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Here is an updated version of a recipe from a few years ago. I made one big change in the method: I didn’t add the fruit and nuts in the first proofing because it is easier for the dough to rise on its own. I added the fruit when I formed the loaves. Another benefit was that it was easier to work the fruit into the dough at this time.
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 from drying out.
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.
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 (oops, I lost the link when I updated the recipe!). I changed the fruit, and added almonds and almond extract, and added more melted butter in the end.
This recipe makes two large loaves (or four smaller ones with a shorter baking time).
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 teaspoon sugar
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, room temperature
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 (Updated Version Dec 2021:
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.
Toast the almonds until very lightly browned.
In a large bowl add 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) and stir it in. Sprinkle the yeast on top and stir it in 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 just warm (110-115 degrees).
Add the milk mixture (make sure it’s just warm, not hot, or it will kill the yeast), vanilla and almond extracts and eggs to the yeast mixture and combine by beating with a fork. Mix in the reserved brandy or rum (there should be about 1/4 cup. If not, top it up to 1/4 cup).
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.
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).
Turn the dough out onto a floured countertop and knead for 10 minutes. The dough should become smooth and elastic.
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.
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 so it is coated in butter. Loosely cover the bowl with a tea towel and let the dough rise until it has doubled in volume, about 1-3 hours depending on how warm your room is.
Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Melt about 2 tablespoons of butter.
Punch down the dough and divide it into two parts (or 3 or 4 for smaller loaves). Form one half into a flat oval using your hands.
Cut the marzipan into quarters and roll into a rope just short of the length of the dough. (For smaller loaves I used just one rope of marzipan). 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.
Brush the loaves with butter, covering with a tea towel. Let the loaves rise until about 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 melted butter! Dust them with sifted powdered sugar and let them cool completely before packing.