German Stollen 

MAKES 2 LOAVES PREP AND COOK TIME 1 HOUR

30 MINUTES (+ STANDING TIME)

¼ cup (60ml) dark rum

11/3 cups (200g) raisins, chopped finely

½ cup (80g) sultanas

1½ cups (375ml) milk

2 tablespoons caster sugar

1 egg

3 teaspoons (10g) dried yeast

4½ cups (650g) bread or plain flour

2 teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

125g butter, chopped

½ cup (75g) mixed peel

1 cup (150g) slivered almonds

250g marzipan

60g butter, extra, melted

½ cup (55g) icing sugar, to dust

1 Pour rum over raisins and sultanas.  Stand for 1 hour or until most of the liquid is absorbed.

2  Heat milk to lukewarm.  Whisk together the milk, caster sugar, egg and yeast, and stand in a warm place for 10 minutes or until foaming.

3  Sift the flour, salt and spices in a large bowl, then rub in the butter.  Add the yeast mixture, then mix to a soft dough.  Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes (or use an electric mixer with a dough hook).  Only add extra flour during kneading if absolutely necessary.  The dough should be soft and smooth.  Press dough out; top with the soaked fruit, mixed peel and almonds.  Knead fruit and nuts into the dough until evenly distributed.

4  Transfer dough to an oiled bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth; leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

5 Divide the dough into two pieces and shape each half into a round.  Cover with a damp cloth and leave to rise in a warm place for 15-20 minutes.

6  Cut marzipan in half.  Knead until smooth, then roll into two 22cm logs on a lightly floured surface.  Shape each piece of dough into an oval, 25cm long.  Using a sharp knife, score down the centre of each loaf to a third of its depth.  With a rolling pin, roll one side flat; place a marzipan log into the centre, then fold the dough flat over the other side and press down lightly.  Place both loaves on large greased oven trays and cover with a damp cloth.  Stand in a warm place for 30-45 minutes or until fully risen.

7  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180 C (160 C fan-forced).  Bake stollen for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the base.

Test Kitchen tip: Stollen is a traditional German Christmas yeast cake.  Serve it with coffee for breakfast on Christmas morning or with a glass of dessert wine.  You can leave the marzipan out if you like. Prior to cutting and serving, dust with icing sugar.

Suitable to freeze.  Not suitable to microwave.