The Best Stollen Ever!

stollen - trustinkim

I had some of my cousins over the other evening, and I wanted to make something seasonal, since it is the Christmas season, and most of us were brought up in Mennonite homes in which we ate stollen at Christmas. Everyone who tried it said it was the best stollen they had ever had.

The most ringing endorsement, though, came from my parents. It was my dad’s birthday, so I made one stollen for the cousins, and one for my dad. Both of my parents said it was the best they’d ever had – and they’ve had a lot more stollen-eating years than all of the cousins have.

My memory of stollen involves what I consider to be nasty tasting preserved fruits, the bright red and green cherries, or whatever those things were.

The soaking of the fruit in the booze needs to be begun at least the day before, if not another day or two, so plan ahead accordingly.

I looked at several recipes, thought about my own preferences, and then mainly followed this recipe. I made a few changes: I forgot to add the orange zest -oops, but still awsome. I added a little bit of almond extract and slivered almonds, used dried cherries instead of currants, soaked the fruit for longer, added rum, and used a little more marzipan. Plus a whole lotta love (you have to do that if you don’t have a kneading machine – hand kneading is a labour of love). I also added one last brushing of butter after baking – who doesn’t love just a little more butter! And that way there’s something for the sugar to stick to!

You can keep the stollen, wrapped tight in the fridge for a few weeks, or in the freezer for a few months. I think one of the reasons why people enjoyed this so much was that it was served the day it was made. So if you can plan to have company the day you bake it, all the better.

What you need:

  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup dried sour cherries
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1/4 cup dark rum
  • 4 to 5 cups flour, divided
  • 2 packages active dry yeast (4 & 1/2 teaspoons, or 14 grams)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • a few drops of pure almond extract
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 200 grams (7 ounces) marzipan (or a little more if you love marzipan)
  • Melted butter (1/4 t0 1/3 cup)
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar

What you do:

  1. Combine the raisins, cranberries and cherries in a bowl and cover with the brandy and rum. Stir every few hours, and let sit for 12 – 48 hours. Drain the brandy and rum, keeping it for later use. Pat the fruit dry with paper towels and toss the fruit in 2 tablespoons of flour.
  2. Toast the almonds until very lightly browned.
  3. Stir 1 teaspoon of sugar into 1/4 cup warm water (110-115 degrees-any hotter will kill the yeast, colder and it won’t activate). Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit until the yeast starts to bubble, about 5 minutes.
  4. Heat the milk, salt and 1/2 cup sugar in a small pot over medium heat, until warm (110-115 degrees).
  5. Add the milk mixture, vanilla and almond extracts, and eggs to the yeast mixture and combine by beating with a fork. Beat in the reserved brandy and rum.
  6. Add two cups of flour and use a dough hook in your machine, or a wooden spoon by hand, to combine. Cut the 1/2 cup butter into small pieces and beat in. Add enough flour, little by little, until the dough forms into a ball.
  7. Continue working the dough with the dough hook, or if working by hand begin to knead for 10 minutes. The dough should become smooth and elastic.
  8. (Update Dec 2021: move to step 9, allowing the dough to rise. Then add the fruit and nuts. The dough rises better this way). Either add the fruit and nuts to the dough in the machine, or flatten the dough out and work it in by hand, adding more flour to your kneading surface.
  9. Shape the dough into a ball, then place it into a buttered bowl. Turn the dough butter-side up and loosely cover. Let the dough rise until it has doubled in volume, about 2 hours. I put mine on top of the fridge, where it was a little warmer , to make this happen.
  10. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Melt the remaining butter.
  11. (Update, knead in the fruit and nuts now) Divide the dough into two parts. Roll one half into an oval and brush with melted butter.
  12. Cut the marzipan into quarters and roll each one into a rope, the length of the dough. Place two of the marzipan ropes on top of the dough, leaving space between them, then roll the edges of the dough over the marzipan, pressing down in the middle. roll the ends of the dough over a little, and then gather the loaf and place it rolled-side down on the parchment paper. Repeat this process with the other half of the dough.
  13. Brush the loaves with butter. Let the loaves rise until doubled in size. Heat the oven to 375F. Bake for 30-40 minutes; if you tap on the loaf it should sound hollow, and it will be dark golden brown.
  14. Remove the loaves from the oven and brush with more butter! Dust them with powdered sugar and let them cool completely before packing.
DAD at the cabin - trustinkim
Happy Birthday Dad!

Triple Ginger Cookies

triple ginger cookies

If you love ginger, these are for you!  Even with three kinds of ginger, they aren’t overwhelming, and are a favourite of several of my friends.  They aren’t difficult to make, although you do need to plan ahead because you need to put them in the fridge for a few hours, or over night.

