Christmas Stollen

by Tom & Tam Theisel, 31 Oct 2017
  • 12 servings
  • Prep time 4 hrs
  • Cook time 35 mins

A giant Stollen covered in mounds of white icing sugar has become a quintessential part of our Christmas, with the heady smell of spices baking in the oven and the tantalising wait for the Stollen to mature into the moist delicious treat.

Over the years we have perfected our own Stollen recipe, as other recipes seem either too cakey or bready in composition and never seem to have the right proportion of fruits and spice. So we thought we'd share our masterpiece, it does take time and effort, but it is worth the wait!

Stollen slice

Ingredients

Fruit Mix

  • 75g sultanas
  • 50g raisins
  • 25g glacé cherries, chopped
  • 25g mixed peel
  • 50g flaked almonds
  • 5tbsp vanilla spiced rum

Mixed Spice Blend

  • 15 cloves
  • 5 green cardamom pods
  • 1.5cm cinnamon stick
  • 15 all spice
  • Nutmeg 1/3 freshly grated
  • 1/2tsp dried ground ginger

Almond Paste

  • 200g ground almonds
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • Zest of 1 small orange & 1tbsp of juice

Dough

  • 200g strong white bread flour
  • 150g plain white flour
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1tbsp mixed spice
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 7g fast action dried yeast
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 1 small egg whisked
  • Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
  • Zest of 1 small orange
  • 120-150ml warm milk

Decoration

  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 30g icing sugar

Method

  1. Fruit glorious fruit

    Weigh out the fruit and add the rum, mix it up and cover. Ideally this needs to be done 4 hours in advance, if possible, overnight would be better. Giving the mix a stir a few times helps all the fruit soak evenly.

    Through experimentation we have concluded spiced rum works really well, as it adds a background richness to the fruit, but brandy and sweet sherry also work.

    When the soaking time is up and you are ready to make the dough, strain the fruit over a bowl to remove the excess rum. Don't squeeze the fruit, just let it naturally drip as you weigh out other ingredients and make the dough.

    Stollen fruit mixture
    Stollen fruit mixture
  2. Almond Paste

    For our Stollen we like to have a core of almond paste through the centre, it keeps the bake moist for days and adds richness that Christmas can handle. You can make the almond paste in advance and freeze it.

    It is really simple, just put all the ingredients into a bowl and thoroughly mix together, you don't need to be delicate. The mix should be firm and mouldable, if it cannot hold itself in a ball just add some more icing sugar.

    Once ready weigh out 200g for the Stollen, the remaining mixture can be used for almond croissant. Place each portion into a freezer bag and refrigerate or freeze until needed. If frozen, it will need overnight to defrost.

    Tip

    Left over almond paste can be baked in little puff pastry parcels to create a cheats version of an almond croissant.

  3. Spice and all things nice

    We like to grind our own spices as it gives better flavour and lasting aroma, most of the spices are standard Christmas fair so they can be used throughout the season for mulled drinks, baking and things like yummy spiced red cabbage. But preground is fine, Christmas should be fun times!

    It may feel like a lot of spice, but for us a Stollen needs a heady aroma!

    Stollen spices
    Stollen spices
  4. Making the dough

    Place the strong & plain flour, salt, spice mix and caster sugar into a bowl and add the butter, rub together to form a bread crumb texture. Stir the yeast into the bread crumb mix, then add the warm milk, whisked egg, orange zest and vanilla seeds. Mix together and knead for 10 minutes. We don't have a mixer, so it's a bit of a workout but essential to ensure a good rise and bake.

    Place the kneaded dough into a bowl, cover with cling film and place in a warm draft free place for 45 minutes or so until doubled in size.

  5. Add the fruit mixture

    Once the dough has doubled in size you need to add the fruit mix which has been draining. Spread the dough out into a large rough rectangle and place the fruit in the middle, fold in the sides of the dough and start to knead the mixture. What you are aiming for is to evenly distribute the fruit mix, which gets messy and sticky. Resist adding more flour, a moist dough rises better and ends up with a moist bake.

    Once the majority of the fruit is incorporated, place the dough between 2 sheets of baking parchment and roll the dough into a rectangle roughly 30x20 centimeters. Try to get an even thickness, but it doesn't need to be perfect. Remove the top piece of parchment paper.

    Mould the almond paste into a long sausage that is a little shorter than the length of the dough. Place it about a third in from the edge. The location is important for the overall shape. Fold the shortest side over the almond paste, using the bottom parchment sheet to help you, and then fold back the other side over that. What you are aiming for is a proud edge overlap that is off centre. We pinch the dough together along the join to make sure it doesn't separate during cooking, but you still want to maintain a proud edge.

    Leave to rise for 45 minutes in a warm draft free place (we use the airing cupboard). To prevent a crust forming, wipe vegetable or sunflower oil over some cling film and place the cling film oil side down on the Stollen. The oil stops the dough sticking.

  6. Baking and Decorating

    Remove the cling film and place into a preheated oven at 180C, leave to bake for 35-40 minutes until deep golden brown.

    Due to the moist fruit and heavy almond paste centre a large Stollen like this takes time to bake, which along with all the sugar means it looks quite dark when it is ready. But be brave, under baked Stollen is horrid and really disappointing after all the work.

    When the Stollen comes out of the oven knock off all the puffed up burnt sultanas and raisins from the outside, they can be very bitter. Use oven gloves or a wooden spoon to do this as the fruit can be very hot and steamy.

    Melt the butter and brush all over the top and sides of the Stollen. Keep going back over the areas to ensure every nook and cranny is soaked. It is a large amount of butter, but it helps keep the Stollen moist and aids flavour; just don't think about the calories!

    Straight away whilst the butter is still shiny use a small sieve to dust icing sugar all over the top and sides of the Stollen. Having someone assist you tilt the Stollen helps, if on your own you'll need to juggle things a bit. If you see the butter soak through the icing sugar, cover with more icing sugar.

    After creating your own little snow storm you'll have the perfect craggy mountain scene that our Stollen is meant to represent.

    Now just leave to cool on a wire rack.

    Glazing the Stollen with butter
    Glazing the Stollen with butter
  7. When to tuck in

    The Stollen can be eaten as soon as it is cool enough to touch, but it is best left to get completely cold as the flavours mature over time. When cold, wrap in baking parchment and foil to keep it fresh for longer. We like to give it at least 12 hours to mature, then tuck in and enjoy your creation!

    Tip

    Any left overs make a great addition to stuffing in place of bread crumbs, just cut into small pieces for an extra special Christmas finish.

    Stollen baked & decorated
    Stollen baked & decorated