The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Christmas

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PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Last weekend had me going.  My work schedule gives me every other Friday off and last weekend was one of my 3-day weekends.  First up, repairing some of the heat and drought damage that my yard suffered.  Lots of weeding and raking and seeding and watering, followed by loudly protesting muscles and joints.  But it's done.  In another week or so I should be seeing new grass growing in areas that were entirely killed.

Saturday was pretty low key, given the ongoing protests mentioned earlier.  Still, I did manage to get in a batch of the NY Deli Rye from the BBA for this week's sandwiches.  Love that stuff!

Sunday afternoon, protests or no, was given over to some further test bakes in preparation for the classes that I will be teaching in a few weeks.  First I mixed up a batch of Bavarian Christmas Braid.  It's a beautiful dough, slightly sweet and redolent of mace and lemon zest.  The almonds and brandy-soaked raisins don't hurt anything, either.  The bread is made up as a small braid stacked on top of a larger braid, which makes for a very pretty loaf.  In the hands of a competent braider, it would be downright beautiful.  After coming out of the oven and cooling slightly, it is drizzled with a light glaze flavored with almond extract.  

Here is how it looked just out of the oven:

And after glazing:

Not being particularly fond of candied cherries, I elected not to garnish the loaves.

While the braid dough was fermenting, I got to work on candying some orange peel that would be needed for some stollen (currently fermenting as I write this).  I'd never done it before and was pleasantly surprised to find how simple it is.  A bit tedious, yes, but not difficult.  Since the Web is rife with instructions, I'll not duplicate them here.  However, I will share some pictures of how they turned out.

Just out of the syrup:

Starting to dredge in sugar:

And all done:

Last but not least, some savory muffins rounded out the day's baking:

Paul

Breadandwine's picture

Fun with mincemeat

August 30, 2012 - 4:14pm -- Breadandwine
Forums: 

Found a large tub of mincemeat in the care home I teach in on Thursday mornings - so, using this in varying ways, we made a selection of different breads:

Chelsea buns, German apple cake, Bialys, doughnuts (baked, of course), Swedish tea ring, large tart.

This is a much under-used ingredient, generally only used at Christmas, but it is very tasty - and always welcome in our house!

Here's the story and pics (you might have to scroll down to Thursday, 23rd August):

trojkolka's picture
trojkolka

It might not be December yet, so not THE time for Christmas stollen but don’t fool yourself by its name. This bread is just tasty and awesome all year round with some butter on it with your coffee at coffee time... This recipe is based on an old Dutch recipe that was published in the 60’s and I kind of made it my own after giving it several tries. So here is my version of the recipe.


Christmas stollen (recipe for one loaf)

500g AP flour100% AP flour
8g salt1.6% Salt
80g brown sugar16% Brown sugar
15g Lemon peel grater3% Lemon peel grater
74g Egg (two medium sized eggs)14.8% Egg
25g fresh yeast5% Fresh Yeast
160g whole milk32% Whole milk
100g Butter20% Butter
50g Orange peel grater10% Orange peel grater
200g Raisins (e.g. Sultana)40% Raisins (e.g. Sultana)
200g (Yellow) Zante currant40% (Yellow) Zante currant
50g Succade10% Succade
Optional:Dark rum / Amaretto
Almond paste
100g almonds
100g sugar
18g egg (1/2 a medium sized egg)
Lemon peel grater from one medium sized lemon
Juice of 1/4th of a medium sized lemon

Mix the flour, salt, brown sugar and lemon peel grater in a bowl. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl. Stir the yeast with the lukewarm milk until the yeast dissolves and melt the butter. but make sure not to heat the butter too much.

Add the beaten eggs, yeast and milk mix and the melted butter to the little ditch in the middle of the bowl. Stir from the inside out until mixed properly. Knead the dough until the dough is smooth and doesn’t stick to your hands any more.

Cover the bowl with dough and let it rise for 1 to 1,5 hour. It should be about doubled in size.

In the meanwhile grate the orange and cut the succade in small pieces. Wash the raisins and Zante currants and let 300g soak in bowl with warm water, drench the remaining 100g of Raisins and Zante currants in Dark rum or Amaretto (choose depending on your taste and/or availability) until the dough has risen for about 1 hour. Drain the raisins and Zante currant and dry them a bit (mainly the water soaked ones).

Prepare the almond paste. If you have unpeeled almonds, put them in a pan with cold water and put it on the stove to heat for a couple of minutes. Drain the pan’s contents. Peal and dry them. If you have peeled almonds already you can skip this step although i like to quickly rinse my almonds anyways.

