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, Bread Baker’s Apprentice.........and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.
I had indeed heard mention of the fruit and nut based yeast bread known as stollen before being introduced to it as our Daring Bakers Challenge for December. Yet, really I didn't know much about it. And, certainly I had never attempted to make it. So, I waited and made the stollen on Christmas Eve morning and shared it with family that evening. But, I realized I didn't have much information to include with my stollen. So, later, my curiosity got the better of me and I did a bit of research. Here is what I found:
The History of Stollen
"First made in Dresden, Germany around the 1400s, stollen bread was made and shaped to represent the baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes. Stollen bread was made without butter or milk and was a rather tasteless pastry. Still, it was a popular Christmas pastry for its religious significance, and from 1560 onwards, stollen bakers would deliver one or two 36 pound Christmas stollen to the Saxon king yearly.
Because Advent was a time of fasting, there was a ban on the use of butter in baked goods. Oil was used as a replacement, but made the stollen bread bland and flavorless. In 1647, Elector Lord Ernst of Saxony and his brother Albrecht appealed to the Pope to lift the butter ban explaining that oil was expensive and hard to come by (never mind tasteless!). The Pope lifted the ban to make the Christmas stollen bread for the Prince and his family, but did not lift the ban for the general public until 1691.
With the use of butter, stollen bread became more popular and the recipe started to sway from the original, tasteless pastry to a sweeter one containing candied and liqueur-soaked fruits and nuts. Now, only 150 bakers are allowed to make the official Dresden Stollen, complete with the seal of the city’s famous king August the Strong. However, bakers all over the world have their own spin on both the original and the more modern recipes for German stollen bread, and bake the dessert not only at Christmas, but also year round."
Information courtesy of this website.
Very interesting history and symbolism of stollen. The recipe provided made about 4 small loves of stollen and a medium sized "wreath." Since it makes such a large amount it is really nice for gifts. Of course you could make this any time of the year. Its very good. I feared I would not love it since I have the same aversion to fruit cake that most do, but this is not fruit cake. It contains fruit, but its not the same texture or taste at all.
Thank you to Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking for a great Daring Baker's Challenge this month.
Stollen WreathMakes one large wreath or two traditional shaped Stollen loaves. Serves 10-12 people
Ingredients10 tablespoons unsalted butter (can use salted butter)
½ cup sugar
¾ teaspoon salt (if using salted butter there is no need to alter this salt measurement)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract or orange extract
5½ cups all-purpose (plain) flour (Measure flour first - then sift- plus extra for dusting) *
2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1- 1/4 cup buttermilk
¾ cup chopped dates
1 cup firmly packed dried cranberries
1/3 c. dried apples, chopped
6 tablespoons rum
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath
Confectioners’ (icing) (powdered) sugar for dusting wreath
Note: If you don’t want to use alcohol, double the lemon or orange extract or you could use the juice from the zested orange.
*You can substitute half of the all purpose flour with whole wheat pastry flour.
Layer all the ingredients (in order) into a bread machine. Select the dough cycle. After the dough is finished, place in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator overnight or up to one week.
When ready to bake:
1. Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.
2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
3. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
4. Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches (40 x 61 cms) and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick.
Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder. Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan. Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle. You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape.Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough.
Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.
Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, should register 190°F/88°C in the center of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.
Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the top with melted butter while still hot.
Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter.
Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first.
The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar.
Let cool at least an hour before serving. Coat the stollen in butter and powdered sugar three times, since this helps keeps the stollen fresh.
If you would prefer, you could also shape the dough into oval shaped loaves. Bake for the same amount of time until mahogany colored.
May be frozen for up to 4 months.