Another one of my favourite foods at Christmas is stollen (being German it should be spelled with a capital S, but I guess it’s become anglicised enough now to lower case it). This bread-like cake with dried fruit and marzipan has all the good bits of a traditional English Christmas cake, but without the sickly sweet white royal icing, and is generally much lighter (in colour and stodginess). Once again, German trumps British Christmas food. I’ve eaten a fair few stollen in my time (and been through, several times, the inevitable family joke of being a thief – stollen/stolen – it’s all the same to those who don’t sprechen Deutsch; incidentally it’s pronounced something more like ‘shto-luhn’ – ‘o’ as in ‘pot’), but this is the first time I’ve ventured into producing a homemade one. As there is very little sugar in the dough, it’s great for Andrew too, though I left out the nuts, and only put a small amount of sugar-laden marzipan into his ‘stollen bites’.
This recipe is based on one from Delia Smith online. It will come as no surprise to anyone who’s read previous baking posts on this blog that I adapted the recipe – no almonds (not great for Andrew), mixed dried fruit instead of separate amounts of raisins, currants, apricots, cherries and dried fruit peel (why bother when Mr Sainsbury can do it for you?), plain flour instead of strong white bread flour (other recipes I have seen for stollen don’t insist on bread flour, though see comments below), and simply dusted with icing sugar to finish instead of a glaze with lemon juice (I’m not overly fussed about lemon and all the stollen I’ve had from Germany just had icing sugar on top).
This recipe is enough to make 1 large one. I made double this, because you can’t buy smaller packs of marzipan, and stollen is great to freeze, so I made 2 bigger ones and about a dozen small ‘bites’ for Andrew; half of all this went in the freezer.
- 150 ml milk
- 50 g caster sugar
- 2 level teaspoons dried yeast (not easy-blend)
- 400 g plain flour
- 110 g softened butter
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 200 g mixed dried fruit
- 200 g marzipan
- icing sugar, sifted, to dust on top
- Pre-heat the oven to 190°C.
- Warm the milk, until you can just still dip your little finger in it.
- Add 1 teaspoon of the sugar along with the dried yeast and leave it until it forms a frothy head of about 1 inch.
- Meanwhile sift 350 g of the flour together with the remaining sugar into a mixing bowl, and make a well in the centre.
- Pour the milk and yeast mixture into this, then add the softened butter and beaten egg.
- Mix everything together either with your hands or with a wooden spoon – until the mixture is well blended and leaves the side of the bowl cleanly.
- Then work in the fruit, distributing it as evenly as possible. Knead the dough on a work surface for 5 minutes until it is springy and elastic.
- Now leave the dough in a warm place, covered with clingfilm, until it has doubled in size (the time this takes can vary depending on the temperature – it could take up to 2 hours).
- Turn the risen dough out on to a board floured with the reserved 50 g of flour, and knock the air out of it and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic.
- At this stage roll or press out the dough to an oblong 10 x 8 inches. Using your hands, roll out the marzipan to form a sausage shape and place this along the centre of the dough, finishing just short of the edges.
- Fold the dough over the marzipan and carefully place the whole thing on a baking sheet, allowing plenty of room for expansion.
- Leave it to prove in a warm place until it has doubled in size again, then bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.
- Allow it to cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before lifting it on to a wire rack to finish cooling.
- Dust the top with the icing sugar to finish.
You can probably tell from the photos that the stollen turned out quite flat. I suspect this is because I didn’t use strong white bread flour (its ‘strength’ holds the air bubbles from the yeast better). But they taste delicious, and Andrew loves his little baby bites too. Plus we’ve got another loaf and some bites in the freezer to enjoy in the New Year.
Do you have special foods that you like to bake/eat at Christmas? Are there cakes/biscuits/other sweet things that remind you of childhood or being with family for Christmas? Do you prefer Christmas foods traditional in other cultures more than those in your own? I’d love to hear about other foody traditions at this time of year. It’s special occasions like this that really inspire me to bake and try out new recipes. I hope you’re enjoying reading about my Christmas baking adventures!