When I first started baking bread a few years ago one of the recipes I copied into my own recipe book was for a very simple German Christmas bread: stollen. I have since made a few different versions of stollen – sourdough stollen, stollen with elaborately spiced fruit mix that marinates in alcohol for weeks, wholegrain stollen – but this year returned to that first easy to make recipe.
Stollen, for me, is one of those recipes that does not benefit from being messed around too much. If you use a reasonable quality of dried fruit, decent bread flour, and good marzipan then I feel there is no need to play around with the additional and time consuming changes to the basic recipe. This goes completely against my normal stance on bread making, but, when it’s Christmas and there are hundreds of other things to get on with, there’s nothing wrong with keeping it simple.
Simple Stollen Recipe Makes one large stollen
- 1 tsp ground mixed spice
- 1 tbsp cointreau or brandy
- 175g mixed dried fruit
- zest of 1 lemon
- 350g strong white bread flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp instant yeast
- 40g butter, diced
- 55g blanched almonds, chopped
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 125ml warm milk
- 175g marzipan
- icing sugar and cinnamon, to dust
- The night before, combine the fruit, lemon zest and liqueur in a bowl. Cover and leave at room temperature.
- The day of making the stollen, sift flour, salt and mixed spice into a large bowl. Rub in the butter, and stir in the sugar, yeast and almonds.
- Combine the egg and milk, make a well in the centre of the flour, and add the mixture. Mix to make a soft dough.
- Tip onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes.
- Shape into a ball and rest in a lightly oiled bowl, covered, for 90 minutes to 2 hours, until the dough has risen to about 1 and a half its original size and is springy.
- On a lightly floured surface, flatten the dough ball and shape into a 20x10cm rectangle, about 2.5cm thick. Roll the marzipan into a sausage and place down the centre of the dough.
- Roll the dough up, enclosing the marzipan. Press the seams together and shape into a loaf. Place, seam side down, onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Cover with clingfilm.
- Proof at room temperature for 60-90 minutes, until the dough has again risen to 1 and a half times its original size. Preheat oven to 180C.
- Bake on the middle shelf for 40 minutes, turning after 20. The bread is finished when it is golden brown.
- Cool on a wire rack, then dust with icing sugar and cinnamon.
This bread is delicious on its own, as a snack, or a dessert. Like all enriched breads (breads with eggs, sugar, and other ingredients) it does not keep for very long, so it should be eaten as soon as possible. Whilst making it you may notice that it does not rise as much as other doughs might. This is because the amount of sugar (and alcohol, to some extent) in the dough inhibits the yeast. It will not adversely affect the final bread.