German Stollen

I’ve never really been a fan of German stollen, though my  mother always had it in the  house around the Christmas season.   It’s the citron, really, that I don’t like.  I do, however, love when the sugar on a packaged stollen crystallizes and leaves the outside edge with a crunchy texture.

Reading Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes and her description of discovering in a little shop panettone as “tall as a top hat”, got me thinking of Christmas stollen.  I decided to make a large batch of stollen dough and give the extra loaves as gifts along with the other baked goods I was whipping up the week before Christmas.

But like I said, I’m not fond of this German bread.  To make it more to my liking I used very little fruit in the dough and substituted orange and lemon zest for the citron.  For those who love stollen, I have doubled the amount in the recipe.   I am also put off the by the dry texture of a stollen.  I was very pleased to see that the recipe I came up with, using my stored memory of an egg braid bread dough I made often as gifts when I was a teenager, made a very soft, buttery stollen.  Unfortunately, by the time the bread was wrapped and given as gifts, the one that was reserved for our family was as heavy and dry as I remembered other stollens to be.  I apologize to the recipients of these Christmas “gifts”.  I hope no one felt bad for feeding the crumbly leftovers to the chickens.  I know that’s where the butt ends of mine ended up.

So the moral of the story for this German girl…day old stollen stinks.  It’s tolerable with half the fruit put in, all the citron left out, and a double rolling in confectioner’s sugar gives it that traditional powdery coating.  A single dusting just sort of melts right in.  It must be eaten with very hot creamy coffee.  Tea just doesn’t cut it.  And next year, or any year that I make it again, I will give the finished stollen loaves away on day one as well as serve our own in its entirety to my family before the sun rises the next day.  The chickens can get scraps from something that takes less effort to produce.

Ingredients:

1/2 c. sugar

2 c. milk

1/2 c. butter

1 tsp. salt

1 envelope of yeast

8 to 9 c. all-purpose flour

3 large eggs

1 c. dried apricots, chopped

1/2 c. candied cherries, red and green, chopped

1/2 c. candied pineapples, chopped

1 c. dried cranberries, raisins, or currants

2 tsp. lemon zest

2 tsp. orange zest

1/4 c. rum (optional)

1 c. chopped pecans

1 c. chopped walnuts

Confectioner’s sugar

Extra flour for kneading and shaping.

Method:

Combine fruit, zest, and rum.  Allow to soak until the dough has risen once.

Heat milk, sugar, butter, and salt just until butter melts.  Liquid should be warm to the inside of your wrist but not scalding.

Sift together 4 cups of flour and yeast.  Stir warm milk mixture into flour and yeast, stirring well to combine with a heavy wooden spoon.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, until combined.  Work in 4 more cups of flour with a spoon.  Turn onto floured surface and knead in around one more cup so that dough is smooth and elastic.

Place in a greased bowl, turning to coat.  Cover and let rise for one hour.

Punch down the dough.   On a floured surface, knead in the fruit mixture and nuts.

Divide into four equal portions.  Flatten each into a rectangle.  Roll, leaving the seam side up.  Form into a crescent.  Cover and let rise one hour.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Grease a sheet pan and lay the loaves on the pan with space between.  Bake for 25 minutes.

Cool completely.  Roll in confectioner’s sugar, coating well.

Repeat until the sugar stays powdery on the surface.

Makes 4 large loaves.

My pictures stink.  My great little Kodak EasyShare didn’t survive a year of blogging and being dropped on the concrete floor of various concert venues.  Working on a solution.  Finding the little ditty that turns the flash off on my iPhone has helped, but a little too late for the stollen photos.  Stollen photos…giggle.  No.   I am not a spy.  Yes.  I have had too much hot cocoa on this snowy day.

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