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This German Christmas bread is said to be formed in the shape of the baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes.
Hands-on: 30 minutesTotal: 11 hours 30 minutes
- ¼ cup chopped dried apricots
- ¼ cup chopped dried dates
- ¼ cup chopped dried figs
- ¼ cup golden raisins
- ¼ cup chopped dried pineapple
- 1 cup brandy
- ¼ cup whole milk
- 1¼ cups granulated sugar, divided
- 1¾ tsp. active dry yeast (1 package)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened, divided
- ¼ cup almond paste
- 1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
- 1 Tbsp. grated orange zest
- 1 vanilla bean, scraped
- 1 tsp. plus ⅛ tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. ground cardamom
- 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- 4 cups bread flour
- 1 Tbsp. water
- ½ cup confectioners' sugar
- 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
- Combine apricots, dates, figs, raisins, pineapple, and brandy. Add enough water to cover fruit, then set aside to plump overnight.
- Combine milk, ¼ cup sugar, and yeast. Stir to dissolve and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add 1 egg, soaked fruit and liquid, ½ cup butter, almond paste, lemon zest, orange zest, vanilla bean, 1 teaspoon salt, cardamom, nutmeg, almonds, and enough bread flour to make a soft dough. Turn onto a floured work surface and knead 8–10 minutes. Add flour only to reduce stickiness. Return to bowl, dust with flour, cover with plastic, and rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment. Turn risen dough onto a floured surface and shape into a round loaf. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and rest 10 minutes. Flatten rested loaf into a disk about 2" thick, then fold in half so that the top edge stops 2" short of meeting the bottom edge. Place onto prepared pan, cover loosely, and proof 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Whisk remaining egg with 1 tablespoon water and remaining salt; brush lightly onto the surface of the risen loaf. Bake until golden brown and hollow sounding, about 30–40 minutes. Cool on a rack.
- Melt remaining butter and beat together with remaining granulated sugar, confectioners' sugar, and lemon juice. Brush all over cooled loaf. When hardened and dry, brush on another layer. Repeat sequence with remaining icing. Wrap and store at room temperature for 2 weeks, or freeze for 2 months.