So, I don’t like waiting. I’m the worst waiter the world has ever seen. And yesterday I got it in my head that I should make stollen because, even though my aunt makes delicious stollen every Christmas, I wanted stollen now. Right now.
I found a recipe in my trusty and well-loved copy of King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion. But, oh no! Their recipe calls for pastry flour and I (shockingly) don’t keep that on hand. And it’s not easy to find in stores either.
I went to three different grocery stores before I realized I should call first. So I called two more, then got smart and googled it. (Why didn’t I just order it online? Like I said, I don’t like to wait and even Amazon Prime couldn’t get that flour to me fast enough.) I finally found it at Sur La Table.
So I trekked out to the mall and got a bag of pastry flour. (It should be noted that I dislike searching for parking even more than I dislike waiting, and every parking garage, every lot, every space everywhere was FULL. Full of cars. I had to drive around for 35 minutes before I finally found a spot. I am not exaggerating.)
So what exactly is stollen? Why was I so willing to devote hours of my day to searching out one ingredient? It’s a sort of sweet, slightly spicy bread studded with dried fruit and raisins, and filled with the most incredible almond paste filling. And it’s spread with butter and sprinkled with powdered sugar while it’s still fresh from the oven. The butter and sugar melt into the top of the bread and make this sort of glaze thing that is to die for. To.die.for.
What else is stollen? An absolute labor of love. It took me the better part of a day to make it. The dough rises several times, and even after it’s baked it has to sit for days to develop flavor.
Have I made this sound sufficiently painful to make? I really hope not. All the effort I put into finding the right flour and babysitting dough was sooooooo more than worth it. This is the perfect December breakfast, the perfect dessert, the perfect afternoon snack. It’s the best and most love-filled gift you could give anyone this year.
And this recipe makes three loaves! Keep one (or two) and give the rest away.
- 1 cup (6 ounces) golden raisins
- 1 cup (6 ounces) chopped dried fruit of your choice*
- 2 tablespoons brandy, dark rum, or apple juice
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 2 cups unbleached pastry flour
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature and lightly beaten
- 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- 6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature and cut into pieces
- 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
- 1 cup (8 ounces) almond paste**
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- In a small bowl, combine fruit with liquor or juice. Let soak for 3 hours, stirring several times.
- Scald the milk in a small saucepan—cook the milk over medium heat until bubbles for around the edge and milk begins to steam, about 2 or 3 minutes. Set aside to cool to lukewarm.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the lukewarm milk, pastry flour, and yeast. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to triple in size, about 2 hours.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the eggs, all-purpose flour, sugar, salt, lemon zest, cinnamon, and vanilla. Mix for 1 minute. Add the milk-flour-yeast mixture and beat on a slow speed for several minutes. Add the room temperature butter and continue mixing at a slow speed for 6 to 8 minutes. It will look at first like the butter doesn’t want to incorporate but after several minutes the dough will become cohesive.
- Add the dried fruit and almonds and knead to distribute them evenly throughout the dough.
- Place dough into a well-greased mixing bowl and loosely cover with saran wrap. Let dough rise for 45 minutes in a warm room. (It will look basically the same after 45 minutes—this is fine.)
- Divide dough into three pieces and form each piece into a ball. Let rest on the counter for 15 minutes while you make the filling.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine almond paste, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, bread crumbs, butter, and almond extract. Use your hands to break up almond paste and mix with the remaining ingredients to form a cohesive mass.
- Divide the filling into three pieces and roll each piece into a log 6 inches long by 3/4 of an inch in diameter. If the filling is too sticky to work with, dust your hands and the counter with powdered sugar.
- Lightly dust your counter with flour. Roll or pat each ball of dough into a 7- x 8-inch oval. Going crosswise, press a rolling pin into the center of the oval to create a depression for the filling. Place a log of filling in the depression and fold dough over the log. Use the heel of your hand to seal the filling into the dough. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. (See photographs below recipe for an illustration of this process.)
- Set stollen on a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet. Cover them lightly with saran wrap and let rise for 45 minutes. Again, they will look pretty much the same after 45 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until stollen are very lightly browned. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the dough (not into the filling) should read 195 degrees and the stollen should be firm to touch. Remove from the oven and carefully lift stollen off the baking sheet onto a wire rack.
- Let cool for 10 minutes, then brush the tops with 3 tablespoons melted butter and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Let them cool completely, then glaze. Wrap well in several layers of plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil, and allow to sit for several days in a cool, dry place.
- * I used dried cherries and dried apricots. You could use cranberries, strawberries, more raisins, whatever you like.
- **If you can’t find almond paste you can use marzipan. Just omit the powdered sugar.
Creating a trough for the filling.
Adding the filling.