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Christmas Dresden Stollen

1 envelope active dry yeast
1/4 cup very warm water
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup milk or half & half
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, soft (1-1/2 sticks)
1 tsp almond extract
1 Tbsp lemon and orange zest, each
2 eggs
1/2 cup currants
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup maraschino cherries; drained dry, cut in half
1/2 cup blanched, slivered almonds
Almond filling (optional), 1/2 cup fresh or prepared
Powdered sugar, superfine sugar, or sugar glaze
5-6 cups sifted all purpose flour

Sprinkle yeast into warm water with 1/4 tsp sugar. Let stand 10
minutes. Heat milk with remaining sugar, salt, and 1 stick of
butter in a saucepan over low temperature until melted. Pour into
large machine mixer bowl or hand mixer bowl and add yeast mixture.
Stir in extract, zests, eggs, and 4-1/2 to 5 cups of the flour.
Add enough flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto floured
surface and knead until smooth; 5 minutes by machine or 10 by hand.
Dust with more flour often. Place bowl on a plate atop preheating
oven, covered with foil, for 20-30 min. Punch down, and knead in
fruits and nuts by machine or by hand on floured surface until
evenly distributed, about 2 min.

Divide in half; roll each to a 12 x 8 inch oval. Almond filling
may be spooned into the middle of each oval (1/4 cup each) before
folding each oval in half so that one side is within 1 inch of the
edge of the other side. Place on two buttered cookie sheets, atop
warm oven and let rise 20 minutes. Bake 350 degrees for 15 min.
Brush with remaining butter and bake 15 min longer, until golden
brown, but not dry or hard. Remove from oven and cool completely.
Sprinkle with sifted powdered sugar or combined powdered sugar (1
cup) with 2 tsp lemon juice for glaze.

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