The first thing to do to coax the yeast along is to mix it with warm milk until it's dissolved and frothy.
Then you have to knead in the goodies: toasted almond slivers, and fruit. Over the years, our family has dropped the candied fruit and settled on plain raisins, plumped up in a little warm water, as the nicest accompaniment to the yeasty crumb, but one can add any variety of candied or dried fruit. It's always a challenge to get these incorporated into the dough, which seems to shed raisins like an overexcited labrador sheds fur.
Then you roll out the dough, sprinkle on the filling, and slice it like a pizza.
Roll the cookies from the center to the outside, and sprinkle any shed filling over the assembled cookies.
Then bake until golden brown. Make sure to reserve some for Santa before serving them for Christmas Eve dessert.
adapted from the Joy of Cooking
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
5 cups flour, plus more for handling the dough
1 cup milk, just below scalding
2 Tbsp + 3/4 tsp (3 packages) yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup toasted slivered almonds
1 1/2 cup dried or candied fruit, including or exclusively raisins plumped in warm water and drained.
1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk. Prepare the dough in 2 batches in a food processor, combining the butter, sugar, and egg, then mixing in the flour and pouring in the yeast mixture while the processor is running. If the dough is too sticky to handle, add a little more flour. Combine the two batches, cover, and allow to rise in a warm place for several hours, until doubled in bulk.
2. Knead in the nuts and fruit, using a little more flour if the dough is too sticky. Shape into two loaves and place on greased cookie sheets. Cover with clean dish towels and place in the oven beneath a pan of steaming hot water. Allow to rise several hours until doubled in size.
3. Remove the dough, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and bake the loaves for about 45 minutes until they are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped with a finger nail. Cool on a rack. Dust with confectioner sugar. Serve slices as is or toasted.
adapted from Mollie Katzen
for the dough
1/2 cup (1 stick butter)
1 cup cottage cheese
1 1/3 cup flour, and more for handling
1/4 tsp salt
for the filling
1/4 cup hazelnuts
1/4 cup chocolate chips, frozen
scan 1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1. Chop the filling ingredients in a food processor until they have the consistency of a coarse crumb. Reserve.
2. Wipe out the food processor and prepare the dough, processing the ingredients until they come together into a ball. If the dough is very sticky, add a little more flour. Remove the dough and shape into two balls. Wrap in plastic wrap or a silicone baking mat and chill for a few minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove one dough ball from the refrigerator, roll into about a 12 inch diameter circle, sprinkle with half of the filling, and slice into 12 slices. Roll each slice from the center to the perimeter and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle any filling that fell out over the rolled cookies. Prepare the second ball like the first. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.