Christmas Nut Bread with Pears

This fruit bread is very popular in Switzerland at Christmas-time.

Method

1.Place the pears and prunes in a pan and cover with water. Leave to soften for 2-3 hours. Set the pan on the heat, bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 20 min. Drain the fruits and keep the juice and leave to cool.
2.Place the chopped figs, dates, orange and lemon peels, raisins, sultanas, the pine nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts and the lemon and orange zests in a large bowl. Toss well together and pour on the 30 ml rum. Chop up the cooled fruit and add to the fruit and nut mixture.

3.Make a sponge batter with 50ml of the reserved fruit syrup,yeast, 50g flour and 30 g sugar taken from the main quantity. Cover and set aside to rise and double tin bulk.
4.Sift the remaining flour with the salt and spices in a large bowl.Pour in the sponge batter in the centre and draw in a little of the flour. Scoop in the seeds of the split vanilla pod and sugar. Combine together and moisten with about 100ml of the fruit syrup. Knead the dough very thoroughly until it becomes less sticky and starts to roll off the sides of the bowl. When it is very elastic and large air-bubbles have started to form, gather into a large ball and place on the flour-dusted worktop.

5.Knead in the fruit and nut mixture. Roll into a large ball and lay in the large flour-dusted bowl and cover with a tea towel. Set aside in a warm place to double in size.

6.Break off pieces of dough and form into hand sized 4-5cm rolls. Lay the small rolls, well apart, on greased baking sheets. Leave to rest and rise a little for 15-20 minutes, then bake in the pre-heated oven until golden and well risen.

7.Rum glaze for the warm loaves. Heat 250ml fruit syrup with 60 g granulated sugar, bring to the boil. Stir in 30 g cornflour and cook until thickened. Draw off the heat and stir in 60 ml rum. Brush on the warm loaves and leave to cool.

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Hi this sounds yummy - is there an alternative to adding the alcohol?
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