It’s the 1st of December and the countdown to Christmas has officially begun! No more excuses, dust off your festive baking gear and let the fun begin!
Since I’m still full of energy and motivation at this point, I always kick off the festive season with a massive Stollen baking session. Stollen is one of my favourite Christmas treats. The crumbly texture of this fruit-bread, mixed with rum-soaked fruit and sweet marzipan is hard to beat. My mum used to make a mean Stollen every year, spending hours in the kitchen whilst the dough slowly rose and finally released its great scents in the oven.
Now don’t be fooled: making Stollen is a proper committment! No time for last-minute coffees in town or dashing out to meet some friends. If you decide to make a Stollen, you need to stick with it till it’s done! And it does take a loooong time. But hell, it’s worth it!
You need to be organized, thorough and patient. All good virtues, so go with it! Start a day in advance, by soaking the dried fruit in rum. Then, on the next day it’s an endless sequence of kneading and resting, kneading and resting, kneading and resting. You get the gist.
But don’t get carried away! I was so fascinated by kneading the dough with my handmixer that I just went on and on… until… *Pow* – my handixer decided it had had enough! Dead! Broken! Surrendered! So I just threw it to the side, pulled back my sleeves and continued kneading with my hands. So much fun! Once you’ve got the kneading part done you need to wait and wait (this is when I get tempted to make mulled wine and pass the time by sipping hot festive drinks)… Finally, once the Stollen has risen over and over again, it’s time to bake the thing for a full hour. More waiting. And then, just when you think you’re done, there’s more work! The hot Stollen needs to be brushed with melted butter and dusted with icing sugar. Phew!
So why go through all this sweat and pain? Why not simply buy the stuff they sell in the shops? Because this one is full of love and hard labour, and trust me, once you tasted Anne’s Stollen you’ll never look back! It truly is the most amazing piece of Stollen you’ll ever eat, if I may say so myself… Enjoy! ★
Makes 4 small ones or 2 big ones
400g raisins or currants
100g dried dates, chopped
200g dried orange peel
For the dough:
7,5g dried yeast (or 60g fresh yeast)
75ml lukewarm water (not needed if using fresh yeast)
1 tsp sugar (not needed if using fresh yeast)
25g caster sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tsp salt
2 tsp gingerbread spices (or 1 tsp cinnamon mixed with 1 tsp ginger powder)
300g butter, cold
150g chopped almonds
200-400g marzipan (depending on how much marzipan you like)
50g icing sugar (mixed with an optional 1 tsp vanilla sugar)
Prepare the dried fruit a day in advance: put the raisins, dates and dried orange peel in a bowl. Add the rum and water and mix, then cover and let it soak overnight.
The next day, prepare the yeast pre-dough. Mix the dried yeast with the lukewarm water and sugar and let to stand for 5mins. (If using fresh yeast ignore this step and just proceed to the next step). Put 300g flour into a big bowl and make a small hole in the middle. Add 150g milk, the yeast and the caster sugar and mix with a hand blender. Cover the bowl with a damp teatowel and let it rest in a warm place for 1 hour and 1/2, until the dough has doubled in size.
Once the dough is nicely puffy, mix in the remaining flour, milk, egg yolks, salt and gingerbread spice. Once these are incorporated, mix in 200g of the butter (cut it into small cubes first to make the incorporating easier). Knead until you get a smooth dough, but watch out that the dough doesn’t get warm.
Fold in the soaked fruit and almonds. Cover the bowl with the damp teatowel and let it rest for 20mins.
Take the dough out of the bowl and put it on a floured surface. Pat it into a square shape (don’t knead). Now fold over the sides and then the top and bottom, cover with the damp teatowel and let it rise for another 20 mins.
Preheat your oven to 160° celsius.
Cut the dough into 4 equal parts. Pat each into a rectangular shape and push in a mould in the middle, so that you can fit the marzipan into that.
Divide the marzipan into 4 equal parts. Roll each part into a long log and place in the middle of the rectangular dough. Fold one side of the dough over the marzipan, so that the marzipan is completely covered. Place each loaf on a baking sheet and let them rest for another 10 minutes.
Bake at 160° for 35 mins, then turn down the temperature to 140° and bake for a further 25 mins. You may want to turn the baking trays sometimes to ensure even baking.
Remove from the oven. Whilst still hot, brush each Stollen with 100g of melted butter and dust with icing sugar.
Phew, you’ve made it! Now enjoy your amazing Stollen!