Friday, December 24, 2010

Daring Bakers-Christmas Stollen

I love Stollen! This delicious German sweet belongs to a family of European breads made with eggs, butter, and lots of dried fruit. Panettone and Gubana are other examples, and they probably all generated in the middle ages, when spices, nuts, and dried fruit were used to add nutrition to winter breads. I have made this bread few times when I was in Venice last year, using Whild Yeast Susan's recipe. They were very well received and went quickly. Stollen is normally eaten at Christmas and it represents the blanket the baby Jesus was wrapped in. We were challenged to shape the dough as a wreath, which works really well too.

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book.........and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

Sadly I had to give up gluten, so I made this bread but didn't eat it, it was torture let me tell you. I brought it up to the West Point Inn, an amazing place up on Mount Tamalpais, reachable only by foot, where we spent last night. I knew that our friends and their children would love having it for dessert or even for breakfast. We ate it at night and as french toast this morning, delicious! And to make you want to visit San Francisco, here are two pictures of this morning's sunrise, from the Inn, totally priceless!

Amazing views of San Francisco at sunrise

Penny challenged to package the stollen for gift giving so I cooked few mini stollens in these super cute paper molds and gave them as gift to few of my neighbors.

You can find the complete recipe and instructions at the daring kitchen site, but below is just the recipe, edited to make the ingredient list easier to read.

I candied my own peel using the method I normally use, and used grapefruit and lemon peel since that is what I had at home.

I made few changes to the recipe, first in the mixing. I omitted 3 ounces of flour to the dough as the original 27 ounces seemed too much, I prefer a wetter dough in general, plus you can always add more flour if it is not enough. The amount I used, 24 ounces, worked well. Then I didn't add the butter until after the gluten started developing. Fat inhibits gluten development, by adding the butter slowly after the dough has been mixed a while you create a softer, more elastic dough. I used cranberries instead of the raisins to make the bread even more festive (the Germans don't use cranberries as they are a Northern American fruit), and didn't use the cherries the recipe suggests. Last change was in the spice, I used ground cardamom instead of the cinnamon, because it goes so well with the citrus flavor.

Stollen Wreath

Makes one large wreath or two traditional shaped Stollen loaves.
Serves 10-12 people


1/4 cup (60ml) lukewarm water (110º F / 43º C)
2 packages/4.5 teaspoons/14 gr/.5 oz active dry yeast
1 cup milk
5 oz/10 tablespoons/140 gr unsalted butter
5.5 cups/27 oz/770 gr all-purpose flour
½ cup/115 gr sugar
3/4 teaspoon/4.5 gr salt
1 teaspoon/6 gr cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
2 teaspoons/10 ml vanilla extract
1 teaspoon/5 ml lemon extract or orange extract
3/4 cup/4 3⁄4 oz/135 gr mixed peel
1 cup/6 oz/170 gr firmly packed raisins
3 tablespoons/45ml rum
12 red glacé cherries (roughly chopped) for the color and the taste. (optional) I didn't use them
1 cup/3.5 oz/100 gr flaked almonds
Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath
Confectioners (powdered) sugar for dusting wreath


Soak the raisins
In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the rum (or in the orange juice from the zested orange) and set aside. See Note under raisins.

To make the dough

Pour 1⁄4 cup (60 ml) warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.

In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup (240 ml) milk and 10 tablespoons (150 ml) butter over medium - low heat until butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes.

Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon and vanilla extracts.

In a large mixing bowl (4 qt) (4 liters) (or in the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment), stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests.

Then stir in (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/butter mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.

Add in the mixed peel, soaked fruit and almonds and mix with your hands or on low speed to incorporate. Here is where you can add the cherries if you would like. Be delicate with the cherries or all your dough will turn red!

Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing with the dough hook) to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed. The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 8 minutes (6 minutes by machine). The full six minutes of kneading is needed to distribute the dried fruit and other ingredients and to make the dough have a reasonable bread-dough consistency. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough – a few raisins will start to fall off the dough onto the counter because at the beginning of the kneading process the dough is very sticky and the raisins will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn't enough to bind the outside raisins onto the dough ball.

Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Put it in the fridge overnight. The dough becomes very firm in the fridge (since the butter goes firm) but it does rise slowly… the raw dough can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week and then baked on the day you want.

