Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Stollen - fruitcake or fruity bread?

Merry Christmas!

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.

I loved this challenge! And, from what I could tell, so did everyone else! My aunt called me three times to tell me how much she enjoyed this cake and that it’s been Stollen for breakfast every morning since Christmas.  J
We were all in agreement that it was delicious but none of could settle on whether this was a cake” or a “bread”.  I think it’s a bread. Sister, on the other hand, was completely convinced that since it contained lots of dried fruit it should be considered a fruitcake. I’m not on board with that for a couple of reasons. For one thing, and let’s be honest, you don’t start salivating at the thought of fruitcake.  But more importantly anything that uses yeast as a leavening agent and has to be kneaded is considered bread (or at least by my standards). Well, whatever – its pretty irrelevant. Bottom line is that this is kind of dense, a little chewy and only slightly sweet and really delicious. 

Stollen Wreath
Makes one large wreath or two traditional shaped Stollen loaves. Serves 10-12 people (uhm, this served 6 of us at Christmas dinner and that was only 1/3 of the wreath!)
¼ cup (60ml) lukewarm water (110º F / 43º C)

2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) (22 ml) (14 grams) (1/2 oz) active dry yeast
1 cup (240 ml) milk
10 tablespoons (150 ml) (140 grams) unsalted butter (can use salted butter - I wouldn't recommend that)
5½ cups (1320 ml) (27 ozs) (770 grams) all-purpose (plain) flour (Measure flour first - then sift- plus extra for dusting)
½ cup (120 ml) (115 gms) sugar
¾ teaspoon (3 ¾ ml) (4 ½ grams) salt (if using salted butter there is no need to alter this salt measurement)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 grams) cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange (I only used orange)
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (very good) vanilla extract (I used my own homemade! J)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon extract or orange extract (I skipped this and just added the juice of an orange when soaking the dried fruit)
¾ cup (180 ml) (4 ¾ ozs) (135 grams) mixed peel (link below to make your own)

1  2 cups (240 ml) (6 ozs) (170 gms) firmly packed raisins loosely packed dried fruit – a mixture of your choice. I used dried blueberries, dried cherries, golden raisins and craisins.

3 tablespoons (45ml) rum (I used 3 tsp rum extract)
12 red glacé cherries (roughly chopped) for the color and the taste. (optional)
1 cup (240 ml) (3 ½ ozs) (100 grams) flaked almonds (I used slivered almonds and toasted them – gave it more of a crunch)
Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath
Confectioners’ (icing) (powdered) sugar for dusting wreath

Note: If you don’t want to use alcohol, double the lemon or orange extract or you could use the juice from the zested orange.
Soak the raisins

In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the rum (or in the orange juice from the zested orange) and set aside. (I used a mixture of golden raisins, craisins, dried blueberries and dried cherries from Trader Joe’s. I soaked this mixture in 3 tsp rum extract and 3tbs freshly squeezed orange juice. I dumped all of this into the dough – liquid and all)

To make the dough

1.     Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.
2.     In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup (240 ml) milk and 10 tablespoons (150 ml) butter over medium - low heat until butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes.
3.     Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon and vanilla extracts.
4.     In a large mixing bowl (4 qt) (4 liters) (or in the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment), stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests.
5.     Then stir in (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/butter mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.
6.     Add in the mixed peel, soaked fruit and almonds and mix with your hands or on low speed to incorporate. Here is where you can add the cherries if you would like. Be delicate with the cherries or all your dough will turn red!
7.     Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing with the dough hook) to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed. The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 8 minutes (6 minutes by machine). The full six minutes of kneading is needed to distribute the dried fruit and other ingredients and to make the dough have a reasonable bread-dough consistency. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough – a few raisins will start to fall off the dough onto the counter because at the beginning of the kneading process the dough is very sticky and the raisins will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn't enough to bind the outside raisins onto the dough ball.
8.     Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

Put it in the fridge overnight. The dough becomes very firm in the fridge (since the butter goes firm) but it does rise slowly… the raw dough can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week and then baked on the day you want.

Shaping the Dough and Baking the Wreath
1.     Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.
2.     Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
3.     Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
4.     Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches (40 x 61 cms) and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick.
5.     Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder.
6.     Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan. Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle. You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape.
7.     Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough
8.     Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap
9.     Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size. (I was in a rush to get this done for Christmas Eve dinner so I expedited the process by proofing in the oven. The lowest my oven will go is 150F. I put a shallow pan with hot water on the lower rack and the stollen on the upper rack. I proofed for about 1 hr this way and then followed the directions for baking in step 7)
10.   Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, should register 190°F/88°C in the center of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.
11.   Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the top with melted butter while still hot.

Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter.
Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first.
The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar.
Let cool at least an hour before serving. Coat the stollen in butter and icing sugar three times, since this many coatings helps keeps the stollen fresh - especially if you intend on sending it in the mail as Christmas presents!

12.   When completely cool, store in a plastic bag. Or leave it out uncovered overnight to dry out slightly, German style.
The stollen tastes even better in a couple of days and it toasts superbly…. so delicious with butter and a cup of tea….mmmmm  (agreed!!! You know, I’m wondering if it would make good French toast ;)


The more rum and the more coatings of butter and sugar you use the longer it will store.
The following is for the recipe as written and uses the 45 mls of rum and two coatings of butter and icing sugar
1. Stollen freezes beautifully about 4 months
2. The baked stollen stores well for 2 weeks covered in foil and plastic wrap on the counter at room temperature and
3. One month in the refrigerator well covered with foil and plastic wrap.

Nutrition Facts: (1/20th recipe)
303 Calories, 9.6g fat, 47.2g carbs, 2.3g fiber, 14.6g sugar, 7g protein


Carolyn said...

Stollen is wonderful and you did a great job with yours! Nice work.

Dee D. said...

That looks delicious and pretty :) great job!