Baking Stollen or Christstollen at Christmas time is an age old custom and has a long tradition in Germany and some neighbouring countries, like the Netherlands (Kerststol). The shape of the Stollen is supposed to remind one of the swaddled baby Christ.
One of the cities well known for this tradition is Dresden and it was one of the first cities where this tradition of baking Stollen for Christmas has been recorded in different chronicles and earliest records date to as early as the 15th Century. Dresdner Stollen is also famous here in Germany and is considered to be one of the best recipes of Stollen.
Thanks to Ulrike of blog Küchenlatein I got to know that Dresdner stollen is a protected designation of origin (PDO) and can only then be called so when it is baked in and around Dresden. But what I could find out after asking bakeries who then call their stollen 'Dresdner Art' (i.e., made in a way like the Dressdner Stollen) is that is that there really are general guidelines which say when a stollen can be referred to as 'Dresdner Art' or something similar.
I had almost given up the thought of baking Stollen this time, but then finally decided on trying it out. It is my very first time. One can so easily get Stollen here that I hardly had the motivation to do it until now. Although, the thought has been on my mind since a couple of years now. Every bakery is offering Stollen during Christmas time. The supermarkets start selling them much earlier, in fact, as well as many of its new reincarnations - the cookie sized stollens. This Christmas I had not bought any Stollen, or for that matter bought a single Stollen at all. The Stollen season at the shops will also be over as soon as the new year starts. So, I thought "let me not break the tradition of eating Stollen at this time of the year and make my own" ;)
After searching through a couple of recipes in the net I saw this recipe (in German) which found my liking and got an instinctive "OK".
Stollen 'Dresdner Art'Recipe by PG of My Kitchen Stories
Based on the recipe from www.weihnachtsbaeckerei.com (in German)
Preparation time: 1 day + about 1-1/2 to 2 hours
Baking time: 60 minutes
For 2 loaves
500 g raisins (I used 300 g only + 100 g each of chopped dates and apricots)
200 g candied orange peel (orangeat)
100 g candied lemon peel
150 g peeled and chopped almonds
100 ml water
70 ml rum (i replaced it with 50 ml water)
600 g wheat flour type 550 (I used a mixture of types 405 and 550) - divided (300 g + 300 g)
some flour to roll the dough
1-1/2 cubes (60 g ) fresh yeast
25 g sugar
250 ml milk - divided (150 ml + 100 ml)
2 egg yolks (size Medium)
2 level tsp salt (I used only one)
1/2 tsp Lebkuchen spice* (or gingerbread spice) - I prefer using only cinnamon
1/4 tsp organic orange peel flavouring (orange oil + maltodextrin)
200 g raw marzipan
300 g butter - divided (200 g + 100 g)
150 g confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar)
1 packet bourbon vanilla sugar** (= vanilla extract + sugar + ground vanilla bean)
- a day before, soak the raisins, candied peels and chopped almonds in the rum and water in a closed container at room temperature
- the next day, in a large and deep bowl add 300 g flour, make a well in the centre, crumble the fresh yeast and add 150 ml cold milk and sugar (25 g), stir to dissolve and knead everything together into a smooth but stiff dough
- let the dough in the bowl rise (proof) at a warm (but not too warm) place covered with a wet dish towel
- once the volume is doubled, add the remaining (300 g) flour, milk (100 ml), egg yolks (2), salt (1 tsp), the gingerbread spice and orange peel flavouring and knead everything together for a while
- add marzipan slowly and knead it together
- knead 200 g butter into the dough (don't let it get warm!)
- followed by the soaked raisins, peels and nuts until you get a soft and uniform dough
- let it rise (proof) for another 20 minutes at a warm place
- roll out the dough on a floured surface into a rectangle, don't knead!
