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:
- 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.
- Toast the almonds until very lightly browned.
- 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.
- Heat the milk, salt and 1/2 cup sugar in a small pot over medium heat, until warm (110-115 degrees).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- (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.
- 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.
- Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Melt the remaining butter.
- (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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Remove the loaves from the oven and brush with more butter! Dust them with powdered sugar and let them cool completely before packing.