To really get into a Christmas mood, I decided to bake a very typical German sweet bread, we traditionally eat during the days before Christmas – Christstollen. My mum is usually buying this bread, so I have never seen it being made before, but I took that only as a challenge. In search of a good recipe and some first hand experience, I talked to my grandma on the phone, who told me that she used to make them at work when she was younger, but considered it to be too much effort-demanding to go through with the entire procedure, so the last time she baked one was maybe 60 years ago. Luckily, it turned out (who would have guessed?) that products have changed quite a bit by then, and nowadays you can actually buy candied lemon and orange peel, that is already chopped in fine cubes 😉 Since this was the only issue my grandma warned me against, I went on with my online search until I finally found this lovely recipe.
I used only one half of the measurements that were given in the recipe, as I though it would then yield a small Christstollen and there was no instruction in the original recipe to separate the dough in halves so you would get two Stollen. In hindsight I am very glad that I did that, because what I got was a standard sized Christstollen, which is actually quite large. So if you just want to try out this recipe, I would recommend you to divide all the measurements by half. The bread is quite sweet, but also juicy especially because of all the fruits. In case you are wondering about the kind of weird shape: During my search for a good recipe I found out that it is called that way, because the form is supposed to resemble the Christmas child in his cradle. Enjoy this bake, I hope it will relax you and help you getting into Christmas mood already 🙂
|For the filling:
||For the dough:|
|50 g roasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped||15 g fresh yeast|
|37 g candied orange peel||1 tsp vanilla sugar|
|37 g candied lemon peel||50 ml milk, room-tempered|
|100 g raisins||250 g flour|
|5 tbsp orange juice||30 g sugar|
|a pinch of salt|
|For the finish:||1 tbsp orange zest|
|75 g butter||1/2 egg, slightly beaten|
|cinnamon||cardamom, cinnamon, anise, nutmeg|
Mix all the ingredients for the fruit filling together the day before you want to bake the stollen. Let it the fruit infuse with the orange juice. Mix vanilla sugar, half of the milk and yeast together in a large bowl. Stir under 1 tbsp of flour and let it prove at a warm place for about 15 minutes. In the meantime you can mix the remaining flour together with sugar, a pinch of salt, the orange zest and the spices on the countertop (if you want to knead it by hands, if you want to use a kitchen machine mix it in the bowl). Add spices by your own taste, unfortunately I cannot really say how much of each spice I used.
Add the yeast sponge to the flour and add the remaining milk and the butter cut in chunks to the dough. Knead thoroughly for about 5 minutes until the dough becomes softer and you can feel that the yeast is starting to become active. Add the soaked fruits and knead everything well together. Form a ball and transfer the dough into the bowl. Let prove under a cover at a warm place for about 1 hours.
Knead the dough again and form it. For this you form the dough into a rough rectangle or better square, that is about 3 cm thick. Use a rolling pin to form a mold in the lower half of the square parallel to one of the edges. Fold over the other half so it rests in the mold, the edges should not be justified! Shape the ends of the stollen so they become a bit more round. Transfer the stollen to a baking sheet that is covered with baking parchment and let prove for another 30 minutes. In the meantime preheat the oven to 210°C (fan is not recommended).
Bake the stollen for 10 minutes at 210°C, then reduce the heat to 180°C and bake for another 25-35 minutes until a cake prick comes out without any crumbles. Before you take the stollen out of the oven, melt the butter for the finish. Take the stollen out of the oven and brush it evenly with all the butter, then sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon and finally generously with powder sugar.
Tip: It will stay fresh in plastic wrap or a plastic bag for about 4 weeks, and it will actually get better with every day because the moisture of the fruits is spreading into the entire bread.