What you need:

3/4 cup butter, room temperature

1 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup molasses

1 large egg

2 & 1/4 cups flour

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 & 1/2 tablespoons grated ginger (I keep mine in the freezer)

1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

1/4 cup white sugar for dipping the cookies

What you do:

1. Cream the butter and sugar.

2. Beat in the molasses and egg,

3. Sift, then stir the flour, ground ginger, baking soda and salt into the batter.

4. Stir in the grated and crystallized ginger.

5. Refrigerate for about 2 hours, or overnight. If you have it in the fridge over night, take it out about 20 minutes before you want to roll them.

6. Form into balls with your hands, about 1 tablespoon each, and slightly flatten the ball.  Dip the tops of each cookie in the white sugar, then place it on a parchment-lined baking tray.

7. Bake for about 10 minutes at 350F.

Let them cool on a rack when they are done.  Store in an airtight container and put any in the freezer that you won’t be eating in the next few days, if you wish.

Eggnog Snickerdoodles

Having never tried snickerdoodles before, I was drawn to this particular recipe by the idea that they might taste eggnoggy.  It’s the nutmeg in the sugar coating and the addition of rum that gives them the eggnog flavour – there’s actually no eggnog in them.  They are easy to make, and you can vary the baking time depending on if you like them crispy or tender.  These aren’t a fancy cookie, but if you want something sweet and simple, then this one might be for you.

I got the recipe from A Whisk and a Spoon.  The original recipe called for extracts of rum and brandy, but I just used a little more of the real thing in my recipe.

What you need:

2 & 1/4 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 & 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup butter, softened

2 teaspoons rum

2 large eggs

For the sugar coating:

1 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/4 cup sugar

What you do:

1.  Preheat the oven to 400F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

2.  Cream the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs and beat well, then add the rum.

3.  Whisk the dry ingredients together in another bowl, then add them gradually to the butter mixture.

4.  Stir the nutmeg into the sugar in a small bowl.

5.  Scoop the dough with a teaspoon, then form into a ball by rolling between the palms of your hands.  Roll each ball in the sugar and place them on the pan, leaving a good amount of space between them so they don’t melt into each other as they bake.

6.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on how crispy you like them.  I did 8 minutes, and they were fabulous the first day.  After that they got a little crunchy, so I would try 7 minutes next time.  Place the baked cookies on a wire rack to cool.  But definitely try one while they are still warm!

Gingerbread Men with Candy Hearts

These are so cute, and fun to make!  I don’t actually like eating gingerbread – but I enjoy making them, and people love to get them.  They are a bit of work, so you can make them one day when it’s c-c-cold out and you want to stay in, or in three steps: 1. make the dough 2. roll and bake the cookies 3. have fun with the icing.

Recommended listening pairing: Over the Rhine‘s ‘Snow Angels’ album.

What you need:

2 & 3/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 cup unsalted butter or substitute (margarine or vegan “butter”)

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 large egg

3/4 cup molasses

red candies

parchment paper

gingerbread man cutter

small heart cutter

for the icing:

2 & 2/3 cups icing sugar

2 egg whites

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

just less than 1/4 cup of water

icing bag or ziplock baggie

What you do:

1.  Whisk together dry ingredients  (flour to nutmeg).

2.  In a large bowl beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time and beat until fluffy, then beat in the molasses.

3.  Gradually add the flour mixture until it is just combined.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for about an hour, or do this ahead of time.

4.  Smash up the candies into little bits.  I bought candies that were wrapped, then smashed them in their wrappers with a hammer on my wooden cutting board.

5.  Roll dough out on a floured surface to 1/2 to 3/4 of a centimetre.  I rolled onto parchment paper, then put them in the freezer for 15 minutes before cutting, and they came out all in one piece.

6.  Cut the hearts out and place them, along with the men, on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Fill the hearts with some candy shards.  If you don’t use parchment the candy will stick to your pan – not good!

7.  Bake at 350 F for 6 minutes, then take them out and tap the pan on the counter, and put them back in the oven to bake for 6-8 more minutes.  Let them cool on the pan for about 10 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack; this will give the candy time to harden.

8.  To make the icing, first sift the icing sugar.  Beat the egg whites with cream of tartar, then gradually add the icing sugar.  Add a little water at a time, but make sure it doesn’t get too runny.

9.  Fill icing bag part way with icing.  Place a damp cloth over the top of the icing bowl so the part you aren’t using doesn’t dry up.  If you don’t have an icing bag, put the icing in a ziplock baggie, then cut a very small hole in one of the corners.  Pipe the icing on in any designs you wish!