German Christmas Stollen Bread
First blog post of a brand new year. Lets fill our heart with glorious sunshine and this delicious Stollen – a light fruit bread from Germany, also known as Christstollen.
This traditional sweet bread from Germany has won my heart some five years back, during a laid back river side walk on Boston Esplanade during Christmas Eve, happily munching on apple strudel and a sugar dusted sweet bread that we had happened to buy from a bakery nearby.
Sweet smelling fruit breads (here is Mazanec – Chez Easter Sweet Yeasted Bread) are my weakness and I just adore them, may be because they reminds me of my childhood days.
Christmas is a secular and universal festival to me. The joy and merriment it brings , the fascination with which my kid listens to the stories on Santa Claus and believing in the same, family gatherings, soaking the fruits and nuts in rum well ahead the season for big baking day, stamping out the sugar cookies with the kid, decorating the Christmas tree and leaving a gift underneath for the kid to collect in the morning, all gives such immeasurable joy to our heart, to be kind, loving and compassionate ,and that I think completes the meaning of celebration in its truest sense.
A traditional Christmas fruit cake (Without Rum)and this Stollen has become a part of our Christmas table since last few years.
Baking A Stollen requires –
1. A good quality marzipan. I prefer to make my own at home. It is a tradition to add marzipan in the stollen, and like all good traditions which should be followed to keep the ingenuity of the heritage recipes intact, I always bake my stollen with the marzipan. The delightful almond flavour it imparts to the bread is unparalleled and it also helps to keep the stollen moist for longer time.
2.A handful of good mix of dried fruits, nuts, candied citrus peels. In my experience I have found that a heavily impregnated bread with dried fruits does not rise well , becomes too crumbly and during the baking process, many of the precious dried fruit get burnt, specially the ones that peeks out of the dough. So a good ratio of dried fruit mix to dough need to be sorted out for this.
3.A good quality rum or wine. You can make this non-alcoholic too. Rum or buttered rum does adds a hedonistic aroma to the bread but you can equally enjoy this bread without the spirit too. I have soaked the dry fruit mix in hot boiling water, and once the water is cooled down , I had added fresh orange juice to it and let it soak for 48 hours.
4.Hand pounded spice mix or you can use pumpkin spice too. Pumpkin spice will provide a well rounded flavour to the bread, but you can always make your own with these spices – cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg and allspice. Mine is little more on cinnamon scented.
Rise and rise of stollen –
A good rise will definitely gives you the best texture. So short cuts wont work here. First proofing will be without the dried fruit mix. So I have tried to get the maximum benefit out of it. Mine was little on the over proofed side.
Second proofing will be after adding the dried fruit mix, marzipan and after shaping the dough. Here again a long rise of around one hour has helped me . The dough was beautifully puffed up and after baking I got two beautiful loaves of bread, perfectly done with the characteristic hollow sound.
Patience bears sweet fruit – Once the stollen is baked and out of the oven, brush it generously with the butter and light shower of sugar dusting all over it. This will helps to keep the crumb nice, buttery soft and moist. Unlike other breads, stollen does gets benefits from long wait of almost twenty four hours or so. The texture of the crumb improves with time, the moistness from the marzipan seeps deeper in to the bread and the flavour deepens.
This recipe of Stollen and Marzipan has been adapted from DaringGourmet.
Buttery German Christmas Stollen With Marzipan, a tradtional sweet bread
- 21/2 cup All purpose flour + more if requires
- 1/2 cup Milk, full cream , lukewarm
- 2 tsp Active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 Egg, large at room temperature
- 1/4 cup Butter at room temperature
- 1 tsp Vanilla extract, use high quality
- 1 tbsp Finely ground Spice mix (2 cardamom, 4 cloves, 1 mace, 1 cinnamon, 4-5 all spice)
- 150 gm Dehydrated candied fruit mix of raisins, cranberries, apples, mangoes, figs, candied orange peel, candied lemon peel, Slivered blanched almond
- 200 gm Homemade Marzipan / almond paste
- 1 tsp Almond extract
- 1 tsp Rose water
- 3 tbsp honey or golden syrup
- 1 cup Fresh orange juice
- 1 cup Powdered Sugar for dusting
- 4 tbsp Cold butter for glaze
Place the mixed fruit (excluding almonds and citrus peel)in a bowl. Pour hot boiling water over it and let it soak for an hour. Add fresh orange juice and cover it. I prefer to soak this for at least 24 hours.
