The bread being sold out of the van was more of a European hard crusted variety. Lots of long baguettes, and free formed loaves. They were beautiful, but the one I decided to purchase was a German Stollen. If you're interested in the history of Stollen click here. Needless to say, it cost about $7 or $8 for a smaller loaf, but it was tasty. A yeasted bread loaded with all sorts of fruit and topped with tons of powdered sugar. It's pretty, and festive, and I love all that fruit in a toasted slice of bread.
So this year I decided to try making it. After doing a search I found that sometimes the loaves are made with a surprise of Marzipan inside. That's what I wanted! I love that stuff. It's just ground up almonds and sugar that is made into a paste. I decided to use my favorite bread recipe since it's easy, and it has never failed me, and I used the fruit and nuts that I wanted. Lots of raisins, cranberries, dried blueberries, chopped almonds, lemon and orange zest and peel. The marzipan center is a treat I think. The recipe made 3 enormous loaves, so if you don't want or need to feed an army, go with the numbers in parenthesis. That would be a little more manageable for a family and it will still give you 2 BIG loaves. It's great the day of, or toasted a day or two later. With all the dried fruit the bread dries out a bit quickly, but I can imagine it would make a lovely bread pudding, or some delicious French Toast Sat. morning. Good luck!
(numbers in parenthesis are for a 2/3 sized batch)
3 cups warm water (2)
3 tablespoons active dry yeast (2)
3 teaspoons salt (2)
4 tablespoons vegetable oil (3)
1/2 cup white sugar (1/3)
8 cups bread flour (6)
(From this point on all measurements are approx. Add what you like and as little or as much as you want. This is the fruit I added but there are many others. Try dried apricots, mangos, currants, plums, golden raisins. Try cinnamon, or nutmeg as well as some of your spices.)
1/2 c. raisins
1/2 c. craisins (dried cranberries)
1/2 c. dried blueberries
1/2 c. crystallized ginger
1/2 c. candied lemon peel (I found this in the holiday baking aisle next to those red and green fruit thingies.)
1/2 c. candied orange peel
1 t. cardamon
1 c. chopped almonds
8 oz. almond paste or marzipan (again I found this in the baking aisle. It's usually in tubes or a can. I used Solo brand Pure Almond Paste.)
Now I know why they charged so much for this bread:)
I you don't have a Bosch or a 5+quart capacity Kitchenaid mixer then reduce the recipe by 1/3. (The numbers in parenthesis) and the recipe will make 2 good loaves.
In a large bowl, combine warm water, yeast, salt, oil, sugar, and flour. You may need up to 9 c. of flour. It just depends on the weather, and where you live and your flour. You want a semi soft dough since all that fruit makes it a little harder for the bread to rise. Mix thoroughly. After you've formed a dough add all the fruit and nuts and spices. Not the almond paste yet though. Mix thoroughly and knead for 2-3 minutes until smooth. Place dough in a greased bowl, and turn several times to coat. Cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rise until doubled. At least an hour, or more.
Punch down the dough, let it rest a few minutes. Divide dough into three equal parts. (or 2 parts for the smaller recipe.) Press the dough into a large circle. Divide your almond paste into as many pieces as you have loaves. Roll the marzipan into a snake and place it down one half of your dough circle. Now fold it over like a tart. Pinch the seams and roll them under a bit. Taper the ends of the loaf into a point if possible. Place on a greased cookie sheet and cover with a towel and let rise again until doubled. Approx. 1 hours.
Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 35 to 45 minutes. The loaves may need to be covered for the last few minutes with foil to prevent excess browning. When cooled dust with a generous sprinkling of powdered sugar. Good Luck!!