Dutch holiday loaf

In the Netherlands, it is customary to eat a special raisin bread with almond paste filling for Easter and Christmas. This is a vegan version, and a friend of mine thought it was much better than the store-bought varieties!

What you need (for 1 large loaf or 4 small loaves):
- 100g raisins or sultanas
- 100g currants (or extra raisins)
- 2 tbsp lemon zest (I used store-bought zest from Dr. Oetker)
- 3 tbsp rum or water
- 1 package ready-made almond paste (Dr. Oetker) or make your own (see recipe below)
- 7g dry yeast
- 200ml non-dairy milk
- 60g unsalted vegan margarine
- 125g caster sugar
- 430g flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp soy yoghurt (or pureed silken tofu)
- sunflower oil
- additional non-dairy milk
- flaked almond (optional)
- icing sugar

Mix raisins, curants and lemon zest in a bowl, add rum or water and soak, covered, for 2hrs until all liquid has been absorbed. (Prepare the almond paste if making from scratch, see recipe below).
Melt the margarine and mix in milk, sugar and yoghurt. Let it cool to approx. body temperature, then stir in the yeast.
In a large bowl, stir together flour and salt, then make a dip in the centre. Mix in the milk mixture and knead for approx. 10 mins. until the dough is soft and elastic. Add a bit of flour if the dough is too sticky. Shape the dough into a ball, brush a bit of oil on top and let it rise, covered, for 1 - 1,5 hrs. at a warm spot.
Knead the dough, then flatten in on your work surface. Sprinkle the soaked fruit on top, then fold over the dough and gently knead it until well-mixed. Shape the dough into an 20cmx30cm (8"x12")oval. Knead the almond paste and shape it into a 30cm (12") roll. Put it on top of the dough, then fold over the dough so the almond paste is sealed inside. Let the loaf rest and rise for another hour.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (circulation oven: 170°C). Brush a bit of milk on top of the loaf and sprinkle on some flaked almonds, if desired. Bake the loaf for 30-35 mins. until golden brown.
Once the loaf has cooled, sift some icing sugar over the top. Cut into slices and serve with margarine and sugar.

This bread freezes quite well. Instead of 1 large loaf, consider making 4 smaller ones (each is enough to generously serve 2 people) and freezing the leftover loaves. Put the icing sugar on top after defrosting the loaves.

To make your own almond paste, you´ll need:
100g almond flour
100g sugar
2 tsp lemon zest
3 tbsp water

Mix all ingredients into a thick paste. Store at a cool place until ready to use.

Based on this recipe.

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