Stollen is a type of enriched bread with a layer of icing sugar on it. Like the Italian Panettone (recipe here), it is filled with dried and candied fruits and nuts. It is a traditional German bread usually eaten during the Christmas season when it is called Weihnachtsstollen or Christstollen. As with most breads, it is leavened with yeast. Unlike most breads however, it is aged for at least 1-1/2 weeks (10 days) in order for it to ripen. The ripening period can be a lot longer. Like with fruitcakes, ripening accentuates the flavors of the fruits and other ingredients in the bread. A good Stollen is somewhat dense but not dry. It also sometimes has a log of marzipan stuffed in the middle. I have tried a couple of recipes and this one seems to work best for me. It is an amalgamation of several Stollen recipes.
(1) 1 Cup Milk
(2) 113 Grams Unsalted Butter (1/2 Cup) (See Note 1)
(3) 100 Grams Granulated White Sugar (1/2 Cup)
(4) 1 Teaspoon Salt
(5) 1 Cup Raisins
(6) 1/2 Cup Chopped Mixed Fruits of your choice (See Note 2)
(7) 1/4 Cup Rum
(8) 585 Grams All Purpose Flour (4-1/2 Cups) (See Note 3)
(9) 14 Grams Active Dry Yeast (2 Packets or 4-1/2 Teaspoons)
(10) The Zest of 1 Orange
(11) The Zest of 1 Lemon
(12) 2 Large Eggs
(13) 1/2 Teaspoon Almond Extract
(14) 1/2 Cup Chopped Almonds
(15) Melted Butter and Icing Sugar for Aging
(16) Marzipan for stuffing (Optional) (See Note 4)
(1) Margarine can be used in place of butter.
(2) You have the option of using any blend of mixed or candied fruits. I used 1/4 cup mixed peels and 1/4 cup candied pineapple.
(3) I used half all purpose and half bread flour for better structure.
(4) A recipe for marzipan can be found here.
(1) Place the milk, butter, sugar and salt in a small sauce pan and heat until the butter melts. Take it off heat and leave the mixture to cool down to lukewarm temperature before using.
(2) Place the raisins and mixed fruits in a bowl along with the alcohol. Stir and let sit until needed.
(3) In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, place the flour, yeast and zests.
(4) Pour in the milk mixture, eggs and almond extract. Beat at medium speed until a shaggy dough forms. Switch to the dough hook and knead at medium-high speed until you get a smooth dough. This takes about 5 minutes.
(5) Add the soaked mixed fruits and almonds and knead for another 5 minutes to incorporate fruits.
(6) Turn the mixture on to a lightly floured surface and knead for about a minute. Note that the dough should be soft. Do not be tempted to add more flour to the dough. Form the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover the bowl with cling film and Leave the dough to double in size. This takes about 2 to 3 hours so be patient. It takes long for the dough to double in size because of the weight of the fruits and nuts and the fact that the yeast was not activated before using.
NOTE: This whole process can be done by hand in a large bowl of work surface. Place the flour mixture in a bowl or on your work surface, make a well in the middle and pour in the wet ingredients, extract and eggs. Knead until you get a smooth dough. Add the mixed fruits and nuts and knead until incorporated.
SHAPING AND BAKING:
(7) After the dough has doubled, turn it on your work surface and deflate. Divide it into 2 or 3 equal parts depending on the size of loaves you want.
(8) You can simply place the dough in a loaf pan and proof it for 45 minutes to an hour until doubled in size. Traditionally, Stollen is shaped by hand with or without a log of marzipan in the middle. To shape the loaf, flatten it into a rectangle, fold one third of it on its self and fold the other third over the first fold.
(9) Place the loaves on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, cover lightly with cling film or a kitchen towel and leave to double in size. This takes anywhere between 45 minutes and 1 hour. 15 minutes before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
(10) Bake the loaves in the preheated oven for 30 -45 minutes depending on the size of the loaves. They should be brown when ready and a toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean. They should also sound hollow when the bottom is tapped. Place the loaves on a cooling rack to cool.
(11) When the loaves are completely cool, brush them with melted butter and dust icing sugar over them. The icing sugar helps preserve the bread as it ages.
(12) Wrap the loaves with cling film followed by a layer of foil paper. Place the loaves in a plastic bag and place in a cool dark place to age.
Enjoy your Stollen on Christmas morning and pretend you are in Germany. Frohe Weihnachten!
(1) Panettone. Recipe here