Stollen is a fruit cake containing candied fruit, nuts and marzipan, usually dusted with icing sugar. It originally comes from Germany and is traditionally eaten at Christmas time, so I thought it would be a nice bake for several reasons. Firstly, it's a traditional festive Christmas bake; secondly, it begins with S, which is this month's letter for Alphabakes, and thirdly it's meant to keep for a few weeks and I thought it would make a good edible gift for my grandparents as they could eat it after Christmas and not need to use it up right away when there is so much other food around.
I found a recipe on the Telegraph website and though there are a lot of ingredients, it's quite simple to make, and the smell is delicious. I did adapt the recipe so this is what I used:
100g candied mixed peel
50g flaked almonds
250g raisins or sultanas
about 300ml pear cider
half a sachet of dried yeast
150g butter, softened
pinch of salt
1 vanilla pod
grated rind of 1 lemon
icing sugar to dust
First wash the sultanas in hot water and drain. I have no idea why you do this - I can't imagine it's to make them swell up as you go on to soak them overnight. Can anyone explain?
Combine the sultanas in a bowl with the mixed peel and nuts.
The recipe I used then says "cover with rum and leave overnight". However, in the ingredients list, it says you need 1 tbsp rum... which I didn't see until later and found very confusing. Are you meant to sprinkle 1 tbsp of rum over the top, or completely cover the fruit and nuts in rum, in which case I reckon you'd need about two cups? Again, if anyone knows....
I only discovered at the last minute that I didn't have any rum, which shouldn't have been a surprise as I don't drink the stuff, but I had thought I might have a bottle knocking around at the back of the cupboard but it turned out to be gin. I didn't think gin-soaked fruit would quite work for a stollen, so instead I used the best part of a 500ml bottle of pear cider. I think that's suitably festive!
The next day, heat the milk until it is lukewarm and mix with the yeast. The recipe says to add "enough flour to create a mud-like starter culture". Being a bit more specific would have helped as I had no idea how much flour to use, I think I used about 80g in the end. I'm not even sure what texture mud is meant to be - having just been to Yellowstone, and seen a lot of mud pools I can verify that it's all different! You do need to keep track of how much flour you use though as this comes out of the 250g allowance - the recipe didn't spell that out which tripped me up later!
Anyway when you have your starter culture of whatever consistency you want it to be, cover with a damp cloth and leave to rise in a warm place for about 20 mins. The volume is supposed to triple.
Next you need room temperature butter. Unfortunately my heating wasn't working that day and my house was freezing so the butter was just as hard as it was in the fridge, so I used the microwave to soften it. (You'll be pleased to hear a nice man called Frank came round and sorted my heating out so I'm nice and warm again).
Cream the butter, marzipan, sugar, salt, lemon rind, vanilla and cardamom.
Add the proven starter and remaining flour. This is the point where I realised I hadn't measured how much flour I'd used for the starter culture, forgetting it was meant to come out of the 250g, so I estimated how much I thought I'd used.
Knead the dough until it binds. The recipe says to do this on an unfloured surface but I found I could do it just fine in my mixing bowl.
Pour the fruit and rum/cider/ whatever liquid you used over the top, and work in with your hands until it is evenly mixed.
Cover with a damp cloth, put in a warm place - I had to use my oven on its lowest temperature as my house was still cold at this point - and let it rise for about 90 mins. At this point I also wondered again how much rum/liquid I was supposed to have used, as the mixture looked very wet.
The recipe I used tells you to form the mixture into a loaf - it doesn't even mention using a tin, and mine was definitely far too wet for that. In any case I'd already decided I wanted to make a bundt - since this is a German cake, and a bundt is also a German invention, and I had a silicon bundt tin I'd bought in Germany and hadn't used yet. In fact this was my first bundt!
I cooked it at about 160C for about an hour - I think I gave it a little longer as the mixture was so wet, though towards the end the raisins started to slightly take on a burnt appearance even though I had covered the tin with greaseproof paper. After leaving the stollen to cool in the tin it did firm up a lot though.
It turned out neatly, albeit slightly overdone, and I dusted the top with icing sugar.
I'm going to take this to my grandparents when I visit them this weekend. Apparently the stollen is best left for two weeks before it is eaten so maybe I should have made it last week, but I didn't know that and it's a bit late now! But people always have so much food at Christmas, hopefully they will appreciate something that will keep a bit longer and not need to be eaten right away.
I'm sending this Stollen to Alphabakes, hosted this month by my co-host Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker, as the letter we are baking with in December is S.
Calendar cakes, hosted by Rachel of Dolly Bakes and Laura of Laura Loves Cakes, has Christmas as its theme this month and a Stollen is definitely a festive bake so I am sending this their way as well.
Baking with Spirit, a blog challenge hosted by Janine at Cake of the Week, is inviting bakes using any type of alcohol this month, and since there is cider in my Stollen, I'm sending this in!
And finally I came across a blog challenge on Nivedhanam's site and cohosted by My Cook Book, looking for vegetarian treats and eggless bakes. There are no eggs in stollen and it uses ingredients that are suitable for vegetarians so I am sending my Stollen to the challenge.