Stollen – a german festive bread

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Ingredients:
  • 75g sultanas (golden raisins)
  • 50g cup currents
  • 3tbsp rum
  • 375g cups unbleached white bread flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup castor sugar 
  • 1/4  tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 40g fresh yeast
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm milk
  • 50g butter, melted
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup mixed (candied) peel
  • 1/3 cup blanched whole almonds
  • melted butter for brushing
  • icing sugar to dust
For the Almond Filling
  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • 1/4 cup castor sugar
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 egg lightly beaten
Method
Lightly grease a baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 180c/350F/Gas 4. Put the sultanas and currants in a heatproof bowl and warm for 3-4 mins. Pour over the rum and set aside.
Sift the flour and salt together into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar and spices.
Mix the yeast with the milk until creamy. Pout into the flour and mix a little of the flour from around the edge into the milk mixture to make a thick batter. Sprinkle some of the remaining flour over the top of the batter, then cover with clear film (plastic wrap) and leave in a warm place for 30mins.
Add the melted butter and egg and mix to a soft dough. Turn out the dough on to a lightly floured surface and knead for 8-10mins until smooth and elastic. place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with lightly oiled clear film and leave to rise, in a warm place, for 2-3hours, or until doubled in bulk.
Mix the ground almonds and sugars together for the filling. Add the lemon juice and sufficient egg to knead to a smooth paste. Shape into a 20cm/8in long sausage, cover and set aside.
Turn out the dough on to a lightly floured surface and knock back (punch down).
Pat out the dough into a rectangle about 2.5cm/1 inch thick and sprinkle over the sultanas, current, mixed peel and almonds. Fold and knead the dough to incorporate the fruit and nuts.
Roll out the dough into an oval about 30 x 23cm/12 x 9in. Roll the centre slightly thinner than the edges. Place the almond paste filling along the centre and fold over the dough to enclose it, making sure that the top of the dough doesn’t completely cover the base. The top edge should be slightly  in from the bottom edge. Press down to seal.
Place the loaf on the prepared baking sheet, cover with lightly oiled clear film and leave to rise, in a warm place, for 45-60mins, or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200c/400f/Gas 6. Bake the loaf for about 30mins, or until it sounds hollow when tapped on the base. Brush the top with melted butter and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Dust with icing sugar just before serving.

Cook’s Tip: You can dust the cooled stollen with icing sugar and cinnamon, or drizzle over a thin glace icing.

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