Stöllen

Oh, god — December. Just get out already!

Now, normally I try to write about something light-hearted or historical for my blog, but lately I’ve just been sitting at my computer, anxiously blanking out at the screen, or wasting my time on memebase sites.

While most people wait in anticipation of December and relish in the Christmas season, I fear it.

Like, literally fear it.

Worrying about the Christmas season keeps me up at night — December offers me nothing in terms of relaxation and happiness.

Time off from work? Not with two jobs!

Time off from school? Not unless you count the two weeks off that I will spend working!

Buying presents that I seriously don’t want to buy and getting stuff that I seriously don’t need? Not constructive — I’d rather keep my money for bills and have my friends and family do the same!

Family dinners? Seriously awkwaaaaard.

Not to mention that there’s almost always snarkiness or fighting that breaks out.

My ideal December would involve a month of hibernation and intermittent waking periods for baking cookies and drinking wine and eating stöllen. For reals.

Anyways, enough complaining. I try not to complain, because, seriously — all I’ve got are first world problems.

If this is a season to love and be thankful, then I’ve got a lot to be thankful for.

Like rum spiked nog and stöllen!

And I’m thankful for pastry without raisins — cuz we all know that raisins make everything terrible. So, just like last year, I present to you another joyous, raisin-fee Christmas cake to bake and enjoy!

I figured it was a worthwhile endeavor, considering how many incoming searches have been for “raisin free cake” this or “fruit cake no raisins” that.

Last year I did two kinds of British-style fruitcake, one aged and brushed with brandy and one quick fruitcake (both good, but the aged one was better — obviously).

This year, I made stöllen — and its sweet, lightly spiced flavour is totally unbelievable!

Stöllen is a yeast-risen, bread-like Christmas cake. It takes a fair bit of prep work, but it’s not all that complicated to make the loaf itself. Having all your ingredients in their place and an afternoon off to spend at home while the dough rises helps a lot.

The most difficult part of this recipe, in my opinion, is aging the stöllen for two weeks before eating it!

Make sure to read the recipe all the way through if and when you attempt this.

Stöllen

*adapted from my school recipe book

Ingredients

Dried Fruit & Nut Soak

  • 1 & 1/2 cups dried fruit (cranberries/blueberries/currants)
  • 1/2 cup candied orange peel
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 2 tablespoons dark spiced rum

Sponge

  • 1/2 cup bread flour
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 2 envelopes (14g/0.5oz) active dry yeast

Dough

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks (reserve egg whites for filling)
  • zest from 1 lemon and 1 orange
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • sponge, risen
  • dried fruits and almonds, soaked

Almond Filling

  • 1 & 1/4 cups (250g/9oz) almond paste
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons dark spiced rum

Finish

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • white sugar, for dusting
  • icing sugar, for dusting

Directions

Soak the dried fruits, candied peel, and slivered almonds in dark spiced rum, tossing occasionally, up to a week ahead of time — or a minimum one night beforehand — covering and storing the soak in a cool, dark place.

On the day you bake, make the sponge 30 minutes ahead of time.

Dissolve the active dry yeast in lukewarm whole milk — allow the yeast to come to life and foam (if this doesn’t happen, you’ll have to start again with new yeast) before mixing the yeast and milk into half a cup of bread flour to make a spongy paste. Cover the sponge with plastic wrap and leave it to rest for 30 minutes.

When ready to start the stöllen dough, sift the flour, salt, and ground spices together. Set aside.

Cream the softened butter with the white sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, egg yolks (reserving the whites), lemon zest, and orange zest, and beat until smooth.

Add the sifted bread flour, salt, spices, and risen sponge. Mix until completely incorporated, then turn the dough out onto a clean working surface.

Knead in the soaked fruits, peel, and almonds, dusting your working surface and hands with more flour as necessary — the stöllen dough should be a little sticky, but not overly so.

Once all the fruits and nuts are incorporated into the dough, divide it into two even halves.

Shape each half into a ball, cover with plastic wrap (you can either leave them on your working surface, or let them rest in buttered bowls), and allow the stöllen dough to rise for 2 hours in a warm place.

After 90 minutes of allowing the dough to rise, prepare the almond filling by crumbling the almond paste into a bowl and adding the egg whites and dark spiced rum.

Mash everything together until it forms a relatively smooth and sticky paste. Set aside.

When 2 hours have passed, shape a ball of stöllen dough into a rough rectangle, gently pressing and stretching the dough until it’s about 2cm (1 inch) thick.

Take half of the almond filling and place it slightly to the side of the center of the dough rectangle.

Fold the long edge of the dough over the almond paste to encase it, using a little water to fix the seam if necessary. Pinch the ends of the stöllen loaf closed so that the almond paste cannot leak out.

Repeat this process for the remaining ball of dough.

Preheat the oven to 315°F/155°C. Line a metal baking sheet with two layers of parchment and/or double the baking tray.

Place the shaped and filled stöllen loaves on the baking tray and cover with plastic. Let rise for 1 hour by the warm oven, or until the loaves have increased in volume by about 50%.

After the second rise, bake the stöllen for 50 ~ 55 minutes, rotating the tray often. The stöllen will be done when they are well-browned all over.

