This is a favorite alternative to sweet fruitcake. It is a German yeast bread with candied fruits and nuts. My husband used to gild the lily by smearing butter all over it. When you see how much butter is in it, you will understand. I have made a few small adjustments to the recipe. Nothing substantive.
I keep a shaker of powdered sugar and sprinkle it over the slices before eating it. The bread also freezes well, so you can save any uneaten part and enjoy it over time.
One reason I am making this now is that I found some candied angelica in Scotland. This is very hard to find, but the recipe works fine without it as well. (Angelica goes back to medieval times and is said to protect against plague. If you happen to need this protection, you'd better seek out some.)
I copied this recipe years ago from my mother's Time-Life Foods of the World series.
1/2 cup seedlesss raisins
1/2 cup dried currants
1 cup mixed candied citrus peel
1/4 cup candied angelica, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1/2 cup candied cherry halves
1/2 cup rum
1/4 cup lukewarm water (110-115 degrees)
2 packages of yeast
3/4 cup plus one pinch of sugar
5 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. all purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon peel
2 eggs at room temperature
3/4 cup (1 and 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch bits and softened
8 tbsp. (1 stick) melted unsalted butter
1 cup blanched slivered almonds
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
Pour the lukewarm water into a small bowl and sprinkle it with the yeast and a pinch of sugar. Let the mixture stand for 2-3 minutes, then stir to dissolve the yeast completely. Set the bowl in a warm, draft-free place (such as a turned-off oven) for 5 minutes, or until the mixture almost doubles in volume.
Meanwhile, drain the fruit, reserving the rum, and carefully pat the pieces completely dry with paper towels. Place the fruit in a bowl, sprinkle it with 2 tablespoons of flour, and toss lightly with a spoon until the flour is completely absorbed. Set aside.
In a heavy 2 quart saucepan, combine the milk, 1/2 cup of sugar and the salt. Heat to lukewarm (110-115 degrees) stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. It should just feel warm--like baby bottle temperature, for example. Off the heat, stir in the reserved rum, almond extract, fresh lemon peel, and finally, the yeast mixture.
Place 5 cups of flour in a large bowl, and with a fork, stir in the yeast mixture, a cup or so at a time. Beat the eggs until frothy, and stir them into the dough. Then beat in the bits of softenend butter. Gather the dough into a ball and place it on a board sprinkled with the remaining 1/2 cup of flour. Knead the dough for about 15 minutes, or until all the flour is incorporated and the dough is smooth and elastic.
If you have a mixer with a dough hook, now would be a great time to use it.
When the dough is nice and elastic, press the fruit and almond into it, 1/3 cup or so at a time, but do not overhandle or the dough will discolor. Coat a deep bowl (I use a heavy bowl, and actually stick it in the microwave for a few seconds to take the chill off.) with 1 tsp. of melted butter, and place the dough in the bowl. Brush the top with another 2 tsp. (or just put all the butter in the bowl and roll it around until coated.) and cover with a clean dish towel. Place in a warm, draft-free place for about two hours, or until the dough is double in bulk.
Punch the dough down and divide it into two equal parts. Allow them to rest for ten minutes. Roll the pieces out into strips about 12 inches long, 8 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick. Brush each strip with 2 tbsp. of melted butter, and sprinkle with 2 tbsp. sugar. Fold each lengthwise by bringing one long side to to just across the middle. Fold the other side across until it overlaps the first side by about one inch. This gives you a long, thin loaf. Press the edge gently to keep it in place. With lightly floured hands, gently taper the ends of the loaf and pat the sides to make the bread nice and thick in the center. A finished loaf should be about 3 1/2 to 4 inches wide and about 13 inches long.
With a pastry brush, coat the bottom of a sheet pan (11 X 17" or so) with 2 tbsp. of melted butter. Set the loaves on the pan, and place in a warm, draft-free area for about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
Before serving, sprinkle with sifted confectioners' sugar (put some in a big salt shaker and you can just shake it out. Much easier).