With Christmas this month it was to be expected that the Daring Bakers challenge for December would be festive and we weren’t disappointed as our task was to make stollen.
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.
Stollen is a traditional German Christmas cake (or brioche-like bread, whichever way you look at it) made with eggs, butter, almonds, raisins, currants and candied peel. Stollen originally started out as tasteless bread served during the Advent season. In those days there were restrictions enforced by the Catholic church on what could be used and butter was one of the prohibited items. So the original stolen were made with flour, oats, oil and water.
The local bakers found oil too expensive whereas butter was affordable and available in plenty, so a petition to the Pope finally got the bakers in Dresden the permission to use butter in their stollen for a small fee.
The Dresden stollen, perhaps the oldest and most famous of all stollen, is made by folding the dough in half, baked and then dredged with a lot of powdered sugar. This is said to be symbolic of the swaddled infant Jesus and served ususally, on Christmas eve.
Every family has its own treasured recipe for stollen and there many different kinds such as the Mandelstollen (almonds, marzipan), Nußstollen (nuts), Mohnstollen (poppy seed) and the Quarkstollen (curd cheese).
My last post was my take on a very popular south Indian Christmas time favourite, the Plum Cake. Since many of you wouldn’t have read that post, I shall once again mention that typically Christmas style fruit cakes and bread with candied peel just don’t appeal to me. My daughter doesn’t even like raisins will patiently persistently pick out every single one in whatever raisin dotted food she has to eat!
I have never made stollen before and knew I was unlikely to, so thought I’d better do the challenge to see how it was. I halved the recipe, left out the eggs and made some adjustments for this. I also left out the candied peel (I think this is awful stuff!) and used some excellent candied fruit I had on hand. I also chose to make stolleni in the traditional shape rather than as the wreath suggested.
I decided to put some marzipan into my stollen, and decided to flavour it with saffron and cardamom. Here in Goa, cashew nuts are aplenty, so we tend to make marzipan with it instead of almonds. Given below is my recipe for eggless marzipan as well as the recipe I used to make my stollen. So you can see, this stollen is more tropical than German, and it is eggless too.
This recipe makes one small to medium sized stollen. You can find the original detailed recipe here.
Saffron And Cardamom Flavoured Eggless Cashew Marzipan
250gm broken cashewnuts (approx. 2 cups powder)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
A few saffron threads soaked in 2 tbsp warm milk (or water)
3 pods cardamom, powdered
Finely powder the cashewnuts in your food processor or mixer/ grinder. Add some of the sugar, in tsp full (up to about 1/4 cup of the 1 cup of sugar) with the cashew nuts to make powdering easy. Make sure you don’t over process the cashewnuts as this will make them greasy and pasty.
Put the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat to medium and let it simmer for a couple of minutes. Add the powdered cashews and keep stirring till there are no lumps. Keep stirring the mixture till it thickens and add the saffron (with milk) and the cardamom. When the mixture starts coming together as a mass take it off the heat.
Let it cool till it can be comfortably handled. Then knead the marzipan till soft and smooth. If you feel it is too hard. Add a few drops of warm milk and knead. Keep aside till required. This recipe makes a little bit more marzipan than required for this stollen.
(Adapted from December Daring Bakers challenge)
1/8 cup lukewarm water (43C)
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup milk
70gm unsalted butter (can use salted butter)
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt (if using salted butter)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp orange extract
1/4 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup candied fruit (I used papaya, strawberries, pineapple and ginger)
2 tbsp orange juice
Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath
Confectioners’ (icing) (powdered) sugar for dusting wreath
Soak the raisins in the orange juice for about an hour.
Then make the dough. Pour the warm water into a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast. After 5 minutes, stir and ensure the yeast has dissolved completely.
Put the milk in a pan. Add the butter and melt it over low heat. Then take it off the heat and allow it to cool till it is lukewarm. Add the vanill extract to this.
I made my dough by hand but you can use a stand mixer if you wish. Stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and lemon zest in a large bowl. Add the proved yeast, and butter-milk mixture and mix together with a wooden spoon. Using your hand, mix further till it comes together and tip it out onto your work surface. Knead the dough till it is soft but not sticky.
Cover with a kitchen towel and let the dough rest for about 10 minutes. Flatten and pat the dough out with your hand. Evenly sprinkle the soaked raisins and the candied fruit over the surface. Roll the dough up and then knead the dough, using a little flour if necessary. The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 8 minutes and shape into a ball.
Lightly oil a large bowl and place doughin the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or up till a week before baking.
When ready to bake, take the dough out. Let it come to room temperature (about 2 hours). Take a piece of parchment paper which will sit on you baking sheet. Press the dough flat and gently roll into a 1/4” rectangle.
Take the marzipan and if you feel it is too much for the stollen, remove the excess and divide the remainder into two equal parts. Roll each portion into a “rope” as long as the long side of your stollen dough.
Place one marzipan rope in the middle of one half of the dough rectangle (lengthwise). Bring the edge of the dough closest to the marzipan over it so that it is covered and the edge rests just beyond the centre of the rectangle. Now place the other marzipan rope on the other half and similarly fold the other edge over the first fold such that it forms an overlap. The edge of this fold should be just short of end of the stollen (lengthwise).Seal the edge so that it will be visible after baking but will not open up in the oven.
You should have a long roll of dough with the 2 marzipan ropes wrapped inside it, side by side. Place the stollen, using the parchment, on the baking sheet and cover it with a kitchen towel. Allow it to rise till it is 1 1/2 times in size (about 2 hours).
Bake at 180C (350F) for about 40 to 50 minutes, till golden brown in colour and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Transfer the stollen to a cooling rack and generously brush the top with melted butter, while it is still hot. Dredge a layer of powdered sugar over this immediately and wait for a minute. Add another layer of powdered sugar so the stollen is generously coated.
Let it cool completely and serve. The stollen is supposed to taste better as it ages. It should, if covered with foil and plastic wrap, store well for 2 weeks at room temperature, a month in the fridge and for 4 months in the freezer.
This bread is probably as good as any rich fruit bread or cake. The texture was good but I wasn’t too happy with the way mine rose (or didn’t, rather) as it moved sideways more than upwards. I thought it might have been because the eggs weren’t there to bind the dough, but looking at a lot of traditional stollen pictures, it seems like the stollen tends to be a bit wider than it is taller. I wouldn’t know, never having seen or eaten it before.
My verdict is based on the fact that we don’t like fruit breads very much, so I’m definitely biased here. For this reason I probably will not be making it again. We might have liked it better without the fruit but if I had to make a sweet bread of this type, I’d probably make brioche every time.
Please do not go by my opinion if you like dried/ candied fruit in your bread, as most of my friends have been raving about this stollen.
I just realised that this is the first bread I am baking in a while so this is getting YeastSpotted! I'm also sending this to join the party at Taste Of Pearl City, where the 35th edition of Bread Baking Day is being hosted with the theme of "Bread With Dried Fruit".
Christmas is gone but the festive season is still very much here. So let me wish you all happy holidays and a very happy, promising and peaceful new year.
I’m giving away two books to two lucky people and I will ship worldwide. If you would like to try your luck, please leave a comment at that post.