The last Christmas baking project was the making of an authentic Christmas Stollen. It was definitely the most involved project, since it required 3 risings of the dough, plenty of kneading by our resident kneading expert (Mihai), discoveries of new ingredients in the local suburban supermarket (dried currants), and many hours devoted to the process on Christmas Day. The results were mixed - I found the Stollen we collectively created a little dry, but my stepfather seemed to enjoy it more than any of our other baking projects, so I guess it just depends on your taste.
Adapted from Under the High Chair
6-8 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon yeast
1½ cups warm milk
¼ cup dried cherries
¾ cup golden raisins
¾ cup currants
1½ cup almonds, chopped
¾ cup sugar
1½ cups butter, plus extra for brushing loaves, at room temperature
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons rum
1. 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.
2. Meanwhile, combine cherries, raisins, and almonds and set aside.
3. When sponge has sufficiently rested, beat the soft butter with an electric mixer. Beat in sugar and blend until light and creamy. Add eggs one at a time, followed by the salt, lemon rind, and rum. Mix in the fruit and nuts with a spatula. Add all the sponge and the remaining 5 cups flour. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if too sticky (we ended up adding around 1 more cup).
4. Cover dough with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk.
5. 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 each loaf on its own baking sheet and brush with butter. Allow to rise again until almost doubled in bulk.
6. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake loaves for about 40 minutes until they are a dark golden brown.