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.
My first experience with stollen, told in the style of Bridget Jones.
21/12 10:19 – it’s time to start the stollen dough. I’ve left it quite late because of the usual madness that descends in December, but there’s still time. Just. The boy is zesting the lemons & oranges, the yeast is proofing and I’m cutting the assorted citrus peels into little chunks. The boy has broken into a package of marzipan and is giving me surreptitious looks, thinking I haven’t noticed.
21/12 10:34 – why oh why did I decide to make a double recipe? Yes, my intentions were good (I’ll make some extra ones, in the traditional shape, and give them to friends), but there’s no way my Kitchen Aid is going to cope with all this dough. I’m going to have to do it by hand. Must find a space big enough and uncluttered enough to knead this huge mass of dough on. Oh lord, I’m going to have to use the kiddie table. Ok, try and scrub the pen and crayon markings off the table so they don’t transfer onto the dough. Sanitise the table… This kneading thing isn’t so bad, except for the fact that I’m way too tall to stand and knead dough at the kiddie table, and when I sit in one of the kiddie chairs I’m a bit too low down. And I look a bit ridiculous sitting on a yellow plastic kiddie chair kneading dough at a kiddie table. Ok, will have to kneel on the very cold kitchen floor. This stollen had better be good.
21/12 10:49 – dough in fridge. See you in a few days.
22/12 09:05 – the dough has risen. Yippee! No matter how often I make bread, I always get inordinantly excited when dough rises. I like to think that my childish enthusiasm for these sorts of things is an endearing trait!
23/12 05:19 – it’s baking day and dough is out of fridge attempting to warm up. Problem is, it’s so cold both in the house and at our work kitchen that warming up is a huge challenge for both human and dough kind. Will put it very close to the heater and attempt to shape it in a few hours. Must wrap some Christmas presents now.
23/12 08:16 – the dough is rolled, shaped, and is attempting to stay warm so it can rise. My biceps have had a major workout rolling the dough and won’t need to see the gym for a few days (that wasn’t likely to happen anyway!). Even though the recipe didn’t include marzipan, I put some in anyway because I consider marzipan to be one of THE essential ingredients in a good stollen. As I was rolling the dough out I realised that I forgot to put the slivered almonds into it. And I don’t have any slivered almonds to hand. But hey, now I feel even more justified in including marzipan because the marzipan (which is of course made of almonds) can replace the slivered almonds. A like for like substitution. Perfect.
I’ve got to say, the wreath of dough looks rather pretty. I even got festive and decorated it with glace cherries despite having a fairly massive aversion to them. I am just loaded with Christmas spirit today! So my wreath and 3 more traditionally shaped loaves are quietly sitting doing their thing. Given the temperature, the rising could take all morning.
Oh yeah, I got some Christmas presents wrapped. Only about 20 more to go (assuming a long awaited package from Amazon arrives today or tomorrow).
23/12 09:16 – I hate it when you can’t quite tell if bread dough is rising…
23/12 10:42 – it has definitely risen. Woo hoo!
23/12 11:12 – into the oven. I love this part and hate this part. I love it because that means we’re thisclose to the end product. I hate it because I want to open up the oven every 3 minutes or so to see how much it’s risen.
23/12 11:32 – time to rotate the loaves.
Holy yeast action, batman - these babies have risen!
23/12 11:52 – I think the smaller ones are ready, but I’m afraid to pick up the rather large wreath to tap the bottom to check for doneness. Hmmm, better give it 5 more minutes.
23/12 12:03- butter melted and mixed with rum. Icing sugar and sieve primed. There is something sinfully great about brushing melted butter on top of bread, sprinkling icing sugar on it, then brushing yet more butter and sprinkling YET MORE icing sugar on it. Let it snow let it snow let it snow.
The boy’s eyes have almost just popped out of his head – bread covered with icing sugar. It does not get any better than that when you’re 8.
23/12 12:30 – I keep staring at it. The wreath really does look gorgeous. I’m almost don’t want to cut into it. Will save that one for tomorrow’s Christmas Eve soiree and cut into one of the smaller loaves to do the mandatory quality control. But not yet. Must let it cool properly. Although that requires a level of patience that I don’t have at this point! I’m like a 5 year old today both in terms of my levels of excitement and my level of patience. I need more sleep.
23/12 14:46 – ok, it’s completely cool so time to taste. Moment of trepidation… oh, what the hell.
Oh man oh man oh man the flavour is divine. And the recipe says it improves over a day or two. I will have to do a time lapse taste test. And of course the toast test. Life’s rough.
