Thursday, December 31, 2020

Marzipan Stollen

Every Christmas I've gotten into the habit of making a stollen. THIS was my very first attempt. As you can see, I'm not much of a bread baker and quickly lose patience when waiting for the loaf to proof. I also couldn't find marzipan in our small GA town at the time so I had to use canned almond paste instead (do not recommend). I found an authentic recipe from The Daring Gourmet and made a few adjustments of my own.

I've tasted enough stollen to know what I like. Some of the changes I made are swapping orange zest over lemon and dried cherries and dates instead of raisins. I personally think that cherries complement the almond flavor and the added sweetness of the dates pair well with the slight sourness of the cherries and citrus. Feel free to make this recipe your own and your specific preferences!

History of Stollen:

Dresden Stollen, German Christmas bread goes by many different names:  Stollen, Dresden Stollen, Strutzel, Striezel, Stutenbrot, or Christstollen.  The traditional German Christmas cake, is a colorful collection of nuts, raisins, currants, candied orange, lemon peel, plus traditional spices of Christmas such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, mace or cloves, brandy or rum and lots of butter.  Legend says that the Stollen, in its typical shape with the white layer of icing sugar, symbolized the swaddled Christ Child. Source: What's Cooking America

Marzipan Stollen

makes 2 loaves

For the dough...
1 cup lukewarm whole milk
3 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour *amount will vary as you may need to add more flour as needed if the dough is too wet.
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temperature 
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
zest of one orange
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground cardamom
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
8 ounces Marzipan/Almond Paste 

For the Fruits...
1 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup diced dates
1/4 cup candied orange peel, finely diced
Homemade Candied Citrus Peel (click here for recipe) (this is definitely worth the extra effort as it has a much better flavor than store-bought orange peel)
1/3 cup quality dark rum

For the Glaze & Dusting...
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
powdered sugar for generous dusting

1. Place the raisins, candied citrus peel and almonds in a medium bowl and pour the rum over it.  Stir to combine.  Set aside and let the fruit mixture soak in the rum while the dough rises.

2. Stir the yeast and 2 tablespoons of the sugar into the lukewarm milk and let sit in a warm place for 10-15 minutes until very frothy. Meanwhile, place the flour, remaining sugar, egg, egg yolks, butter, vanilla extract, lemon zest, salt, cardamom, mace and cinnamon in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.  Add the now frothy yeast/milk mixture.  Use a spoon to stir the mixture until it comes together.  Knead the dough on the bread setting for 7-8 minutes.  

3. Remove the dough ball, lightly spray the bowl with a little oil, return the dough ball, cover loosely with plastic wrap and place it in a warm place or lightly warmed oven (just barely warm), to rise until nearly doubled in size, at least 1 hour.  

4. Punch down the dough and add the soaked fruit/nut mixture to the dough (it should have absorbed all the rum by now but if there is excess liquid, pour it out before adding the mixture to the dough).  Using the dough hook, knead the fruit/nut mixture into the dough until combined.  If the dough is too wet to handle, add a little bit of flour until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  

5. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and cut it in two equal halves.  Press or roll each piece into an oval to about 1 inch thickness.  Roll each piece of marzipan into a log the length of the oval.  Press the marzipan gently into the middle of the dough.  Fold the left side of the dough over to cover the marzipan, then fold right side over on top of the left side so that the edge of it sits just left of the middle of the stollen.  In other words, don't fold the right side all the way over to the left edge of the stollen.  Pinch and tuck the top and bottom ends of the stollen to cover the marzipan.  Use the bottom edge of your hand to press down along the length of the stollen towards the right of the center to create a divot and characteristic hump.  Place the stollen on a lined baking sheet.  Cover the stollen loosely with plastic wrap and let them rest in a warm place or lightly warmed oven for 40-60 minutes until puffy.  At that point you can pick off any raisins that are sticking out of the dough (they will burn during baking).  

6. Towards the end of the last rise, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and bake the stollen for 30-40 minutes or until golden.  You can use an instant-read thermometer to aim for an internal temperature of 190 degrees F.  Let the Stollen sit for 5 minutes, then use a toothpick to poke holes all over the stollen (this will allow the butter to seep in), then generously brush the stollen with the melted butter while the stollen are still warm.  Immediately sprinkle with a generous amount of powdered sugar, rubbing it into the creases and down the sides.  Let the stollen cool completely.  You may want to give it another dusting of powdered sugar once cooled.

7. The stollen can be sliced and eaten now or wrapped tightly (wrap in plastic wrap then foil) and left to "ripen" in a cool place for 2 weeks. The liquid from the dried fruits will further penetrate the dough for more flavor and moisture. Stollen can also be frozen for longer storage.
Makes 2 large or 3 medium Stollen.

For eating, I like to warm the slices up for a few seconds in the microwave with a cup of hot tea.

Recipe adapted from The Daring Gourmet

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