Now that my parents are gone, I try to carry on the traditions to my own son and niece. German Stollen is very much a part of my Christmas childhood memories. I've never made my own Stollen, and it's been my Recipe Bucket List for several Christmas's past. In the meantime, I have resorted to buying German Stollen's from Trader Joe's. They're not bad, as long as you eat a slice with a cup of coffee. A few days ago, I spotted King Arthur Flour's recipe for their Easiest Stollen. Traditional Stollen is made with yeast; this version uses ricotta cheese and baking powder. I was intrigued, and grateful, to find a short-cut since December 23rd was the first-- and only-- day that I had to bake something to give as gifts.
There are two ingredients that King Arthur recommends to make this recipe-- Buttery Sweet Dough Flavor and Lemon Oil. I fell in-love with the Buttery Sweet Dough flavor, about a year ago. It smells like yellow cake batter, and it gives a special flavor to any of your baked goods. Trust me, this is one of my favorite products that I order from King Arthur Flour's website (yes, I pay for it... I'm not given this for free). The lemon oil is a great product, because it's a natural product, made from the lemon rind (unlike lemon extract). Is it required that you use these? No. The lemon oil is a shortcut from having to zest lemons, and I think it packs a great punch of lemon citrus. Of course, you need pure vanilla.
European candied mix peel, last Christmas. It was destined to become Stollen. It never happened, so I used half to make an Easter Ricotta Pie. The other half was exactly enough to make this stollen recipe-- and it was still good to go! You can use any kind of dried fruit-- cranberries, raisins... whatever you like. If I didn't have this fruit, I would have chosen golden raisins because they are very traditional.
For the dry ingredients, we need flour, salt, baking powder and salt...
For the wet ingredients, we need ricotta cheese, vanilla. Add lemon zest or use the optional lemon oil and Buttery Sweet Dough Flavor...
The dry ingredients are whisked together, and then the nuts and dried fruit is added...
Now, we need COLD butter.
My shortcut is to grate cold (or frozen) butter. It works great!
Time to make dough!
With a stand-mixer, it takes a minute or two (or, you can do this by hand).
Now, we add the wet ingredients...
...and mix until the flour is just moistened. Don't overwork it!
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead it two or three times, until it holds together.
Cut the dough in half. In my case, I cut the dough into thirds. I was going to give two away, and keep one for "us".
My own "twist" to this recipe was to add a very traditional ingredient-- Marzipan. I love it. Skip it if you don't like it...
I decided to make one Stollen without marzipan and two with (guess which one is for "us"?) Now fold the Stollen in half, leaving the top half a little short of the edge. (I have read that the shape is to symbolize the Baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes.)
These are baked at 325F for about 40 minutes. Because these are smaller (at 3 Stollen), I set my timer for 25 minutes. They are perfect and smell really great! To me, they seemed more like a large cookie..but I carried on with the next few steps:
Remove the stollen from the oven, and transfer to a rack. Brush them each with 2 to 3 tablespoons melted butter. Sprinkle heavily with confectioners’ sugar.
Allow the stollen to cool, then brush with butter again, and sprinkle with sugar again. I know this appears to be a bit excessive, but trust me-- it's how the German's roll (said with affection).
Now, for the moment of truth...
VERDICT: This recipe gets the O-M-G rating from me! The stollen reminds me of Biscotti, without the crunch of a second bake. The outside texture is a little crunchy, which isn't how must authentic stollens are. However, the inside is moist and has just the right amount of density to it. The flavor... (rolls eyes). I think the Buttery Sweet Dough flavor is something you have to experience. The flavor tastes like vanilla, lemon and butter. The fruit is just the right amount. The powdered sugar coating give just the right amount of balance. I'm beginning to have my first pangs of
One Stollen was devoured by my husband and son. They loved it! I set one Stollen on the table, unsliced. Is this a subliminal message "look, but don't eat"?
The next day, I unwrapped the third Stollen, and gave it a fresh dusting of powdered sugar.
VERDICT #2: I think these taste better after a day...or two. The spirit of giving is alive and well! OK, so I didn't give these away. I shared them. This is a new Christmas tradition for me to make, only I'll quadruple how much I make. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I like this recipe better than the yeast type of bread. Seriously. I don't think I'll wait an entire year to make this again. A slice, or two, of this with a hot cup of coffee brings back memories of watching my Mutti dunk hers with glee.