|Fragrant Christmas stollen|
So another Christmas and another stollen recipe. I loved last year's stollen recipe. It was delicious (although Christmas itself was a bit of disaster!) But I decided to vary things a little bit this year.
You should really start this the day before as it is better if the dried fruit have had a chance to plump up in the kirsch. If you prefer not to use alcohol, steep the fruit in strong tea or ginger beer. The both work really well.
Traditional stollen often has a log of marzipan running through it, but I like the even distribution of grated marzipan throughout my stollen loaf. (Which is always a great way of converting those people who say they don't like marzipan!)
Makes 1 stollen loaf
Skill level: Medium
250g mixed dried fruit (I used a mixture of dried sour cherries, raisins and sultanas)
2-3 tbsp kirsch (or brandy or rum. Use strong tea, orange juice or ginger beer if alcohol-free)
50g caster sugar
30g fresh yeast (or dried equivalent - you may need to use more liquid in the recipe to adjust for this)
60g mixed peel
50g freshly ground almonds
zest of 1 x orange
150g unsalted butter, at room temperature
50g marzipan, grated
1 x large egg, lightly whisked
½ tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground mace
a pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
melted unsalted butter, to coat
Icing sugar to coat
- Measure out the dried fruit and crumble between your fingers to ensure that they have separated. I used sour cherries and some were quite large, so I chopped them up too. Place in a sieve and pour over boiling hot water. Drain.
- Tip the fruit into a bowl together with the mixed peel, orange zest and almonds. Pour over the kirsch, stir, cover and then leave overnight.
- On the following day, gently warm the milk - it should only be lukewarm. Stir in 1 teaspoon of the caster sugar and ensure that it has started to dissolve, before adding the yeast. Stir again to ensure the yeast has dissolved. Set aside in a warm place to allow the yeast to go to work. After 20 minutes or so, the liquid should look frothy.
- In a separate bowl, cream the butter until smooth before adding the rest of the sugar, a pinch of salt, vanilla essence and ground spices. Once they are combined, add a little of the whisked egg. Beat together before adding 1 tablespoon of flour. Continue with some of the egg, then some of the flour until all of the egg has been incorporated.
- Add half of the remaining flour; stir to roughly combine, before adding the milk and yeast mixture. Combine before tipping in the rest of the flour and bring together. (You can do this by hand or in a food processor. I use the dough hooks on my hand-held blender.)
- Knead in the bowl for about 5 minutes, or until the dough has come together completely. It will have a slightly shiny appearance, unlike ordinary bread dough, as a result of the butter and egg.
- Drain the fruit mixture in a sieve. There may not be much excess liquid as the fruit should have absorbed the liquid. But do this just in case, as you don't want your dough too wet.
- Tip the fruit mixture over the dough and work in with your hands until it is evenly distributed through the dough.
- Cover with a clean, damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warmish place for about 1½ to 2 hours. It should have nearly doubled in size.
- 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. Then fold the dough over - bring the top edge towards you by about two thirds, then bring the end closest to you over the top. 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 180C / 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 pre-heated oven for about 35 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.
- When cool, paint the stollen with a thin layer of melted butter. Then sift over a thicker layer of icing sugar.
- Wrap in greaseproof paper and foil to store.
- For an extra luxurious finish, first brush with melted butter and roll in caster sugar mixed with a little ground cinnamon or ginger. When this has dried, then sprinkle over the icing sugar.
- If you can keep your hands off it, the stollen lasts in good condition for about 10 days.