Thursday, December 16, 2010

Test Kitchen Thursday - Stollen

As promised here is my Christmas Stollen recipe.
Sorry - it's been a busy week around here (leaving for NYC tomorrow)!  Technically it is still Thursday (although not for much longer).

Andrea's Christmas Stollen

1 C mixed candied fruit
1 C dried cranberries (or craisins)
3 T dark rum

1 pkg active dry yeast
1/4 C warm water (about 110 degrees)
2/3 C milk
1 t honey
1 C unbleached all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur)

1/3 C honey
1 large egg, beaten
1 t pure vanilla extract
1 t pure almond extract
1/4 t Fiori Di Sicilia (optional - available from King Arthur flour, if you use this reduce vanilla to 1/2 t)
1/2 C unsalted butter, softened
1/2 T finely grated lemon zest
1/2 T finely grated orange zest
1 t salt
1/2 t ground mace (if you can't find mace you can substitute nutmeg)
1/2 C slivered almonds, toasted
3 - 4 C unbleached all-purpose flour

2 T unsalted butter, melted
2 t ground cinnamon
3 T granulated sugar

2 T butter, softened
1/2 C powdered sugar
Red and Green candied cherries for garnish (optional)

Prepare the fruit:  Combine the mixed fruit, raisins, and rum.  Cover, shake and set aside.  Shake or stir the mixture every so often to coat the fruit with the rum.  I sometimes do this the night before and let it soak all night.

Make sure you have a container with a good sealing lid - especially if you let the little ones help shake!

I toast the almonds right away too and then let them sit.  Don't skip the toasting step for nuts.

Prepare the sponge.  In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast in the water to soften.  Heat the milk to 110 degrees F and add it to the yeast along with the honey and 1 C flour.  Cover the sponge with plastic wrap and let rise until light and full of bubbles (about 30 minutes).

I like to make sure my liquid temperatures are just right.  To avoid guessing I stick a thermometer in to check.

Clark likes adding ingredients.

Here's what the sponge looks like right away:

And the after (when it's ready):

Meanwhile prep the rest of the ingredients:

And have them all ready to go when the sponge is ready:

 If you have followed my bread recipes you know I like to use my bread machine whenever possible - here are directions for machine:

Scrape sponge into bowl (you could just make the sponge in the bowl of the machine).  Add the fruit mixture (don't add this at the add in timer - it won't be able to handle the liquid amount that late in the mixing - trust me on this) - treat fruit mixture as a liquid.  Add honey, egg, butter, zests, salt, mace, almonds and 3 cups of the flour.  Allow machine to do it's thing - after about 7 minutes add additional flour as needed.

As requested by my sister - the mixer method:  In the mixer bowl, add the fruit mixture to sponge, honey, egg, butter, zests, salt, mace, almonds and 2 cups of the flour to the sponge.  Using the paddle, beat the mixture on medium low speed for 2 minutes.  Gradually add the remaining flour 1/3 cup at a time until the dough begins to pull away from the side of the bowl.  Knead 4 to 5 minutes on medium-low.  First rise: Put the dough in an oiled bowl and turn to coat the entire ball of dough with oil.  Cover with a tightly woven towel and let rise until doubled - about 1 hour.  Don't worry if it's not completely doubled - this is a heavy bread; however, it should pass the poke test (poke finger in if finger mark stays it's ready).

Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface.  Makes two loaves.  Divide the dough in half and roll each half into a 7 x 9 inch oval.  Brush the melted butter over th top of the ovals.

Combine the cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle over one lengthwise half of the ovals.  Fold the dough in half lengthwise and carefully lift the breads onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  

Press lightly on the folded side to help the loaf keep its shape during rising and baking.  Cover with a tightly woven towel and let rise for 45 minutes.  One thing I use to help bread rise when my kitchen isn't very warm is a seedling warming mat (found at most nursery/garden centers).  Set pans/bowls on top and it's just the right amount of heat.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Bake for 25 minutes or until the internal temperature of the bread reaches 190 degrees F.  I really believe in the temperature method to check bread for doneness.  Since the stollen top will be covered later I don't mind the probe in the top.

Immediately remove from the baking sheet and place on a rack to cool.  Brush loaves with softened butter).

Sprinkle heavily with powdered sugar once loaves are cool.  You can also decorate with left over candied fruit.

At our house we eat one once it is cool.  The second is still covered in powder sugar and wrapped tightly in aluminum foil.  This second loaf is stored in a cool, dark place to wait for Christmas.  Traditionally, stollen is made 2 - 6 weeks in advance.  Trust me - letting it sit even for a few days will help add to the flavor.  We eat the stollen on Christmas Eve and have cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning.

No comments: