Recently there was an interesting studio discussion on the radio. There were a couple of experts discussion marzipan. They were talking about traditional ingredients and methods of marzipan production. It was absolutely amazing. People were calling in, asking questions or sharing their methods and tricks. They sounded so respectful towards these old methods and recipes. They were very humble when sharing their own experiences. It’s really hard to describe how fascinating this was. But it reminded me of some very important traditions we have in this town. One of them is baking stollen for Christmas. And for the last couple of days I have felt like Alice in Wonderland’s white rabbit: “Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!” I wanted to make a stollen this year but it’s only a few more days until Christmas. That is too late!
Stollen or striezel, as it is called in Dresden, is a very heavy yeast bread that usually has to be stored for quite some time before you eat it. The liquid that comes from some of the ingredients has to be distributed evenly. It also takes time for the flavours to develop properly. Of course there are many different opinions on how long to store a stollen. Some say four weeks, others say two. Some people think that the flavour won’t improve much more after a week. I think you’ll just have to wait and see how you like your stollen best. Cut off a couple of slices for Christmas and then wrap the stollen again and see if flavour and texture improve over time.
By the way, I don’t deserve to name my stollen Dresden stollen because it is missing two key ingredients: butter and candied citrus peel. The butter is pretty obvious. And the candied citrus peel? Well, I hate it. As a kid I picked it from my grandmother’s stollen every year and I am still not getting used to the weird bitter and overwhelming flavour that comes from the candied peel bits. Ah well, this is hard to describe: I don’t mind the flavour so much, it adds lots of aroma, I just hate the huge chunks of it. So I use ground and dried clementine peels instead of candied citrus. For your own stollen you can use either the ground peel or add 150 g of candied citrus peel to your dough. Whatever you like!
Oh, and one more thing: This stollen calls for bitter almonds. I know that they can be hard to find in many parts of the world. If you don’t have access, use almond extract instead. My recipe contains 5 g of bitter almonds, so maybe go with one teaspoon of natural almond extract.
Dresden stollen is famous. And it’s protected. You can only make it if you follow all the rules and add exactly the ingredients called for. One of them is butter. Lots of it. For two parts flour you use one part butter. You will also need the same amount of rum soaked raisins. After baking you brush the hot stollen with more fat. A day later you dust it with tons of powdered sugar. It is rich in calories, that is for sure. But stollen is a very special treat that is only baked in December and traditionally the loaves where supposed to last until Easter, which means you’d only eat a slice or two when you came together for a Sunday afternoon coffee table round. I would not suggest to reduce the amount of fat. I mean you can do it, but it will change your results completely. You won’t be able to store your stollen for very long and preserve the texture and taste. This is a local, very famous, and very traditional specialty that is enjoyed by people all over Germany. I really think it’s worth trying if you never have tasted it before. And if you start right now, you’ll be able to share this with your favourite people on Christmas morning!
- Soak raisins in rum one day ahead and store covered and at room temperature.
- Dillute yeast in milk and let sit for 15 minutes or until the yeast is bubbly.
- Mix with oils.
- Combine flour, sugar, bitter almonds, and spices and mix well.
- Pour yeast and oil mixture into the flour mixture.
- Drain raisins and pour on top.
- Add remaining ingredients except for the last two (melted coconut oil and powdered sugar).
- Knead well until all ingredients are incorporated.
- Let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
- Roll into a 1 cm thick rectangle.
- Fold one third of the dough over and then fold the other two thirds over, so that both sides meet. (See picture on the bottom.)
- Press down only lightly and let the dough rest covered for an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the stollen on the baking sheet and bake for 1 hour or until golden brown.
- Immediately brush with melted butter and let rest on the kitchen counter.
- The next day, dust the stollen with a generous amount of powdered sugar and wrap in aluminium foil.
- Store cool and dry (but don't place in the fridge) for at least a week before serving.
Adapted from this recipe this recipe.