Christmas Stollen

Course : Breads
Serves: 15
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1/2 cup Flour
1/2 cup Raisins -- dark or golden
1/2 cup Margarine
1/4 cup Dried Apricots -- chopped
2 tablespoons Sugar
1/4 cup Unsweetened Apple Juice
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 cup Rum
1 teaspoon Lemon Rind -- grated
1 package Active Dry Yeast
1 cup Flour
1/3 cup Milk -- heated to lukewarm
1/2 cup Sliced Blanched Almonds -- (105 to 110 degrees)

Preparation / Directions:

Combine the raisins, apricots and apple juice (or rum) in a bowl. Let soak overnight or for at least 4 hours. Combine the yeast, milk and the 1/2 cup of flour in a bowl. Mix until smooth and the mixture looks like think mashed potatoes. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place for 10 minutes, or until doubled in bulk. Meanwhile, cream the margarine, sugar, salt, almond extract and lemon rind. Beat in the yeast mixture and 1-1/4 cups of the flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and knead in about 1/4 cup more flour, or until the dough is soft. Knead for 3 minutes. Put in a greased bowl, cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Once the dough has doubled, knead in the raisin mixture and almonds. Knead until well mixed. Roll the dough into a rectangular 12- by 6-inch shape. Roll up jelly roll fashion. Place on a lightly-oiled baking sheet and let rise about 30 minutes. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool partially on a wire rack. Glaze the cool but not cold stollen with the apricot preserves. Serves 15

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