Shaping the Dough and Baking the Wreath

1. Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.
2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
3. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
4. Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches (40 x 61 cms) and 1⁄4 inch (6 mm) thick.
Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder.
Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan. Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle. You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape.
Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough.
Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 11⁄2 times its original size.
Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, should register 190°F/88°C in the center of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the top with melted butter while still hot.
Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter.
Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first.
The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar.
Let cool at least an hour before serving. Coat the stollen in butter and icing sugar three times, since this many coatings helps keeps the stollen fresh - especially if you intend on sending it in the mail as Christmas presents!

When completely cool, store in a plastic bag. Or leave it out uncovered overnight to dry out slightly, German style.


Simona Carini said...

All the photos are beautiful! I will try your recipe to make candied orange peel soon. I hope you have a nice Christmas Day.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

What splendid creations! Perfect. That view of Sf is amazing.

Merry Xmas!



VenetiaMicio said...

buon natale Laura
Merry Xmas et Joyeux Noël
Happy to meet you on VenetiaMicio and I hope to continue to give you a Daily Venice each time
a presto

Laura said...

Simona, thanks! I hope it is not too cold up there. It has been raining almost non stop, especially yesterday!

Rosa, thank you, and yes the view is one of the best I have ever seen. Happy Holidays to you as well.

Danielle, I have to add your blog to the others so I can remember to check it daily. Merry Christmas to you too.

Deeba PAB said...

What beautiful photographs, especially the sunrise ones. I'm sorry you couldn't try the Stollen...sad! I ♥ your mini Stollens in those beautiful cases. Gorgeous! Happy Holidays to you!

K Allrich said...

Beautiful stollen. Lovely. Happy New Year!

Unknown said...

What a picturesque setting for your beautiful stollen. Happy new year!

GourmAndrea said...

Your mini stollens are such a cute little treat. Sigh, I miss San Fran! :) Merry Christmas

sweetakery said...

Beautiful stollen. Lovely..fantastic photographs! your minis looks gorgeous!

Poires au Chocolat said...

What gorgeous photos. The stollen looks absolutely delicious too.

Anonymous said...

Your mini stollen are super cute! All the pictures look great. I saw the same molds at Sur La Table the other day. Do you just pour the batter right in them and bake like you normally would? I wanted to buy some but was hesitant on how exactly they are used. Too bad you couldn't eat your lovely creations. I loved this challenge and ate much more than I should have! =)

Laura said...

Deeba, thanks for stopping by, and Happy Holidays to you too.

Karina, Happy New Year too!

Jenny, the place is absolutely amazing.

Andrea, I hope you get to visit San Francisco again, it is such an amazing place, I am really fortunate to live here.

Sweetakery, thanks for the visit.

Poirs au chocolat, thanks, I will have to check out your stollen as well.

Maité said...

Avec quelques heures d'avance, je vous souhaite une très bonne année 2011. A presto !

Laura said...

Maite', auguro anche a te un Felice Anno Nuovo. Merci'.

Y said...

Wow, those SF pictures look amazing! What a great idea for a Christmas challenge too - pity I've defaulted myself from the DB group. Stollen is one thing I have yet to make!

Laura said...

Y, nice to "see" you! I noticed that you are not participating in the DB challenges. I have been so busy lately that I barely make them on time. I hope this new year will be a sunnier one for you.

Lisa said...

Gorgeous stollen, Laura! if I had taken part, I definitely would have used something other than raisins. Cranberries look beautiful in it! Happy New Year to you and yours!

kelly said...

I haven't made a DB challenge in quite some time and have kept promising myself to get back in that saddle again. Your stollen is giving me hope. I like the changes you made and so will be looking to them since I had a few less traditional ideas myself. We love San Francisco, and your photos are breath-taking! I'll have to look into the Inn, as my son is in art school there, giving my husband and I even more reason to visit. Thanks for sharing them -- excellent write up!

Kris Ngoei said...

Happy new year, Laura!

This stollen has fantastic texture and baked to real perfection! And just love the shots of San Francisco .... breathtaking :-)

lisa is cooking said...

Sorry to hear you able to sample this lovely looking bread. I'm sure your friends were thrilled with it. Beautiful sunrise too!

Gaia said...

Sono scandalosa.. lo so.
Era tanto che non passavo a trovarti e sono rimasta con lgi occhi spalancati a vedere lo spettacolo dell'alba dalle tue parti!
un caro saluto!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Have a great week!




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