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Make Your Own Traditional Christmas Stollen

By Wendy Akin


Tags: bread baking, holidays, desserts, recipes, Christmas, traditions, Texas, Wendy Akin,

 

Authentic Stollen is moist, buttery and crammed full of dried and glace fruits and nuts. 

I like to get my Stollen made and in the freezer Thanksgiving weekend so I can relax knowing the most important baking for my family is done.  Soon, the commercial and store-baked “stollen” will begin to appear in the stores, and it’s as dry and tasteless as a slab of styrofoam piled an inch thick with confectioners sugar. If you’ve ever sampled it, you are now in for a revelation.

I started many years ago with a recipe from Helen Witty’s Fancy Pantry, a good book to have,  and I stay roughly with her dough recipe, but I’ve made a lot of adaptations over the years. 

Don’t let the length of this recipe deter you! There’s nothing too difficult for a beginning bread baker. I’ve broken the recipe down into small steps and sections.

I do hope you’ve made the almond paste recipe in my previous post. (Yes? Great! It’s “ripened” now and ready to fill your delicious Stollen.)

This recipe makes two Stollens, about 1½ pounds each.

Stollen Recipe

Ingredients

Feel free to adjust individual fruits a little for what you like best and have, but be sure there’s peel included.  You want a total of about 2½ cups of fruit and peels plus 1 cup of nuts.

• ½ cup dried cherries, your own or bought.
• ½ cup dried Pineapple, your own or bought, cut into 1 inch wedges
• ¼ cup glace lemon peel dice in ¼ inch dice
• ¼ cup glace orange peel in ¼ inch dice
• ¼ cup Citron in ¼-inch dice
• ½ cup dark raisins
• ½ cup gold raisins
• grated zest of 1 orange*
• grated zest of 1 lemon*
• 1 cup pecans or walnuts, broken
• about ½ pound almond paste
• plus some pretty almond pieces and whole nuts for garnish
• a little rum or brandy to moisten the raisins or cherries if they seem dry
• 1¼ cups whole milk
• ¾ cup cane sugar
• 1 teaspoon sea salt
• 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks) in all, divided among 2 steps
• 5 - 6 cups all-purpose flour, in all, divided among 2 steps
• 1½ Tbsp yeast: SAF Gold yeast if available**
• 2 eggs
• 2 tsp best vanilla extract
• ½ tsp almond extract
• 1 tsp grated orange peel*
• 1 tsp grated lemon peel*
• 8 - 10 ounces almond paste, your homemade or bought
• ¼ to ½ cup confectioners’ sugar (optional)                                 

Directions

Prep all your fruits, moistening or draining as necessary, and mix them together in a bowl.  Break or chop the nuts. Prepare the orange and lemon peels.** Have the almond paste sitting out to come to room temperature so that it’s spreadable.

Make the Sponge

In a small pot, add the sugar and salt to the milk, put in ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) butter, cut into a few pieces. Heat gently, stirring, until the sugar dissolves and the butter is melted. Let this cool down to 115° F.

In the bowl of your mixer, using the paddle blade, stir the yeast into 2 cups of the flour.  When the milk mixture has cooled enough, add it to the flour and mix, making sure there’s no flour left in the bottom of the bowl, then add the eggs and beat until you have a nice, smooth batter.

Cover the bowl, and let it rest until doubled, about 45 minutes, longer if your kitchen is cool. It will look very fluffy.

Finish the Dough

Switch to the dough hook of your mixer. Mix in the grated peels*, the extracts and 3 cups of flour. Machine knead for a few minutes until the dough forms a nice ball and looks smooth and satiny. If the dough seems too wet, you can add in some of the last cup of flour, bit by bit.

If your machine is a heavy-duty 7-quart, you can add in the fruits and nuts now. If not, or if you’d rather, turn the dough onto your well floured kneading board. Cover with a damp towel and let the dough rest 5 minutes.

If you haven’t yet added all the fruits and nuts, knead them in now. Pat the dough into a 12-inch circle, pile on the fruits, roll it up and then knead, poking back in pieces trying to escape. If the dough feels too sticky, knead in a little more of the flour. Well developed, the dough will no longer stick to your board.

Again, let the dough rest 5 minutes, covered with a damp cloth. You already let the sponge rise fully, so you don’t need a bulk rise, just this 5-minute rest.

Almond Paste Filling

While the dough rests, stir and soften the almond paste. If it’s just too stiff to manage, you can gradually add a beaten egg white.

Shape the Stollen

Divide the dough into 2 halves (sometimes I divide unevenly, depending on the recipient). Pat each piece into an oval about 10 inchs by 12 inches, again poking any escaping fruit at the edges back in.

Put the almond paste on just behind the crosswise center mark. I put spoonfuls on the dough and gently spread it into a more or less solid strip. You can use your fingertips for this; wet them and the paste won’t stick.

Fold the dough over, forming a half oval with the bottom edge just forward of the top.  Transfer your loaves carefully to baking pans lined with parchment, pulling them into a slightly curved crescent shape.

Proof and Bake

Set your loaves under your proofing cover, or cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until about ¾ increased in size. Because about a third of the loaf is fruits, only the dough portion will double.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. When the dough has risen so it doesn’t spring back from a touch, melt the ½ stick of butter and carefully, with a light touch, brush the loaves.

Bake for about 45 minutes, turning halfway through. If the loaves seem to be browning too fast, tent them with aluminum foil to slow the browning. Internal temperature should be about 190°.

Remove from the oven and let your loaves rest a few minutes to firm and then slide them onto wire cooling racks. Brush them again with melted butter.

To store the loaves, wrap in plastic wrap and then put into a zipper bag. Stollen freezes well; wrap in foil and be sure to use a freezer-grade zipper bag. Stollen keeps very well securely wrapped and in a zippered freezer bag.

Serve

If frozen, give the stolen time to thaw on the counter. Then gently heat at 250° for 10 minutes. It is traditional to give the loaves just a light sifting of confectioners’ sugar before serving. Please, just a dusting.

* I always keep orange and lemon peels in the freezer. I do a couple big oranges or several lemons at a time so it’s always available. Here’s how: Peel the fruit with a peeler then toss the peel into the mini processor with just a couple tablespoons of sugar. Process until the peel is finely ground. Scoop the peel into a ½-pint canning jar and store in the freezer. You’ll get all the peel, none wasted, and about 2 teaspoons of this will be enough for recipes that call for the grated zest of one orange or lemon. Peel done, eat the orange and freeze the whole lemon for the next time a recipe includes “juice of one lemon”. Frugal and handy, the zest keeps for months in the freezer.

** SAF Gold yeast works better for doughs that include a lot of sugar or butter. It’s not absolutely necessary, but nice to have. You can find it online from King Arthur.

Photo by Flickr/Whitney

Wendy Akin is a happy to share her years of traditional skills knowledge. Over the years, she’s earned many state fair ribbons for pickles, relishes, preserves and special condiments, and even a few for breads. Read all of Wendy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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