My mother's Stollen was filled with candied fruit and almonds, then decorated with a glaze. Then, I would create candied cherry flowers on the top with an almond in the middle. After I was married, my family didn't necessary like the candied fruit, so a few years ago I made a big change and went with dried fruit. However, so it doesn't dry out, the dried fruit is soaked in brandy for 7-12 hours! Also, instead of a glaze, I use an ingredient called "glazing sugar" which is what is used on powdered sugar donuts; it doesn't soak into the dough and keeps that while snowy look. One more addition came from my research on Stollen and that was the addition of almond paste in the center. Today, I even made homemade almond paste; this is a very special tradition that I will continue to do with my Stollen each year.
3 cups dried fruit (cranberries, apricots, raisins, currants)
1/3 cup brandy (or you can used orange juice)
1/2 cup warm water (about 110F-degrees)
1 T instant dry yeast
1/4 tsp. granulated sugar
In a 1 cup glass measure, whisk the yeast into the water and allow to set until foamy--about 5 to 7 minutes.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the dough attachment, measure:
3 1/2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup dry milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground mace
1/2 tsp. ground cardamon
1 T grated lemon or orange zest
Add the proofed yeast and an additional 1/4-1/2 cup of water and mix until dough comes together. Turn out onto a bread board and knead until smooth. Place dough right-side-down in a buttered large bowl, then turn over. Cover tightly with plastic wrap.
In the meantime, if you want to add almond paste to the center of the bread as I did you can buy a 7 oz. tube or make your own.
1 1/2 cups almond flour (you can grind your own, using blanched almonds, but I brought the flour)
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tsp. almond extract
1 large egg white (don't worry, eggs are pasteurized)
In a food processor blend all the ingredients together, pulsing. Turn the paste out on a board and knead slightly to form a smooth ball. You will need 3/4 cup for the bread, but any remaining will keep up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
To assemble the Stollen:
Remove the dough from the bowl and roll out. Sprinkle the drained fruit and almonds over the surface and roll up. Knead the fruit and nuts into the dough. Divide into three pieces and shape each piece into an oval, about 8" x 6".
Divide the almond paste into three pieces and roll each piece into a 7-inch rope.
Place one piece of almond paste down the center of each oval, and fold dough over it lengthwise, leaving the top each of the dough just shy of the bottom edge. Press the top edge firmly and seal in the almond paste into the dough.
Repeat with the remaining two pieces. Place the loaves on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover them lightly and let them rise an additional 45 to 60 minutes, until puffy.
glazing sugar or confectioners' sugar. You can also prepare a glaze of 1 cup confectioners' sugar, 1 T light Karo syrup, and 1-2 T hot water.
Transfer to a rack and cool completely. Wrap airtight and store at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. Freeze for longer storage.