If there is one definitive food that signals the arrival of the festive season in our house, then it has to be the German Christmas bread Stollen. This loaf that has a thick dusting of icing sugar on the outside, is meant to resemble the baby Jesus in swaddling clothing. This buttery bread enriched with dried fruit, nuts, citrus peel, and marzipan has become extremely popular, especially over the last five years.
Less heavy than the traditional English Christmas cake but still retains a hint of all those festive spices we love.
I have always baked my own as my family was not keen on the shop-bought version and I think you can dictate what ingredients that you wish to use. I love to use alcohol in mine, which is poured over the fruit. I used rum but brandy or port work well. Also alcohol help with the shelf life of this bread.
Although I am the chief stollen baker and I bake them for friends and family, well anyone that wants one, I must confess I loathe marzipan.
For other marzipan haters, you can still make the bread and it will still have that festive feeling.
This does take a while to do as it does need the proving times, but it is so worth it. Now is a great time to get baking a few loaves, as they store so well. Wrapped up correctly they will last 4-6 weeks.
The fruit does need some time to soak in the alcohol and spices ahead of time. At least 2 hours but if you are planning to bake the stollen the next day soak the fruits the night before.
- 500g white bread flour
- 100g caster sugar
- 10g quick action yeast yeast
- 10g salt
- 250 ml dairy-free milk
- 150 softened dairy-free butter
- zest of 1 lemon
- pinch of nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp mixed spice
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 200ml rum or brandy
- 50g blanched and chopped almonds
- 250g mixed dry fruit
- 220g marzipan (check it is vegan)
- 25g melted butter
In a large bowl add the fruit, almonds, spices, almond extract, lemon zest, and rum and mix together. Leave to soak for a few hours, or even better leave them to soak the night before.
In a large bowl or a bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook add the flour and the sugar. Add the yeast to one side of the bowl and the salt on the opposite side. Next add the softened butter and most of the milk, stir and add the remaining milk. Bring the mixture together to form a soft dough. Then knead on a work surface or with a dough hook for 5-7 minutes.
Place the dough on top of the soaked fruits and by hand knead them into the bread, making sure they are well incorporated throughout the dough.
Place back into the bowl and cover with clingfilm. Leave to prove in a warm place until it is doubled in size. This should take between 1 1/2 – 2 hours.
Next tip out of the bowl and knock back the dough. If making 2 small loaves then divide into 2 equal pieces.
Roll the whole dough into a rectangle or if you are making 2 loaves, divide the dough into 2 and roll out each piece into a rectangle. Brush the rolled dough with melted butter.
Then you have a choice of how you wish to use the marzipan. Either roll it up in a cylinder, as shown in the top picture. Place it on the long edge of the dough and then roll it up, making sure the seam is underneath. The other way is to roll out your marzipan roughly to the size of your rolled dough and roll both up together, like a swiss roll. Again making sure the seam is underneath.
Cover them with a damp tea towel and leave them in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours to prove again.
Heat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Place the loaf or loaves in the hot oven and bake for approximately 35-40 minutes until a light gold colour. Glaze with some melted butter and brush over the loaves. Place on a wire rack to cool, then dust liberally with icing sugar.
When the loaves are thoroughly cool, wrap loosely in waxed paper or clingfilm and keep in an airtight tin.
PS: If you make stollen, don’t forget to tag me on twitter as @veganalchemist1 or my facebook page https://www.facebook.com/thegfveganalchemist I love seeing your versions of my recipes. Or I would love to hear your comments.