Soak around 100 gm almond in hot boiling water for half an hour. Peel the almond and dry it completely. Or else you can very lightly roast the almonds too so that all the moisture is dried up. Take care not to brown the almond. Almonds should remain white.
Roughly chop the almonds.
In a dry grinder jar, add the almonds along with 1/2 tsp cornflour. Grind it to fine powder.
This should yield roughly 1 cup almond flour.
To the 1 cup almond flour, add 1 cup powdered sugar, almond extract, rose water, honey or golden syrup and pulse it till you get a solid mass.
Mix it with hand. Place it in a cling plastic wrap, fold it and roll it till you get a 7-8 inch long cylindrical log shape.
Warp it nicely and refrigerate it for 24 hours. Marzipan will firm up in the fridge and will be ready to use.
To the lukewarm milk add 2 tablespoon sugar and 2 tsp yeast. Mix it thoroughly and keep it in warm place till the mixture is frothy.
Sift the flour with salt, add butter, egg, remaining sugar, vanilla extract, almonds, candied citrus peels. To this add the yeast milk mixture, mix it properly with a spoon until it comes together.
Knead the dough for 10 minutes, grease the dough lightly with oil , wrap it ( I use a clean kitchen towel, you can use plastic wrap too) and place the dough in a warm place for 1 hour or until double in volume.
Since we make this in winter months, I usually proof the dough in the microwave. For that I switch on the microwave for 30 sec and then place the bowl tightly and cozily wrapped with double layer of kitchen towel and shut the door of the microwave. Alternately you can do the same in oven too by warm up the oven slightly and placing the bowl in it
Punch down the dough and knead it lightly. Squeeze out all the liquid from the fruit mix and add it to the dough. Try to incorporate all the fruit mix in the dough and knead. This will take sometime. If requires lightly grease your hand with oil and knead it. The dough will be little wet or slightly sticky.
Grease a baking sheet, spread the dough. Place the marzipan log in the center of the dough.
Fold the left side of the dough to cover the marzipan and then fold the right side of the dough over on top of the left side. Pinch and fold the ends of the dough to cover the marzipan and using your hand try to shape the dough into a oval loaf.
Cover with a kitchen towel, keep it in a warm place until it proofed nicely and dough becomes very puffy. This might take around another 1 hour.
Pre heat the oven at 180 C / 350F. Bake the stollen for 40 min till golden brown.
Once the stollen is baked and out of the oven, poke holes all over it and generously brush it with butter. Wait for few minutes till all the butter get soaked up by the bread nicely and follwed by a gentle shower of sugar dusting.
Loosely wrap the stollen in clean cloth kitchen towel and let it cool completely. This will take another 3-4 hours depending upon the room temperature.
Once the stollen is completely cooled down, give it a generous dusting of sugar so that it should looks like snow covered completely. Wrap it in plastic cling wrap tightly, take care not to expose it to air. Cover with cloth kitchen towel, use a double layer if requires and keep it in dark corner of the kitchen.
Let the stollen rest for 24 hours and slice it next day.
On day 2, if the stollen looks little dryish, then warm it up in the microwave for 10 sec, butter it and serve it with hot coffee .
The above picture shows what happens if you cut the stollen too early or if the ratio of fruit mix to the dough is not proportionate, poorly risen stollen and the one that did not get enough time to ripe.
How to store your freshly baked stollen ?
This is purely on experimental basis and in our typical tropical climate I have found that wrapping the bread tightly in cling wrap followed by paper bag or dish towel works best.
How to serve the stollen?
A warm slice of stollen with hot coffee is what I would prefer in Winter mornings or evenings. I prefer to microwave the bread lightly for max 10 sec just to warm it up before serving it. You can butter it, if it becomes too dry for you on day two, or three.