Happy Christmas Eve! Hopefully at this point, none of you is working. You’ve traveled to your families (or maybe they came to you!) or are getting there today, just in time. We were lucky to travel to Dave’s parents’ in PA on Wednesday morning.
Yesterday, we went for a run, finished up our Christmas shopping, and FINALLY saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (CAN.NOT.WAIT.FOR.PART.2). This morning, I woke up to help Rich (my future father-in-law) make the yearly batch of stollen. I am marrying into a German family that always makes stollen for Christmas.
Stollen is a true yeast loaf bread, similar to a fruit cake or panettone. It is really great to have a slice for breakfast Christmas morning (and, later, as a late morning snack). I may have to try to use a few slices for some french toast. Rich’s grandmother always made stollen at Christmas, heavily laced with lots of candied fruit. You could add less but I think the colors and flavors make it a abundantly festive sweet bread.
One of the best parts of this recipe is the book from which it originates (though it’s been repeatedly tweaked to better resemble the stollen of Rich’s childhood). Vintage Martha Stewart is the best. Thank you for being part of this little space in 2010. I will probably be back before the New Year but if life ties me up, I hope that you all have a very Happy New Year!
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Christmas (1989)
Makes 2 Loaves
11 cups sifted all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground mace
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 cups warm milk
1 ¼ cups (2 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, melted
3 packages active dry yeast dissolved in ½ cup warm (not hot) water
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
10 ounces currants, soaked in ½ cup cognac or rum
15 ounces golden raisins, soaked in ½ cup orange juice
½ pound diced citron*
¼ pound diced orange peel*
¼ pound chopped dried apricots*
*or 1 ½ pound fruit cake mix, the dried apricots, and a package each of red & green cherries
8-10 ounces slivered almonds, coarsely chopped
Melted butter (1 stick) for brushing cakes
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Stir in the warm milk and melted butter. Add the dissolved yeast and eggs. Knead until fairly smooth. Toss the dried fruit with 2/3 cup of flour to coat the sticky fruit to allow it to be more easily incorporated. Add the dried fruits, and almonds to the dough and continue kneading on a floured board for about 10 minutes. If dough is sticky, knead in more flour. I probably added an additional cup of flour throughout the kneading process.
Place dough in a buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours.
Punch dough down and cut into four pieces, shaping each into a 12 x 8 inch rectangle. For each: brush with the melted butter, then fold one long edge to the center. Fold the other long edge to the center, overlapping by 1 inch, creating a longish, rounded loaf. Turn over, taper the ends, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise again in a warm place for 1 to 1 ½ hours.
[Or do what I did last year and braid one loaf by overlapping three long pieces, brushing the braid with butter at every crossing.]
Preheat the oven to 350F. Bake the stolen for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool in rack and dust with confectioners’ sugar.
Slice and serve at any time of day. Particularly good with strong coffee.