticky).

Put dough in a lightly oiled large bowl and turn to coat with oil.  Covert tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

Punch down dough, turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead briefly.  Roll out dough, turn with an unfloured rolling pin into an oval about 12 inches long and 7 inches wide (1 inch thick).

Brush top of dough with remaining melted butter.  Fold dough lengthwise in half so that bottom half extends about 1 inch beyond top half, and press folded edge lightly together with fingertips.

Generously butter a baking sheet.  Arrange stollen diagonally on it.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 12/ hours.

Glaze and Bake Stollen
Put in a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 350F.
Brush stollen with melted butter.  bake until loaf is deep golden and bottom sounds hollow when tapped, 40-50 minutes.

Perfect Christmas morning breakfast.

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