Festive Baking: Anne’s Stollen

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! ★

December 1, 2010