Stollen was a Christmas staple for my German mother-in-law. I continue to make stollen yearly for my husband which he enjoys with a generous dollop of butter and a cup of coffee. The recipe below makes two large loaves. Rather than two large loaves, I divide the dough into four parts and make three smaller loaves so I have some for gifts and I use one part to make a cinnamon loaf. For the cinnamon loaf, after rolling out, I smear with butter, sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar and roll up. It can be baked as a loaf or cut into rolls. Nuts are always good to add and top with a powdered sugar glaze.
6-8 cups all-purpose flour
Combine and let stand for 3-5 minutes
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water or milk
2 packages active dry yeast
Add 1 cup flour. Cover this sponge and let it rest in a warm place until light and foamy, about 1 hour.
Sprinkle a little of the sifted flour over:
1/2 pound raisins
1/2 pound chopped blanched almonds
1/2 cup chopped candied fruits
Beat until soft:
1 1/2 cups butter
Add gradually and blend until light and creamy:
1/2 cup sugar
Beat in, one at a time:
Add 3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind
Add sponge and enough flour to knead the dough until smooth and elastic. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk. Place on a floured board. Knead in the fruits and nuts. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces (or see my comments above about dividing into 4 pieces). Roll each into an 8 x 15 inch oval. Fold in half lengthwise and place loaves on greased baking sheets. brush the tops with melted butter.
Let the loaves rise, covered, until almost double in bulk (about 45 minutes). Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 30-40 minutes or until done. When cool brush with glaze or sprinkle with powdered sugar.