12 Days of Christmas – Stollen

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On the second day of Christmas, Bake Good gave to me…Stollen!  Yeah, not exactly how the song goes but you get the picture.  Don’t worry, I won’t make that joke for all twelve posts, I don’t think anyway.

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My mum had requested I make stollen when I’m back home for Christmas, so I thought I better get a practice run in beforehand to avoid disappointment.  As usual, I brought this in to work to save eating the whole loaf myself, which could have happened because it tastes amazing!  To my surprise, although it went down well, almost nobody had actually heard of stollen before.  I assumed everyone had this in their cupboards at Christmas but perhaps it was just my family!  Basically it is a dense, sweet fruit bread filled with marzipan.  According to my sources (read: Wikipedia) it is originally from Germany.

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There were various recipes, some using plain flour and some with bread flour, different levels of spice, different fruits, with and without nuts.  Complicated.  So I went with one of my kitchen idols Delia….and then went ahead and changed it to suit the ingredients I’d bought!  As per a Nigel Slated recipe, I added cardamom  which was a really nice touch of soft fragrant spice that seemed to pair very well with the sultanas, cranberry and apricot.  This loaf is a little lighter than the shop bought alternative, which is a good thing in my opinion, and is further enhanced by a light toasted before serving.

If you’ve never had stollen before I hope you give it a try and an alternative baked treat this Christmas!

adapted from Delia Smiths Happy Christmas

300g strong white bread flour, plus 50g for kneading

1/4 tsp salt

2tsps fast action yeast

50g caster sugar

150ml tepid milk

110g butter, softened

1 egg, lightly beaten

50g sultanas

50g dried cranberries

70g dried apricots, chopped

zest of 1 orange

Seeds from 4 green cardamom pods, ground in a pestle and mortar

175g marzipan

For the glaze:

110g icing sugar

1 tbsp orange juice

A generous handful of toasted, flaked almonds

Add the 300g of flour to a large mixing bowl and whisk together with the salt, sugar and yeast.  Make a well in the centre and pour in the milk, then add the butter and beaten egg.  Mix everything together – I did this by hand but the dough is quite wet so I would advise that you use a mixer with a dough hook if possible – until the dough starts to clean the sides of the bowl.  Add in the fruits, zest and cardamom and mix until evenly distributed.

Sprinkle a clean work surface with 25g of the remaining flour and knead the dough for 5 minutes until it becomes elastic.  Leave the dough in a floured bowl, covered with clingfilm, in a warm place until it doubles in size.  This should take about 2 hours.

Once the dough has risen, scrape it out on to a work surface dusted with the last of the flour and knock the air out of it.  Knead it a couple of times until it holds its shape.  Using your fingers, press the dough out into a rectangular shape, about 25 cm x 20 cm.  Roll the marzipan in to a sausage shape about 25cm long and lay on top of the dough.  Fold the long sides of the dough over the marzipan and turn the loaf over to the seam is at the bottom.

Transfer the dough on to a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.  Lightly cover with clingfilm and leave to rise one more for about an hour, until doubled in size.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 190 degrees C for 30-40 minutes, until a deep brown colour on top.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the tray for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Whilst the stollen is still warm make the glaze by mixing together the icing sugar and orange juice.  Using a pastry brush, completely cover the top of the loaf whilst it is still warm.  Sprinkle with the almonds and allow to cool before slicing and enjoying.



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