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5 from 4 votes

Authentic Hutzelbrot (German Dried Fruit & Nut Bread)

An very traditional and rustic German recipe, this old-fashioned fruit and nut bread is deliciously dense, chewy, moist and flavorful.   A labor of love worth every effort!
Prep Time1 hr 30 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time2 hrs 30 mins
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: German
Servings: 48 slices (approx.)
Calories: 206kcal
Author: Kimberly Killebrew

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Place the dried fruits (except for the raisins) in a pot and pour the water over them.  Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  Turn off the heat and let it sit for at least 3 hours.  Pour them into a colander over a bowl to collect all of the liquid.  Let it strain for a sufficient amount of time to ensure as much of the liquid is drained out as possible.  Reserve the fruit liquid, you'll need it later.  (See NOTE)  
  • While the dried fruits are cooling, place the raisins in a bowl and stir in the rum so the raisins soak it all up.
  • Toast the whole almonds and hazelnuts in the oven until fragrant (be careful not so scorch them) and once cooled chop them very coarsely (basically just in half). Coarsely chop the drained dried fruits.
  • Heat 1 1/4 cups of the reserved fruit water (keep the rest for later) until just lukewarm. Stir the yeast into it along with a couple teaspoons of the sugar. Let the mixture sit for about 15 minutes until very frothy.
  • While the yeast mixture is sitting, add the flours, sugar, salt, ground anise seed and cinnamon to the bowl of a stand mixer and stir to combine. Make a well in the center and pour the yeast mixture in. Using the dough hook, knead the mixture until it comes together and then knead for about 6 minutes.  The dough will be very firm. Lightly spray the bowl and put the dough ball back in. Loosely cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest in a warm place for 30 minutes. The dough will not rise much, it will just get slightly puffy.
  • Add the chopped dried fruits, raisins, candied lemon and orange peels, chopped toasted nuts and lemon zest to the dough.  Using the dough hook, knead the mixture until it is thoroughly combined. The fruits will become mushier and incorporate into the dough and depending on how much liquid was drained out of the dried fruits, the dough may be very wet. Continue adding a little flour at a time until the dough is manageable. You do NOT want it to become stiff and dry, it needs to remain soft and moist but not too wet. You want to reduce the moisture just until the dough is manageable enough to turn out onto a work surface where you will continue to add a little more flour as needed.
  • Turn the dough out onto a generously floured work surface. Use your hands to knead the dough to make sure all the ingredients are evenly incorporated, adding more flour as needed until you've got a round dough ball that is soft and malleable but not sticky on the outside.
    Place the dough ball into a lightly sprayed large bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let it rest at room temperature for about 2 hours. It will not rise very much, it will just become a little puffy. Punch it down in the center, cover with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator overnight. This will improve the flavor of the yeast dough and also enable to flavors of the fruits and spices to develop and fully penetrate the dough.
    NOTE: If you're in a hurry, you can skip the overnight refrigeration step (though we recommend it). After letting the dough rest at room temp for 2 hours, follow the steps to form the Hutzelbrot loaves, and let them rest for another 60-90 minutes until slightly puffy, brush with the fruit juice and bake as instructed.
  • The next day, remove the dough from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for 4-5 hours. Again, it won't rise a whole lot but it will become puffier. Cut the dough ball into 4 equal portions (though the dough won't have risen much, it will be nice and puffy when you cut into it). Don't make the loaves any larger, you want to ensure the inside is fully baked before the outside burns.  
    Form each piece into oval-shaped loaves and place them on a lined baking sheet. NOTE: If you prefer, you can divide them further to make 8 smaller loaves (in which case I recommend forming them into little round loaves) and reduce the baking time.
    Place the whole, blanched almonds on top in the traditional manner (see pictures). Loosely lay some plastic wrap over the top and let the loaves rest in a warm place for 60-90 minutes until just slightly puffy.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
    Brush each loaf all over with the reserved fruit juice, saving half of it for later. Bake the loaves on the middle rack for about an hour until very dark brown but not burnt. Pick one up with a dish towel and knock on the bottom to see if it sounds fairly hollow.
    Remove the loaves from the oven and, while still hot, poke them all over with a toothpick and brush them with the remaining fruit juice. Let them cool completely and then wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and then foil to let them "ripen" for at least several days (ideally 2 weeks) before eating.  That will ensure the best flavor and texture.  (If letting them ripen beyond a few days, I keep them in the fridge.)
  • Slice, spread with a little butter and enjoy! (I like it best heated up for a few seconds in the microwave.)

Notes

NOTE ABOUT STAND MIXERS:  Mine is 6 QT and everything fit.   If your stand mixer is smaller it will need to be mixed in two batches which is fine because everything will get dumped out on the work surface and mixed together again.
Note:  While the dried pears are the featured fruits of Hutzelbrot ("Hutzel" means pear) and should be used generously, feel free to adjust the ratios of the other dried fruits or substitute them according to your preference.  You can also include dried apples.
Note:  Depending on how soft your dried plums are, you may not need to simmer them, just add them for the soak.  Also, if your dried pears are on the softer side you can reduce the length of simmer time.
Note:  Depending on how thirsty your dried fruits were in soaking up the water, if you find you don't have enough liquid for the 1 1/2 cups you'll need for the dough plus extra for brushing the loaves later on, add a little extra water to it.
Serving: 1slice | Calories: 206kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 5g | Sodium: 18mg | Potassium: 361mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 205IU | Vitamin C: 1.7mg | Calcium: 47mg | Iron: 1.7mg