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Holiday greetings and our first Daring Baker’s Challenge: Christmas Stollen!

December 25, 2010

Hi all!

It’s been a while since we posted.  December has been a hectic month filled with shopping, holiday preparations, and personal baking.  We took a hiatus from baking for customers so that we could focus on our families during this season of love and giving.

We did, however, do one thing that is new and exciting for us: we joined an on-line community called the Daring Kitchen where we partake in monthly challenges as Daring Bakers.

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book………and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

 

Our finished stollen! Not bad for a first attempt.

 

 

Upon doing a little research, we discovered that a stollen is a German cake made during the holidays which contains dried fruit and is covered with powdered sugar.  Pronounced \ˈshtō-lən\, this tradition dates back to as early as 1474 and was originally meant to represent the baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes.  (Our friend and colleague, German teacher, Brian, will be proud of us when he reads this!)

The idea of making something that required yeast to rise was intimidating at first, coupled with the fact that this sounded an awful lot like fruit cake, and you know the reputation that has….

But we are Daring Bakers, after all, so we (wo)manned up and got ‘er did!  The final product was slightly drier than we wanted it to be, but overall, it tasted great and the whole family, including the grandparents, seems to love it!  Check out the process as it unfolded below, as well as the recipe to see if you can be a daring baker too!  And be sure to stay tuned each month for the latest challenge.

 

The dry ingredients in the mixer with the candied peel, glaced cherries, and rum-soaked craisins ready to go!

After it rose in the fridge for a couple of days and proofed for two hours at room, temperature, we rolled out the dough into a 16"x24" rectangle.

Then we rolled it up tightly the long way to form a long cylinder that would be formed into the requisite wreath.

Once we formed the wreath, we used kitchen shears to cut slits 2/3s into the sides, spaced about 2" apart.

A look inside of a slice - you can see the fruit, nuts, and general yumminess. It is delicious toasted with butter, and in Christina's house, with a glass of coquito (Puerto Rican eggnog) to wash it down!

 

 

Frohe Weihnachten (Merry Christmas in German) and happy baking!

Christina & Meghan

**Note:  The recipe and pictures below are courtesy of the Daring Kitchen challenge forum and host, Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking.**

Preparation time:

The following times are approximate. I suggest you gather and scale/weigh/measure (mise en place) all your ingredients before you begin mixing.
• Approximately 1 hour first stage – then rest overnight or up to 3 days
• 2 hours to warm up after refrigeration
• 15 minutes shaping
• 2 hours proofing
• 30-45 minutes baking

Equipment required:

• Mixer with dough hook or strong arms and hands
• Mixing bowl
• Bowl to soak raisins
• Small saucepan
• Sheet of plastic or plastic wrap to cover when proofing
• Bench or pastry scraper (very handy for cutting dough and also cleaning work surface)
• Rolling pin
• Dough whisk can be handy but not necessary
• Pastry Brush
• A scale is really important to have when making bread so I strongly recommend you to get one. You do not have to have one though. (would make a good Christmas gift!)
• Sheet Pan or round Pizza pan
• Parchment Paper

Stollen Wreath

Makes one large wreath or two traditional shaped Stollen loaves. Serves 10-12 people

Ingredients

¼ cup (60ml) lukewarm water (110º F / 43º C)
2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) (22 ml) (14 grams) (1/2 oz) active dry yeast
1 cup (240 ml) milk
10 tablespoons (150 ml) (140 grams) unsalted butter (can use salted butter)
5½ cups (1320 ml) (27 ozs) (770 grams) all-purpose (plain) flour (Measure flour first – then sift- plus extra for dusting)
½ cup (120 ml) (115 gms) sugar
¾ teaspoon (3 ¾ ml) (4 ½ grams) salt (if using salted butter there is no need to alter this salt measurement)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 grams) cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (very good) vanilla extract
1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon extract or orange extract
¾ cup (180 ml) (4 ¾ ozs) (135 grams) mixed peel (link below to make your own)
1 cup (240 ml) (6 ozs) (170 gms) firmly packed raisins
3 tablespoons (45ml) rum
12 red glacé cherries (roughly chopped) for the color and the taste. (optional)
1 cup (240 ml) (3 ½ ozs) (100 grams) flaked almonds
Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath
Confectioners’ (icing) (powdered) sugar for dusting wreath

Note: If you don’t want to use alcohol, double the lemon or orange extract or you could use the juice from the zested orange.

Directions:

Soak the raisins
In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the rum (or in the orange juice from the zested orange) and set aside. See Note under raisins.

Daring Baker's  Stollen

To make the dough

Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.

In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup (240 ml) milk and 10 tablespoons (150 ml) butter over medium – low heat until butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes.

Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon and vanilla extracts.

In a large mixing bowl (4 qt) (4 liters) (or in the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment), stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests.

Then stir in (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/butter mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.

Add in the mixed peel, soaked fruit and almonds and mix with your hands or on low speed to incorporate. Here is where you can add the cherries if you would like. Be delicate with the cherries or all your dough will turn red!

Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing with the dough hook) to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed. The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 8 minutes (6 minutes by machine). The full six minutes of kneading is needed to distribute the dried fruit and other ingredients and to make the dough have a reasonable bread-dough consistency. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough – a few raisins will start to fall off the dough onto the counter because at the beginning of the kneading process the dough is very sticky and the raisins will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn’t enough to bind the outside raisins onto the dough ball.

Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Put it in the fridge overnight. The dough becomes very firm in the fridge (since the butter goes firm) but it does rise slowly… the raw dough can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week and then baked on the day you want.

Shaping the Dough and Baking the Wreath

1. Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.
2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
3. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
4. Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches (40 x 61 cms) and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick.

Daring Baker's  Stollen

Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder.

Daring Baker's  Stollen

Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan. Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle. You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape.

Daring Baker's  Stollen

This was before I pinched it together

Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough.

Daring Baker's  Stollen

Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

Daring Baker's  Stollen

Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.
Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, should register 190°F/88°C in the center of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the top with melted butter while still hot.
Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter.
Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first.
The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar.
Let cool at least an hour before serving. Coat the stollen in butter and icing sugar three times, since this many coatings helps keeps the stollen fresh – especially if you intend on sending it in the mail as Christmas presents!

When completely cool, store in a plastic bag. Or leave it out uncovered overnight to dry out slightly, German style.

Daring Baker's  Stollen Daring Baker's  Stollen
The stollen tastes even better in a couple of days and it toasts superbly…. so delicious with butter and a cup of tea….mmmmm

Storage
The more rum and the more coatings of butter and sugar you use the longer it will store.
The following is for the recipe as written and uses the 45 mls of rum and two coatings of butter and icing sugar
1. Stollen freezes beautifully about 4 months
2. The baked stollen stores well for 2 weeks covered in foil and plastic wrap on the counter at room temperature and
3. One month in the refrigerator well covered with foil and plastic wrap.

Daring Baker's  Stollen

Additional Information:

Here is a link to recipes to make your own candied citrus peel
http://www.harvestwizard.com/2006/12/candied_citron_recipe.html
http://video.about.com/candy/Make-Candied-Citrus-Peel.htm

http://userealbutter.com/2007/10/09/candied-orange-peels-recipe/

Kneading Bread
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWj8oHMPFm0

Martha Stewart’s wreath
http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/stollen-wreath-bread-with-mrs-kostyra

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