Saturday, 17 December 2011


I love stollen.  Christmas is upon us and I had to choose between making mince pies, stollen or panettone.  My flatmate makes the best mince pies (with a ridiculous amount of alcoholic cider -- I think that's the secret), panettone seems too challenging for the moment, and thus I went for stollens.
Stollen's a traditional German Christmas cake.  It's like a fruit cake but much lighter and more bread like.  It was first made in the 1400s and was made without milk or butter, so I suppose it was quite tasteless compared to what it is now, nonetheless, it was popular.  Butter wasn't allowed since Advent was a time of fasting and so bakers could only use oil.  Oil was expensive and several appeals were made to the Pope, but he denied them all.  I think this went on for quite some time and and finally one pope (I think the 6th one that they appealed to) said ok and restored the buttery goodness into baked goods at Christmas time, but he only did so for the Prince and his family.  All the other bakers had to pay a fine to use butter, and the money, of course, went to the church.  It's like a butter tax.  Probably not a bad idea now in places of high obesity rate but still, taxing on deliciousness is sad.

Anyway, as a Christian thing, the shape of stollen and the fact that it's dusted with icing sugar symbolize baby Jesus wrapped in white clothes.  Today there are these stollen festivals in Dresden every year with massive stollens.  They take place every year sometime in December I believe, and they have this huge stollen, weighing around 3 tonnes.  It's cut with a special 1.2m silver-plated "stollen knife" and then sold to the crowd.

.....Definitely on my bucket list.

It's so worth making your own stollen.  Yes, it takes forever, but really, it's not that much work, 4 of the 5 hours of prep work is just waiting for your stollen to prove and rise.  I got this recipe from

Prep time (including proofing): 5 hrs    Cook time: 50 min     Serves: 10      Suitable for: Christmas or just any other occasion to show off 

Recipe adapted from here
1 packet dry active baking yeast (7g)
400g bread flour
75g caster sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp salt
175ml warm milk
75g melted butter (cool or warm but don't have it hot)
1 large egg, lightly whisked
50g currants
50g raisins
50g red glace cherries, diced
175g mixed citrus peel
200g marzipan
1 tsp each of ginger, cloves and cinnamon.
1 tbsp icing sugar

Mix the dry ingredients together then slowly mix in the milk, butter and egg.

Put on a lightly floured surface and knead in the dried fruits.  Keep kneading, adding more flour if needed, until it becomes smooth and elastic.  Knead for about 15 minutes.
Place in an oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let it rest in a dark warm place for about 3 hours.  It should've risen to about double its original volume based on the original recipe, mine didn't, so don't worry if yours doesn't, it'll work out in the end.

Put it on a lightly floured surface and press it down.  Roll your marzipan into a long cylinder and put it in the middle of the dough.  Roll the dough over and seal the marzipan in.  Place on a baking sheet and cover with a damp cloth.  Let it rest for about one hour.  Again, don't worry if it doesn't rise much, just make sure it's resting in a warm place.

Have your own preheated to 180C.  Dust your stollen with the last couple of spices to form a nice spicy crust.  Put your baby in the oven and after 10 minutes turn the heat down to 150C.   Let it bake for about 40 more minutes or until golden brown.

Leave to cool (resist tearing it apart and devouring it), and dust with icing sugar and some more spices if you'd like, I like spicy things.

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