Christmas Stollen

The Christmas baking has begun.   Just a little here and there.  Enough to make the house feel cozy, and get all 7 Clawson's in the Christmas spirit.  It started out with cookies, but I decided to try my hand at a traditional German Christmas bread.  A few years ago I bought a loaf of Stollen from a van on the corner of Main St.  A bakery from a town far away would send a van every Sat. to all the larger cities and peddle their bread.  Being a bakery owners wife I scout out all the competition:)  It's my job.  I taste test most of the baked goods in our little valley on a regular basis.

The bread being sold out of the van was more of a European hard crusted variety.  Lots of long baguettes, and free formed loaves.  They were beautiful, but the one I decided to purchase was a German Stollen.  If you're interested in the history of Stollen click here.  Needless to say, it cost about $7 or $8 for a smaller loaf, but it was tasty.  A yeasted bread loaded with all sorts of fruit and topped with tons of powdered sugar.  It's pretty, and festive, and I love all that fruit in a toasted slice of bread.

So this year I decided to try making it.  After doing a search I found that sometimes the loaves are made with a surprise of Marzipan inside.  That's what I wanted!  I love that stuff.  It's just ground up almonds and sugar that is made into a paste.  I decided to use my favorite bread recipe since it's easy, and it has never failed me, and I used the fruit and nuts that I wanted.  Lots of raisins, cranberries, dried blueberries, chopped almonds, lemon and orange zest and peel.  The marzipan center is a treat I think.  The recipe made 3 enormous loaves, so if you don't want or need to feed an army, go with the numbers in parenthesis.  That would be a little more manageable for a family and it will still give you 2 BIG loaves.  It's great the day of, or toasted a day or two later.  With all the dried fruit the bread dries out a bit quickly, but I can imagine it would make a lovely bread pudding, or some delicious French Toast Sat. morning.  Good luck!

Christmas Stollen

(numbers in parenthesis are for a 2/3 sized batch)
3 cups warm water (2)
3 tablespoons active dry yeast (2)
3 teaspoons salt (2)
4 tablespoons vegetable oil (3)
1/2 cup white sugar (1/3)
8 cups bread flour (6)

(From this point on all measurements are approx.  Add what you like and as little or as much as you want.  This is the fruit I added but there are many others.  Try dried apricots, mangos, currants, plums, golden raisins.  Try cinnamon, or nutmeg as well as some of your spices.)

1/2 c. raisins
1/2 c. craisins (dried cranberries)
1/2 c. dried blueberries
1/2 c. crystallized ginger
1/2 c. candied lemon peel (I found this in the holiday baking aisle next to those red and green fruit thingies.)
1/2 c. candied orange peel
1 t. cardamon 
1 c. chopped almonds
8 oz. almond paste or marzipan (again I found this in the baking aisle.  It's usually in tubes or a can.  I used Solo brand Pure Almond Paste.)
Now I know why they charged so much for this bread:)


I you don't have a Bosch or a 5+quart capacity Kitchenaid mixer then reduce the recipe by 1/3. (The numbers in parenthesis) and the recipe will make 2 good loaves.  

In a large bowl, combine warm water, yeast, salt, oil, sugar, and flour.   You may need up to 9 c. of flour.  It just depends on the weather, and where you live and your flour.  You want a semi soft dough since all that fruit makes it a little harder for the bread to rise.  Mix thoroughly.  After you've formed a dough add all the fruit and nuts and spices.  Not the almond paste yet though.  Mix thoroughly and knead for 2-3 minutes until smooth. Place dough in a greased bowl, and turn several times to coat. Cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rise until doubled. At least an hour, or more.
Punch down the dough, let it rest a few minutes. Divide dough into three equal parts. (or 2 parts for the smaller recipe.)  Press the dough into a large circle.  Divide your almond paste into as many pieces as you have loaves.   Roll the marzipan into a snake and place it down one half of your dough circle.  Now fold it over like a tart.  Pinch the seams and roll them under a bit.  Taper the ends of the loaf into a point if possible.  Place on a greased cookie sheet and cover with a towel and let rise again until doubled.  Approx. 1 hours.  
Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 35 to 45 minutes. The loaves may need to be covered for the last few minutes with foil to prevent excess browning.  When cooled dust with a generous sprinkling of powdered sugar.  Good Luck!!

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