Grind the almonds, with your kitchen machine for example, until they become pasty. Add the sugar, half an egg, lemon peel grater and lemon juice through the ground almonds and continue grinding until you have a good looking almond paste. TIP: You can store the almonds paste in a closed jar and it will stay good for weeks. After a week or two the almond paste is richer and more full in taste.

When the dough looks doubled, take it from the bowl and gently knead the orange peel grater, succade, drained raisins and Zante currants through it until well distributed. Roll or press the dough to a thick yet flattened oval shaped piece. If you have made the almond paste, create a little roll shape of the almond paste and put it near the the center of the oval dough piece.

Fold the dough for about 3/4th in the length and roll it up tightly in a way that the almond paste roll is across 90% of the length inside the roll. Put the rolled up dough in a greased bread tin and let it rise for the second time a 30 to 45 minutes.

Preheat the traditional oven to 200C/392F (hot air oven 180C/356F) and bake it in total for 30 minutes. After 20 minutes reduce the heat to 160C/320F (hot air 140C/284F). When your stollen looks ready and has a nice light brown crust (This should be after this 30 minutes) take it out and let it cool down. Optionally you can grease the crust on top with some butter and decorate it with some sifted powder sugar.

And that should be about it... It’s my first time to put a recipe in bakers percentages so I’m not 100% sure if it is correct. However I have used this recipe for the last 3 years and it has been a great success. If you try it out and you make some adjustments, which I know you will in the end, let me know. Still trying to perfect this recipe myself.

sweetbird's picture
sweetbird

 

One of my most beloved cookbooks is the original Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas. It began its life with me in San Francisco in the early 1970s and has traveled with me ever since, now nestled on a bookshelf in upstate New York. It is in tatters with no binding left, but that only makes me love it more. It is well used.

 I’ve made the Christmas Stollen from that book every year since I first got it, and it’s something that my family and I look forward to throughout the year. Because it’s an unyeasted “quick bread” recipe, it’s different from any Christmas Stollen I’ve ever tried, and from the first bite it stole my heart. It’s deeply rich from the butter and cream cheese, gently sweet from the fruit, rum and a bit of sugar, all balanced by the tang of lemon, mace and cardamom.

 A few years ago I decided to write a note to Anna Thomas letting her know that her stollen had become a treasured tradition in my family, and to my delight she wrote back a lovely note! Her newest book Love Soup is wonderful too, by the way.

 I made some changes way back in the 70s based on availability and personal preference and since it turned out so well I kept making it the same way. Here’s the version I’ve made all these years:

 Christmas Stollen

(my adaptation of Anna Thomas’s recipe from The Vegetarian Epicure)

  w/metric conversions:

  352 gms (2½ C.) unbleached AP flour

2 tsp. baking powder

125 gms (¾ C.) (or slightly less) sugar

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. mace

seeds of 5 - 6 cardamom pods, crushed (I usually use green) -or- ¼ tsp., rounded, powdered cardamom

100 gms (¾ C.) almond meal (or ground blanched almonds)

½ C. butter, cold

226 gms (1 C.) cream cheese (reduced fat OK), softened at room temperature

1 large egg, room temperature

½ tsp. pure vanilla extract (I use Madagascar Bourbon vanilla extract)

1/3 tsp. pure almond extract

2 Tbs. Bacardi light rum (original recipe calls for brandy, which I haven’t tried yet)

85 gms (½ C.) seedless dark raisins

85 gms (½ C.) golden raisins

finely grated peel of 1 organic lemon (use a rasp for the finest consistency)

 

Preheat oven to 350°F.

 Sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, mace and cardamom. Stir in the almond meal. Cut the butter in with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse sand.

 In a blender, cream the egg with the softened cream cheese, vanilla, almond extract and rum. Pour it into a bowl and mix in the fruit and lemon peel. Gradually stir in the flour mixture until everything is more or less incorporated, then turn it onto a lightly floured board and knead it for a couple of minutes -- just until smooth. At first it’s more like “smooshing” or squeezing things together than kneading. It will seem dry and you might have the urge to add some liquid, but resist if you can.

Flatten into an oval about 10″ long by 8″ wide. With the blunt edge of a knife, crease it just off center, length-wise. Fold the smaller side over the larger side and form it into a slight crescent moon shape.

Bake in preheated oven for about 45 minutes, or up to an hour, depending on thickness. This year I made mine a little thicker than usual and needed the full hour. Turn at 20 minutes. Watch closely after 40 minutes or so and protect it with strips of aluminum foil if it’s getting too brown at the edges. Allow it to cool before dusting it with confectioner’s sugar.

