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Traditional German Christmas Stollen

Traditional German Christmas Stollen

Stollen is a cake-like fruit bread of nuts, dried or candied fruit, spices and dusted with confectioners sugar. it is a traditional German bread eaten during the Christmas season, when it is called Weihnachtsstollen (after “Weihnachten”, the German word for Christmas) or Christstollen (after Christ).

Stollen is made with yeast, water, flour, sugar, butter, eggs and lemon/orange zest added to the dough. the Christmas mincemeat and mixed spices/cinnamon/nutmeg/clove/dried ginger are also added to the dough. except for the added fruit that’s macerated in rum/brandy akin to the traditional Christmas Plum Cake, the dough is sufficiently low on sugar. the finished bread is slathered with melted unsalted butter and dusted with a generous coating of confectioners’ sugar as soon it’s baked and out of the hot oven to help it keep longer. the marzipan log in the middle is optional but highly recommended and is a signature mark to a Stollen.

this Christmas, we decided to bake our own traditional German Stollen, and how glad we were we did.

ingredients

Christmas dried-fruit/fruit mincemeat (macerated in rum/brandy)
1 (7-gm) envelope yeast (or 1 (30 gms) cake of yeast)
1/2 cup/125 ml milk
1/3 cups/50 gms sugar
4 cups flour (bread or all-purpose)
1 egg
1/2 vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract)
2 tbsp lemon zest (zest from 1 lemon)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground mixed-spices
7/8 cups/200 gms sweet, unsalted butter
2/3 cups/100 gms flour
1/3 cups/50 gms whole almonds (blanched, peeled and chopped)
1/2 cup butter (melted)
1/2 cup powdered sugar (for dusting)

instructions

Gather the ingredients.

Dissolve yeast in warm milk and a pinch of sugar.

Proof for 10 minutes, or until bubbles form.

Mix flour, egg, yeast mixture, sugar, lemon zest, vanilla and salt with a spoon or in a stand mixer using the dough hook for several minutes. The dough should just come together and not be very smooth yet. Remove from bowl and set aside while you do the next step.

Cream the butter and 2/3 cup flour with the mixed spices, cinnamon, nutmeg until smooth.

Add the yeast dough back to the bowl and work the dough with a dough hook or by hand until the butter and flour mixture is completely incorporated. This should yield a smooth dough.

Let dough rest, covered, for 30 minutes.

Turn dough out onto a tabletop or lightly floured board. Knead in fruit and chopped almonds. Let rest for 15 minutes.

Return dough to floured board and form into a rectangle with two high sides and a dip in the middle. Fold 1/3 of the dough over to the middle, filling the dip. Pat into a stollen shape.

Fold a piece of aluminum foil several times on the two long ends to build walls for your stollen, to help hold its shape while baking. You may also use a stollen pan if you have one.

Let stollen rise for 30 minutes in a warm place.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Dot the top of the stollen with butter.

Bake loaves for 35 to 45 minutes, or until loaves are golden and done. Cover with foil if it begins to brown too much.

Brush warm loaf with butter and dust thickly with powdered sugar. Cool on rack.

Wrap tightly in foil and keep in a cool place for 2 to 3 weeks to ripen. If made a few weeks in advance of serving, it mellows and softens with time.

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