23 December, 2016

December recipe: Stollen


Stollen is a fruit bread from Germany, traditionally associated with Christmas in the same sort of way as mince pies are associated with Christmas in Britain. My recipe is based on one given me by a friend of a friend some years ago, modified in various ways since. I particularly like the approach of filling the bread with a thin spiral layer of marzipan like a Swiss roll, rather than the more usual approach of inserting a cylinder of marzipan like a sausage roll.  I can’t claim credit for that inspired stroke of genius; someone else thought of it before the recipe came to me. Whoever they were, I salute them.

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Apologies for the long absence of posts here during this year. I hope to be able to post more in the future.

Stollen (makes two)

3 Tablespoons (3 x 15 ml spoons) warm water
1 teaspoon (1 x 5 ml spoon) sugar
1 teaspoon (1 x 5 ml spoon) dried yeast

9 oz (approx 260 g) plain flour*
1 oz (approx 25 g) light brown soft sugar
4 oz (approx 100 g) butter
2 Tablespoons (2 x 15 ml spoons) dark rum, or other spirit of your choice**
4 oz (approx 100 g) sultanas
3 oz (approx 80 g) raisins
2 oz (approx 50 g) candied mixed peel
1 egg
Milk to mix (see method below for the quantity)
4 oz (approx 100 g) marzipan
Icing sugar to dredge

Dissolve the teaspoon of sugar in the warm water.  Sprinkle the dried yeast on top and leave in a warm place for about 15 minutes until frothy.

Rub the butter into the plain flour and sugar until it resembles breadcrumbs.

Add the dried fruit, rum and beaten egg.

Stand the bowl on the scales and set the reading to zero. Add the yeast liquid and note the weight, then add enough milk to make the weight up to 110 g. If your mixing bowl won’t stand on your kitchen scales, this is generally about another 60 ml (about 4 Tablespoons) of milk – add it gradually, mixing as you go, and stop when you have a soft dough like a scone dough.

Mix well. It should form a soft dough, like a scone dough. If it is too wet, add a little more flour; if too dry, add a little more milk.

Leave to rise in a warm place for about 1-1.5 hours***.

Divide the dough in half. Flour the work surface, and roll out each half into a rectangle, roughly twice as long as wide.

Divide the marzipan in half and roll out each half into a rectangle a little smaller than the rectangles of dough.

Put a rectangle of marzipan on top of a rectangle of dough, and roll up like a Swiss roll. Damp the edge with water or milk to seal. Pinch the ends together so the marzipan is fully enclosed. Repeat with the other rectangle of dough and marzipan.

Put the two stollen rolls on a greased baking tray and brush with milk or beaten egg.

Leave to rise again in a warm place for about 45 minutes.

Bake in a hot oven at about 220 C for about 30 minutes until the rolls are golden brown.

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Dredge with icing sugar

Serve warm or cold, cut in thick slices.

If there is any left over, it will keep for a couple of days in an airtight tin.

The stollen can be frozen. Freeze before dredging with icing sugar.

* Yes, plain flour, not bread flour. Stollen should have a texture more like cake than bread
** If you are organised enough, soak the dried fruit in the rum for a couple of hours beforehand.  I never remember, so I don’t know if it makes any difference
*** If time is very short, you can cheat by omitting the first rise. It’s better if you can do the two rises, but not so much better that you should forego making stollen if there isn’t time for two rises