good tidings of comfort and joy: stollen

family-soothing stollen?
Christmas this year has not been awash with happiness. It was not so much that I minded not having turkey. I didn't. In fact, I was quite relieved, since I wouldn't have to feign appreciation, with all those "nom, nom, nom" noises tokening approval. I am a good actress unfortunately, which means we keep having turkey, which I loathe.. But what with the house being flooded, the oven not working and my relatives being a bit cranky, food and drink doesn't seem to have been at the forefront of anybody's mind, except for mine (as usual).

But as the sainted Nigel Slater so aptly put it, stollen is both soothing and "the last word in cosiness at Christmas". I much prefer this yeasted cake, studded with my favourite dried fruits and a few Christmas spices, to the more traditionally English Christmas cake. I am hoping it will do the trick and restore harmony. And if that doesn't work, I am breaking out the gin!

Skill level: Medium (unless you have never made bread before and then it might be a bit trickier!)

100g butter
500g strong white bread flour
1 x 7g sachet easy blend yeast
225ml warm milk
50g golden caster sugar
2 tsp salt
1 large egg
50g dried sour cherries
50g dried currants
50g dried raisins
60g dried sultans
100g mixed peel
½ tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground mace
50g ground almonds
zest of 1 orange, finely grated
100g marzipan, roughly grated

50g butter, melted
icing sugar

  1. Combine the flour, sugar, salt, spices, yeast and dried fruit in a bowl.
  2. Warm the milk In a pan and slowly bring to a gentle simmer and set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Melt the butter and whisk into the warmed milk, adding the orange zest.
  4. Whisk the egg and then whisk into the warmed milk and butter mixture.
  5. Pour this into the flour and stir well to combine. Leave for about 10 minutes. This allows the flour to absorb all the liquid. It will give you a good idea if you need a splash more milk or not (although you shouldn't).
  6. Knead the mixture for about 10 minutes then set aside (covered with a damp tea-towel) until the dough has increased in size. This will take between 90 minutes and two hours.
  7. Gently knock back the risen dough.
  8. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and flatten out into a rough oblong shape. I use the tips of my fingers to squash out the air bubbles. It's like a game of doughy bubble wrap!
  9. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into about a 25cm x 20cm oval.
  10. Sprinkle over the roughly grated marzipan. Then fold the dough over in the middle and tuck in the ends and press down to seal. It will look a bit rough and ready, but since stollen is supposed to represent the Baby Jesus in his swaddling clothes, this is no bad thing!
  11. Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas Mark 4.
  12. Place the folded dough onto a lined or greased baking tray and cover with a damp tea-towel. Leave until it has about doubled in size.
  13. Bake in the preheated oven for about 35 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.
  14. When cool, paint the stollen with a thin layer of melted butter. Then coat with a thicker layer of icing sugar.


Shu Han said...

i'm not a fan of the english christmas cake either, but have yet to try stollen. hope you enjoyed your christmas in the end despite all the oven and relatives trouble!

Maggie said...

I am a traditionalist and we make Stollen every year, albeit a couple of weeks before Christmas. The recipe you have chosen is overflowing with spices and Christmas goodness and looks wonderful.