Sunday, December 26, 2010

Daring Bakers - A Stollen For December

This months challenge was something completely new to me, both in terms of eating and making. Prior to this I had never heard of a stollen before and when I read its description, I was a bit put off because of the raisins. I absolutely hate fruit cake or anything with dried fruit in it and thought that I would have to skip this challenge. But then I saw a lot of variations on the recipe and decided to just remove the raisins and continue with the recipe.

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.

Stollen is a bread-like fruitcake made with yeast, water and flour, and usually with zest added to the dough. Candied orange peel and candied citrus is often also added. It is a very traditional German Christmas bread and the traditional shape is that of a loaf that was originally meant to represent the baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes. For this challenge we were asked to make the stollen in a wreath shape.
The recipe and instructions were pretty straightforward and I had absolutely no trouble with it. Well, except the part where the stollen baked into a huge wreath and I couldn't even carry it! It is a nice bread which tastes great toasted with butter. I will make a stuffed french toast with half the bread this weekend.

Stollen Wreath Recipe - Given as I made it, for the original recipe, pictures and more helpful hints check here.

Ingredients - Makes one large wreath or two traditional shaped Stollen loaves. Serves 10-12 people

1/4 Cup (60ml) Lukewarm Water (110º F / 43º C)
2 Packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) (22 ml) (14 grams) (1/2 oz) Active Dry Yeast
1 Cup (240 ml) Milk
10 Tbsp (150 ml) (140 grams) Unsalted Butter (Can use salted butter)
5 1/2 Cups (1320 ml) (27 ozs) (770 grams) All-purpose (plain) Flour (Measure flour first - then sift- plus extra for dusting)
1/2 Cup (120 ml) (115 gms) Sugar
3/4 Tsp (3 ¾ ml) (4 ½ grams) Salt (if using salted butter there is no need to alter this salt measurement)
1 Tsp (5 ml) (6 grams) Cinnamon
3 Large Eggs (lightly beaten)
Grated Zest of 1 Lemon and 1 Orange
2 Tsp (10 ml) (very good) Vanilla Extract
1 cup (240 ml) (3 ½ ozs) (100 grams) flaked almonds
1 Cup Sweetened Shredded Coconut
Melted Unsalted Butter for coating the wreath
Confectioners’ (icing) (powdered) Sugar for dusting wreath

Make The Dough

1. Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.
2. In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup (240 ml) milk and 10 tablespoons (150 ml) butter over medium - low heat until butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes.
3. Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and the vanilla extract.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. Add in the almonds and coconut and mix with your hands or on low speed to incorporate.
7. Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing with the dough hook) to distribute the add-ins 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 make the dough have a reasonable bread-dough consistency.
8. 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.
9. 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

1. Remove dough from the fridge and let it rest for 2 hours in order to warm slightly.
2. Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches (40 x 61 cms) and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick.
3. Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder.
4. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
5. 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.
6. Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough.
7. Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
8. Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.
9. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
10. 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.
11. 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.
When completely cool, store in a plastic bag. Or leave it out uncovered overnight to dry out slightly, German style.
Happy Eating!!


  1. I made one without fruit too, and it wasn't as tasty as the fruit version. But it will make great French toast tomorrow. Nicely done!

  2. Your stollen looks great even without the fruit and nuts =) Stollen was also new to me and I am officially in love with it =)


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