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!)
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
- Combine the flour, sugar, salt, spices, yeast and dried fruit in a bowl.
- Warm the milk In a pan and slowly bring to a gentle simmer and set aside to cool slightly.
- Melt the butter and whisk into the warmed milk, adding the orange zest.
- Whisk the egg and then whisk into the warmed milk and butter mixture.
- 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).
- 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.
- Gently knock back the risen dough.
- 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!
- Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into about a 25cm x 20cm oval.
- 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!
- Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas Mark 4.
- 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.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 35 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.
- When cool, paint the stollen with a thin layer of melted butter. Then coat with a thicker layer of icing sugar.