Happy New Year to all!     Janie

 

NOTE: The differences in my recipe from Anna Thomas’s original are:

 - I use light Bacardi rum; she uses brandy (same amount)

- I omit the candied lemon peel and substitute grated peel of 1 lemon

- I use seedless dark raisins instead of currants (same amount)

- I reduce the sugar somewhat (¾ C. is the original amount, but I usually use a well rounded ½ C.)

- I use Bob’s Red Mill almond flour if I have it available because it’s good and it’s easier than grinding blanched almonds

- I usually substitute slightly reduced fat cream cheese

AprilSky's picture
AprilSky

Christmas has not been a convention in our culture. But people love to celebrate the day as a holiday. I, too, love the Christmas spirit and atmosphere. I still remember the family that invited me to their home for Christmas Eve and the big feast they offered while I was studying in Kansas. The warm hospitality has always been the mark of my American experience.

The Christmas dinner is pretty much a warming-up event for our Chinese New Year which is less than 4 weeks away. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law's family were invited. They enjoyed the meal a lot.     

I call the dinner " The east meets the west". Except roasted chiken, focaccia, and paella, I also prepared our traditional hot pot to warm up everyone. Temperature in the Christmas Eve was close to 10 degrees C.

 

The roasted chicken was a total success. It's the highlight of the dinner that night.

 

Crispy outside and juicy inside. Yammy!!

 

Paella is another focus. The broccoli made itself Christmas tree~~~Haha~~~

 

 

maylieQ's picture
maylieQ

I made this santa bread from Taste of Home for Christmas Eve using the lion house dinner roll recipe. It was super easy and fast! I should have rotated him halfway through baking, but he still looks cute.... and he was delicious!!

freerk's picture
freerk

Chestnut-Mincemeat Monkey Bread

Baking is getting more festive by the day. The BreadLab is a mess after a trial bake for the X-mas specials that are up for the coming two weeks.

Chestnuts

The flavor and texture of chestnut can really lift a dish, when used in moderation. The other week, running through Amsterdam's hottest local produce supermarket Marqt, there were some fresh chestnuts available. They would look real rustic, together with the red onions and roseval potatoes in the basket on the kitchen table...

They have been screaming not be wasted for looking pretty ever since, and today, when the sour cherries on syrup started their siren song, things started coming together. The theme clearly being nuts and fruits, let's cross the channel and ponder on that typical British dish;

Mincemeat

Something allegedly edible that I managed to avoid for its name alone in the first two decades of my life. To the foreign ear it sounds like something with mutton sausage and a lot of gravy in it, that has been sitting in the cellar for three months. There is a lot of that where I come from. No need to explore.

Only to find out in the next decade that there is actually no meat involved at all, well... suet. But that was way back when. I do sometimes use lard and suet and the likes, but this sweet bread needs to go down easy with every one.

After making a basic mincemeat, boil the fresh chestnuts in their skins until tender, but still chewy. Chopping them up I decided to just chuck them in with the mincemeat, and that worked wonderfully well.

Sour cherries

Sour cherries belong to New Year's Eve for me. I never knew that until I rediscovered the taste of them recently, the syrupy variety. I was immediately taken back; in my young years, when the adults would be seriously boozing in the New Year, the kids were allowed to drink something that was called "children's-liquor" (No, I kid you not). It came in a bottle that vaguely resembled the grown-ups' version. It was a deep red, sweet as hell and... without alcohol (I guess the marketing guys drew their lines somewhere in the sixties...). But that didn't seem to matter to us, as I remember. For me it was one of the high lights; that entire day, going around the neighborhood to wish every one a Happy New Year, and every house I entered had a glass of that stuff waiting. My Italian shop around the corner carries some nice jars with sour cherries on syrup, the blue one;

Raisins, apples, lemon zest, currants. Take whatever you have lying around to whip together a fruity, spicy layer of mincemeat that will ooze through the monkey bread during the bake. The chestnuts are optional if you are an avid hater (there seem to be quite a few out there), but it does give the flavor a nice twist, and, if chopped coarsely and not boiled to pieces, a different texture that works well with all the sticky caramel and the soft buns.

Since my first monkey bread, traditionally round, was rising all over the place, out of its baking tin, I decided the second bake would have to be in the biggest tin around... and that happened to be a square one. A happy accident, I would say!

