Stollen is a German Christmas fruit bread made with a lot of the same ingredients in fruit cake. There’s mixed peel, glace, cherries, and nuts, all rolled tight into a long bread dough roll that is then either shaped into a wreath or made into loaves.
Makes one large wreath or two traditional shaped Stollen loaves. Serves 10-12 people.
1/4 cup lukewarm water
2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 cup milk
10 tablespoons unsalted butter (can use salted butter)
5 1/2 cups cake flour (Measure flour first – then sift- plus extra for dusting)
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt (if using salted butter don't add)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
2 teaspoonsvanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract or orange extract
3/4 cup mixed peel
1 cup firmly packed raisins
3 tablespoons rum or brandy
12 red glacé cherries (roughly chopped) for the colour and the taste
1 cup flaked almonds
Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath
Icing sugar for dusting wreath
- In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the rum (or brandy) and set aside.
- Pour 1/4 cup 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 milk and 10 tablespoons 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 (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, cherries, soaked fruit and almonds and mix with your hands or on low speed to incorporate. Be careful not to mix too hard or all your dough will turn red!
- Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading 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 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.
- After the dough is ready, you can either roll it into loaves or a wreath. I thought the wreath was more Christmassy, so that’s what I chose to do. It was really easy, but definitely make sure you roll it tight enough or it will start to unravel.
- Take the dough out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for two hours.
- Line a sheet pan with parchment, and preheat your oven to 180 degrees C, with the rack in the middle of the oven.
- Punch the dough down (it will be slightly hard-not like when the dough has been proofing in a warm place), roll into a rectangle about 40cm x 60cm and half a centrimetre thick.
- Starting with the long side, roll it up tightly into a long, thin cylinder.
- Transfer the roll to your sheet pan and bring the ends together to form a large donut shape. Pinch the ends together to make them stick.
- Using kitchen shears, make cuts every 5cm all the way around the circle, 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 1½ times its original size. Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180
degrees C for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The bread will bake to a dark mahogany colour, should register 90
degrees C in the centre 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.
- When completely cool, store in a plastic bag. Or leave it out uncovered overnight to dry out slightly, German style.