Anyone who knows me well knows that I hate raisins. They’re such a let down. Have you ever looked longingly at a huge cookie, brimming with glistening chocolate chips, only to bite into it and get a mouthful of chewy, shriveled up grapes? Exactly.
In fact, I’m not a fan of any dried fruit, which is why I usually run a mile from fruitcake at Christmastime. Stollen, however, is an exception. It’s a bread rather than a cake, similar to an Italian panettone with marzipan streaked throughout. I’m not sure why, but I will happily tolerate raisins, sultanas, and candied peel in stolen (it might have something to do with the fruit being soaked in rum, come to think of it.)
Stollen is one of those things that looks impressive, and the following recipe does look a little scary, but it’s really not. What you do need to do is put aside a Stollen Day on which to make it and employ small children to do some of the work. Most of the hassle of stollen is hanging around waiting for it to do stuff: mix, wait, add some stuff and mix again, wait, roll, form, wait, bake, wait, dust with sugar, eat. The actual steps are pretty simple though, and this can be made up to a month in advance then frozen. In fact, I think this gets better with age as the rum-soaked fruits mellow and add flavour to the bread.
Some people make their own marzipan for this recipe and it isn’t that difficult – it mostly involves blitzing almonds with sugar and eggs to create a paste. I prefer to buy it to save a bit of time, and if you are going to do the same, make sure you get “natural” marzipan. That is, marzipan that isn’t a lurid shade of yellow and doesn’t contain artificial ingredients. It just tastes a lot nicer.
I found this recipe last year on a food blog that no longer exists, sadly. The author claimed that this is the Village Bakery’s recipe, which explains why weight is used as measurement for all ingredients, including liquids. I think it is worth investing in a kitchen scale, because it’s far more accurate than measuring some ingredients with cups such as butter and even flour. A cup of flour that’s “loose” might have less weight than a cup that’s been packed a little, depending on how you put the flour in the measuring cup. For most things, some leeway isn’t the end of the world but for others, a few grams can make a big difference.
If you are going to freeze the stollen, don’t dust them with icing sugar beforehand. Let them defrost, then dust with sugar before wrapping or eating. I love stollen as is, but it’s also very lovely warmed a little in a toaster.
I made this recipe for my sister-in-law Gabi, who is an actual real life German lady and approved! Can’t ask for a better endorsement than that, really. These make excellent gifts, if you don’t gobble them all up before you give them away.
(Makes 4 small loaves.)
For the ferment:
220g (1 cup) warm milk
10g fresh yeast or 1 sachet of dry yeast
10g (1 Tbsp) sugar
80g (2÷3 cup) plain flour
Mix all the ingredients and allow to stand until it collapses. This took me about 1 ½ hours in the airing cupboard.
For the stollen:
All the ferment
446g (3 ½ cups) plain flour
4g (1÷2 tsp) salt
40g (1÷3 cup) brown sugar
200g unsalted butter
100g (2 large) eggs – save any excess for your egg wash
20g (3 Tbsp) dark rum
200g (1 ½ cups) sultanas/golden raisins
160g (1 cup) raisins
140g (1 cup) mixed peel
200g of marzipan, either homemade or store bought
Add the flour, salt, sugar, and butter in a food processor or in a stand mixer and pulse until the butter is incorporated. Add the ferment, eggs, rum, and fruit and mix briefly until combined.
Let rise for 1 ½ hours.
Divide the dough and marzipan into four parts. Flour your surface and roll the dough and marzipan into roughly the same sized rectangles, about twice as long as wide. Place the marzipan on top of the dough and roll it up like a jellyroll. Tuck in the ends and place on a cookie sheet, then brush with egg wash. Repeat until all four loaves are made.
Let rise for about ¾ hour.
Preheat the oven to 190C and bake the stollen for ¾ hour. When the loaves have cooled, dust with icing sugar (omit this step if you’re freezing them.)