Whilst stollen may be most usually associated with German Christmas feasting it has always been part of the festivities in my family. I get a little sad if there is no stollen around at Christmas. This year I'm attempting to make my own for the first time. How hard can it be?? My version is based on a few different ones in an attempt to find the flavour I remember from childhood. As usual I've gone to Dan Lepard for some inspiration from his book Short and Sweet as well as Helga's Christmas Stollen which can be found here. Essentially stollen is a bread dough enriched with milk, butter and/or eggs with dried fruit and marzipan and spices. You can vary the type and amount of dried fruit and spices to your preferences. Many recipes have no cardamon or cinnamon, much less spice or sometimes much more. This is not set in stone. There are also some lovely sounding versions around that contain glace or dried sour cherries. Use your imagination. Be creative and come up with a stollen that satisfies your taste buds.
My recipe is not at all difficult to make so please don't be put off by the quantity of ingredients or the number of steps included. However, you will need to have a day spare to make it. Once made it will keep for several weeks if stored properly. Very festive and super delicious.
NOTE: I made 3 smaller stollen so that I could give them to my mum and sister but you could just as easily make two larger ones or one mega stollen! Just make sure you adjust the cooking times accordingly.
1kg strong bread flour
5 tsps fast action yeast
200g caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
450g unsalted butter
grated peel of 1 lemon
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cardamon
650g dried mixed fruit (I used 350g raisins, 150g currants and 150g italian mixed peel)
5 tbps dark rum/brandy/vodka/amaretto
- Mix together the dried fruit and the rum and set to one side to allow the flavours to mix together. You could even do this over night if you remember.
- Reserve about 2 tbsps of the flour to one side then put the rest into a large bowl with the sugar, salt, spices and yeast.
- In a saucepan put the reserved flour and lemon zest and gradually beat in the milk until it is thoroughly combined with no lumps. Then bring the mixture just to the boil. Remove from the heat and place in another bowl to one side.
- Using the same saucepan gently melt the butter so it just becomes liquid then beat it into the milk and flour mixture.
- Now, make a well in the centre of the flour and spices and pour in the milk and butter mixture. Bring everything together so that you've got a sticky dough. This is easiest with your hands. Then leave for 10 minutes.
- For the next stage your arms are going to get a bit of a work out but turn on the radio and flour the work surface then get stuck into kneading the dough for 15 minutes or until you have a smooth dough. You may need to add some additional flour but try not to add any more than is absolutely necessary.
- Now stretch the dough out so that you've got a fairly large rectangle. Put the dried fruits and rum mixture on top then carefully knead the whole lot together gathering together any stray bits as needed.
- Divide the dough into the number of stollen you want to make then place in to separate buttered bowls, cover with cling film then leave to rise in a warm place for around 3 hours or until tripled in size.
- Punch down the dough, knead for a couple of minutes then cover and leave it to rise for another 30-50 minutes.
- Once the dough has risen again, form each one into a rough circle and add 1/3 (or equivalent proportion for the number of loaves you're making) of the marzipan filling in a line through the centre. Fold the edges of the dough over the marzipan so that it is fully enclosed. Place on a greased baking sheet, cover and allow to rise for another hour or more.
- Bake in the oven at 180C for about 45-55 minutes until brown.
- Once cooked, remove from the oven, brush with melted butter then cover generously with icing sugar and pat on to the loaf to form a solid coating and to seal them.