Sunday, December 30, 2012

Ringing in the New Year with a fluffy favorite.

Stollen is a traditional German bread and the grandfather of fruitcake. Now, this isn't some dried out, booze-flavored, candied fruit monstrosity. No, no. This, my friends, is a coveted delicacy. A lightly sweet, fluffy yet dense, glistening jewel of a treat.

The recipe below makes 2 loaves...I dare you not to eat them both. I made this yesterday and I will be giving one away tomorrow. I don't want to. I want to hoard this magical delight and eat it all in one sitting. You will get it once you try it.

A few helpful tips:
Don't use skim milk. Your bread needs the protein in fatty milk to make itself grow.
Don't use margarine. In fact, that rule goes for everything - always.
Let your eggs, butter and milk come to room temperature before you use them. Don't skip this step.

Best Stollen Ever. Ever.

4 to 4 1/2 cups of unbleached flour
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 1/4 cups milk (1% or higher)
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar plus one tbsp granulated sugar, divided
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup purple raisins
1/2 cup dried apricots, diced
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsps hot water
1 teaspoon butter

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of flour, yeast and nutmeg.

In a saucepan, heat milk, 1/2 cup butter, 1/4 cup granulated sugar and salt until warm and butter melts. Add to flour mixture along with egg.

Beat with an electric mixer on low for 30 seconds. Scrape sides and beat on high for 3 minutes.

Mix in as much remaining flour as you can. Be careful not to over work the dough here.

In a separate bowl, combine raisins, apricots and 1 tablespoon sugar. Toss to coat. Stir fruit into dough.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead for 4 minutes. Shape into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rise 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and cut dough in half. Reshape loaves and place on separate greased cookie sheets. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rise again for about an hour.

Bake, one at a time, at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Place the second in the fridge while the first is baking to stop the dough from rising too much.

Allow baked bread to cool on a wire rack.

In a saucepan, heat powdered sugar, butter and water until well combined. Allow to cool slightly and them brush mixture over cooled loaves. Sprinkle with granulated sugar.

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