GERMANY: Christmas stollen represents the warmth of the Christmas season, and its thick coat of powdered sugar reminds us of a snowy German landscape, and to some, symbolizes the baby Jesus in swaddling clothes. Stollen can be “aged” for 2 ~ 3 weeks before eating, just wrap it tightly, and keep it in a cool place. This allows the liquid from the rum-soaked dried fruits to soak into the bread creating both flavor and moistness. YUM!
STEP 1 (2 days prior): Soak fruit and nuts
- 1/3 cup each of golden raisins, raisins and dried cherries (OR cranberries)
- 1 cup finely diced candied citrus peel (orange, lemon, grapefuite or a combination)
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- 1 Tbsp orange extract
- Dark rum (or brandy, cognac, schnapps, etc.)
- Place dried fruit, candied peel and almonds in a small bowl, and stir to combine
- Add the orange extract and enough liquor to cover
- Stir to combine, cover, and let sit on countertop for 24 hours, sitrring every so often, and adding more liquor (just to cover) if it’s all been absorbed.
- Drain any excess liquor before using.
STEP 2 (two days later): Make the sponge
- 1 cup flour
- 4 tsp yeast
- 1 cup milk
- Measure flour and yeast into a small bowl
- Warm milk to 110 degrees
- Slowly add milk to flour, whisking all the while, to form a smooth paste
- Cover, and let sit for 1 hour, until foaming
STEP 3: Make dough
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 Tbsps sugar
- 2 tsp almond extract
- 2 tsp orange zest
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon cardamon
- 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 whole egg + 1 egg yolks
- 6 Tbsp butter, softened
- Place the flour, sugar, salt, zests, and spices in the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Whisk to blend
- Place bowl in mixer, and with the paddle attachment, turn on lowest speed (be careful – it mixes alot faster than the dough hook) and then add in the sponge, the whole egg, egg yolk.
- Add the butter, a few pieces at a time, scraping sides if some of it gets stuck and isn’t mixing in.
- Continue to mix until dough comes away from the sides.
- Cover, and let rest for 10 minutes.
STEP 4: Knead and 1st rise
- Remove from bowl, and with a lightly oiled countertop (or lightly floured – if your dough seems a little too wet to manage), fold in fruit mixture and knead until fully incorporated
- Return dough to bowl, and with the dough hook attachment, mix on medium speed for 4 ~ 5 minutes, until it’s soft and satiny – not sticky.
- Cover, and let rise (proof) at room temperature about 45 minutes.
STEP 5: Shape dough
1 roll of marzipan (optional – you can add a skinny roll of marzipan in the middle as you roll it up. I did this the first time, but I found it too strong, so use almond extract instead.)
- Lightly oil your countertop
- Separate dough into two halves and press into a rectangle. Roll up, pressing down with each fold over into a log shape about an inch thick. Pinch seam to seal.
- Place logs on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, cover with a damp tea towle, and let rise until doubled. This can take anywhere from one to two hours, depending on the temperature of your room.
- At some point, preheat oven to 375 so it’s ready at bake time.
STEP 6: Bake!
- Turn down oven to 350.
- Bake for 20 minutes, rotate pan and bake another 20 ~ 30 minutes (40 to 50 minutes total). You want them to be a nice, very dark golden brown, and an internal temperature of 190 degrees.
STEP 7: Add topping
- 1 stick butter, melted
- Powdered sugar
- Let the stollen sit for 5 minutes
- Poke the stollens with a yakitori stick, or toothpick, and brush the tops generously with melted butter. You want to do this while they’re still hot
- Put powdered sugar in a sieve, and then shake over the top of the stollens to coat. Wait a minute, then repeat. You want alot, more than what you’d typically use.
- Once cool, store in plastic.