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(For two loaves, each serves 10) 1/2 cup sultanas (golden raisins) 1/2 cup raisins 3/4 cup dried cherries 1/2 cup rum 6 cups bread flour 1/2 cup water 1½ tsp. instant yeast 2/3 cup milk 1/2 tsp. almond extract 1 Tbs. vanilla extract 3/4 tsp. salt 3/4 cups sugar 9 oz. unsalted butter, plus 1/4 cup butter, melted 2 Tbs. candied orange peel 2 Tbs. candied lemon peel 1 cup almond slivers Powdered sugar
In a covered container, soak sultanas, raisins, and cherries in rum for one week. In a bowl, mix one cup of flour, water, and a half teaspoon of yeast, and allow to sit at room temperature overnight. Add milk, one teaspoon yeast, and extracts to the mixture and set aside for 15 to 20 minutes. Add remaining flour, plus salt and sugar to the wet ingredients. Using a mixer, blend on low speed until smooth and silky. (It is very dry, and will work the mixer.) Add nine ounces of butter gradually, and mix until dough comes back together. It will start out loose and will incorporate the butter and become smooth again. Add soaked fruit, citrus peels, and almonds. Mix just long enough to fully blend. (The fruit is fragile and will fall apart if over-mixed.) Allow dough to rise for three to four hours at room temperature. Separate the dough into two pieces. Shape into flattened loaves and allow to rest on a cookie sheet for two hours. Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush loaves with a quarter cup of melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 30 minutes. Rotate pan in oven, and bake for another 30 minutes or until rich brown. Allow to cool completely, then sift powdered sugar over top. Serve toasted with butter for breakfast or thinly sliced with coffee or a dessert wine.