I’ve made stollen virtually each Christmas of my married life since I can keep in mind.
Generally, feeling lazy, I’ve skipped a yr, solely to be greeted by whimpering, pathetic expressions of disappointment from Man of the Home. Little man of the home was all the time too busy opening presents to note the absence of this wealthy, buttery bread full of almonds, candied orange peel, raisins, and different dried fruit.
MAKING MY OWN FAMILY TRADITION
I’d prefer to say I grew up with this custom, however my mother, who hated to prepare dinner, not to mention bake, was too busy managing 4 youngsters to take a stab at it. So, I’ve created my very own custom for our little household.
We all the time open one current every on Christmas Eve accompanied by a glass of champagne for the grownups, and a slice of stollen. Christmas morning presents can’t begin with out espresso and a plate of sliced stollen, both. In some unspecified time in the future, I began making smaller stollen to present to particular pals, too.
MAKE-AHEAD STOLLEN IS THE BEST STOLLEN
The dough for this stollen is like delicate, buttery bread dough, and although you fill it with dried fruits and almonds, it’s not as dense or leaden as a fruitcake.
In case you plan to make stollen for Christmas, remember to enable time for it to relaxation and mellow for a couple of days (or as much as two weeks) earlier than digging in or giving it as a present. The fruit takes a while to infuse its taste into the bread and provides vital moisture in the course of the mellowing interval.
It’s an exquisite meals present, and an effective way to get into the vacation spirit earlier than the precise crush begins.
I hope you take pleasure in this recipe for 4 small breads. (Don’t fear—they’re baked on a sheet pan, so that you don’t have to have a cabinet stuffed with loaf pans to make them.) Maybe you’ll begin a practice of your personal.
WHAT IS STOLLEN?
Stollen is a German Christmas bread chock stuffed with dried fruit, candied peel, and almonds. Its custom dates again a number of centuries, essentially the most well-known loaf coming from Dresden.
It’s made with a candy, buttery yeast dough and candy spices corresponding to nutmeg, mace, cloves, and ginger. The oval form, shaped by folding the dough so one facet barely leaves a niche on prime of the loaf is, generally, stated to indicate child Jesus in swaddling garments.
It’s baked on a baking sheet, so that you don’t want any particular gear to make stollen.
Earlier than serving, the loaf is showered with a thick blanket of powdered sugar, making it look splendidly festive and Christmas-y to the max.
DRIED FRUIT FOR STOLLEN
Dried fruit and candied peel are the hallmarks of stollen. Not solely are they scrumptious, however they preserve the bread from drying out because it mellows with time (often as much as two weeks).
Typical fruits embody candied orange and lemon peel, currants, and darkish and golden raisins. Nevertheless, there are a lot of choices to select from to personalize your stollen. For this recipe, you have to 2 1/three cups combined dried fruit and citrus peel. The fruits beneath are a very good guideline, however be at liberty to substitute your personal most well-liked fruits should you can’t discover them.
I occur to like candied peel, however until I make it myself (which I gave up on years in the past) or can discover a good high quality model, I substitute diced dried apricots, that are additionally tart and add colour.
To make sure the fruits impart moisture to the stollen, the fruits are plumped by an in a single day soak in rum (Myer’s Darkish Rum is my favourite) or brandy. You may soak them in a single day, or should you overlook (that might me) you may take the shortcut of heating the fruit and liquid within the microwave and letting them soak whereas the sponge rises.
YEAST AND THE SPONGE METHOD
I’m a giant fan of the SAF Gold Immediate Yeast as a result of it may be combined instantly into the flour with out proofing (dissolving in liquid earlier than utilizing).
Nevertheless, if you don’t bake bread typically, you need to use both packets of immediate yeast (also referred to as fast rise) or you may hydrate a packet of energetic dry yeast in liquid earlier than mixing it with the dry components, although many say you don’t have to hydrate energetic dry yeast anymore. Immediate yeast and energetic dry yeast are interchangeable by way of quantity wanted for this recipe.
In case you assume your yeast is likely to be previous, it could nonetheless be a good suggestion to proof it in heat water with a little bit of sugar. For extra on that, learn this text on King Arthur Flour.
As a precursor to mixing the dough, this recipe requires a sponge or ‘pre-ferment,’ which is a combination of all of the liquid, the yeast, and some of the flour to make a batter-like consistency that’s left to rise earlier than being combined into the ultimate dough. The aim of the sponge is so as to add a extra advanced taste to the completed bread and likewise to activate enzymes wanted to assist the dough rise.
DON’T KILL YOUR YEAST
When making bread, the yeast is often blended with heat milk or water to present it a lift to activate it. The liquid ought to be heat (100º to 110ºF, barely hotter than physique temperature), however not scorching. Yeast begins to die if liquid reaches 120ºF or greater.
HOW TO MAKE A PROOF BOX
That heat place for bread? It doesn’t exist in my kitchen! For anybody residing in a chilly local weather, getting yeasted breads to rise in your chilly kitchen in winter can take a lonnggg time.
One resolution is to position a pan of heat water (like a loaf pan) within the backside of the oven. Warmth the oven to its lowest setting after which flip it off and let it cool to about 80 levels (it ought to simply really feel heat, not scorching, while you place your hand in it). Place the dough bowl within the oven till it rises.
HOW TO GIFT WRAP STOLLEN
On the day you’re giving the present:
- Mud the stollen very generously with powdered sugar and enclose it first in plastic wrap after which in clear cellophane. Don’t do that too far forward, because the sugar tends to soften into the butter and doesn’t look as fairly.
- Seal with clear packing tape on the underside and tie up with broad ribbon. Or wrap in plastic after which parchment or brown paper tied with baker’s twine.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH STOLLEN?
Stollen is admittedly an all-purpose vacation deal with. You may pull it out after a meal for a festive punctuation to supper while you don’t need one thing too candy. Or serve it with a glass of bubbly for a Christmas Eve toast.
It’s additionally good with tea or espresso nearly anytime you need a snack, and naturally, you may serve it like we do in our home, with espresso on Christmas morning. Butter and jam, optionally available!
STORING AND FREEZING STOLLEN
When the stollen comes out of the oven, brush it whereas heat with melted butter and a coating of spiced-infused granulated sugar.
As soon as it’s fully cool, wrap it effectively in plastic wrap after which in foil and let it remedy for no less than two days. If you’re going to retailer it longer (as much as two weeks), place the wrapped loaf in a tin or a plastic container. Because the bread sits, the moisture from the fruit permeates the bread. Earlier than serving, mud it generously with powdered sugar and slice it.
To freeze stollen, wrap in plastic, after which in foil, and freeze for as much as three months. Defrost in a single day on the countertop. Mud with confectioner’s sugar simply earlier than serving.