The last couple of years I have moved a little away from the centrality of a standard Christmas cake and given priority to making a Stollen.
The recipe I use is an amalgamation of one in a book and one I found on the internet.
The one in the book had no marzipan which is why I looked on the internet and it also included pepper as one of the spices. I am prepared to believe that pepper in sweet things is great but I wasn’t going to take the risk.
The one on the internet had marzipan but no rum and apart from the pepper I inclined more to the spice mix of the first.
So my hybrid recipe was born.
(I am sorry but with being so busy preparing for Christmas, I have just given the quantities in British imperial measurements.)
You start by taking:
- 14oz raisins
- 7oz currants
- 9oz chopped mixed peel
- 4oz chopped almonds
Add the zest (but not the juice) of 2 lemons
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 6 tblsps dark rum
You mix all the above in a big bowl and leave for two hours for the flavours to mingle.
Using real vanilla essence, not flavouring, and starting with whole spices gives a better flavour.
Then you measure out
- 2lb 4oz strong white flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 12 tsps quick yeast
- 7oz caster suger
and mix together.
You need to use this much yeast because otherwise it will take forever to double in size.
You also take
Melt the butter, then add the milk and heat till it is tepid.
Then you mix the butter and milk into the flour mixture and knead for 10 to 15 minutes until the dough is springy.
It is a soft dough with a slightly greasy feel that is easy to knead, though I do start it off in the bowl until all is combined.
Spread out the dough and add the fruit mixture
and knead to incorporate all the fruit into the dough. The recipe in the book doesn’t add the fruit until after the dough has had it’s first rise but I prefer to do it this way, like the other recipe.
Cover with a tea towel or cling film and put in a warm place till it doubles in size. For me this takes at least a couple of hours.
The recipe in the book is for about half the above quantities and the other recipe says that it will make two or three stollens. Since the tradition is apparently to make two and give one away, this seemed a good quantity and not too much to knead. However the two or three stollens are actually very large so this year I am going to make the mixture into four stollens and keep one and give three away to family and friend.
When the dough has doubled in size you knock it back, divide into the number of stollens you want to make (this recipe will make at least two), knead lightly and roll out to a circle about 1 inch thick.
You then incorporate a roll of marzipan.
Since marzipan is easy to make I made my own.
The recipe says
You place the marzipan in the centre of a circle of dough
fold over one side and then the other, making the typical stollen crease.
Here are two of the four stollens ready for their second rise.
I am sure that you would be much better than me at the shaping but people seem to think they taste good.
Since the dried fruit on the outside tends to burn, this year I picked off the loose bits and ate them. 🙂
You then put them back in your warm place and leave for another hour or two, till they have again doubled in size.
The most difficult part is knowing how long to cook them and the best temperature, as I have a fan oven.
My latest method is to pre-heat the oven to 170-180 deg C, cover with a piece of foil to help prevent the fruit burning and then look at them after 40 – 45 minutes depending on size. If you make four it appears 30 mins would be better to start checking. One of the recipies says to insert a skewer and they are done if it comes out cleanly.
While they are still hot from the oven brush them with melted butter and dust generously with icing sugar.
And here are two of them after cooking. (They had 40 minutes and even with the foil got very brown. I also haven’t worked out how to stop them splitting in the middle.
They are best made a week before Christmas, to let the flavour develop, and keep for another week or so.
* * * * *
This week I have also made 3lb of mincemeat using Delia’s recipe but less sugar and some cranberry sauce using an amalgamation of my own.
I like to make my own mincemeat as I find it less acidic than the shop variety and the homemade cranberry sauce has more flavour. Both are so easy to make; I wish I had started making them years ago instead of only the last couple.
No fancy jars, just for the store cupboard.