Stollen

stollen with Christmas ornaments

This stollen is filled with brandy-soaked sour cherries and raisins, toasted almonds, and plenty of marzipan. It is coated with butter and powdered sugar, for flavour, but also to help keep it moist for longer.

When I was a kid we often had Stollen at relatives’ houses at Christmas, but I didn’t like the “fruit,” because the flavour and texture seemed nothing like a fruit, those red and green bits of preserved ‘something.’ This recipe uses delicious dried sour cherries and raisins soaked in Brandy or Rum – yum!

The stollen from my childhood was always a bit too “aged” for me, since it would be made ahead and left to sit for weeks, and the same for the present-day grocery store Stollen. This one is good if you “age” it, but you can also eat it when it is freshly baked. I like to eat a small portion fresh, and then freeze or share the rest.

The first time I made this I was in a rush, and didn’t leave enough time for the rising. The second and third times . . . I was also in a rush, and didn’t leave enough time for rising . . . So this time I’ve amended the baking times in the recipe, and made a few changes in the ingredients and methods. That said, this is an all day sort of recipe, so plan ahead for that. (Note: even though I should have let it rise more, it was still really tasty.)

In Vancouver, my favourite place to shop for baking supplies is Famous Foods; they have pretty much everything you need, and a lot of it is in bulk sizes. Gourmet Warehouse is awesome too, and for those who are not local, they also ship.

If you don’t love marzipan feel free to leave it out. I believe marzipan is a misunderstood food, since a lot of people have only eaten a stale version – the good stuff is basically almond and sugar! Yum!

The original recipe is found here. I changed the fruit, and added almonds and almond extract, and added more melted butter in the end.

This recipe makes two large loaves.

What you need:

  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup dried sour cherries
  • 1/2 cup brandy or rum
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 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
  • 4 to 5 cups flour, divided
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 200 grams (7 ounces) marzipan (or a little more if you love marzipan)
  • melted butter (1/4 to 1/3 cup)
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar

What you do:

  1. Combine the raisins and cherries in a bowl and cover with the brandy or rum. Let it sit for 12 – 48 hours, stirring from time to time (Shortcut: just soak for an hour). Drain the brandy or rum, keeping it to add to the dough later. 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. Add the yeast to 1/4 cup warm water (110-115 degrees-any hotter will kill the yeast, colder and it won’t activate) and stir until dissolved. Stir in 1 teaspoon of sugar 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 just 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 or rum (there should be about 1/4 cup. If not, top it up to 1/4 cup).
  6. Add two cups of flour and use a wooden spoon to combine. Cut the 1/2 cup butter into small pieces and work into the dough using a fork.
  7. When the butter has been evenly distributed, add one cup of flour and mix it in. Add about half a cup more flour, adding more until the dough forms into a workable ball (not too much flour to make it too stiff).
  8. Turn the dough out onto a floured countertop and knead for 10 minutes. The dough should become smooth and elastic.
  9. Here comes the trickiest part: adding the fruit and almonds. To do this I flattened the dough out a bit, sprinkled about 1/2 cup of fruit on, and kneaded it in. Continue this process until all the fruit is combined, then do the same with the nuts. If any pieces of fruit are sticking out of the top of the dough, pick them off and knead them in a bit more.
  10. Melt a little bit of butter and use it coat a large bowl. Place the ball-shaped dough into the buttered bowl, then turn the dough butter-side up. Loosely cover the bowl with a tea towel and let the dough rise until it has doubled in volume, about 2-3 hours. (Note: this is where I miscalculated my time, and should have left it longer than the two hours I had allocated.)
  11. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Melt about 2 tablespoons of butter.
  12. Punch down the dough and divide it into two parts. Form one half into a flat oval using your hands.
  13. Cut the marzipan into quarters and roll into a rope just short of the length of the dough. Place two of the marzipan ropes on top of the dough, leaving space between them, then roll the sides 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.
  14. Brush the loaves with butter, covering with a tea towel. Let the loaves rise until about doubled in size (this could take another two hours or more). 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.
  15. Remove the loaves from the oven and brush with more melted butter! Dust them with sifted powdered sugar and let them cool completely before packing.
  16. Enjoy!

Almond Cake

Almond Cake - trustinkim

At Christmas I made the best-ever stollen, and had a whole lot of marzipan left over that have been storing in the freezer. Recently I searched for the perfect way to use the marzipan, and found a lot of sites where people raved about this Almond Cake recipe from Amanda Hesser’s book Cooking for Mr. Latte. I used the recipe from this site, and I can see why so many people raved about it. The cake is quite moist, has an amazing sweet almond flavour.

To make this cake you will need to plan ahead by giving refrigerated items time to come to room temperature.

The recipe calls for a springform pan, but you could try using a loaf pan. When using a springform pan the cake sinks in the middle, and that might not happen in a loaf pan – please let me know if you do experiment with it!

This cake keeps well for a week or so unrefrigerated. I froze half of it and pulled it out a week later when I needed it.

What you need:

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups all purpose flour, sifted and then measured
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 & 1/2 cups sugar
  • 7 ounces almond paste, cut into pieces (I used marzipan)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • optional: icing sugar for sprinkling over the cake before serving.

What you do:

  1. Line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper and butter it. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2.  Mix the sour cream and baking soda together in a small bowl.
  3. Sift the flour and salt.
  4. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the almond paste little by little, then beat for 8 minutes.
  5. Beat the egg yolks in one at a time, then beat in the almond extract and sour cream mixture.
  6. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour and salt, beating just until combined.
  7. Pour the batter into the springform pan and use a spatula to even out the top.
  8. Bake immediately for about an hour; it will be done when you press the top lightly and it returns to its original shape. I rotated my pan carefully half way through baking so it would bake evenly.
  9. After removing the cake from the oven, allow it to cool completely on a wire rack.
  10. To serve, remove the ring from the springform pan, and if you wish you can sift a little icing sugar over the top.