Sunday, 20 December 2015

Stollen pleasures

By: Mrs Robot

Ever since I was in High School I've loved stollen. I had a German penfriend, Alice, who I got on really well with, and each year she and I would send each other boxes containing presents and food at Christmas. A stollen was always one of the things she sent. I've been trying to do more yeast cookery this year, and decided to make a stollen for once.

There are some recipes I call 'shepherd's pie recipes'. You know the sort of thing - deeply traditional, everyone knows what it tastes like, yet every recipe is different. So it is with stollen. SO MANY RECIPES. I found two I liked the look of, one by Paul Hollywood on the BBC site, and one by a German lady at Nigella's site. The German one didn't contain marzipan and Paul Hollywood made his marzipan into a swirl, so I ended up mostly following Paul Hollywood's recipe, but macerating the dried fruit in a little rum first like in the German recipe, and I kept my marzipan in a traditional log shape.

The dough didn't seem to rise as much as I'd expected at the sitting stage. I'm still getting the hang of working with yeast, and I made a batch of bau after this. I used the same yeast for both, but the stollen called for the yeast to go in with the dried ingredients, while the bau needed it to go into warm water with a bit of sugar in. Needless to say, the bau rose better, so next time I do anything with yeast I'll start it off on the liquid, and nuts to what the recipe says. The stollen did grow a satisfying amount in the oven.

The Paul Hollywood recipe said nothing about leaving the stollen to mature, but the German recipe did and - crucially - Goody mentioned resting her European-origin Christmas bakes recently. And I actually trust her more than I trust Paul Hollywood with his weird marzipan swirl. So once the whole thing was out of the oven, it got brushed with butter, dusted with icing sugar and left to cool, before being wrapped in foil and bundled off to a cool place.

I've had a couple of slices so far. And, you know, it isn't bad. Drier than I'd have liked - I didn't soak my fruit in rum for very long, but perhaps that's part of the point, to add moisture to the bake while it rests - but it's edible. I think it will be good toasted and spread with butter, which isn't traditional, but sure will be tasty...


  1. I'm flattered you trust me :)

    It looks absolutely beautiful. I've always ignored adding yeast to dry ingredients unless I'm working with instant/bread machine yeast. A lot depends on the yeast you buy. In the US, our dry granulated yeast is fine enough to get away with adding it to the dry ingredients *However* I buy a Canadian brand in a large quantity, and the size and weight of the grains are so large they would never really dissolve properly unless in warm/almost hot water. I don't know what your yeast is like (I've never been called upon to bake when in the UK) but I would agree that dissolving in water (or other liquid like milk) is the way to go. You can always compensate for the extra liquid with a bit more flour.

    All that said, your stollen is beautiful, and something to be quite proud of. Pssst-don't tell anyone I suggested it, but stale stollen makes great eggy bread, even if it is a bit gauche. Shhhh.

    1. You've grown up with a tradition of classic German/European baking, which we don't really have in the UK, so I figured you'd got a lifetime of experience in that sort of cooking.

      I am tempted to make a bread and butter pudding with it.

      Our yeast is kind of granular, about the same size as grains of sand, but spherical.