To make two 13-inch loaves
- 1/2 cup seedless raisins
- 1/2 cup dried currants
- 1 cup mixed candied citrus peel
- 1/4 cup candied angelica, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1/2 cup candied cherries, cut in half
- 1/2 cup rum
- 1/4 cup lukewarm water (110-115°)
- 2 packages or cakes of dry or compressed yeast
- 3/4 cup plus a pinch of sugar
- 5 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- l/2 teaspoon ﬁnely grated fresh lemon peel
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 8 tablespoons melted unsalted butter unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch bits and softened
- 1 cup blanched slivered almonds
- 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Combine the raisins, currants, candied citrus peel, angelica and cherries in a bowl. Pour the rum over them, tossing the fruit about to coat the pieces evenly. Soak for at least 1 hour.
Pour the lukewarm water into a small bowl and sprinkle it with the yeast and a pinch of sugar. Let the mixture stand for 2 or 3 minutes, then stir to dissolve the yeast completely. Set the bowl in a warm, draft-free place (such as a turned-off oven) for about 5 minutes. or until the mixture almost doubles in volume.
Meanwhile. drain the fruit. reserving the rum, and carefully pat the pieces completely dry with paper towels. Place the fruit in a bowl, sprinkle it with 2 tablespoons of the flour. and turn it about with a spoon until the flour is completely absorbed. Set aside.
In a heavy 1 1/2- 2-quart saucepan, combine the milk, 1/2 cup of the sugar and the salt. heat to lukewarm (110-115°), stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. Oil the heat, stir in the reserved rum, the almond extract and fresh lemon peel, and finally the yeast mixture.
Place 5 cups of the flour in a large bowl and with a fork stir in the yeast mixture, a cup or so at a time. Beat the eggs until frothy and stir them into the dough, then beat in the bits of softened butter. (gather the dough into a balland place it on a board sprinkled with the remaining 1/2 cup of flour. Knead the dough, by pushing it down with the heels of your hands. pressing it inward and folding it back on itself. Continue the kneading for about 15 minutes, or until all the flour is incorporated and the dough is smooth and elastic. Flour your hands lightly from time to time. Now press the fruit and almonds into the dough, 1/3 cup or so at a time. but do not knead or handle it too much or the dough will discolor. coat a deep bowl with 1 teaspoon of melted butter and drop in the dough. Brisj the top of the dough With another 2 teaspoons of melted hotter. drape a towel over the bowl and set it in a warm, draft-free place for 2. hours, or until the dough doubles in bulk
Punch the dough down and divide it into two equal pieces. Let them test for 10 minutes, then roll the pieces out into strips ahout 12 inches long, 8 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick. Brush each strip with 2 tables pones of the remainting butter and springle each with 2 tablespoonds of the remaining sugar. Fold each strip lengthwise in the following fashion: one long side over to the center of the strip and press the edge down lightly. Then fold the other long side across it. overlapping the seam down the center by about 1 inch. Press the edge gently to keep it in place. With lightly floured hands, taper the ends of the load slightly and pat the sides gently together to mound it in the center. The finished loaf should be about 3 1/2 to 4 inches wide and 13 inches long.
With a pastry brush, and 1 tablespoon of melted butter, coat the bottom of an 11 by 17 inch jelly roll pan. Place the loaves on hte pan and brush them with the remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Set the loaves aside in a warm draft-free place for about 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk. Preheat the oven to 375°. Then bake the the bread in hte middl eof the oven for 45 minutes or until golden brown and crusty. Transfer the loaves to wire racks to cool completely. Just before serving, sprinkle the loaves with the sifted confectioners sugar