The following recipe is from The Neighborhood Bakeshop cookbook, by Jill Van Cleave, William Morrow, 1997. Jill Van Cleave has written other cookbooks on cookies and icing. This book is a collection of 125 recipes from local-style bakeries around the country.

Stollen is the hallmark Christmas treat of German and Swiss Bakeries across the country. This long crescent loaf is a fragrant, rich yeast bread perfectly suited for breakfast, tea, or dessert. It's studded with blanched almonds and candied citron has a subtle touch of spice.

christmas stollen

yield: 1 large loaf

ingredients:

  • 1 cup mixed seedless dark and golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup dark rum
  • 2 Tablespoons almond paste
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, plus additional for dusting
  • 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup lukewarm milk (95 to 110 degrees)
  • 2 3/4 to 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup chopped candied citron
  • 1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds
Combine the raisins and rum in a small bowl. Cover and set aside at room temperature for at least 4 and up to 12 hours, stirring from time to time.

Combine the almond paste and 1/2 tablespoon water in another small bowl. Mix thoroughly. Add 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar; cream with the back of a spoon to a smooth paste. Using 1/4 teaspoon of the mixture for each, shape almond-sugar into nuggets and drop onto a plate lined with wax paper. Set the plate in the refrigerator, uncovered for at least 2 hours.

Prepare the sponge starter by combining the yeast, 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar, and the milk in a small mixing bowl. Stir to dissolve the yeast. Add 1/2 cup of the flour and stir until smoothly blended. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature until the sponge has bubbled up and fallen back slightly, 30 to 45 minutes.

Cream 1/2 cup of the butter and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add one whole egg and the yolk of the second, reserving the egg white. Add the salt, lemon zest, vanilla, and spices, stirring until smoothly blended. Add the sponge starter. Slowly add 1 3/4 cups more flour. Mix the candied citron and almonds. Drain and add the raisins.

Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured work surface and knead in 1/4 cup of the remaining flour. Continue to knead the soft dough gently for 5 to 7 minutes, adding more flour as necessary, until the dough feels smooth and moist but not sticky, and holds its shape when pushed. Transfer to a greased large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Return the dough to a work surface. Push or roll it out into a 15 x 9-inch oval, about 1/2 inch thick. Arrange the chilled almond nuggets in 2 rows parallel to a long side of dough, covering about a third of the surface. Beat the reserved egg white and the remaining 1 tablespoon water in a small dish. Brush the exposed two-thirds of the surface of the dough with the egg white and water wash and fold the dough over the nuggets, leaving a scant 1/2 inch border.

Transfer the loaf to a nonstick baking sheet or one that has been lined with parchment paper. Shape it into a crescent with the fold facing out. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature to rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Bake stollen for about 35 minutes, until golden brown.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Remove the pan form the oven and brush the hot stollen with the melted butter. Cool on a wire rack, then dust liberally with confectioners' sugar.

Cut the stollen into diagonal slices and serve warm. The stollen is best freshly baked; I freeze half if I don't expect the whole loaf to be consumed in a day or two.



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