This traditional German Christmas bread is cross between a sweet bread and a fruit cake. This recipe makes 2 loaves…the second loaf makes amazing French toast or Christmas bread pudding.
6-8 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon yeast
1 ½ cups milk, scalded and cooled to 110F
¼ cup dried cherries
¾ cup golden raisins
¾ cup currants
1 ½ cup almonds, chopped
½ cup chopped candied citrus peel
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ cups butter, plus extra for brushing loaves
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons rum
In a large bowl, combine warm milk and yeast. Allow to sit 10 minutes until yeast is dissolved. Add 1 cup of the sifted flour and mix to form a sponge. Let sit in a warm place until doubled.
Meanwhile, combine cherries, raisins, almonds and citrus peel. Sprinkle a little of the sifted flour over and combine. Set aside.
When sponge has sufficiently proofed, place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat well. Beat in sugar and blend until light and creamy. Add eggs one at a time, followed by the salt, lemon rind and rum. Mix well. Mix in the fruit and nuts. Add all the sponge and the remaining flour. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if too sticky.
Cover dough with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk.
To shape dough, toss it onto a floured board and divide in two. Pat dough into a rough oval and fold over one third of the dough lengthwise onto the other two thirds. Repeat with remaining dough. Place on baking sheet -one loaf per sheet- and brush with butter. Allow to rise again until almost doubled in bulk.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Bake loaves for about 40 minutes until they are a dark golden brown.