Sunday, December 2, 2012
Wait, what did you say?
When I said I wanted to make one of these, David thought I said I was going to bake a Stalin. So I laughed at him and said yeah, I'm gonna bake a tiny gingerbread dictator. "Five Year Plan", David says, in a silly Russian accent.
I thought it was funny.
Stollen is not bread, it's a yeast-risen cake. It tends to be quite dense, and it has candied fruit in it. I think it is related to panettone, which is another thing I may try to make someday. Right after the lefse.
For the dough:
2 1/2 tsp yeast
2/3 c warm milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter
3 cups bread flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch of allspice
2 cups mixed dried or candied fruit, cut into little bits
You may also want:
6 oz marzipan
1 oz brandy or rum
1 T butter
lots of powdered sugar
You can proof the yeast in the milk, if you want, but I use instant yeast so I don't bother. I put all the ingredients for the dough except the dried fruit in my bread machine for 20 minutes. After 15 minutes, I put in the dried fruit so it didn't get ground to paste by the beaters.
If you don't use a bread machine, you can do the mixing by hand, just be aware that the dough is extremely sticky. Unlike normal bread dough, this will not form a neat, easily handled ball. It will have a texture more like Jiff peanut butter, but springier.
Let the dough sit until it has doubled in size. Once the dough has risen, gently deflate it a bit then flatten it out on a well oiled cookie sheet. Squish the marzipan into a shape that fits well on slightly less than half the dough, then fold the dough over and pinch it closed around the marzipan. Let it rise until it has nearly doubled in size, then pre-heat the oven to 375. Bake the stollen at 375 for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 300. Bake for another 30-40 minutes.
1. I used a combination of candied orange peel, dried cranberries, raisins, and dates in mine. Some people use chopped nuts, too, and some recipes call for mace or cardamom. Feel free to flavor it the way you like it, it's your cake!
2. There is no reason you have to put marzipan in it, or cover it with brandy and sugar. But I can't imagine why you wouldn't want to. (Some people prefer to make a drizzle of icing out of confectioner's sugar, which does make it less messy.) If you do go for powdered sugar and hooch, be very generous with the sugar. Most of it will tamp down into the steam from the warm cake.
3. The loaf will not get very brown. Don't worry, it's not supposed to. Stollen should be moist, not crunchy.
4. It takes a very long time for this dough to rise. The high concentrations of fat and sugar in it inhibit the action of the yeast, so you do need to be patient. This recipe took me nearly 6 hours to make.
5. Ohmigod this is insanely delicious.
Do you remember the first time you ever encountered fruitcake? That rather horrid, soggy, mortar-like confection that never gets eaten but always turns up at christmas? Wasn't that a great disappointment? It always had those shiny red and green bits of candied fruit, and smelled alluringly boozy, and tasted like car exhaust and rubbing alcohol. I kept trying to eat it for years, hoping that one day, I would find a fruitcake that tasted as good as it looked.
My search has ended. This cake is tender and rich, delicately sweet, meltingly chewy. There is just enough fruit to make each bite a little different from the last. It has an alluringly boozy aroma all right, cuz dammnit, I put actual booze on my fruitcake. The coating of sugar compacts into a thin, ever so slightly crunchy crust that dissolves almost instantly in your mouth. Glucose euphoria.