Friday, December 26, 2014

Adventures in baking: Christmas Stollen edition

I hope you all had a great Christmas!  This whole week has been a glorious week of relaxing, TV watching, and sleeping (following a not-so-fun beginning of the week where I suddenly got sick).  I didn't even workout until finally getting the strength to go for a short walk/jog this afternoon.

Baking cookies is easy enough for me, but bread....well bread is something I do less often.   Yet that didn't stop me from doing some Christmas baking because my family all loves any bread-related food...leading me to tackle a Christmas Stollen recipe.  

Keep reading for the recipe!

Stollen is traditionally a German bread version of fruit cake, that I adapted to meet my own needs. While they may include dried fruits and marzipan, and then are typically topped with powdered sugar, the only ingredients I used to fill mine were raisins, dried cranberries, pecans, and almonds.  Instead of a powdered sugar topping, I just topped mine with some melted butter and honey stirred together. I tried to keep it from being too sweet, and I'm not usually a fan of powdered sugar, so that worked perfectly for me! 

I can't say my attempt was completely successful, true to the Stollen traditions, but the end result was a very very tasty slightly-sweet bread instead.  I found my recipe in a cookbook, and referenced some other recipes that I found online.  I think that I underbaked it by about 5 minutes, since the interior was slightly more moist than I was expecting it to be.  My dough could have also been a little too moist before I even baked it. 

By the way, I stole my dad's camera for these pictures.  I wish I could tote the little beauty back home with me, but it's his baby.  Maybe when he upgrades to a newer model, I'll take it...? For now, I'll just have to deal with my point and shoot.

I think I have enough bread to last for a month.  This was a MASSIVE loaf.  ^ that is probably 1/3 of the whole thing.

Well. If anything, this was a true experience to bake for me as it was a process of kneading, letting the dough rise, then kneading again, then rising again, before finally letting it back, before finally adding the melted butter on top.  It took the better part of my morning to accomplish, and even if it wasn't 100% successful or per German tradition, it was still a great way to work on my baking skills.  

While there are plenty of recipes floating around, here's what I used for those that are interested!

Prep: about 3 hours
Baking time: 40 minutes
1/3 c. lukewarm milk
1/3 c. warm water
2 tsp. sugar
1/4 oz yeast (or one packet)
4.5 T butter, softened
1/3 c. sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 c. flour (I might even adjust to 3 1/4 or 3 1/2)
1/2 c. raisins
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. chopped pecans
1/2 c. slivered almonds

1 T butter mixed with 1 T honey for glaze at the end

1. Put the milk, sugar, water, and yeast in a small bowl and mix well.  Leave for 10 minutes until yeast has foamed.
2. Beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy, then beat in egg and vanilla.  Add the yeast mixture and cinnamon. Then slowly add in the flour to make a soft dough.
3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, or until the dough is soft and elastic.
4. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and leave in a warm, draught-free place for 1 hour and 45 minutes.  I usually let my oven pre-heat to the lowest setting, then turn it off and place my dough in there for a warm place.
5. Punch the air out of the dough.  Roll it so that it is about 3/4 inch thick. Sprinkle the fruit and nuts over the dough, then knead to thoroughly mix them in.
6. Shape the dough into an oval about 7 inches wide and 12 inches long.  Fold in half lengthways, then press down to flatten slightly.  Place on a baking tray, and leave in a warm place (or warm, unheated oven) for an hour.
7. Bake the dough in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes, or until golden.  As soon as it comes out of the oven, brush with melted butter.

Enjoy and savor.  Enjoy the adventure, too, even if it didn't turn out perfectly.  There's always next year!

Have any of you made stollen before?  What do you like to put in it, and what are your 'must have' ingredients?  

No comments:

Post a Comment