Serves 12 Prep time 20 mins, cook 40 mins (plus resting)
This German speciality began life as a tasteless bread before evolving into a rich, fruit-laden Christmas treat.
Thought to have been created in 14th-century Germany, the first Stollen was characterised by the absence of milk and butter, ensuring its existence as a flavour-free (and fun-free) Christmas bread.
With butter banned as part of December's Advent fast, the Catholic Church decreed that the 'Christstollen' be made with little more than flour, yeast, water and oil.
It was Saxony, whose citizens only had access to unsavoury rape oil, that petitioned the Pope to allow its bakers to use butter. The church relented, for a small, cheeky fee toward the building of the Dresden cathedral.
The Saxons went to work on baking a more cake-like version with eggs, sugar, dried fruit, citrus peel and almonds. The loaf was liberally brushed with melted butter and dusted in icing sugar. This became the famous Dresden Stollen, and other German variations also include a decadent marzipan version.
Step-by-step instructions Combine sultanas, currants and rum in a bowl and stand overnight to macerate.
Sift flour and spices into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Combine yeast, 1 tsp sugar and half the milk and pour into the well, then using a fork, incorporate a little of the surrounding flour to make a thick batter. Cover with a tea towel and stand in a warm place for 10-15 minutes or until foamy.
Distribute 180gm butter and almond meal over remaining flour surrounding the yeast mixture, then, using a wooden spoon or your hands, combine to form a dough. Add eggs, lemon rind, vanilla, remaining sugar and milk, and beat against side of bowl until well combined. (Dough should be heavy and come away from hands and sides of bowl.)
Preheat oven to 220C. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, flatten dough slightly, scatter with orange peel and knead until well distributed, repeat with almonds and dried fruit. Form dough into a flat rectangle, place on a lightly oiled tray, cover with a clean tea towel and rest in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Knock dough back and roll, on a lightly floured work surface, to a 30cm x 25cm rectangle. Starting with the long sides of dough, fold left side towards the middle, then fold right side over left side to overlap by two-thirds, creating a bulge. Place on a lightly greased oven tray, cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place for 15 minutes to rest. Reduce oven temperature to 150C and bake for 40 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted withdraws clean. Transfer to a wire rack. Melt remaining butter, brush over warm Stollen and dust liberally with snow sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature, spread with butter if desired.