The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book.........and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.
Okay, we had to use the recipe provided...here's the thing, I did not. Now, I don't know whether I can say I completed the challenge. I used my own German recipe for Marzipanstollen, but I think the point is I was daring enough to make a stollen, right? I had made it two weeks ago and we ate it the day before yesterday. Now it's quite late to make it but hey, next Christmas is almost here :)
At first, I'd like to tell you something about the stollen (read shtolen). It's a loaf-shaped bread-like fruitcake, but don't be afraid! The taste is very different from the fruitcake you know and (many people) dislike. So don't be scared of it! It contains quite a lot of dried fruits (raisins, candied orange and lemon peel, and sometimes currants). The surface is covered in a rich layer of butter and icing sugar and the stollen must rest for at least 1 week after being baked to allow the aromas to "mix" with each other. It usually contains ground almonds or even almond flakes and you can find many very typical variations. It came from Germany and the oldest and most traditional one is called Dresdner Stollen (in English: The Dresden Stollen) from Dresden (mentioned in 1474 for the first time). In German you can find any stollen under the name Weihnachtsstollen or Christstollen which means something like Christmas Fruit Loaf. This one is the most simple type. I made a bit more "special" one containing marzipan (= almond paste).
It's made during Christmas in Germany, Austria and in my country, too, but here it's not so popular (we have our own very popular fruitcake called "vanocka" - this name really can't be translated). Stollen is supposed to symbolise the Baby Jesus in swaddling. We should have made a different shape - a Christmas wreath. However, I sticked to the tradition once again 'cause it's Christmas time :) Nevertheless, I'm very happy for this challenge otherwise I would not make it at all (at least not this year).
As for the marzipan, the real one consists of two parts: sugar and almonds. The higher amount of almonds, the better. Anything else (= without almonds) is NOT marzipan, it's fake marzipan or fondant or something called that way (I'm not saying it isn't tasty). For this recipe I highly recommend using the real thing because it's less sweet and I'm not sure how the fake one would behave during baking. I used marzipan containing 60% almonds.
Before you get to the recipe I'd like to wish you a happy New Year, the best luck in this year, good health (I think that's the most important thing) and generally all the best :) I hope you'll make new great friends and learn many new things and that you'll be happy no matter what comes in your way :) Thank you for reading my blog and I'm looking forward to hearing from you in 2011, too!
40g candied orange and lemon peel
about 100ml rum
25g fresh yeast
250g flour, type 405 (or all-purpose)
55g castor sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp nutmeg
40g ground almonds
45g melted butter for brushing
50g powdered sugar for dusting
In a small bowl, soak the raisins and candied peels in the rum and set aside overnight. For the leaven pour 2 tbsp lukewarm milk into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and add 1/2 tbsp sugar and 1/2 tbsp flour. Stir to dissolve yeast completely. Let stand 15 minutes in a warm place or until doubled in size. In a small saucepan, combine the rest of milk and butter over medium - low heat until butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes. In another (big) bowl combine the rest of flour, cardamom, nutmeg, salt and the rest of sugar. Then add the milk-butter mixture and the leaven. Mix well using a wooden spoon. Now use your hands to create a smooth dough. Knead using your hands for about 10 minutes until elastic and not sticky. Put into the big bowl, cover with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size. In the meantime pour away the excess rum from the soaked fruit. Mix the fruit with ground almonds and add this to the dough. Knead well (aprox. for 8 minutes) again. The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough – a few raisins will start to fall off the dough onto the counter because at the beginning of the kneading process the dough is very sticky and the raisins will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn't enough to bind the outside raisins onto the dough ball.
Cover and let rest in a warm place for 30 minutes. Roll the dough out on a floured surface into a rectangle (it should be 3cm thick). Roll the marzipan into a rope and place it in the center of the dough. Fold the dough over to cover it - you should get something looking like a loaf. Press lightly on the folded side to help the loaf keep its shape during rising and baking. Transfer it onto a lined baking sheet. Cover with tea towel and let rise for another 30 minutes. Bake in preheated oven to 180C for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 160C and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the surface is dark golden brown (but not burnt!). Remove from oven and brush the top with melted butter while still hot (use all of the butter). Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter. Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first. The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar.
When completely cool, store in a plastic bag in a cool and dry place for at least 1 week (ideally 2 weeks) prior to serving.
- If you want to make 100% traditional stollen, simply leave out the marzipan and you have a perfect orinigal German Christmas stollen :)
The stollen really needs time to rest after being baked to fully develop its flavor(s). Then it's truly heavenly experience - so many well paired flavor combinations in every single piece. No wonder German people love it! Altough, I'm not a fan of candied stuff (in fact I don't like them at all) I gotta admit it's very tasty in this fruitcake :) I also know a lot of people don't like raisins (I can't seem to understand this because I just love them) but I think here you won't mind - without them it would be quite dry and flavourless. The dough is not too sweet and it's a bit (not in the bad way) dry, but the taste is great! Usually it's served sliced and tastes best with generous layer of fresh butter and a cup of milk/tea. I enjoyed it this way the most and I highly recommend it to you :)