This month's challenge is not the most daring I've ever done. Despite that it's the first time that I've been 100% certain that the recipe will be one I make again and again. This has already become part of the fabric of our Christmas. I really can't thank Penny enough for this truly delicious 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.
A few days before I made the stollen, I made the candied orange peels to go into it. I'm very glad I did - they added a really lovely touch and were so superior to the usual peel. I made the marzipan to go in the middle too but I haven't given the marzipan recipe because it didn't come out exactly how I wanted it to. My main changes were to substitute in brown sugar and to use whole almonds, which gave it a pretty speckle.
I didn't make any massive changes to the stollen recipe. The vanilla paste worked really well and I'm glad I used brown sugar. Otherwise it was just adding some golden sultanas, skipping the cherries and citrus extracts and using whole almonds. I used the fresh yeast suggested because I adore working with it.
When I pulled stollen after stollen out of the oven I wondered if we would ever manage to eat it all. It turns out that it's incredibly addictive and mum and I polished off three of them very quickly. We found we liked it fresh the best, then very lightly toasted in the next few days and finally toasted with some salted butter. One of the stollen is still sitting in the freezer as mum is saving it for new year.
All in all, a really wonderful challenge.
Finally, a warning. This dough rises like a demon. Make sure you have a big bowl and don't put it at the top of the fridge like I did or this will happen within a few hours... (whoops!)
juice of 3 clementines
1 tbsp rum
90g golden sultanas26g fresh yeast
60ml lukewarm water
140g unsalted butter
770g plain flour
115g soft brown sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 large eggs
zest of an orange and a lemon
2 tsp vanilla paste
115g candied orange peel*
100g whole almonds, chopped
50g butter, melted
icing sugar to coat
On the first day (of christmas, my true love gave to me...), mix the clementine juice and rum together in a small saucepan. Add the raisins and sultanas and heat on a very low heat for 15 minutes. Leave to soak overnight.
On the second day, break up the yeast into the lukewarm water. Let sit for a few minutes then stir to dissolve. Put the milk and butter into a small saucepan and heat until the butter has melted. Beat the eggs and vanilla paste together in another small bowl. Measure the flour, sugar, salt, zests and spices into the mixer bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add the yeast mixture, the milk mixture and then the egg mixture. Beat until it comes together - about 2 mins. Cover with a damp cloth and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Tip in the soaked fruit, candied peel and chopped almonds and mix to combine. Transfer your beater to a dough hook (or move to the counter to hand knead) and knead for 6 minutes (8 by hand). The dough should be soft and smooth, not sticky and the dried fruit might start coming away on the surface. Transfer to a very big oiled bowl, cover, and put in the fridge. Leave to rise overnight.
On the third day, take the dough out of the fridge and leave on the side for two hours to warm up a bit. Line two oven trays with parchment paper. Tip the dough out onto the surface and punch down. Knead for a minute or two. Divide the dough into four. Take each piece of dough in turn and roll out into a rectangle (think mine were vaguely 30cm by 20cm). Place a sausage of marzipan along one of the long edges (like this), then roll up tightly around the marzipan into a rope. Curl round into a circle and join the two ends, pinching the dough together. Use scissors to cut incisions around the edge of the wreath. Place on the baking tray. Repeat for the other three pieces, placing two on each tray. Cover the trays with cling film and leave in a warm place to rise for about 2 hours or until they have nearly doubled in size. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180C. Bake the stollen for 15 minutes, then turn the tray and bake for another 15-20 minutes. They should be a deep brown and sound fairly hollow when knocked on the bottom. Brush with plenty of melted butter while still hot, then dredge with icing sugar. Leave for a few minutes then add more sugar. Be generous. Leave to cool.
(Makes 4 medium stollen wreaths)
* I make my own candied peel - the recipe I use is here.