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 flour
100% AP flour
80g brown sugar
16% Brown sugar
15g Lemon peel grater
3% Lemon peel grater
74g Egg (two medium sized eggs)
25g fresh yeast
5% Fresh Yeast
160g whole milk
32% Whole milk
50g Orange peel grater
10% Orange peel grater
200g Raisins (e.g. Sultana)
40% Raisins (e.g. Sultana)
200g (Yellow) Zante currant
40% (Yellow) Zante currant
Dark rum / Amaretto
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.
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:
(my adaptation of Anna Thomas’s recipe from The Vegetarian Epicure)
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
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
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~~~
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!!
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.
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;
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 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
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!
My partner's father and sister are here to visit. They each occupy one of the downstairs rooms that I meticulously cleaned before they arrived, so much so that I drove myself into hand-wringing worry over each minute detail in their rooms. Then the cobwebs in the other corners of the house laugh at me.
Bread calms me down, I think. There's something about nurturing it into life (and--in the oven--subsequently killing it, I suppose, but I don't think about that) that I find calming. I rekindled this years-long love of bread-making while sitting in a cramped hostel room in Taipei right before Christmas.
There was literally no floor space save for a two-by-three foot area where the door swung open in on our tiny apartment. We'd just had our Christmas Day supper. We'd found a hole-in-the-wall restaurant where the owner spoke just enough English and we spoke one or two food words in Mandarin to get across that we'd like chicken soup. He brought us two different kinds. He gave Dave his bowl and said, "Good for man." A minute later, he brought me mine, and said, "Good for woman." He smiled, waited for our reactions. Dave loved his while I didn't like his, and I loved mine while Dave wouldn't touch mine. What a wise man that had served us. He offered us zong: spiced rice with pork wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. The spices were just reminiscent enough of Christmas that I didn't miss the overwhelming bright lights, electronified versions of Christmas carols, or ads delivering guilt trips about not giving your loved ones enough presents. But let's be serious, I didn't miss it anyway.
Besides, I had already gotten all my relatives and friends presents, and now it was my turn. To be there when I first arrived back in Nova Scotia, I ordered the Tassajara Bread book. It seemed only fair that as an amateur bread baker, I have a cookbook focused on bread alone.
I feel selfish, because with that bread book, I gave myself more than I had anyone else on my Christmas list. Breads were springier and lighter, tastier and more beautiful. I felt in control of the bread for once, and I fell in love.
I set about to Google many times thereafter, finding more recipes, wanting to find more people who wrote books like Edward Espe Brown, those who seemed to understand the art much more than Betty Crocker. Eventually I found many sites, and it's almost overwhelming. I'm learning how to make bread all over again.
So for my first trick, I made poolish baguettes. From this recipe. Schmiechel is not amused because she cannot eat it.
But my visitors can eat bread. And they will eat all of it.