Square Chestnut-Mincemeat Monkey Bread

For the (mini portion) mincemeat:

1 small apple
100 gr. boiled chestnut, coarsely chopped
30 gr. raisins
25 gr. currants
30 gr. prunes
20 gr. sour cherries (on syrup)
dark beer, about 60 ml.
75 gr. brown sugar
pinch of lemon zest
dash of lemon juice
a nob of butter
pumpkin pie spice to taste, about ¾ tsp
rum

If you like your apple firm, leave them out, while you bring the beer and all the other ingredients to a slow boil. When everything comes together and the butter is mixed in, add the apple and turn off the gas. Stir and cool.

You can find some good tips over here on how to boil your chestnuts, if you chose to go DIY all the way.

For the dough:

500 gr. bread flour
14 gr. instant yeast
150-175 ml lukewarm whole milk
2 beaten eggs
50 gr. butter
2 tbs honey
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1½ tsp salt

to sugar the monkey dough:

100 gr. caster sugar
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

For the caramel sauce:

100 gr. butter
50 gr. dark brown sugar

Method

Mix the dry ingredients together in a stand mixer. Add just enough milk for the dough to come together. Add the eggs and the butter little by little after about 4 minutes. Mix on low speed for about 15 minutes to develop an elastic dough. Transfer to an oiled container, cover and rest until double in size, for about an hour to one hour and a half at room temp.

Mix together the fine caster sugar with the spices. When the dough has risen, deflate it gently and shape into a cylinder. When the dough resists, give it a few minutes rest before you continue. Cut up the doughroll in small pieces, deliberately uneven in size and shape. Toss the dough pieces in the sugar and place in the oiled tin. They will expand considerably; loosely spread the first layer around your BIG (improv) monkey bread pan.

Scoop the cooled down chestnut-mincemeat over the first layer of dough, and then cover with a second layer of sugared dough bits. Cover and let proof untill the dough has puffed up.

Preheat the oven to 180° C. Heat the butter with the brown sugar and gently pour this over the proofed dough.

Bake for about 35 minutes, turning it halfway into the bake to ensure even browning. Be careful with the top; don't let it burn!

After the bake, let the bread cool for about 10 minutes before inverting the monkey bread onto a rack. Leave to cool completely before slicing.

Enjoy! You can really do me a big favor by endorsing the BreadLab initiative. Every 'like' will get us closer to funding a 6 episode documentary on 'the best bread in the world'. Thank you in advance!

Freerk

nellapower's picture
nellapower

I have been lurking in the forum for over two years now, soaking up all that I could about sourdough bread-baking. All this time, I wished there was something that I could give back, that I could share with the community. Seeing that I am still a bread amateur compared to you guys, I thought I will have to wait a few more years for this blessed moment. But today, as I was getting my kitchen ready for baking, it hit me. There actually is something I can share with you: my recipe and my experience with baking Dresden Christmas Stollen. I know, there is already one recipe around by harrygerman. My recipe is similar, but with even more butter and fruit. This stollen is an amazing thing: rich, heavy, and fruity. The dough is different from anything else I know and a little tricky to work with. Before I give you the recipe and the technique, I will start by telling you a little about the history of Dresden Stollen. Seeing that there are very different stollen recipes around, I think you need this little introduction to understand how the Dresden stollen is different and why it is worth making, despite all the effort.

In Saxony (the region in the East of Germany, where Dresden is), stollen has been a tradition Christmas bread for centuries (the first written documents about stollen are from the 1329). At that time, however, stollen was a light, yeasted bread, containing nothing but flour, water, yeast and sometimes oil. It was sold and eaten during he pre-Christmas period of Advent fast. Saxony was then catholic, so the use of any richer ingredients such as butter or milk was strictly forbidden. The Saxon rulers, however, were apparently dissatisfied with their Advent bread, so they applied to the pope for a permission to use butter in their stollen. The pope allowed this in 1491, on the condition that they atone for their sin by donating liberally to the church. Although meant only for the rulers and gentry, the pope's permission was quickly applied with much more liberation. Maybe to compensate for centuries of butter-free fasting, the Saxons transformed the stollen into a rich, buttery bread stuffed with fruits. No longer a fast meal, the stollen became a Christmas celebration bread. After a while Saxony turned protestant, but the stollen remained. Of course, with its centuries of tradition, the title "Dresden Stollen" was soon used for trading purposes, unfortunately not always with high-quality products. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the traditional Dresden stollen bakeries fought against the on-slough of so-called Dresden stollen. Today, "Dresdner Stollen" is a registered trademark and only selected backers from Dresden area can use it, provided that their stollen meet criteria with regard to the minimum amount of butter and dried fruits.

