1vanilla bean(split lengthwise, seeds scraped out and reserved)
½teaspoonpure almond extract
½cupblanched whole almonds(chopped into medium-sized pieces)
1 ½cupsunbleached all-purpose flour(more if needed)
6ounces(170 grams) marzipan(homemade or canned)
2tablespoons¼ stick or 28 grams) unsalted butter, melted
Confectioners' sugar for dusting
The night before or even 2 or 3 days ahead, combine the raisins, candied citron, and rum in a bowl. Stir several times to distribute the rum evenly. Set aside at room temperature to soak.
To make the sponge
Scald the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat-you will see steam rising from the surface and small bubbles forming around the edges. Remove the pan from the heat and let milk cool to lukewarm
Put the flour into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk in the yeast and sugar. Add the milk and whisk briskly to make a smooth batter. Add the egg and whisk to combine well. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let the sponge rise until it more than doubles in volume and then collapses on itself, about 2 hours.
To make the dough
Using a stand mixer, attach the flat beater and beat the butter into the sponge in 2-tablespoon at a time, on medium speed, beating until incorporated after each addition. Add the sugar, cardamom, nutmeg, vanilla seeds, almond extract, and salt and beat on low to medium-low speed for about 5 minutes. Scrape the bowl and beater, and stir in the raisins and citron, along with any unabsorbed liquor. Add the almonds. Switch to the dough hook. Beating on low speed, gradually add the flour and then knead for 3 to 5 minutes.
Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until almost doubled in size, about 1 hour.
To shape the stollen
Shape the marzipan into a log and roll between your palms to about 11in/approx 28cm long
Turn the dough out onto an unfloured work surface. Pat the dough into an oval measuring 12 in/30cm long and about 9in/23cm wide at the widest point. If the dough sticks at any point, dust it very lightly with flour. Place the roll of marzipan in the middle of the dough. Lift one side of dough over the marzipan, covering it completely. Then fold the other side over but not all the way. See the photos above for this simplified stollen shaping.
Line a large baking sheet with non stick baking paper. Put the stollen onto the lined baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise just the stollen has increased in volume by about half, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF/180ºC.
When the stollen are ready, remove the plastic wrap and place the pan in the oven. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until the stollen are nicely browned. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately brush each stollen with half the melted butter. Put the confectioners' sugar in a fine-meshed sieve and sift a generous layer all over the top of the stollen. Repeat in a few minutes if you see the sugar melting in spots. Cool the stollen completely on wire cooling racks. To serve, cut into ½-inch-thick slices with a sharp serrated knife.
Remove the pan from the oven and immediately brush each stollen with half the melted butter. Put the powdered sugar in a fine-meshed sieve and sift a generous layer all over the top of the stollen. Repeat in a few minutes if you see the sugar melting in spots. Cool the stollen completely on wire cooling racks. To serve, cut into ½-inch-thick slices with a sharp serrated knife.
Notes: to age the stollen, bake in advance before Christmas arrives!