Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Stollen with Almond Filling

If I was trapped on a dessert island and I could only take three foods with me, I am pretty sure 2/3 of those foods would be marzipan and bread.
So, as you can imagine, when I discovered that there was a magical pastry that combined these two coveted ingredients I fell in love. Never has a pastry been so balanced with fruity, spicy, savory and sweet.

While I have eaten this tasty dessert for years, this was my first attempt at actually baking it. I must admit that despite my schooling and what little experience I do have, I am still super intimidated at making breads but with a whole lotta patience, this recipe will turn out perfect every time. As far as what fruits to add to your stollen, I prefer to use orange juice/zest as opposed to lemon because it's not as harsh of a flavor, I also think that orange goes better with the flavor of almond. You could buy the packaged dry candied fruit but I found this combo to be quite amazing.

Christmas Stollen with Almond Filling

makes 2 loaves

For the Fruit:
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup diced candied orange peel (I candied my own, you can learn how HERE)
1 cup raisins
3 TBS cherry Kirsch
2 TBS orange juice

For the Sponge:
1 scant TBS or 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (about 110 degrees F)
2/3 cup milk
1 tsp honey
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

For the Dough:
1/3 cup honey
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped almonds, toasted (optional)
3 to 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Oil, for coating bowl

For the Filling:
12.5 oz can of almond filling OR 12oz of marzipan

Recipe adapted from Food Network

1.Prepare Fruit: Combine the fruit, orange juice, and booze. Cover and set aside. Shake or stir the mixture every so often to coat the fruit with the kirsch.

2.Prepare Sponge: In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast in the water to soften. Heat the milk to 110 degrees F and add it to the yeast along with the honey and 1 cup flour. Cover the sponge with plastic wrap and let rise until light and full of bubbles, about 30 minutes.

3. In a bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, add the fruit mixture, honey, egg, butter, zest, salt, nutmeg, almonds, and 2 cups of the flour to the sponge. Beat the mixture on medium low speed for 2 minutes. Gradually add the remaining flour 1/4 cup at a time until the dough begins to pull away from the side of the bowl. Change to the dough hook. Continue to add flour 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough just begins to clean the bowl. Knead 4 to 5 minutes on medium-low.

First rise: Put the dough in an oiled bowl and turn to coat the entire ball of dough with oil. Cover with a tightly woven towel and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour (mine took around 3).

Shape and Fill: Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface. For 1 large loaf, roll the dough into a 9 by 13-inch oval. For 2 loaves, divided the dough in half and roll each half into a 7 by 9-inch oval. Brush the melted butter over the top of the oval(s). Using a piping bag, pipe a line of marzipan OR almond filling down the center (lengthwise) of the oval(s). Fold the dough in half lengthwise and carefully lift the bread(s) onto a parchment-lined or well-greased baking sheet. Press lightly on the folded side to help the loaf keep its shape during rising and baking.

Second rise: Cover with a tightly woven towel and let rise for 45 minutes.

Preheat oven: About 10 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Bake and cool: Bake for 25 minutes until the internal temperature of the bread reaches 190 degrees F. Immediately remove from the baking sheet and place on a rack to cool. To serve: Sprinkle heavily with confectioners' sugar just before serving.

I hope everyone out there has a wonderful (and delicious) Christmas tomorrow!

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