Start with the fruit... not the candied chopped up bits of fluorescent colored plastic you see in little tubs... real actual dried fruit. I'm using dried cherries, dried cranberries and golden raisins, about 2 cups total (with just a little orange or lemon zest). To the fruit I added about 1/2 cup brandy. Last year I used Peach Schnapps and it worked well. Basically you want to re-plump the dried fruit, and you want to use booze to do it. ;)
Tonight I took it out of the fridge, it wasn't much bigger, but I know that the yeast was doing it's thing. I split the dough into two balls and let them sit on the counter for half an hour, then began to shape them.
I rolled each ball out into a rough rectangle, coated with some melted butter, and topped with almonds, sprinkled with a little sugar and a pinch more cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg or whatever. Then I drizzled a bit more butter on top, and folded the top over.
Other variations of stollen call for marzipan instead of almonds, and I've had it that way - it's really good. But I like the little extra crunch of almonds... oh, and I think I was supposed to reserve some of the fruit so I could put it in the middle with the almonds, but I forgot to do that, and I don't think it's going to make a big difference in taste.
Here is the shaped, stuffed stollen. Brushed again with - come on class - more BUTTER!
I'll let it sit like this for another hour or two before baking. It's cool in my apartment and I want to make sure it rises at least a little. Then I baked it for about an hour at 350F. The book says to bake it until it's a rich mahogany brown color. I have no idea what color mahogany is, but it's pretty dark. Soooo we finish it up with yet another brushing of melted butter (yum yum yummy) and a dusting of powdered sugar.
The Stollen is supposed to remind you of the baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes. To me it looks a little more like a big crepe. ;)