For Day 1 of the 12 days of Christmas, I wanted to share something with you that my family requires I make every year during the Christmas season. In fact, I have to make several batches just to satisfy them and then a few more in order to be able to give a few loaves away. I wear my baking hat the majority of December needless to say!
Stollen (pronounced stolen, as in I stole something) has European roots. The original recipe did not call for almond paste but the filling is what takes this bread to the next level. We eat it for breakfast, we eat it as a snack, and we eat it as a dessert. I have one recommendation, heat it for a few moments in the microwave if you have it a couple of days. The center becomes so gooey and warm, the bread re-awakening to a more tender slice.
So what is it exactly?
Christmas Stollen is rich, dessert like bread with rum soaked dried fruit. It is filled with an almond filling that takes this from plan old fruit bread to simply delicious. I think that this bread is better than other "stollens" because there is potato water and mashed potato in it. It makes the bread so soft, so tender. This recipe is quite a bit more effort but it is definitely worth it. If you make it, please share on the blog with me or on facebook at the Threadgatherer's page- I would love to hear what you think or if you have questions.
1/2 C mashed potato, freshly made
1/2 C potato water, reserved from cooking potatoes
1 1/4 C scalded Milk, cooled
3 t instant yeast
7 1/4 C bread flour
1 1/4 C butter, room temperature
1 1/3 C sugar
2 t salt
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/4 t almond extract
2 1/2 C fruitcake mix from King Arthur Flour (this is NOT
the usual fruitcake mix from grocery store)
find at www.kingarthurflour.com
1/2 C Rum or Brandy
1/2 C slivered almonds or almond flour
1 pkg almond paste 8 oz
1 T beaten egg
1/2 C additional sugar
1/4 t almond extract
Combine fruitcake mix with rum or brandy and let sit for several hours. May use apple juice if you don't want to use alcohol, but the alcohol cooks out in the oven.
Sponge: Combine potato water, mashed potatoes, scalded milk, instant yeast and 2 cups flour. Combine and form a smooth dough. Let rest, covered for 2 hours.
Combine all the sponge, the sugar, and extracts. Stir in 1/2 of the softened butter. Using a dough hook attachment mix well. Combine the salt and 2 C of flour, then add to dough, mixing well. Add remaining soft butter. Add remaining flour (you may not need all of the flour). You want a soft dough that does not stick to your hands. Add fruit mix to the dough. Add either the slivered almonds or the almond flour at this time. Knead dough well and put into a greased bowl and cover with a towel and let rise for a couple hours. You can cover with greased plastic wrap and let sit overnight at this point. If you do put it in refrigerator, then allow it to come up to nearly room temperature before proceeding.
While dough is resting, combine the almond paste, 1 T of beaten egg, 1/2 C sugar, 1/4 t almond extract. Form a stiff dough consistency and divide 4 parts. Form logs and wrap in plastic wrap. Put into refrigerator until ready to form loaves.
Divide dough into 4 parts. Roll into a rectangle about 7 x 9" and place one filling log in the center. Fold over the dough lengthwise, with the top edge set back by about half an inch. Press firmly to combine the dough where folded over. Repeat with remaining 3 dough parts. Place on a parchment lined pan. Cover and let dough rise for about 45 minutes. Heat oven to 350 degrees. The Stollen won't double in size but will look somewhat 'puffy'. Bake for about 30 minutes, checking after 25 minutes. You want it to be golden brown. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes on rack. While still warm brush loaf with melted butter and dust heavily with powdered sugar. Cool completely and then re-dust lightly with powdered sugar.