Daring Bakers - Christmas Stollen

Stollen with chocolate, fruits and marzipan

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book.........and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

A few words from our hostess about the Stollen...

Stollen is a bread-like fruitcake made with yeast, water and flour, and usually with zest added to the dough. Candied orange peel and candied citrus is often also added. The Advent season was a time of fasting, and bakers were not allowed to use butter, only oil, and the cake was tasteless and hard. Over the centuries, the cake changed from being a simple, fairly tasteless "bread" to a sweeter cake with richer ingredients.

Stollen with Candle

Interestingly the Italian Panettone and the Dutch Kerststol are sort of siblings of the German Weihnachtsstollen, or simply Stollen; all being popular during the Christmas season in their respective regions. My introduction to this festive fruity bread family was actually through the Dutch Kerststol.

Last year around this time, we were in Holland, witnessing a spectacular and rather uncommon sight, a white shrouded Dutch countryside. This year, ofcourse, it would barely spark a surprise. Nevertheless, roaming the sea-swept lanes of Volendam, in search of refuge from the bitterly cold winds blowing inland, we chanced upon a lovey little bakery. In there was, most welcomingly, a heater and also many shelves decked with wonderful fresh baked goods, including the Kerststol.

Stollen sliced

We brought it back home to the US, where, believe it or not, the weather was barmier, and savored the bread's delicate flavors for a few days. Since then, I have had it on my to-do list to bake the stollen or atleast a variety of it. Thanks to Penny, I can finally check it off my list. But, perhaps, I'll just leave it there since I am definitely making this one again!! :)

As Penny has suggested, I did make the stollen in the shape of a wreath. But, I tweaked the recipe for smaller quantities and used a starter sponge to kick start the yeasting. I also added chocolate and marzipan aside from brandied fruits to make a bread ah! just a tad rich befitting the occasion! ;-) Enjoy!


Stollen with Chocolate, Fruits and Marzipan

For the Sponge:
3/4 cup warm milk (at 110F)
1 packet dry active yeast
1/2 cup flour, sifted
1/2 tsp sugar

For the bread
sponge from above
2 cups flour + more for dusting
1 T sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
zest of 1 orange
5 T butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup mix of brandied fruits (I used a mixture of cranberries, golden and black raisins soaked in brandy for a week)
2 oz chocolate bark, cut into chunks
4 oz marzipan, in chunks

Stir together the sponge ingredients in a large bowl, cover and set aside for an hour or so until the sponge is risen and foamy. Meanwhile, get the other ingredients in place.

When ready, whisk together the egg, yolk, orange zest, sugar, salt and melted butter into a smooth mixture. Pour into the sponge and whisk until smooth. Slowly sift the flour into this mixture and knead to form a sticky dough. Transfer to a well-floured surface and knead until you get a soft and tacky dough.

Knead in the brandied fruits and continue kneading the dough for 7-10 minutes until the dough is supple and no longer sticky. Transfer to an oiled bowl, toss to coat the dough in oil, cover with a towel and set aside in a warm place until doubled in volume.

On a floured surface, gently degas the dough and roll out into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Sprinkle the chunks of marzipan and chocolate evenly over the surface. To make a wreath, roll the dough along the longer end and fold the dough around a round surface and pinch together the ends. Using a kitchen shears, lacerate the wreath at even intervals.

Brush melted butter over the surface, cover with towel and let it rest for about an hour and half until the dough doubles in volume. Bake the dough at 350F for 15 minutes. Rotate the sheet by 180 degrees and bake for another 15 minutes until the internal temperature registers 190F.

Brush the bread with melted butter while still warm and dust with powdered sugar. Let the bread come to room temperature before slicing. The bread is awesome toasted!!

Stollen Toast

I am sending this off this yeasty concoction to Yeastspotting!