Monday, December 27, 2010

Stollen stole me

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 know we're all supposed to be sick of rich, sweet foods right about now. I know we are all supposed to be gearing up for New Year's attempts at cleansing diets. I know it is high time for me to share a healthy recipe. But it is Daring Baker's Challenge revealing day, and I get to reveal this rich, sweet bread, in all its Christmassy glory. Anyway, the recipe is so good, I think it warrants just one more bake-off in the spirit of the season. Just to give it honor, just to get to eat it!

I first encountered stollen in Vancouver last December, right before moving California. I was picking up a few of my favorite double-baked almond croissants at my favorite European bakery, and there they were--smallish, unassuming logs of what appeared to be raisin-studded bread, generously sprinkled with powdered sugar. I was in a state of parting sadness, and so everything in that store seemed exceptionally romantic and lovely, and the stollen especially made me homesick already for the city and its good baking. I didn't buy a loaf that day, but I made a mental note to find out more. I read. I researched. And because I had already baked my share of holiday goods, I made it a future goal to try it out.

This year it was solidly on my list of baking, but I honestly had an inkling it would again be shoved to the back of the line, as fruitcake and cookies have a stronghold on my life. But then Daring Baker announced their December challenge. Glory! Stollen. Oh, well now it was essential. Now it got bumped to the very top. And it is a darned good thing.

I thought my holiday love would be this, which I made and did love much, or this, which I made and loved and already shared (though it needs a month or two to ripen still, so we'll see), but no, come Christmas morning I baked this beauty off for family breakfast, and there is no denying it, this time I am truly smitten. Stollen--this particular stollen, is my truest holiday romance. I cannot imagine going another Christmas without it. I can't imagine how I've lived without it thus far.

The dough is indeed, rich like panetone or Challah (eggs, butter, and sugar will do that), deglightfully reminicent of cinnamon rolls, only better, more filling, more chewy, and more kind when raisins are added. (Sad to announce, I do not appreciate raisins in my rolls. I find it jolting and odd. But that's just me.) The candied orange peel, well-suited and somehow subtle, the flaked almonds a discovery all its own--as nuts in rolls can also throw me off balance. My whole family enjoyed it--which is saying alot, when my sister doesn't like raisins either so much, and my brother and dad are not pannetone sympathizers. So it takes dislikes and it just chucks them out the window. When something is good, people know it. And oh, did we know it. Thanks to Penny, for the recipe and the challenge, what good would my Christmas breakfast have been without it?

Stollen Wreath from Penny of Sweet Sadies

I have kept the recipe exactly as Penny wrote it, though I did not add the optional red cherries, I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

And just as a side note, it was spectacularly perfect for Christmas morning, even better, dare I say, than cinnamon rolls. But I believe its goodness was not solely due to its timing. I will make another batch (in another shape) soon and see what that aging does for it--if I can keep my mitts off of it long enough! Anyway, happy 3rd day of Christmas. And to those Daring Bakers--Happy Challenge!

Makes one large wreath or two traditional shaped Stollen loaves. Serves 10-12 people.


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)
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
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (very good) vanilla extract
1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon extract or orange extract
¾ cup (180 ml) (4 ¾ ozs) (135 grams) mixed peel (link below to make your own)
1 cup (240 ml) (6 ozs) (170 gms) firmly packed raisins
3 tablespoons (45ml) rum
12 red glacé cherries (roughly chopped) for the color and the taste. (optional)
1 cup (240 ml) (3 ½ ozs) (100 grams) flaked almonds
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. See Note under raisins.

To make the dough

Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.

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.

Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon and vanilla extracts.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder.

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.

Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough.

Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.
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.

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!

When completely cool, store in a plastic bag. Or leave it out uncovered overnight to dry out slightly, German style. Enjoy!


  1. i totally know what you mean about raisins in baked goods!! perhaps that is why i always intrinsically trusted your baking. i'm so glad you've found stollen. i've only made it once (and it was a very amateur attempt) and may need to try this recipe for next year.

    here's a suggestion for next christmas' baking season: do you know of good savory christmas treats? i always get sugared out by the second week of advent.

  2. It's been it all over? I keep checking here in hopes of a new post, but keep seeing nothing but December stollen. If you have time, keep posting; people like it!

  3. Just wanted to say thank you Ann, for the support, for the reading, and for the little nudge. Apparently that was all I needed.