Christmas Sourdough Stollen


IMG_0621A traditional German enriched bread for generations, but made from sourdough?  Why not!  Stollen‘s been around for hundreds of years, long before the advent f commercial baking yeast, so I’m just taking this back to it’s roots.  Needless to say, taking the sourdough route takes longer,  so if you could always resort to commercial yeast by replacing the preferment with 250g flour, 300ml milk, 1 tsp sugar and a generous pinch of yeast, then add about 10g yeast to the flour in the dough mix.

This is a terrific fruit bread – there’s plenty of debate around whether spices should be added or not, which fruit you should use or whether there really should be marzipan in the centre.  That’s great for me – no hard and fast recipe means I can make my own ‘family’ recipe to pass down for future generations!  Use combinations of fruits and spices that you really enjoy.

To get the best from a Stollen recipe, it’s best to make it weeks in advance and let it mature.  But you’ve still got time to knock a quick one out this year, knowing that anything you can squirrel away until the new year will be so much better.

Makes 4 loaves

Ingredients

For the fruit:

  • 800g Dried Fruit (I used 200g Raisins, 100g Sultanas, 200g Dried Apricots, 100g Cranberries, 100g Sweet Cherries, 100g Sour Cherries – whatever takes your fancy)
  • 100g Candied Orange Peel
  • 250g Chopped Almonds
  • 250ml Dark Rum, Sherry, Madeira or Brandy
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • a pinch of Ground Mace
  • a pinch of Ground Cloves
  • a pinch of Ground Cardamon

For the preferment:

For the dough:

  • 750g Strong White Bread Flour
  • 150g Golden Castor Sugar
  • 350g Butter
  • 15g Salt
  • Zest of 1 Lemon
  • Zest of 1 Orange
  • 750g Marzipan
  • 75g Butter, melted
  • Icing Sugar

Method

  • The day before, mix all of the ingredients for the fruit and spices with the alcohol in a bowl and cover for at least 12 hours.
  • At the same time, make up the preferment by mixing all of those ingredients together in a large jug.  Cover and set aside again for at least 12 hours
  • The following day, make up the dough in a large bowl by adding the flour, salt, sugar, softened butter and sourdough.  Mix as well as you can in the bowl before tipping out onto a clean surface to complete the mixing.  There is a lot of flour, but persist, it will all incorporate into the dough as the fat softens.  Set aside to autolyse for about 30 minutes
  • Sprinkle the grated zest and knead into the dough for about 10 minutes.  Leave to rest for about an hour and knead briefly again.  Leave for another 2-3 hours, until risen slightly (the dough is very stiff – it won’t double in size!)
  • Drain the fruit and lightly pat dry.  Roll out the dough and sprinkle with half of the fruit.  Fold and roll again.  Add the rest of the fruit, fold and work to incorporate the fruit into the dough.  For ease of handling, cut into 2 pieces and set aside to prove for about  5 hours
  • Meanwhile, take your marzipan and make 4 logs, each about 20-25cm long
  • Cut the dough into 4 equal sized pieces, shape each into a ball and roll out into a 35-30cm round into rounds
  • Put a marzipan log towards the front of the dough and fold the front edge over the log and pinch down onto the centre of the dough.  Fold the back of the dough over the top and pinch to seal.  Repeat for each piece of dough
  • Set aside, covered with cling film to continue proving for another hour of so.  It’s not going to rise significantly, but if timings are such that you won’t be able to complete the baking, you can leave this now for several hours or overnight
  • Preheat an over to 220oC Fan, then add the stollen and turn the temperature down to 180oC.  Cook for 50-55 minutes.  It will rise slightly.  Beware of the fruit catching if there is a lot on the surface – you may wish to cover with a little tin foil part way through the baking process
  • Remove from the oven and brush with about 75g melted butter, then sprinkle with a little castor sugar (I used my own Orange flavoured sugar), then liberally sprinkle with icing sugar.  Leave to cool completely
  • Once cool, brush again with another 75g melted butter and sprinkle with more icing sugar.  Allow to set and wrap tightly in baking parchment and tin foil to mature.  Leave this as long as you can – 3-4 weeks is ideal.  My first loaf lasted 20 minutes before I cut into it….
  • This is really very nice, but I’m not that happy about the process of incorporating the fruit into the dough.  It’s really too hard to get it well blended due to a combination of the proportion of fruit and the stiffness of the dough.  Can the dough be made softer (proportionally more liquid? proportionally less fruit?) and the fruit worked in sooner, without impacting the fermentation?
  • The dough is really rich, and there isn’t a lot of it so it doesn’t ferment strongly and there isn’t a lot of air in the final product.  Given the richness, this really isn’t a problem but it’s less like the rich bread and more akin to a rich fruit pastry (try with proportionally less fruit and a dough with greater hydration)

 

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