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Holiday Stollen for this stolen time of year.

11:23 AM

The week and a half between Winter Solstice and New Year feels like stolen time to me.  The longest night of the year is a great time to bless and release all that has come to pass during the last calendar year.  New Years Eve/Day is a great time to state your goals for the coming year... and the time in between... is stolen time.  A time of celebration when everyone comes home from work and school, from near and far.  A blur of gifts and sweets, good intentions and afterglow. A week and a half that exsists outside of the reality of everyday life.

In everyday life, I would not be eating a sweet bread covered in powdered sugar, but I certainly will eat it (in copious amounts) during the stolen time.

German Holiday Stollen
Modified from  "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" Stollen recipe
1/2 cup soymilk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 tsp. instant yeast

1 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup currants
1/2 cup diced apricots
1/2 cup Rum
1 tbsp orange extract

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp grated orange zest
1tsp ground cinnamon
1 large egg
5 tbsp margarine
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup slivered almonds

melted margarine for topping
powdered sugar (corn-free) for topping

Make the sponge by warming soymilk to about 100f.  Whisk in the flour and yeast/cover and let ferment for about an hour or until the sponge is very foamy and ready to collapse when tapped.

Meanwhile combine the fruit, brandy, and orange extract and set aside.

To make the dough, in a 4 quart mixing bowl (we use an electric mixer), stir together the flour, salt, sugar, orange zest, and cinnamon.  Then stir in (mix on low speed in the mixer with a paddle attachment) the sponge, egg, butter, and enough water to form a soft, but not sticky, ball.  This should take about 2 minutes.  Then, cover the bowl and let rest 10 minutes.

Add the fruit and mix it in with your hands to incorporate. 

Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer dough to the counter, and begin kneading to distribute fruit evenly (add additional flour if needed if the dough feels sticky).  Knead for about 6 minutes by hand (4 minutes in the machine).  Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl.  Roll dough around to coat with oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Ferment at room temperature for 45 minutes.  The dough will rise somewhat, but will not double in size.

Sprinkle flour lightly on the counter and transfer dough to counter.  Roll the dough out into a 9inch x 6 inch rectangle and sprinkle with slivered almonds.  Roll the dough up onto itself lengthwise, and seal the crease by pinching the dough with the edge of your hand.

Line a sheet with baking parchment and transfer stollen to the pan, curling it into a slight crescent shape.  Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.  Proof for about 1 hour at room temperature, or until dough is about 1 1/2 times it's original size.

Preheat oven to 350f with the oven rack on the middle shelf.

Bake stollen for 20 minutes.  Rotate 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 50 minutes.  The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, and should register 190f in the center of the loaf.  

Transfer the bread to a cooling rack and brush the top with melted margarine or vegetable oil while still hot.  Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter.  Wait for 1 minute and tap another layer over the first.  The bread should be coated generously with powdered sugar.   Let cool at least 1 hour before serving.

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