Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Stollen Wreath ”Christstollen”

It is that time of the month again, here is the next Daring Bakers challenge.

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.

Stollen a very traditional German Christmas is a bread-like fruitcake made with yeast, water and flour, and usually with zest added to the dough. Candied orange peel and candied citrus is often also added.  Over the centuries, the cake changed from being a simple, fairly tasteless “bread” to a sweeter cake with richer ingredients. The Advent season was a time of fasting, and bakers were not allowed to use butter, only oil, and the cake was tasteless and hard.

When i heard about this month challenge i had low expectations, i am not a fan of any kind of Christmas fruitcake, bad memories.  But this was nothing like that.  It was moist and delicious.  I loved it.  I did not use the cherries and instead used cranberries which i think was a good call.  I think this is definitely something i will make again.

Stollen Wreath ”Christstollen”

Yields: Makes one large wreath or two traditional shaped Stollen loaves. Serves 10-12 people
Prep: 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,
Bake: 30-45 minutes  baking

¼ cup lukewarm water (110º F)
2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast or 1 oz of fresh yeast.
1 cup milk
10 tbsp unsalted butter
5½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
¾ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon extract
1 tsp orange extract
¼ tsp almond extract
¾ cup mixed peel
1 cup firmly packed raisins
3 tbsp rum
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 cup flaked almonds
Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath
Confectioners’ 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.

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.

To make the dough. Pour ¼ cup 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 milk and 10 tbsp 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) (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, cranberries and almonds and mix with your hands or on low speed to incorporate.

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. Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F with the oven rack on the middle shelf.  Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches and ¼ inch thick.

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

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

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

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 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.  The stollen tastes even better in a couple of days and it toasts superbly.

Other Similar Recipes:

Brioche Cinnabun
Saffron Buns “Lussekatter”
Popovers with Cinnamon Butter
Swedish Cinnamon Buns

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6 Responses to “Stollen Wreath ”Christstollen””

  1. 1

    Trix — December 28, 2010 @ 6:40 am

    I’m not a fan of fruitcake either but I can see from the inside that this is much lighter and fluffier, thanks I am sure to the yeast.

  2. 2

    HollyL — December 28, 2010 @ 8:48 am

    Mmmm This looks delicious! 🙂 Loving your site!!

  3. 3

    Splendid Willow — December 28, 2010 @ 11:29 am

    Looks like it came from that elegant bakery downtown! You are so talented Ms. Ewa!

    Enjoy your last few days of 2010!

    A warm hug to you,


  4. 4

    Nicolette — December 28, 2010 @ 10:33 pm

    This looks gorgeous and yummy! Perfect for hot cider on a cold day. Well done!

  5. 5

    Tracy — December 29, 2010 @ 9:46 am

    Lovely stollen! I love the wreath shape too!

  6. 6

    rosa — January 2, 2011 @ 1:45 am

    A beautiful wreath! Your stollen looks so moist and delicious.

    Happy New Year!



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