Saturday, January 1, 2011

Daring Baker's Challenge: Stollen

Stollen: a traditional German Christmas bread which contains fruits and nuts

Initial reaction: Oh no, not fruitcake! It's not fruitcake though. If by fruitcake you think of a rum soaked brick of "pastry" filled with gummy items that are difficult to force yourself to chew, much less swallow. It is however a cake with fruit, nuts, and a hint of cinnamon. If you're looking for some smiling faces and a kitchen that smells nothing short of wonderful...keep reading. Be sure to wipe away all those images of your great aunt Ruth's brick of fruits and nuts and prepare to be impressed.

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.

The listed stollen recipe made a large quantity so I cut it in half to make it more manageable to eat. Note: half of this stollen is probably plenty for most families. The stollen recipe had 3 major parts: 1) preparation of candied citrus peel, 2) preparation of the dough at least a day in advance of baking, 3) warming the dough to room temp, rising and baking

Slice of Stollen, anyone?

Candied Citrus Peel (Time: 1.5 hours prep, 1 hour on a dehydrator--> 2.5 hours total)

This part was not a challenge requirement. However, I spent Christmas in a small town. Asking people if they had candied citrus peel got a number of puzzled looks. In reality, one store did have it though their associates were unaware it was a mere 5 feet from them. After experiencing sticker shock, I decided to make my own. If you don't have time, its not that expensive. Initially, I thought I'd be making the full recipe and that was good enough justification to make my own candied citrus. Plus you can dip it in chocolate. I was hesitant because I worried it would be like a gross gummy from fruitcakes past. I was wrong. They smell good at first, then weird but they taste good regardless.

I used the instructions here to get started.

Her explanation is complete with pictures for the steps so there's no sense at all in being redundant. I did make on change. I'm not a fan of oranges most of the time. Instead of 4 oranges, I used 4 tangerines and 2 lemons. I kept the 3 c. sugar and 1 c. water the same for the peels. For the final sugar coating, I only used 1/2 c. sugar. You can use more, but it just wastes and falls off. I tried using 3/4 c. but 1/4 c. easily fell off.

Prep the Dough (Time: About 1 hour) 

(For instructions with pictures for nearly every step, check out thedaringkitchen

Ingredients (adapted to make half a recipe, original source Penny from the Daring Kitchen)

1/8 cup (30ml) lukewarm water (110º F / 43º C)
1 packages (2 1/4 teaspoons) (11 ml) (7 grams) (1/4 oz) active dry yeast
1/2 cup (120 ml) milk
5 tablespoons (75 ml) (70 grams) unsalted butter (can use salted butter)
2 3/4 cups (660 ml) (13.5 ozs) (385 grams) all-purpose (plain) flour (Measure flour first - then sift- plus extra for dusting)
1/4 cup (60 ml) (57.5 gms) sugar
3/8 teaspoon (1 7/8 ml) (2 1/4 grams) salt (if using salted butter there is no need to alter this salt measurement)
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) (3 grams) cinnamon
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1/2 tangerine
1 teaspoons (5 ml) (very good) vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) lemon extract or orange extract
3/8 cup (90 ml) (2 3/8 ozs) (67.5 grams) mixed peel (link above to make your own)
1/2 cup (120 ml) (3 ozs) (85 gms) firmly packed cranberries (can sub raisins)
1.5 tablespoons (22.5 ml) rum (I subbed the juice from the lemon and tangerine that I grated)
12 red glacé cherries (roughly chopped) for the color and the taste. (optional) (shudder, no thanks)
1/2 cup (120 ml) (1 3/4 ozs) (50 grams) flaked almonds
Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath (2 Tbsp)
Confectioners’ (icing) (powdered) sugar for dusting wreath (1/2 to 3/4 c.)

How To:

In a small bowl, soak the cranberries/raisins in the rum (or in the juice from a lemon and tangerine) and set aside.

Pour 1/8 cup (30 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 1/2 cup (120 ml) milk and 5 tablespoons (75 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/cranberries 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/cranberries will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn't enough to bind the outside raisins/cranberries 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 (Time: 5 hours)

Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with the oven rack on the middle shelf.

Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches (40 x 61 cms) and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick. (Since I halved the recipe, I rolled it to the 16 x 24 rectangle and rolled it up as directed. Mine had to be thinner than 1/4 of an inch but it worked.)

The rolled out dough looked and smelled wonderful.
 I love the way the cranberries and citrus peels contrast each other!

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. (I didn't use a bowl and had no shape issues.)

Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough.

Side View/Angled View

Top View.
After cutting the notches I pulled them away from the center just a little to help it form the wreath shape.

Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. (I didn't really twist here. Instead I just pulled the segments outward a little and it made a wreath shape.)

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 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.

Side/Angled View.
From here you can see that the stollen really did turn a mahogany color on the outer crust. 

Top View.
It held the shape quite well while baking.

Inside view. Its so pretty, I'm going to have to have another piece!

Reactions: Before I started making this, my sister made some faces. One sister thought the candied orange and lemon peels smelled awful. My other sister tried an orange peel and was surprised, responding "This is good." I tried one too and agreed. I was really concerned about them tasting like a jellied bit in a fruit cake. They were good though. I think they'd be good dipped in chocolate too. My hesitant sister asked what else was going in this pastry and was worried 1) that I was about to make an awful mess 2) that it wouldn't even taste good. I wasn't worried about the mess, but was unsure of how it would taste. This ended when I mixed up the dough. Holy cow, it smelled wonderful. Cinnamony with a hint of fruit. (Yes, Melanie I know you hate cinnamon. It would probably be good with cardamom too though.) The stollen really smelled a bit like rising cinnamon buns but much better. Cinnamon buns are just the only thing I can think to compare with the aroma. I placed the dough in the fridge and waited. The next morning I went through the shaping steps. My sisters were otherwise occupied. When they returned, the smell in the kitchen was fabulous. Tif was hungry and tired. She bit in her slice of stollen and told me she thought it was the best daring baking challenge I'd made. :) My brother in law reminded her that he liked the crostata too but they put them both at the top of the list. Final challenge: Mamaw. Mamaw is rather picky (like Tif) and neither of them go out of their way to try new things. Mamaw and I had just finished supper when I handed her some stollen slices I'd brought her. She was full but couldn't resist trying a tiny bite...and another...and then another. She had to put the bag away so she could save it for having with some coffee for breakfast. This is a definite winner and well worth the time.

Thanks for the great challenge!


  1. WOWOWOWOWOWOW I'm so happy that the stollen worked out so well for you and that the other members of the family liked it as well. Yes home made peel is nothing like the store bought stuff do try it coated in chocolate it is super delicious.

    About your question I wonder, do you think lemon curd could be substituted for the marzipan and baked into the raisin/nut version? Do you think it would stay in one place or make a mess?

    Firstly I would make a very firm lemon curd (add some sifted corn starch to a little water and dissolve than add to the simmering curd),secondly I would test it make some normal bread dough in the following ratio
    1 cup of water
    3 cup of flour
    3 teaspoons of active dry yeast
    then roll some dough out like the stollen and bake it - this would be the best way to check it. I think it might leak out of the cuts if you did the wreath shape. Lemon curd would be excellent in stollen if it works great idea!

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  2. Even though stollen is not my cup of tea, it is very pretty. I've never seen it in a wreath shape before... I like it!