At Christmas time in Austria they traditionally serve something called stollen: it is a rich, fruity yeast bread filled with marzipan and topped with a light glacé icing. If you have a number of people staying over the holiday this is wonderful served warmed through at breakfast. If it is not all eaten when it's fresh you can also lightly toast it in slices. In fact it is so good it is worth making two and freezing one (it freezes beautifully).

This recipe is taken from Delia's Happy Christmas

 350g strong white bread flour
 ¼ level teaspoon salt
 2 level teaspoons easy-blend yeast
 50g caster sugar
 150ml milk
 110g softened butter
 1 large egg, beaten
 40g currants
 50g sultanas
 40g no-soak apricots, chopped
 40g natural glacé cherries, rinsed, dried and quartered
 25g whole candied peel, finely chopped
 25g almonds, chopped
 grated zest of 1 large lemon
 175g white almond icing (marzipan) or see recipe below
For the glaze:
 4 oz (110 g) icing sugar, sifted
 1 tablespoon lemon juice
 Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5, 375°F (190°C).
You will also need a large baking sheet, lightly greased.


First sift 300g of the flour together with the salt into a mixing bowl. Sprinkle in the easy-blend yeast and sugar and give it all a stir before making a well in the centre. Warm the milk until it is hand hot then pour it into the well and add the softened butter and beaten egg. Mix everything together either with your hands or with a wooden spoon – until the mixture is well blended and leaves the side of the bowl cleanly. Then work in the fruits, peel, nuts and lemon zest, distributing them as evenly as possible. Knead the dough on a work surface sprinkled with 25g of the remaining flour for 5 minutes, until it is springy and elastic. 

Now leave the dough in the bowl in a warm place, covered with clingfilm, until it has doubled in size (the time this takes can vary depending on the temperature – it can be up to 2 hours).
After that turn the risen dough out on to a board dusted with the remaining flour, and knock the air out of it and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. At this stage roll or press out the dough to an oblong 25 x 20 cm. Using your hands, roll out the almond icing (marzipan) to form a sausage shape and place this along the centre of the dough, finishing just short of the edges. 

Fold the dough over the marzipan and carefully place the whole thing on a baking sheet, allowing plenty of room for expansion. Place the tray in a large roomy polythene bag and leave it to prove in a warm place until it has doubled in size again. Then then bake in the oven on the centre shelf for 35-40 minutes. Allow it to cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before lifting it on to a wire rack to finish cooling. 

Meanwhile make the glaze by mixing the sifted icing sugar with the lemon juice, then use a small palette knife to spread this all over the top surface of the stollen (while it is still warm).

Serve as fresh as possible, cut into thick slices, with or without butter.

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