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MARTHA’S STOLLEN

Stollen

Makes 4 large loaves
Stollen’s richness is similar to that of brioche, but dried fruit makes it sweeter and gives it a more interesting texture. Serve this rich holiday treat in thin slices as breakfast bread or with afternoon tea. Like fruitcake, stollen improves with age and can be made up to three weeks in advance.

3 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
11 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups milk, warmed
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) plus 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for bowl
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 1/4 cups currants
1/2 cup cognac
2 1/2 cups golden raisins
1/2 cup orange juice
Peel of 4 oranges, diced
Grated zest of 2 lemons
1/2 pound citron, diced
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
2 1/2 cups blanched almonds, chopped
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

1. In a small bowl, combine yeast and 1/2 cup warm water, and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Stir in milk and 1 1/4 cups melted butter. Add dissolved yeast and eggs. Turn dough out onto a floured surface, and knead until fairly smooth.

2. In two separate bowls, soak currants in cognac, and raisins in orange juice. Let each stand for 10 minutes.

3. In a medium-size bowl, mix together currants and raisins with their soaking liquids, the orange peel, lemon zest, citron, apricots, and almonds. Work mixture into dough. Continue kneading for about 10 minutes. If dough is sticky, knead in more flour, but be careful not to overwork.

4. Place dough in a large buttered bowl. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel, and let dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1 to 2 hours.

5. Punch down the dough, and cut in quarters. Roll each piece into a 12-by-8-inch rectangle. Brush with melted butter, then fold one long side to the center. Fold other long side over first side, overlapping it by 1 inch. Turn dough over, taper the ends, and place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat for remaining 3 loaves, using a second parchment-lined baking sheet for the third and fourth loaves. Cover loaves with plastic wrap; let rise again in a warm place, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

6. Heat oven to 350°, with two racks centered. Bake stollen until golden brown, about 35 minutes, rotating the sheets between the racks halfway through baking. Cool on wire rack; dust with confectioners’ sugar, and serve.

Photograph by: Todd Atkinson

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