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.