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Stollen

Updated February 23, 2016
This image courtesy of Shutterstock

Stollen is the festive Christmas bread of Germany. Its unusual folded shape is said to represent the baby Jesus in swaddling clothes. It is an authentic dessert to follow a German-style dinner of roast goose.

Make Ahead: The stollen can be baked up to 1 day ahead.

If your oven isn’t big enough to accommodate both stollen at the same time, position the rack in the center of the oven. Bake one stollen, refrigerating the other one while the first bakes.

Makes2 large stollen, about 10 servings each

Cooking Methodbaking

CostModerate

Moderate

Total Timehalf-day

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursedessert

Equipmentelectric mixer

Five Ingredients or LessYes

Mealdinner, tea

Moodfestive

Taste and Texturefruity, nutty, sweet

Type of Dishyeast bread

Ingredients

  • ½ cup dried cranberries or chopped candied red cherries
  • ½ cup chopped candied orange peel or glace orange slices
  • ½ cup dark raisins
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • ½ cup dark rum
  • 1 cup warm (105°F to 110°F) milk
  • Two ¼-ounce packages active dry yeast or 3½ teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • About 3½ to 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 2/3 cup diced (½-inch)almond paste
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted, for assembly
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar, for assembly
  • Confectioners sugar, for serving

Instructions

In a medium bowl, mix the cranberries, orange peel, dark raisins, and golden raisins with the rum. Cover and let stand for 1 hour.

To make the sponge, in another medium bowl, stir together the milk and yeast to combine (no need to dissolve the yeast). Add 1 cup of flour and stir for 100 strokes to make a thick batter. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until the sponge is bubbly, about 1 hour.

To make the dough, drain the fruit, reserving the rum. Pat the fruit dry with paper towels and set aside. In a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer or in the work bowl of a heavy-duty standing mixer fitted with the paddle blade, beat the butter at high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the granulated sugar and beat until light in color and texture, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. (The mixture may curdle, but don’t worry.) Beat in the reserved rum, lemon zest, and salt. Reduce the speed to low. Beat in the sponge. Gradually beat in enough of the flour to form a soft, shaggy dough that just clears the sides of the bowl. Switch to a wooden spoon when necessary if making with the handheld mixer.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until supple but still slightly sticky, about 5 minutes. If the dough holds its shape when formed into a ball, it has been kneaded enough. Do not add too much flour. Gradually knead in the fruit and almonds.

If kneading by machine, switch from the paddle blade to the dough hook and knead on medium-low speed until the dough is supple but still slightly sticky, about 5 minutes. Gradually add the fruit and almonds and knead just until incorporated. Do not overmix, or the fruit will color the dough. If you like you can transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead briefly by hand to check the consistency.

Shape the dough into a ball. Place into a buttered large bowl and turn to coat the dough with butter. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Position racks in the center and top third of the oven (see Note) and preheat to 350°F. Lightly butter two large baking sheets.

Turn out the dough onto the work surface and knead briefly. Cut the dough in half. On a prepared baking sheet, stretch and pat out the dough to form a 12 × 8-inch oval. (If the dough resists shaping, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 5 minutes, then try again.) Sprinkle 1/3 cup of the almond paste down the center of the oval. Fold one long side of the dough over, about 1 inch past the center. Fold the other side of the dough over, about 1 inch past the center. Pinch the seams closed. Brush the dough generously with 2 tablespoons of the melted butter and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar. Repeat with the remaining dough, butter, and sugar. Loosely cover the dough with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until almost doubled, about 30 minutes.

Bake until the tops are golden brown and a thin knife inserted in the thickest part of the dough comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Transfer the stollen to a wire rack and sift generously with confectioners’ sugar. Cool completely on wire racks. Sift again with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.

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