- fold it twice, first lengthwise (longer side) and then breadthwise (shorter side)
- let the dough rise (proof) for another 20 minutes
- divide the dough into two halves now
- For each dough follow as given below:
- gently roll out the dough (each half) into a rectangle of 30 x 20 cm2 with a rolling pin
- make one half lengthwise (30 x 10 cm2) thinner than the other
- with the lower side of the hand (holding the hand vertically and straight) make a groove (depression) in the middle
- at the groove fold the thinner side over the thicker one to get the typical shape of a Stollen
- put both the stollen over a baking sheet (I didn't use any, just nicely sprinkled flour on the try)
- let them rest for 10 minutes
- bake in a preheated oven at 200 °C (Gas: 2; Convection: 160 °C) for 45 minutes
- bake at 175 °C (Gas:3; Convection: 150 °C) for another 15 minutes
- In the mean time
- melt the butter in a small pot at the lowest temperature on the stove top and switch off heat as soon as it is done, don't let it get too hot
- mix vanilla sugar with confectioner's sugar
- once the stollen are done, brush their tops with the melted butter
- sprinkle with the sugar generously
- once it has cooled down a bit, carefully turn it up side down and put the sugar on the lower side as well generously
- ideally one should let it stand for a week or two before cutting it
- stollen, if stored properly in a cold and dry condition, can be easily kept for months.
- while serving make 1 cm thick slices and serve with spiced tea or coffee or to German Glühwein (hot wine punch)
**To make your own vanilla sugar just put a scraped vanilla bean into an airtight glas jar of plain table sugar and close it tightly. In a few days time you will have a wonderful vanilla flavoured sugar, grind the vanilla bean and add to the sugar, if desired.
Now, I'll begin with what all went wrong or what I did differently with purpose :D :
- I didn't use any Rum (alcohol), I don't do it as a rule since a few months, unless it is really a small amount and cannot be done without. The reason is sunny boy. Against regular belief, about 95% of the alcohol remains in the food, even if you cook it for long. I was shocked when I read it in the "Eltern" (German for Parents) magazine the first time about a year back. since then I don't use any alcohol in any form in food. No more wines for us for the coming few years. But, both me and hubby don't mind that at all.
- I didn't use the Lebkuchen spice. I dislike it even more than cinnamon, which I have begun to like a little bit after many years of eating it in different sweets, but Lebkuchen spice (gingerbread spice) , no that has to wait till I begin to like it a bit. I used cinnamon and orange oil instead, as oranges are something I very much associate to Christmas too.
- I made a big blunder while preparing the dough. I by mistake used 250 g butter instead of 200 g while kneading the dough. It made the stollen much too soft. I was totally puzzled as to how it could be, until I checked the recipe and my ingredients to find the mistake. I tried to add a little bit more of flour (about 50 g) and just about managed to keep the whole thing together. Next time I'll actually use much much lesser than 200 g and take maybe 100 g only. It is more than enough in my opinion.
- I used a lot of flour to shape the stollen because of the blunder (too much butter)
As you can see, the Stollen has kind of melted down because of too much butter in it and does not have that typical raised shape it is supposed to have in the centre. But, the big consolation is that it has turned out so lovely! I love the flavour of this Stollen. I guess, for some of you a christmas sweet means the spices, but I have not been able to befriend myself with them as yet. And I found this packet of orange peel flavouring from a Reformhaus, which found its use here and gave it a wonderful flavour and made a very pleasant combination with cinnamon -you see, I did use some spice. :) And Hubby gave the best compliment I could have from him. He said it tastes better than what we buy, and we have been buying all kinds of them in all these years and I'm quite particular about what I buy when it comes to Stollen. I don't buy just anything. And he even said "good.... too much butter is tasting good" All I could was laugh at that. :D
My Verdict: I liked the use of marzipan in the original recipe, which is not always the case for stollen. The butter was a bit too much, but, partly it was my mistake and can be easily reduced, as a stollen is a dense bread and doesn't have to be soft or for that matter fluffy. The amount of sugar you put on top of it is all up to you. I found replacing a small part of the raisins with apricots and dates made a wonderful change and I will surely keep it like that the next time as well. The absence of rum in the raisins made them more delicious to our taste, but it is a matter of taste again. All in all, a wonderful recipe!
Stollen to Zorra's Bread Baking Day # 15 hosted this time by Annarasa.