Stollen brings back so many happy memories of my Oma arriving from Canada with her arms full of food and gifts at Christmas. She would empty her arms quickly and give us big hugs and kisses. One of the items she always brought was a foil-wrapped loaf of homemade stollen. When we were kids, we’d pretty much eat the sugary crust off of a slice and be done with it while the adults ate their slice leisurely with coffee.
Back in 2009, I started making stollen to carry on the tradition my Oma started in our family. I’ve been tweaking the recipe every year and I finally feel like I can stop tinkering with it. I love it just the way it is. When the rum-soaked fruit is added into the batter, the scent immediately takes me back to peeling the foil back on my Oma’s stollen.
Today I’m sharing the latest version of the recipe. It’s full of rum-plumped dried fruit, toasted almonds and a touch of almond extract. It’s lightly sweetened and a perfect anytime treat.
Here’s a peek at our lime/teal/silver decorated fraser fir. Marc insists on lots of lights!
Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you and yours. Wishing you all the best in 2012!
Recipe: German Christmas Stollen
Makes 2 loaves, can be doubled
1 C. slivered almonds
1/2 C. raisins
1/2 C. dried currants
1/2 C. dried apricots, chopped into chunks the size of raisins
1/2 C. dried cherries, chopped if large
1/3 C. dark rum
3 + 1/3 C. all-purpose flour, divided, plus additional as needed
2 (1/4 oz.) pkg. active dry yeast or 4 1/2 teaspoons
1/3 C. sugar
1 1/2 t. kosher salt
1/2 C. milk
1/2 C. water
4 T. butter, cut in large chunks
1 t. grated lemon zest
1 t. almond extract
1 1/2 t. buttery sweet dough flavor (from King Arthur Flour, optional)
2 t. grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil)
4 T. unsalted butter, melted
1/2 C. powdered sugar
1. Combine raisins, currants, apricots, cherries and rum in a medium bowl and let stand at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
2. Prepare a rimmed baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.
3. Place slivered almonds in a 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.
4. Stir together 2 C. of the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in large bowl. Heat milk, water, butter and lemon zest in a small saucepan 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 (or with a hand mixer) until flour is moistened. Beat at medium speed until well combined.
5. 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 to combine. Start adding flour in 1/4 C. increments until the dough is moderately stiff and pulls from the side of the bowl.
6. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes; shape the dough into a ball. Add 2 teaspoons of grapeseed oil to a large bowl and 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.
7. 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 half of the dough towards the middle and do the same with the other half of the dough, like folding a letter. 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.
8. Uncover. Bake until loaves are golden and sound hollow when lightly tapped, 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and brush with melted butter and sprinkle with powdered sugar. When the loaves have cooled, brush with another coat of melted butter and sprinkle generously with powdered sugar again. When completely cool, wrap in aluminum foil and store at room temperature. The flavors will develop more with each day.