In the back of the pantry at the house I grew up in in Memphis, there was always a stack of little plastic tubs of dried candied “fruits” of various colors (I say “colors” because the flavor was invariably “sugar”). My mother was never much of a baker, except at Christmas, when the baking would take two forms: fruitcake and stollen, both of which were filled with candied fruit. I’d try Mom’s fruitcake, the main ingredient of which seemed to be brandy, about once every five years to see if I was finally old enough to enjoy it. I never quite made it.
Stollen, on the other hand, was the main course of most breakfasts around Christmas. This was a bit odd in Memphis, doubly so because we didn’t have any particularly German ancestors; Mom just saw the recipe in a magazine sometime in the late 70s or early 80s and decided to make a tradition out of it. So I was thrilled when I moved to Switzerland and found out you could buy stollen in the grocery store at Christmastime. Almost as thrilled as I was disappointed when I found out that “real” Stollen is basically a marzipan delivery system.
So this year I decided to try my hand at tweaking the basic recipe for stollen to see if I could come up with something that tasted like Christmas back home. Starting from a BBC recipe and editing mainly by omission, this is what I came up with:
- 500g finely ground white flour (in Switzerland: “Zopfmehl”)
- 100g caster sugar (“Feinster Zucker”)
- 10g salt
- 14g dry yeast
- 150g butter
- 250mL milk
- ground cloves (“a pinch”)
- nutmeg (offically “a pinch”, but as Mom generally used as much nutmeg as she could get away with before people started hallucinating, “more than a pinch”. I used a 3:1 ratio to the cloves.)
- seeds from 1⁄2 pod vanilla
- 50g thinly sliced almonds
- 100g candied lemon peel
- 100g candied fruit
- 150g raisins (of which 75g dark and 75g light)
- Powdered sugar
- Thinly sliced almonds
Mix all filling ingredients together in a bowl, let stand.
Mix 1tsp sugar, 50mL warm milk, and yeast, let rest a few minutes. Combine flour and sugar in bowl. Add salt to one side of bowl and yeast to other side. Add softened butter and milk, stir together. Knead dough ca. 7 min. on a floured surface.
Fold mixed filling into dough and knead to thoroughly mix filling into dough. Form two balls, let stand ca. 1 hour until risen to double size. Form each ball into a long loaf, bake in non-preheated oven 190°C ca. 1 hour.
Mix powered sugar with a few drops of water at a time to make a thick glaze. Brush this glaze over each loaf before it cools, and press sliced almonds into the glaze. Let dry and cool.
Slice ca. 1cm thick, butter, and broil slices until light brown.