5 days of christmas 2016 - stollen

Welcome to day 4 of the 5 days of Christmas. Firstly I have a confession to make. Until I made this Stollen, I'd never eaten a piece before. I remember watching Paul Hollywood make one on a Christmas special a few years ago and it didn't look that hard. As this is the year I've found my bread making mojo, I thought I'd try making a Stollen for Christmas.

I hunted for a recipe on the internet and I found so many. The one I've come up with is an amalgamation of 4 different recipes.

From my research, I discovered that Stollen is a German sweet bread enriched with butter, egg and spices. Some recipes called for loads of dried fruit, whilst others were more abstemious. Some added citrus zest, whilst others specified candied mixed peel. I put together the elements that appealled most to me from the 4 recipes and crossed my fingers hoping for the best. I figured showering the Stollen in icing sugar should cover up any baking disasters.

Not all stollen recipes included marzipan in the centre but most of the recipes did. Some recipes formed the marzipan into a log whilst others rolled out the marzipan. I decided to roll out the marzipan. 

Here's the recipe for you. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup, a 20 ml tablespoon and 60 g eggs. My oven is a conventional oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce the baking temperature by 20°C.

Stollen – you’ll need to start this recipe at least 24 hours before baking.

Fruit soak
60 gm sultanas
60 gm dried currants
50 gm dried apricots, coarsely chopped
25 gm sour cherries coarsely chopped
25 gm mixed peel, finely chopped
60 ml (¼ cup) dark rum (If you don't want to use rum you could use orange juice or earl gray tea)
Finely grated rind of ½ orange and ½ lemon 

For the dough
75 gm unsalted butter
100 mls milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups plain flour, plus extra for dusting
¼ tsp each freshly grated nutmeg and ground cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
45 gm caster sugar
1 tsp dried yeast
1 egg

65 gm almond meal
45 gm natural almonds
40 gm pure icing sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten

20 gm melted butter
25 gm flaked almonds (optional)
Icing sugar

Combine dried fruits in a container with the rum, cover and soak overnight.

For marzipan, process almond meal, almonds, icing sugar and a pinch of salt in a food processor until finely ground with a little texture remaining. Add enough of the egg and process until it comes together as a paste. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until required. Marzipan can be made a day ahead.

To make the dough, melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat, add milk and vanilla and heat until lukewarm. Mix flour, the spices, salt, sugar, and yeast in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Make a well in the centre, then, with motor running, pour the beaten egg into the well and gradually add the milk mixture and knead until smooth and shiny (2-3 minutes). The mixture will be quite soft at this stage. If it's not then you might need to add a little more milk.

Grease a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the greased bowl, turn to coat, cover with plastic wrap and stand in a warm place until doubled in size (1 hour) or you can leave the dough to prove in the fridge overnight, which is what I usually do. The following day bring the dough back to room temperature. Mix the grated rind into the drained fruit mix. Gently knead the fruit into the dough and leave to rise for a further hour.

Dust the work surface with flour and tip your risen dough on to it. Flatten out into a rectangle about 22 cm x 16 cm.  Roll out the marzipan to a slightly smaller rectangle and place on top of the dough. Now place the longest side towards you and roll the dough up to form loose loaf shape. Lift on to a floured baking sheet, cover with a towel and return to a warm place to prove for a further hour and a half. Brush half the melted butter over the loaf. Sprinkle with flaked almonds if desired.

Heat the oven to 180°C. Place the loaf in the hot oven and bake for about 35-40 minutes until pale gold. Glaze the top of the Stollen with the remaining butter. Cool on a wire rack, before generously dusting with icing sugar.

When the Stollen has cooled, wrap loosely in waxed paper or cling film and keep in a sealed container.

You can vary the dried fruit as you wish. The original recipe only used sultanas, currants and mixed peel. I added the dried apricots and sour cherries for a more luxe version.

The verdict - delicious and even better when it's matured for a few days.

See you all again tomorrow with the last recipe for Christmas Week 2016.

Bye for now,


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