*The easiest way to chop candied cherries, which tend to be very sticky, is by snipping each in half with a pair of scissors.
Combine the flour, water and yeast in a large mixing bowl, stirring till smooth. (Or use your bread machine, canceling the machine after several minutes of mixing.) Let the mixture rest overnight at room temperature.
Add the flour, butter, egg, milk, sugar, salt, yeast, almond extract, and vanilla to the sponge. Stir to combine, then knead thoroughly, using your hands, an electric mixer, a food processor or a bread machine, till the dough is very smooth and supple. Tr
While the dough is rising, stir together the dates, raisins, cherries, flour and almonds. Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly greased work surface. Knead the fruit into the dough till it's well-distributed; a good way to do this is to pat or roll the d
Pat each log into a 10 x 8-inch oval. The fruit may try to "fall out" of the dough; that's OK, just stick it back in. Fold each oval lengthwise, bringing one side over the other but leaving a 1-inch gap, as if you were making a Parker House roll (in other
Bake the stollen in a preheated 350°F oven for 30 to 35 minutes, tenting it with aluminum foil after 20 minutes if it appears to be browning too quickly. The finished loaves should be golden brown, and their internal temperature should register 190°F on a
For a more traditional stollen, substitute 1/2 cup candied peel, citron or angelica for the 1/2 cup chopped dates.