Stollen is a rich tea bread and is a great favourite in many Euopean countries. It is of Saxon origin, although it is now made in countries all over middle Europe, in Holland, Russia, Austria and Scandinavia.
The bread has a religious background going back through the centuries. History suggests that the characteristic shape is that of the Holly crib and the marzipan represents the baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling bands.
Dresden and Leipzig are the historical centers and from these cities, stollen is exported all over the world.
It contains flour, yeast, milk, butter, sugar, eggs, dried fruits, marzipan and some times, nut products.
Stollen has a shelf life of 4-6 weeks and can be reheated if required. To store, wrap in cling film and keep in airtight container. The icing sugar will start to draw the butter and moisture from the loaf, forming a sugary "crust" and so will more than likely loose its whiteness. To enhance its apperance, a further light dusting of icing sugar can be given before serving. It is a very rich product and so it is trditionaly served in small slices usualy with an accompanying spirit or liquor but is just as good with a hot beverage of your choice.
The method used for this product is called The Ferment and Dough Process. It is a two stage process normaly used when making fermented products that contain high levels of enriching ingredients, such as fats and sugars which can have a retarding effect on the yeast growth during fermentation. The Ferment stage gives the Yeast the ideal conditions to grow and multiply, (warmth, food, moisture and time). This stage prepares the Yeast for the second stage when it comes into contact with the enriching ingredients.
FIRST STAGE (ferment)
100g (4oz) Milk at 36C / 97F (body temp)
25g (1oz) Fresh Yeast (see note)
1 Teaspoon Castor Sugar
50g (2oz) Bread flour
Note: If using Dried Yeast, reduce amount by half i.e. 12.5g (1/2oz). Only use the Dried Active Yeast, not the Fast Acting.
The dried fruit content can be adjusted for personal taste but needs to be 250g (10oz) in total. e.g. omit Mixed Peel, Currants, Cherries and substitute with 100g (4oz) Rasins, or just leave out the peel and increase one of the other fruits by 25g(1oz).
SECOND STAGE (dough)
150g (6oz) Bread Flour
1 Medium Egg
12g (1/2oz) Brown Sugar
50g (2oz) Butter (unsalted)
50g (2oz) Currants
25g (1oz) Mixed Peel
150g (6oz) Sultanas
25g (1oz) Glace Cherries
Table spoon Rum (optional)
Zest of half a lemon.
You will require a minimum 150g (6oz) Marzipan.
50g (2oz) Additional Butter for "washing"
100g (4oz) Icing sugar for dusting
Weigh your chosen dried fruits into a bowl/basin and into this grate the lemon zest and add the rum. Stir the fruit to ensure even distribution of the zest and rum and to ensure the fruit is well mixed. Cover with cling film or lid and keep in a draught free,preferably warm, area. This allows the fruit to take on the flavours of the rum and lemon zest (a very small amount of lemon juice or lemon essence can also be added if required).
Weigh and then mix the first stage (ferment) and set aside as described below.
While the fement is standing weigh the second stage (dough) ingredients.
FIRST STAGE MIXING.
(1) Place the yeast and warm milk in a basin that is at least 3 times the volume to allow for expansion of the ferment, add the sugar and stir until the yeast is dipersed and the sugar dissolved.
(2) Add the flour and whisk until a smooth solution is obtained. This is called the FERMENT.
(3) Place the ferment in a warm, draught free area, covered with cling film and allow to stand for 30 minutes. At this stage the solution will have turned into a yeasty froth, this is the ferment full of CO2. It will have more than trebled in size but dont worry if it has collapsed, it is only the gas being expelled, its the increased yeast cells that you want not the gas at this stage.
SECOND STAGE MIXING (making the dough)
(1) Sieve together the flour and salt into a mixing bowl.
(2) Add the butter and useing your finger tips rub into the flour.
(3) Mix the egg and sugar together in a basin, then together with the mixture from the first stage (the ferment), pour into the bowl containing the flour/salt/butter.
(4) Using a wooden spoon/spatula or your hand, mix all the ingredients together to form the dough. It will be quite sticky and soft, do not be tempted to add more flour.
(5) When all the ingredients have been mixed together and the dough is formed you now have to thouroughly mix and develop the dough. It will take a good 5 minutes of hard beating. Alternatively this can be made on a machine. This is a very sticky (slack) dough and would recommend the beater rather than a hook attachment at this stage.
(6) After mixing the dough, leave in the bowl, big enough to allow the dough to double in size and cover with lightly oiled cling film or a damp cloth and place in a warm draught free area for 35 minutes.
(7) After 35 minutes the dough should have doubled in size and be full of gas (CO2). To this you add the mixed fruit and mix it through the dough until evenly dispersed. This is best done by hand so as not to damage the fruit which would result in "bleading"
(8) After mixing, return the bowl, covered as before and leave in a warm place for a further 25 minutes. At the end of this 25 minutes before processing TURN ON OVEN
OVEN TEMPERATURE 220C , Fan 200C ( 424F) Gas 7
(1) After the final 25 minutes standing, tip the mixture out onto a lightly floured work surface and devide into 2 equal portionsand form each into a batton shape.
(2) Cover the dough for 8-10 minutes to allow it to recover.
(3) Using a rolling pin,slightly flatten the dough pieces.
(4) divide the marzipan in half, roll each piece just shorter than the length of the dough and place each piece just off center on the dough toward the back.
(5) Using water, moisten the bottom edge. Fold over to seal the edges, gently pressing with the side of your hand ,taking care not to tear the dough.
(6) Place the two dough piece onto a warm, lightly greased or baking parchment lined tray.
(7) Cover with a dry cloth and then place a damp cloth on top of the dry cloth and leave in a draught free warm area for 30 minutes.
(8) After the 30 mins carefuly place in the oven, taking care not to knock the trayand bake for 20-25 minutes.
(9) Towards the end of the baking time, melt the butter ready for "washing" on removal from the oven.
(10) Immediately on removal from oven,coat the top and sides generously with melted butter and then heavily dredge with icing sugar.
(11) Allow to stand on the baking tray for about 10 minutes to set and then carefully remove to a cooling wire, taking care not to disturb the icing sugar coating. If you have used baking paper this will be a lot easier and cleaner, just slide onto the wire including the baking paper