12 servings (makes two 9-inch loaves)
Here's a stollen recipe that's easier than most; instead of candied fruit, this features dried cranberries, Amarena cherries, sliced almonds and chunks of dark chocolate.
To make mini stollen, see the VARIATION, below.
The stollen can be made at least a day in advance and frozen for up to 1 month, tightly wrapped.
Jars of Amarena cherries are available in Italian markets and some grocery stores as well as gourmet purveyors online.
For the dough
1/2 cup almond milk, warmed to 110 degrees (may substitute regular or low-fat milk)
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon flour, plus more for the work surface
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest (from 1 orange)
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons vegan butter substitute, such as Earth Balance, at room temperature (may substitute salted butter; coconut oil is not recommended)
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
3 tablespoons quartered Amarena cherries (see headnote)
1/3 cup raw sliced almonds
1/3 cup coarsely chopped dark chocolate
For the topping
2 tablespoons vegan butter substitute, such as Earth Balance, melted (may substitute salted butter)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (optional)
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar (optional)
For the dough: Pour the warmed milk into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and sprinkle the yeast over the surface; stir slightly and let stand for a few minutes until bubbles begin to form.
Add 2 cups of the flour, the granulated sugar, orange zest, ground ginger, nutmeg, salt and butter substitute to the bowl; beat on low speed for about 3 minutes, until a sticky dough forms. Increase the speed to medium-high; beat for about 4 minutes, until the dough is smooth and has pulled away completely from the sides of the bowl.
Combine the dried cranberries, Amarena cherries and a tablespoon of flour in a small bowl, until well coated.
Reduce the speed to the lowest setting.
Add the fruit mixture, almonds and chocolate; beat until incorporated (if you mix in the fillings too fast, then the dough can discolor). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm place for 1 hour. The dough may not rise much, but should be soft to the touch.
Lightly flour a work surface. Uncover and turn out the dough there, then divide it equally in half.
Pat each piece out into a rectangle, about 8 by 6 inches; For each one, using the long end, fold 2 inches of the end facing you toward the middle, then fold the top end just overlapping the middle (like folding a letter).
Flip over gently and pat the whole top down gently with your hands, pinching the ends together slightly and forming an 8-by-3 inch log with rounded ends.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the two loaves on it, spacing them at least 3 inches apart.
Then cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm place for 1 hour. The loaves will be slightly puffed, but not doubled in size. Uncover.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake (middle rack) the loaves for 15 minutes, then rotate the pan from front to back (to ensure even baking), and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes.
For the topping: Brush the warm loaves with the melted butter substitute. At this point, you can leave the loaves as they are, or you can mix together the granulated sugar and 1/2 cup of the confectioners' sugar and dust the tops of the loaves. For a heavier coating, let the bread cool completely after this step and dust the loaves with the rest of the confectioners' sugar a second time - Hot Bread Kitchen advises that the sugar will stick better with this two-step process, and it does really create that pretty snow-covered effect.
To make mini stollen, after forming the two 8-by 3-inch logs, cut each log into four 2-inch pieces. Gently pat the pieces into slightly rounded buns and then continue with the second rise, baking according to the directions. (They take the same amount of time to bake as the large stollen.)
Based on a recipe from "The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook," by Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez and Julia Turshen