Enough of history, let's look at the bread. A real Dresden stollen contains at least 500g Butter and 650g sultanas per 1000g flour. This makes it extremely heavy and rich. Furthermore, the stollen is traditionally heavily coated in icing sugar. The bread needs to ripe for at least 3 weeks in order to develop its flavours and texture and keeps in proper conditions easily for several months. I have started baking stollen some ten years ago, when I moved to Dresden. I now bake 2-3 batches each year before Christmas. For my husband, stollen is something to look forward to throughout the whole year. Even when we spent six month in Finland last year, there was no questions that I will bake his beloved stollen. The recipe that I have here is based on a century old recipe for Dresden Christmas stollen, that Dresden bakeries use as a foundation. Of course, I have adapted it to suit our tastes. You are free to do the same. Just what ever you do, do not cut down the fat! Without the fat, the stollen will never keep as long and it will not develop the proper texture and taste. The same goes for the amount of fruits. You can play with the sugar though, for example leave out the sugar coat (I prefer our stollen uncoated).

Right, enough said, here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

1000 g flour (fine, weak flour; all purpose flour should do nicely)
250 g cream
42 g fresh yeast (or 14 g dried yeast)
500 g butter (or 450g butter and 50g lard or tallow)
1 g ground mace
0,5 g ground cinnamon
0,5 g ground cardamom
zest of 1 lemon
150 g sugar (I use Muscovado whole-cane sugar)
50 g candied lemon peel (instead I make my own by soaking peel from two lemons in honey
for several days)
150 g candied orange peel (instead, I soak peel from 4-5 oranges in honey)
500 g sultanas
250 g currants
100 g rum (optional, I use Amaretto instead)
200 g ground almonds
+ extra butter (approx. 250 g)
+ extra fine castor sugar (approx. 100 g)
+ extra icing sugar (at least 250 g)

0. Save the date
It's important not to start baking stollen too late. My personal experience with this recipe is that they need at least 4 weeks, ideally 6 weeks before you cut into them. Really! We always cut our first stollen on the first Advent Sunday, so I bake my first batch 10 weeks before Christmas. I bake my second and sometimes third batch about 5-6 weeks before Christmas, partly for us and partly as presents for friends.

0. Preferment
The stollen dough is very heavy and it will need a strong yeast activity to raise it. For this purpose, I like to preferment a portion of the flour. I take 300g of the flour, break in 21g yeast, and knead it with 250g cream. I leave it to ferment for 1 hour by room temperaure and than for 12-24 hours in the fridge. You can also use sourdough in the preferment. I have successfully baked sourdough-only stollen, you just need to let them rise longer.

0. Soaking
Place the sultanas and currents in a large bowl. If you are using alcohol, pour it over the fruit. Add enough boiling water to cover the fruit. Leave to soak for at least 30 minutes, but best over night. It is important to soak the fruit even if you are not using alcohol, or else it will burn in the oven. Don't forget to drain the fruit well before you start making the dough to make it as dry as possible.

1. Dough
I sieve the flour onto a working surface (this definitely does not work in a bowl). Break in the remaining 21g of yeast (you can leave this out, just adjust the rising time). Rub the lemon zests into the sugar and mix the sugar into the flour, together with the mace, cinnamon, and cardamom. If you are wondering about the small amounts, the stollen is not supposed to taste very spicy. However, this is your stollen, so you can add any spices you like. Cut the preferment into small pieces and distribute it on the edges of your flour mound and do the same with the butter/lard. Now comes the kneading. Be warned, that you will need about 30 minutes to knead the dough. You can try it in your mixere, but make sure your mixer can take it. Better invest the time or coax a physically strong friend or relative into helping. Start by taking a few pieces of the preferment and the butter and kneading them together. As you do this, the dough-lump in your hands will turn sticky. Place it in the middle of your flour mound and knead it there, until so much flour has been incorporated that it's dry again. Now take some more preferment and butter and knead them in your lump. This will make it sticky again, so add flour. And so on and so on. At some point, the dough-lump may become difficult to handle. Feel free to cut and put aside about two thirds of it and continue kneading with the rest. You can put the pieces together in the end. Do not be tempted into adding more flour or any liquids. Trust me, just keep kneading, it will all be well in the end. As you work, the kitchen will be slowly filled with the smell of lemon zest and the spices - Christmas is on the way!



