25 homemade holiday gift recipes: Marzipan stollen

Marzipan stollen, 1 of 25 homemade holiday gift ideas from the L.A. Times Test Kitchen

Fragrant with citrus notes, dense and wonderfully sweet, many holiday traditions are not complete without at least one loaf of stollen. This recipe, from former Times Test Kitchen director Donna Deane, adds nutty marzipan to this fruit-and-candied zest-studded loaf for an added surprise.

A lovingly baked loaf of stollen is just one way to get crafty this holiday season with homemade gifts from the kitchen. We've compiled 25 great ideas, ranging from quick and simple gifts (perfect if you're working with kids) to more intricate projects that call for a little extra time and patience.

Some gifts will last for weeks, perhaps more. Others are best eaten within a day or two.

Not only are homemade gifts a great way to save money during the holiday season, they're a thoughtful and creative way to show how much you care.

MARZIPAN STOLLEN

Total time: 1 hour, 45 minutes, plus rising and proofing time | Serves 16 to 20 (8 to 10 per loaf)
Note: From Donna Deane.

    1/2 cup seedless raisins
    1/2 cup dried currants
    1 cup diced mixed candied citrus peel (1/4-inch dice) (see related recipe)
    1/2 cup candied cranberries
    1/2 cup brandy
    4 to 5 cups flour, divided
    2 packages active dry yeast
    1/2 cup sugar, divided
    1/2 cup milk
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    2 eggs, at room temperature
    1/2 cup butter, softened
    1 package (7 ounces) marzipan
    Melted butter
    1/4 cup powdered sugar

1. In a medium bowl, combine the raisins, currants, candied peel and candied cranberries. Pour the brandy over the fruit and let stand 1 hour. Drain, reserving the brandy. Pat the fruit dry with paper towels, return to a clean bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of the flour.

2. In the bowl of a standing mixer or in a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over one-fourth cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees) and stir until dissolved. Stir in 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Let stand until the yeast begins to bubble, about 5 minutes.

3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk, salt and remaining sugar to warm (110 to 115 degrees). Add the milk mixture, vanilla extract and eggs to the yeast mixture and beat in a mixer or by hand with a fork or wooden spoon until combined. Beat in the reserved brandy. Add 2 cups of the flour and beat until smooth. Cut the butter into small pieces and beat in. Beat in enough of the remaining flour until the dough forms a ball.

4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Flatten the dough out, then knead in the candied fruit, adding flour to the board as needed.

5. Shape the dough into a ball and put the dough into a buttered glass bowl. Turn the dough buttered side up and loosely cover. Let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

6. Punch down the dough and divide into two equal parts. Place one half aside. Roll the other half into a 12-by-8-inch oval. Brush with melted butter.

7. Cut the marzipan into quarters and roll each quarter into a 12-inch rope. Put two of the ropes alongside each other along the length of the dough, leaving a 1 1/2 - to 2-inch border between the two ropes in the center of the rolled-out dough. Fold the long side of the dough over to the center of the oval. Fold over the other long side so that it overlaps the center by about 1 inch, pressing down gently but firmly. Lightly taper the ends of the loaf. Put the finished loaf on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with melted butter. Repeat with the reserved dough.

8. Let the two loaves rise until each has doubled in size. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake about 30 to 40 minutes until dark golden brown. Dust loaves with powdered sugar.

Each of 20 servings: 320 calories; 5 grams protein; 57 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 7 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 34 mg. cholesterol; 129 mg. sodium.

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