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Classic fruit bread is a German favorite

(ran TP, ST editions)

Dresdener Stollen is a classic fruit bread that is a favorite of many, especially those of Germanic heritage.

It is a braided, slightly sweet yeast bread filled with candied fruits and nuts. The directions in this recipe are wonderfully clear and should produce two loaves to be proud of.

Mary Schmiedl asked for a Potato Dumpling recipe prepared with riced potatoes and farina. Helen Prenzel shares hers, and several other cooks pass on good tips.

For: Kitty Fisher of St. Petersburg.

From: Gair Nourigat of St. Petersburg.

Recipe: Dresdener stollen from The Cooking of Germany from Time-Life's Foods of the World Series.

Dresdener Stollen

{ cup seedless raisins

{ cup dried currants

1 cup mixed candied citrus peel

\ cup candied angelica, cut into \-inch dice

{ cup candied cherries, cut in half

{ cup rum

\ cup lukewarm water (110-115 degrees)

2 packages or cakes of dry or compressed yeast

} cup plus a pinch of sugar

5{ cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup milk

{ teaspoon salt

{ teaspoon almond extract

{ teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon peel

2 eggs, at room temperature

} cup unsalted butter, cut into \-inch bits and softened

8 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

1 cup blanched slivered almonds

\ cup confectioners' sugar, sifted

Combine raisins, currants, candied citrus peel, angelica and cherries in a bowl. Pour 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 2-3 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{- to 2-quart saucepan, combine milk, { cup sugar and salt. Heat to lukewarm (110-115 degrees), stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. Off the heat, stir in the reserved rum, almond extract and fresh lemon peel and finally the yeast mixture.

Place 5 cups 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 ball and place it on a board sprinkled with the remaining { cup flour. Knead the dough by pushing it down with the heels of your hands, pressing it forward and folding it back on itself. Continue the kneading for about 15 minutes or until all the flour is 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, 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. Brush the top of the dough with another 2 teaspoons of melted butter, 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 rest for 10 minutes, then roll the pieces into strips about 12 inches long, 8 inches wide and { inch thick. Brush each strip with 2 tablespoons of the remaining butter and sprinkle each with 2 tablespoons of the remaining sugar.

Fold each strip lengthwise in the following fashion: Bring one long side over the 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 loaf slightly and pat the sides gently together to mound it in the center. The finished loaf should be 3{-4 inches wide and 13 inches long.

With a pastry brush and 1 tablespoon melted butter, coat the bottom of an 11- by 17-inch jelly-roll pan. Place the loaves on the 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.

Bake the bread in the middle of a preheated 375 degree 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. Makes 2 13-inch loaves.

For: Mary Schmiedl of New Port Richey.

From: Helen Prenzel of Floral City.

Recipe: Potato Dumplings.

Potato Dumplings

12 medium-size potatoes

1 cup all-purpose flour, approximately

{ cup uncooked farina

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, beaten

Toasted bread cubes (croutons)

Boil potatoes with skins on. When tender, drain and peel. While still hot, put through ricer. Spread out on towels to dry (can be put in very low oven for an hour or so).

Mix well with farina, flour and eggs. If too moist, add flour. Form in balls around bread cube, about 2 inches round. Boil in salted water in large pot about 3 minutes or until they come to the top of the water. Do not crowd. Drain.

Virginia Peterson of Palm Harbor writes that dumplings similar to these were a Sunday tradition, served with roast pork and sauerkraut. Leftover dumplings were cut up and fried until slightly brown, and then eggs were scrambled in with them. This is still one of Virginia's favorite breakfasts.

The kind of potato used is important. Louise Gibson of St. Petersburg found this advice in The International Cookbook: "Potato dumplings cannot be made from an American baking potato like an Idaho."The dough won't keep its shape and dissolves in the water. Any other kind of mature potato will do fine. If you're hesitant, make a small amount of dough and test-boil."'

Recipe requests

Cindy Satterfield of Clearwater writes that her mother used to make wonderful yeast biscuits. Cindy would be grateful if you have a recipe for these to share.

Another family recipe is needed. Dill potato soup is the recipe Rosemary Eustis of St. Petersburg would like to have. Rosemary has tried to duplicate it from memory, but it just doesn't taste the same. This eastern European soup is creamy and is made with milk and sour cream.

How do you make chocolate dirt? Two of the ingredients are cookie crumbs and whipped topping and the finished dessert looks like potting soil and is served in plastic pots with artificial flowers. Rose Marcelin of Clearwater wants the recipe for this interesting dessert.

Linda McConnell of St. Petersburg wants to know how to prepare spinach and feta strata made with sliced croissants.

Bonnie Ballard of Madeira Beach writes that she and her husband miss the Key Lime Pie served at the former Scripts Restaurant. It had the texture of cheesecake and the lightness of mousse. If you have a recipe that fits this description, please share it.

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