Christmas Stollen

Along with the traditional christmas favourites, I baked something new this year. Something I can’t believe I’ve never tried before. I’d like to share with you my new found christmas joy: Stollen. Stollen is a sweet German bread / cake filled with citrus peel, dried fruits, almonds, spices and sometimes marzipan. Its got all the same yummy flavours as christmas cake but the light yeasty base makes it much easier to devour several slices in one sitting!
Stollen Wreath
I was introduced to Stollen through this month’s DB challenge. The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book………and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

I have to say I really enjoyed making this, even though it takes quite some time. Because its coated liberally in butter and icing sugar the Stollen lasts much longer than you might expect and gives you many many days of tasty munching. Its especially good toasted with butter alongside a big mug of tea or hot chocolate mmmm.
stollen slices

Christmas Stollen

Serves 10 – 12 people, makes 2 loaves.

  • ¼ cup lukewarm water
  • 2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) (14 grams) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup milk
  • 140 grams unsalted butter
  • 5½ cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for kneading)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Grated zest of 1 lime or lemon and 1 orange
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract or orange extract
  • 1/3 cup mixed peel
  • 1 cup firmly packed raisins
  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) rum
  • 1/3 cup red glacé cherries (roughly chopped)
  • 1/3 cup dried apricots chopped
  • 1 cup (100 grams) flaked almonds
  • Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath
  • Icing sugar for dusting wreath
  • 1 cup almond marzipan

In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the rum (or in the orange juice from the zested orange if preferred) and set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup milk and 140g butter over medium – low heat until butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes. Pour ¼ cup warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with the yeast and let stand 5 minutes.

Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon and vanilla extracts.
In a large mixing bowl stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests. Then stir in the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/butter mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.

Add in the mixed peel, soaked fruit and almonds and mix with your hands or on low speed to incorporate.
stollen ingredients
Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour as needed. The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 8 minutes. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough – a few raisins will start to fall off the dough onto the counter because at the beginning of the kneading process the dough is very sticky and the raisins will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn’t enough to bind the outside raisins onto the dough ball.

Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Put it in the fridge overnight. The dough becomes very firm in the fridge (since the butter goes firm) but it does rise slowly… the raw dough can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week and then baked on the day you want.

When you’re ready to bake your stollen remove it from the fridge and let the dough rest for 2 hours in order to warm slightly.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and preheat oven to 180°C with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches (40 x 61 cms) and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick. Divide the marzipan into 2 balls and roll each one into a 60cm long sausage. Lay them down the length of the dough rectangle 1/3 and 2/3rds of the way across. Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder. Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan. Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle. You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape.

Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along the outside of the circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough.
Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Leave to rise in a warm place for 2 hours, or until about 1½ times its original size.
shaping and rising the dough
Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, should register 190°F/88°C in the center of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom. Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the top with melted butter while still hot. Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter. Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first. The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar. Coat the stollen in butter and icing sugar three times, since this many coatings helps keeps the stollen fresh. Let cool at least an hour before serving.
baked stollen
Enjoy 🙂

It’s the day before Christmas and I’m sure a lot of you are busy in the kitchen preparing sweets and special dishes for family and friends to feast on tomorrow or perhaps you’re taking part in a mad dash gift buying spree? eeek! I’m right there with you in the busy-ness of Christmas eve today. Tomorrow however, I intend to relax and spend as much time as possible soaking in the joy of food, gifts, and good times with family. Christmas is my favourite holiday!
So, if you’re a Christmas-lover like me I hope there is plenty of cheer all round tomorrow and hope you’ll also take some time to remember why it is we celebrate – the ultimate gift of hope given through Jesus birth.

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