Yield:  4 stollen, or 2 stollen and 16 to 32 butterhorn rolls

Cook’s notes: This makes a versatile, rich dough that you can use for butterhorn rolls, pecan rolls and cinnamon buns, as well as stollen. Don’t let the length of the recipe scare you; it’s detailed for new bakers. A rising dough has doubled when you can press it lightly with a finger and the indentation doesn’t bounce back. For candied fruit, our tradition calls for the dreaded, red and green “fruitcake mix” you see only around the holidays; you could certainly use more sophisticated fruits than this. I’m vague on the amount you need because it’s flexible; my father thinks we never put enough in, though if you use too much, the dough gets so weighed down it can’t rise well. But even a flat stollen is a tasty one.

¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter

1 ½ cups milk (any fat content)

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 ½ teaspoons coarse (kosher) salt

3 ½ teaspoons instant yeast

7 to 8 cups all-purpose flour, divided

5 large eggs, at room temperature

Candied fruit and nuts to taste (see recipe)

Melt butter in milk over medium heat; cool to 120 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl (preferably in a stand mixer), mix sugar, salt, yeast, and 2 cups flour. Add milk mixture and beat until combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then add remaining flour 1 cup at a time, beating well. (If using a hand mixer, you may have to add the final cups of flour by hand.) Don’t let mixture get too stiff — you should end with a soft dough (usually about 7 ½ cups flour total).

Put dough in a large, clean bowl, covered directly with greased plastic wrap, and place in a turned-off oven with a pan of boiling water. Let rise until doubled.

Gently punch dough down. If making stollen, gently mix in the fruit now (divide the dough if you’re making part into stollen and part into rolls). Let rise again until doubled. Form as desired (see below) and rise again until just doubled. Bake at 350 degrees on oven’s middle shelf until golden: 16 to 20 minutes for stollen, 15 to 20 minutes for rolls.

For stollen: After the first rise, gently knead in a mixture of 2 cups or more nuts and candied fruit per stollen (divide the dough into quarters to make 4 stollen, or use two quarters for stollen and the rest for other rolls). I prefer a mix of toasted, sliced almonds, candied fruit, and currants, all tossed in about 2 tablespoons flour (if my currants are hard, I soak them first in a little warmed cognac, then drain them). You want to knead in only as much fruit as the dough can hold easily. Cover and let rise until doubled. After the second rise, punch down and roll or pat out each piece of dough on a lightly floured surface into a long oval. Brush lightly with softened butter, fold in half lengthwise with the open side facing you, and gently bend into a crescent shape. Press down on the top of the folded edge with the side of your hand to seal it. Place on parchment paper-lined or greased sheets, brush tops with softened butter, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled and bake as above. Frost while warm (not hot) with glaze: heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon milk to melt the butter. Add 2 tablespoons cognac or rum and whisk in 1 cup confectioner’s sugar. Glaze loaf; sprinkle if desired with toasted nuts, or make traditional designs of flowers using candied fruit and nuts (sliced almonds make the flower petals, and a piece of candied fruit goes in the center of the flower).
For butterhorn rolls: Use ¼ of the dough at a time and roll on a lightly floured surface into a thin circle. Cut into 8 to 16 wedges; roll up each wedge from the wide to narrow end, tucking point under. Place on parchment paper-lined or greased baking sheets; let rise, covered, until doubled. Bake as above.

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