I find what we need at this time of year is a good deal more food. There simply isn’t enough…
Well, OK, that’s potentially not entirely true, but amongst all the fun, games, eating and drinking we should make a little room for traditions that aren’t our own. In this particular case I’m thinking about a German import that we appear to be having a bit of a fling with in the UK – and it’s not those silly markets (which probably aren’t very German). I am, of course, meaning stollen.
An enriched dough stuffed full of peels and fruit, with that beautiful roll of frangipane down the middle, it is now a ‘must have’ for the Christmas season. Oh, it’s also totally delicious and (in my world) a totally legitimate breakfast food.
Having eaten stollen from a variety of places over the last few years, I decided that this year – following on from my bread success in recent months – I would attempt to make one myself. A noble quest which I would claim as a win. It was not all plain sailing though, I opted to let it rise over night in the fridge (as the recipe suggested as an option), but my fridge seems to be too cold which resulted in me attempting to revive the yeast in the oven. It wasn’t at all pretty, but somehow it worked out eventually (after an hour of gentle coaxing).
Hmm, overnight prove in the fridge appears to just have super-chilled my stollen. Oh dear. #fingerscrossed
— Craig Cockburn (@craigcockburn) December 22, 2013
Regardless of any worries that my accidental super-chilling added, it well and truly worked, leaving me with a stollen the length of my forearm. Delicious as it was, unless you are planning on feeding an army, I would suggest halving the ingredients below.
To make this stollen I adapted the recipe found in James Morton’s aptly named Brilliant Bread (definitely one of my favourite cook books from this year). Somewhat surprisingly, I’ve actually removed the boozy element from this; mainly because I had no brandy handy. As I said above, unless you’re feeding an army (at least 6) or you really will eat it for every meal of the day, half the ingredients.
for the dough:
50g dried cherries
150g mixed peel
150g strong white flour
175g plain flour
20g caster sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
zest of 1/2 an orange
zest of 1/2 a lemon
14g fast-action yeast (2 sachets)
1 medium egg
for the frangipane:
100g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
100g ground almonds
25g plain flour
Sieve the flours into a large bowl and add in the zests, cinnamon, sugar, yeast and salt (keep the salt and yeast at opposite sides of the bowl, so you don’t retard the yeast). Add in the milk, butter and egg, then mix the lot together (either with your hands or a mixer, but the former is more fun) until they form a dough – if it doesn’t quite come together, add either more milk or plain flour, depending on whether it’s dry or wet. Leave to rest for half an hour.
Take the dough from the bowl and knead on a lightly floured work surface for about 5 minutes, add about 2/3 of the fruit mix and then knead again, until it is stretchy and will stretch out thinly without tearing. Put the dough back in the fridge and cover. Leave to prove for at least 1.5 hours (this is where I left mine in the fridge overnight).
To make the frangipane, beat together the butter and sugar until smooth, then mix in the ground almonds, flour and the egg. This should come together to form a textured paste.
Cut a large rectangle of baking paper (one that will more that cover your baking sheet) and lightly oil it. Turn the dough out on to it and flatten until it is about 2.5cm thick. Spread your frangipane evenly over the rectangle, leaving about 4-5cm all the way round the edge, then scatter the remaining fruit on top of it. Leave for a few minutes and then roll the dough into a swissroll-like cylinder. Brush with a little melted butter or oil and leave for another 1 hour.
Half an hour or so before the second prove is complete, set the oven to 230ºC. Put the dough into the oven and then turn it down to 170º. Bake for 1 hour, or until golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped underneath.
Once out of the oven, dust liberally with icing sugar. Leave it to cool completely before enjoying.