2. Fruits
You are tired, your fingers ache and you are a proud owner of a homogeneous dough lump that reminds you of short-bread dough. Congratulations, let's add the fruit. Take your drained sultanas and currants and mix them with the ground almonds. This will help soak up the remaining liquid. Mix them with the candied orange and lemon peel and pour the whole lot on your working surface. You might have the urge to check the recipe now, because you think you have too much fruit. But it really can be incorporated into you dough-lump. First, cut the dough-lump into 5 pieces. Start by working the first piece into the fruit. As the fruit is wet, this will make it all turn into a strange paste. Keep adding piece by piece, until the whole lot is incorporated. Don't worry if you feel more like making mudpies. Place the whole mass into a bowl and clean your working surface with a dough scraper. Now evaluate the dough. Is it like a soft short-bread or cookie dough? Than you are done with it. If it's too wet and soft (probably it will be), dust the working surface with flour, turn the dough onto it and carefully work in a little more flour. Not too much, though, the dough should be just about manageable. You won't need to make anything fancy with it, so as long as it does not stick to the work surface or your hands like crazy, it's fine.



3. Divide, form, and rise
Divide the dough into 2-5 pieces. For us, I prefer to make two large stollen. This size apparently has a positive influence on the texture of the stollen later on. But you can make several smaller stollen, too, for example as gifts. Just don't forget to adjust the baking time. Form each stollen into a rough, high log. Just pat it into shape - no rolling, no stretching. Just a note here: the traditional Dresden stollen has no almond paste inside. With all the dried fruit and its sugar coat, I also think that it does not need it. But it's your stollen, so if you like, add it now. Put the formed stollen on a baking sheet with baking paper (make sure the stollen are far enough apart) and let it rise for about 2 hours (more, if you are using only sourdough or less yeast). The stollen will become a little puffy, nothing more. It will definitely not double.

4. Score and bake
There is a traditional way of forming a Dresden stollen. I use a different, simple way used for stollen from Thuringia (another region in Germany). It's easier and the stollen are less flat, so they are also moister. Basically, you just make a log and then you score it with a single cut all the away down the stollen's back. That's it. I score the stollen directly before putting it into the oven. I don't preheat the oven, just pop it in and bake it at 180°C for approx. 1-1,5 hours. Keep a watchful eye on the stollen. Cover it with aluminium foil if it has turned brown before its time and adjust the time according to the size of the stollen.


5. Coat
This is an optional step. Traditional stollen is heavily coated in sugar. If you want to  coat the stollen, brush it with liquid butter (as much as the stollen can soak up) immediately after taking it out of the oven. Than sprinkle it heavily with fine castor sugar. The castor sugar will soak up any access butter. Wait for the stollen to cool and sprinkle it with a very thick layer of icing sugar. As I wrote, I skip this step. Firstly, I find the coated stollen too sweet and secondly it makes a mess when storing. Alternatively, it is also possible to store uncoated stollen and brush it with butter and coat it in sugar right before cutting into it.

6. Store
The stollen has to be stored for at least 4 weeks (I recommend 6) before cutting into it. If you cut it earlier, you will be disappointed. Cutting it later is even better. Stollen store best in an old fashioned cool celler, with high humidity. If you don't have such a cellar, you can store stollen outside in wooden boxes provided that your climate is cool enough (that's what I do). Otherwise store the stollen in the coolest room of your house, but not in the fridge. Some people like to freeze the stollen, I don't think its necessary and it has a negative impact on the texture. If you are storing stollen in a cellar or outside, simply wrap it in cotton cloth and put it in a wooden box, so that it can breathe. Otherwise wrap it well in a plastic or aluminium foil. The idea is that if you cannot provide an environment with high humidity, such as cellar or outside, you should prevent the stollen from drying out. That's it, now wait.

7. Eating
If you cut into a stollen 2-3 weeks after baking, you will be disappointed. It will taste fine, but the crumb will be far too dry. Don't give up and put the stollen away again and wait a little longer. The texture will change over time and after six weeks it will have a short-bread-like crumb and the taste will be a mixture of spices and fruits, all rolled into a buttery, sweet bliss.

So to sum up, a Dresden stollen is not hard to bake. All it takes are good quality ingredients, some muscle and a lot of patience. The reward is a truly unusual bread. Although I am not German and grew up baking other Christmas goodies, stollen has become to me a personification of Christmas. You take the best, you do your best, you wait for the occasion, and then you enjoy it in full.

I hope someone might have a go at my Christmas stollen. I'll be happy to help you.

Best, Nella

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