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Stollen

Not as sweet as a cake and not as plain as a loaf of bread, stollen is the perfect Christmas combination. The slightly sweetened enriched bread from Germany with ripples of marzipan running through it and what can only be described as a blizzard of icing sugar siting on top is certainly one of my favourite Christmas bakes.

A favourite but one that I had never dared bake. Until now that is.

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As with many breads the recipe always seemed dauntingly long and seemed to require constant tending to and watching, not something suitable for the rush of Christmas. Luckily this isn’t the case. The relatively slow rise gives you a fair bit of leeway so if you’re stuck in the supermarket car park your ball of dough isn’t going to explode.

It isn’t however the easiest Christmas bake and I must admit I wasn’t sure this stollen was going to make it to the blog. Probably foolishly for a first time stollen maker I decided against following a particular recipe as they all seemed either seemed far too sweet or looked far too dry. I chose instead to start with a tried and tested recipe for brioche and adapt it in line with some of the stollen recipes I’d found.

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Forgetting a few wobbles along the way (namely an incredibly sloppy dough and complete ignorance how to shape the loaf) I was incredibly pleased with the outcome. It was light but not airy, just sweet enough and by spicing the fruit rather than the dough each mouthful was delightfully different.

The first loaf might have been an easy ride but I’ve learnt the second will be! So if you want to give this a go (and it’s certainly worth it) here is my take on the German specialty – hopefully a wobble free recipe! Let me know what you think.

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Recipe

Makes 1 large loaf serving around 15

375g strong flour
9g fast action yeast
50g caster sugar
7g salt
2tsp glycerine (optional- it is supposed to make the stollen softer)
170ml whole milk, warmed
1 egg, beaten
75g butter, soften
300g mixed fruit (inc peel)
1tsbp mixed spice
1/4 nutmeg, grated
300g marzipan
20g butter
3tbsp icing sugar

  • Put the flour in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook with the yeast, salt and sugar separated from each other around the edge. Mix the glycerine (if using) ,warmed milk, egg and in a jug. Make a well in the centre and slowly pour the liquid in with the mixer running on a slow speed. Mix until it comes together to form a ball of dough. Knead for a couple of minutes and then slowly begin to add the butter, in small pieces, to the kneading dough, making sure each piece is incorporated before adding the next. Knead on a medium speed for about 6-8mins until the dough is smooth and elastic (you should be able to stretch it so it is thin enough to almost see through). The ball of dough will hold to the bottom of the bowl at first but if it is proving exceptionally sticky I add a little flour. When you are checking the elasticity of your dough if it seems to be getting tougher rather than stretchier stop kneading. Put the kneaded dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, that leaves plenty of room for the ball to grow and cover with clingfilm. Place in a warm part of the house until it has doubled in size; this can take anywhere from 1-3hours depending on the temperature (the warmer the faster)
  • When risen push the dough down with your hand to remove the air bubbles and lift our onto a lightly floured surface, stretching it as you put it down to form a large square. Mix the fruit and spices and scatter half onto the dough, fold two edges into the middle to cover the fruit, roll the dough to form a square again and scatter with the remaining fruit mix. Roll again so that you have a rectangle of dough approximately 35x25cm. Roll the marzipan to a rectangle about 4cm shorter and 4cm narrower than the dough and place it on top. With the long side nearest you roll up the dough and lift onto a lightly floured baking tray with the join at the bottom. Place the tray somewhere warm and draught free for 1-2hrs or until doubled in side. I put mine inside a very large bag that ins’t touching the dough to stop a draught getting it
  • Preheat the oven to 180C and bake the bread for 50mins. Once removed place a saucer of butter in the oven to melt, brush the melted butter over the hot loaf and generously dust with icing sugar

This will keep well in an airtight container for a few days.

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