While the stöllen are in the oven, melt a half cup of butter over medium-low heat. Strain the butter into a tall container and skim off any milk foam that floats to the top. Let the butter sit so that the milk solids sink to the bottom of the container.

As soon as the stöllen are out of the oven, transfer them to a wire rack for finishing.

Without waiting for the stöllen to cool, generously brush each loaf all over (including the bottom!) with the clarified butter and sprinkle with lots of white sugar. Let cool on the wire rack.

After cooling for about two hours, dust the top of each stöllen loaf with a thick coating of icing sugar. Wrap the loaves tightly in two layers of plastic wrap, then in a layer of tin foil.

Store the stöllen in a cool, dark place to age for 2 ~ 3 weeks before eating.

Break these bad boys out during the holidays and enjoy the best damn Christmas cake you will ever make. Yum!

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22 thoughts on “Stöllen

  1. Sorry that you find December difficult — many people do. I, on the other hand, love December (am having a Christmas music party later today), but find mixed fruit breads difficult to stomach. My mother made traditional fruitcake and mince pie: I’ve always said that the gene for this stuff skips generations.

    • Christine says:

      Is it the taste that bothers you, or something else all together? I can’t stand most fruitcakes because they contain raisins!

      • I don’t like the flavors of any of the above — I think it’s the mixture. I like many dried fruits and fruit peels one at a time. I like all of the sweet spices, too. I enjoy all kinds of spice blends, but once you start mixing dried fruits it’s all over for me, My Grandmother used to put raisins in apple pie, which ruined the taste, even if you picked them out and set them aside. Most dried fruit-based recipes were developed in cold climates and I have never lived in a cold climate very long (My parents both moved to California in their teens) and have never craved concentrated winter sweets — I think in England and Germany they packed in the calories to survive the winter.

  2. Christmas can be such a frantic time. I’ve decided to do all my shopping online and wangle as many clever discounts as possible to make it all a little more bearable. I’ve got the added challenge of moving house (and cities!) on the 30th, so I’ve got enough on my plate without shopping, too!

    I love stollen. I first tried it a couple of years back, baked my former colleague’s German mother, and it was delicious. I’m not a huge fan of the dark, traditional Christmas cakes either, so I think it’s a great alternative, and so lovely with mulled wine or a mug of something hot. Yours look wonderful – wish I could try a slice 🙂

    • Christine says:

      Wow — okay! You’ve gotta pack up and move during the busiest time of year? Then I’m not complaining anymore, haha!

      I think mulled wine would go perfect with stollen, too… aw. Now I want mulled wine and all the liquor stores are closed!

  3. You are plenty busy and holidays can prove to be more stressful to some. Our family takes turns each year having Christmas at their house, so it does take some of the stress off.
    Your version of this stollen really does look tasty. Now I am wondering how I can find the time to crank out this one for the holidays-especially since time this month will move at the speed of light. Delicious and inspiring post.

    • Christine says:

      Thanks, Tina! Having a rotating family dinner definitely would help keep a lid on hectic times — unfortunately I work at a liquor store, so we’re the ones who get to be busy like crazy while everyone shops and stocks up for their Christmas dinners!

  4. A Tablespoon of Liz says:

    This looks amazing! I remember when I made stollen in school. My chef was soaking an extremely large amount of dried fruit in rum, and one kid said “It smells like rum” Then my chef said, “No, it smells like Christmas. Ho ho ho dammit.” It’s like, one of my favorite quotes ever. So now, rum will eternally smell like christmas to me.

  5. Kit-Kat says:

    I love Christmas Stollen!
    My Grandmommy and Grandaddy are in Germany right now, and they have promised to bring back lots of German Christmas goodies. One of the things they always bring back is marzipan potatoes, and a hige loaf of stollen!

  6. Mykie says:

    I have Christmas baking itchiness but still can’t face food after indulgent vacation! Your magnificent stolen may have cracked my bakers block! ☺

    • Christine says:

      It’s hard to get back in the groove after a long vacation! Last year, after I came back from Japan, it took me about 3 weeks to start cooking for myself again. I ate a lot of take-out sushi to console myself over the fact that I wasn’t in Asia anymore.

  7. daisy says:

    Hurray for pastries without raisins!!

  8. I’ve never heard of this! Looks freakin’ amazing though. I really need to learn all your amazing baking skills. So jealous.

  9. My grandparents make this one too..every year and I love it! 🙂

  10. Bo W says:

    I lovethe holidays…but they can be stressful…this is something I have always wanted to make…I’m sure waiting two weeks to taste it is difficult.

    • Christine says:

      Haha — actually, the HARDEST part is not eating the loaves I made for everyone else! I totally didn’t wait and already ate mine — in my defense, I had to slice one open and take photos. 😛

  11. Your homemade stolen cake sounds absolutely incredible!!!

  12. Oh hell yes! Tom and Jerrys (rum and brandy-spiked egg nog). And traditional desserts like stoellen! Love it, love it, love it. I’m going to bake plum pudding for Christmas. Holy crap. Try finding the ingredients for THAT in North America. Candied mixed peel? Virtually impossible. But still worth the hunt.

  13. sourdoughtheangrybaker says:

    When we made these in school, we dipped it in the clarified butter and rolled in the sugar three times. One bite and I felt like my teeth were falling out. Fun times, nonetheless. Beautiful blog!

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