23/12 19:12 – we are watching “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (the original, animated version of course) and the boy has just devoured his 4th piece of stollen. I think it’s a hit. Thank goodness I made a double batch.
24/12 09:18 – it’s Christmas Eve and excitement levels are already through the roof. We’re having some friends over this afternoon and there’s food to prepare, so breakfast is a grab your own affair. And we’re all grabbing stollen. And more stollen. And I’m attempting to get fruit into the kids (with limited success, I might add).
24/12 20:04 – well, party’s over, cleanup is done, and kids are actually wanting to go to bed. Which is good, because the man & I need to finish wrapping the presents. Served the stollen wreath at the party. I almost didn’t because I wasn’t sure anyone felt like eating any more, but in the end it wasn’t a problem because more than 1/2 of it got eaten up in rather short order, and one family kindly offered to take a chunk of it home. Happily we have some left for breakfast tomorrow after the carnage of the present unwrapping (which I am quite looking forward to).
This really is a fabulous recipe and I’m so glad I took part in this month’s challenge.
Before I give you the recipe I just want to wish you all Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, and say thanks to everyone who’s taken the time to visit, read, and even comment on my blog this year. It is much appreciated.
Makes one large wreath or two traditional shaped Stollen loaves. Serves 10-12 people.
- ¼ cup (60ml) lukewarm water (110º F / 43º C)
- 2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) (22 ml) (14 grams) (1/2 oz) active dry yeast (if you plan to keep the dough in the fridge for more than a day, reduce the yeast by 1 tsp for 1 extra day in fridge and 2 tsp for 2 full days in fridge – I used 2 1/2 tsp total)
- 1 cup (240 ml) milk
- 10 tablespoons (150 ml) (140 grams) unsalted butter (can use salted butter)
- 5½ cups (1320 ml) (27 ozs) (770 grams) all-purpose (plain) flour (Measure flour first – then sift- plus extra for dusting)
- ½ cup (120 ml) (115 gms) sugar
- ¾ teaspoon (3 ¾ ml) (4 ½ grams) salt (if using salted butter there is no need to alter this salt measurement)
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 grams) cinnamon
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
- 2 teaspoons (10 ml) (very good) vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon extract or orange extract
- ¾ cup (180 ml) (4 ¾ ozs) (135 grams) mixed peel
- 1 cup (240 ml) (6 ozs) (170 gms) firmly packed raisins or dried cranberries or dried blueberries or a combination thereof
- 3 tablespoons (45ml) rum (I used Cointreau)
- 12 red glacé cherries (roughly chopped) for the color and the taste. (optional)
- 1 cup (240 ml) (3 ½ ozs) (100 grams) flaked almonds
- Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath
- Confectioners’ (icing) (powdered) sugar for dusting wreath
Note: If you don’t want to use alcohol, double the lemon or orange extract or you could use the juice from the zested orange.
In a small bowl, soak the raisins/cranberries/blueberries in the rum (or in the orange juice from the zested orange) and set aside, preferably overnight.
Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.
In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup (240 ml) milk and 10 tablespoons (150 ml) butter over medium – low heat until butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes.
Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon and vanilla extracts.
In a large mixing bowl (4 qt) (4 liters) (or in the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment), stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests.
Then stir in (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) 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. Here is where you can add the cherries if you would like. Be delicate with the cherries or all your dough will turn red!
Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing with the dough hook) to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed. The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 8 minutes (6 minutes by machine). The full six minutes of kneading is needed to distribute the dried fruit and other ingredients and to make the dough have a reasonable bread-dough consistency. 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.
Shaping the Dough and Baking the Wreath
Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 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.
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 outside of 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.
Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.
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.
Let cool at least an hour before serving. Coat the stollen in butter and icing sugar three times, since this many coatings helps keeps the stollen fresh – especially if you intend on sending it in the mail as Christmas presents!
When completely cool, store in a plastic bag. Or leave it out uncovered overnight to dry out slightly, German style.
The stollen tastes even better in a couple of days and it toasts superbly…. so delicious with butter and a cup of tea….mmmmm
The more rum and the more coatings of butter and sugar you use the longer it will store. The following is for the recipe as written and uses the 45 mls of rum and two coatings of butter and icing sugar:
- Stollen freezes beautifully about 4 months
- The baked stollen stores well for 2 weeks covered in foil and plastic wrap on the counter at room temperature
- One month in the refrigerator well covered with foil and plastic wrap.