This recipe is one of the best parts about Christmas. It takes a bit of planning and a whole day of baking, but it’s the coziest food memory I have. My Oma used to bring foil-wrapped loaves of this traditional Christmas bread every year. This is the 6th year I’m making it and the 3rd year making it with my friend, Nancy. That’s why we call it the “Stollen Workshop” now. We split up the ingredients and we both get our mixers going.
Every year I think I have the recipe and technique perfected, but each year I write a few extra notes to make next year even better. This year I subbed in dried tart cherries instead of sweet cherries and we both enthusiastically approved of the small change. We also switched to a dough hook a bit sooner in the dough-making process and that worked well, too. The dough is dense and heavy with a pound of rum-soaked fruit and nuts per batch.
I haven’t made or eaten a single Christmas cookie (I know!) but hopefully that will change this week. At least I have 4 loaves of this beautiful bread to pass out to friends and family.
Wishing you the merriest of holidays, my friends!
Christmas Stollen 2014
I make 4 batches of this recipe every Christmas with a friend. If you want to double the recipe below, you can mix the double-batch of fruit/nuts/rum together, but make each batch of dough separately as it is dense and you don’t want to overwork your mixer’s motor. Then split the fruit/nut mixture between the two batches. If making 4 batches like me, then repeat the double-batch directions. No need to clean out your mixer bowl in between batches.
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried currants
1/2 cup dried apricots, quartered
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
1/3 cup dark rum
1 cup toasted slivered almonds
4 + 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, divided, plus additional as needed
2 (1/4 oz.) packages active dry yeast or 4 1/2 teaspoons
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
4 tablespoons butter, cut in large chunks
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 teaspoons buttery sweet dough flavor (from
King Arthur Flour, optional) 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup powdered sugar
Place slivered almonds in a dry, large skillet and toast over low heat. Stir often and watch closely so they do not burn. When light brown, transfer to a small bowl to cool. (Or you can purchase pre-toasted almonds)
Combine raisins, currants, apricots, cherries, toasted almonds and rum in a medium bowl and let stand at least 1 hour or overnight, stirring occasionally.
Prepare a rimmed baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.
Stir together 2 C. of the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in the large bowl of your mixer. Heat milk, water, butter and lemon zest in a small saucepan on low until butter just melts. Remove from the heat and let cool to 115-120 degrees, the optimal temperature for the yeast. Add liquid mixture to flour mixture along with eggs, almond extract and buttery sweet dough flavor (if using). Beat at low speed in a stand mixer with paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer) until flour is just incorporated. Switch to medium speed and beat until well combined. Change paddle attachment to dough hook.
Stir 1/3 C. of the flour into the bowl with the soaked fruit and toss to coat. Add toasted almonds into the fruit mixture and toss to combine. Add fruit/nut mixture into the batter and mix on low with dough hook. Start adding flour in 1/4 C. increments until the dough is moderately stiff and pulls from the side of the bowl. I typically end up adding an additional 2 cups of flour to get the dough right.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes; shape the dough into a ball. Add 1 teaspoons of grapeseed oil to a large bowl and use your hands to coat the inside. Place the dough in the large bowl and turn to grease the entire outside of the dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down, cover and let rest 10 minutes. Turn onto lightly floured surface and divide in half. With a rolling pin, roll each half into an 8×14 inch oval. Fold 3 inches of the dough in on one side and then fold in the dough on the otherside. Turn dough seam side down (or keep it seam side up for the look in the pictures above). Use the rolling pin to lightly press down on the folded dough and bring the folds together. Place loaves on the prepared baking sheet. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (or 325 degrees F for convection)
Uncover. Bake until loaves are golden and sound hollow when lightly tapped, 20 to 30 minutes (If using a convection oven bake at 325 degrees F for 25-35 minutes). Transfer to wire racks and brush with melted butter and sprinkle with powdered sugar. When the loaves have cooled, drizzle with more melted butter and sprinkle with another generous layer of powdered sugar. To store, wrap in parchment and then aluminum foil and let sit at room temperature for several weeks. The flavors will develop more with each day. Try toasting the bread and adding a bit of unsalted butter for something extra special with a cup of tea or coffee.