This Christmas Bread Contains More Fruit than Flour – South Tyrolean Zelten

I was not expecting to make a rye bread for the Christmas series, but whilst flicking through ‘The Rye Baker’ by Stanley Ginsberg I came across this awesome recipe. To call it a bread is a bit of a stretch I must admit because most of the loaf is made up of dried fruits and nuts. But it does look like a little loaf of bread.

This must be the richest loaf I’ve baked so far. The bread dough is basically only there to keep the fruit and nuts together. It has a chewy and moist crumb and the flavour of all the spices, citrus, honey, and alcohol mingle together to make a perfect festive treat. If you don’t want to use alcohol simply swap it for an equal amount of orange juice.

Often, cakes and breads like this one are made a couple weeks ahead of time and left to mature to let all the flavours mingle. If you don’t want to wait you can serve it as soon as it has cooled down. It’s great either way.

You can customize the recipe by using other dried fruits, nuts, and spices. Decorate the loaves however you like too.

You’ll get two small loaves out of this recipe. To make more simply multiply all the ingredients. To make one divide the recipe in half.

Watch the video down below for detailed instructions.


For the rum soaker

300g (10.6oz) chopped dried figs

150g (5.3oz) raisins

50g (1.75oz) cranberries

80g (2.8oz) chopped hazelnuts

80g (2.8oz) pine nuts

60g (2.1oz) honey

50g (1.75oz) dark rum


For the wine soaker –

80g (2.8oz) candied orange and lemon peel

40g (1.4oz) sweet white wine


For the dough –

150g (5.3oz) warm water

8g (0.3oz) salt

6g (0.21oz) instant dry yeast or 7.2g (0.25oz) active dry yeast or 18g (0.63oz) fresh yeast

10g (0.35oz) oil

3g (0.1oz) ground anise seed

3g (0.1oz) ground fennel seed

3g (0.1oz) ground cinnamon

1g (0.035oz) ground clove

1g (0.035oz) ground nutmeg

1 orange worth of zest

1 lemon worth of zest

80g (2.8oz) white bread flour

120g (4.25oz) wholegrain (dark) rye flour


For the wash –

30g (1oz) warm water

20g (0.7oz) honey


To decorate –

Candied cherries

Blanched almonds


If you are using active dry yeast, then you may need to let it sit in the water for 10 minutes before adding the other ingredients or else it could take a lot longer to raise the dough.


  1. Make the rum soaker. In a large bowl combine the dried fruits and nuts. Mix well. In a separate bowl mix the honey and rum. Pour the honey-rum mixture over the fruits and mix well. Cover.
  2. Make the wine soaker. Combine the candied peel and wine. Mix well and cover.
  3. Leave the soakers overnight. Mix them at least once to ensure maximum absorption.
  4. Make the dough. In a large bowl combine the water, yeast, salt, oil, spices, and citrus zest. Mix well. Add the flours and mix to a dough. *Desired dough temperature around 25C (77F). If your dough is warmer, then it will ferment more rapidly. If it is cooler, then it will take longer. Adjust fermentation time accordingly.
  5. Cover and ferment for 1 hour. During this time pre-heat the oven to 160C (320F) fan on.
  6. Make the loaves. Add the soakers to the dough and mix well. The dough will be loose and sticky but that is normal.
  7. Divide the dough into two and shape into oblong or round loaves. Place one a non-stick paper lined baking tray.
  8. Brush with the water-honey mix. Top with cherries and almonds to decorate.
  9. Bake for 60 – 70 minutes or until the internal temperature reads above 94C (200F).

Leave to cool down and enjoy right away or wrap up in clingfilm for a couple of weeks.


Keep in mind that the conditions in each kitchen are different, so fermentation times may vary for you. It is up to the baker to control the bread and react accordingly.

Your oven may be different too, so your baking time may vary.

Watch The Video Here

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