Stollen

StollenRecipe courtesy of Easy Living

Stollen is a Christmas spiced bread originating from Germany that’s loaded with dried fruits and filled with a thick layer of marzipan.  A great gift idea too.

Makes 3 loaves

Ingredients:  75g (2 ½ oz) raisins; 75g (2 ½ oz) golden sultanas; 25g (¾ oz) currants; 50g (1 ¾ oz) candied peel, finely chopped; 50g (1 ¾ oz) natural glace cherries, quartered; Grated zest and juice of 2 clementines or 1 orange; 2 tblsp brandy; 50g (1 ¾ oz) blanched almonds, roughly chopped; 550g (1 lb) strong white bread flour, plus extra for rolling; ½ tsp salt; 1 tsp ground mixed spice seeds from 5 cardamom pods, ground; 40g (1 1/4  oz) caster sugar; 250ml (8 fl oz) milk; 15g (½ oz) active dried yeast; 100g (3 ½ oz) unsalted butter, softened; 1 tsp vanilla extract; 1 large egg, beaten; 450g (14oz) marzipan; Icing sugar, for dusting

Step One: Place the raisins, sultanas, currants, peel and cherries in a medium-sized bowl. Add the clementine or orange zest and juice and the brandy and leave to soak for an hour or so until the fruit has absorbed almost all of the liquid.  Add the chopped almonds and mix well.

Step Two: Sift the flour, salt, mixed spice, ground cardamom seeds and caster sugar into the bowl of a free-standing electric mixer fitted with a dough hook.  Warm the milk, add the dried yeast and stir well. Set aside for 5-10 minutes, until the yeast has formed a thick foam on top of the milk, then add to the dry ingredients with the softened butter, vanilla and the beaten egg. Knead the dough in the mixer for about 5 minutes, until smooth. Add the soaked fruit and nuts and mix again until evenly distributed throughout the dough.

Step Three: Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball.  Place in a large, clean bowl, cover with cling-film and leave in a warm, draught-free place for at least an hour, or until doubled in size.

Step Four: Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured work surface again and knead lightly for 1 minute.  Divide into three even pieces and roll each piece out to the size of a rectangle, roughly 20 x 15cm (8 x 6in).  Divide the marzipan into 3 even pieces and roll each one into a log 15cm (6 in) long.  Place a marzipan log just off the middle of each piece of dough, brush the edges with a little milk, then fold the dough over the marzipan and press to seal.

Step Five: Arrange the Stollen on non-stick baking sheets, cover loosely with lightly oiled cling-film and leave in a warm, draught-free place until doubled in size.  Heat the oven to 180oC (gas mark 4).

Step Six: Bake the stolen, one at a time, on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 25 minutes, or until risen and golden brown.  Cool on wire racks, then dust liberally with icing sugar before packaging into cellophane parcels tied with colourful festive ribbon.  Stollen will keep for a week or so if wrapped well in foil or kept in a tin and is delicious warmed and sliced for breakfast.

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