Tuesday, December 29, 2009

German Christmas Bread

I'm sorry for the lack of recipes lately. I'm here inside a warm room, listening to baby snore away his afternoon while awing and loving the sky release a new canopy of white for the bleak and slippery ground. My goal today was to get up at least one new recipe. And so, I present my Stollen story for you!

Back in my LDS mission days, I spent only one Christmas in Germany. I have a lot of fond memories of the Christmas markets in Berlin, the festivities of the city, the music, blah blah blah... and most dominantely, I recall the Stollen bread given to my companion and me innumerable times! Truly I believe we consumed at least 10 loaves that season on our own- though I'm sure we felt more obliged to eat it than anything. It's a good thing we dragged a 3 foot, 20-pounder, real Christmas pine tree down the Clayalle Strasse to our apartment to decorate! We had some serious Stollen calories to work off. Emily, I hope you are reading this with tears of laughter.

Anyway, ever since being home I've tried desperately to find a Stollen recipe that recreates my recollection of how it tasted. Not sure on its history or origin, but for us simple minds, it's just a holiday bread like any other that you find through the country during the holiday season. It's characteristics include a dense texture, a powdery sugar surface dusting, and loads of raisins or other forms of candied dried fruit.

Last week while vaykaying it here in SLC, I spotted a Stollen recipe in the local newspaper that had "traditional" written all over it! wahoo! Its ease of preparation and time, its use of only raisins and a little candied fruit attracted me instantly!

So I gave it a whirl on Christmas Eve and shared it Christmas morning with my family for brunch. I was in love. And I vowed to stay true to this recipe. For people like me who shutter with fear at baking yeast breads, this is truly a bread any beginner can bake.

The only real labor of love I dedicated to it was in the candied orange peel. The grocery store didn't carry any packaged, conventional stuff so I was stuck with making it on my own, which quite honestly, was rather fun and was not horribly difficult or time consuming. I'll post that recipe later because it's worth having for your holiday confectionery creations. The leftover candied orange peel was dipped in milk chocolate and given away for xmas treats. Yum.

And so, this recipe is the closest thing I've found to being true to what you'd find over in Germany. I hope you try it next year and get hooked to it as I have!

die Deutschen sagen wuerden, "es ist doch lecker!"

Stollen (German Christmas Bread)

3 1/4 cups flour
1 cup powdered sugar, divided
1/2 cup lukewarm milk, divided
3 tsp yeast
1/2 cup softened butter
1 Tbsp lard (i used butter)
1 large egg
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp rum (i omitted this ingredient)
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Grated peel of 1/2 lemon
1 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup candied lemon peel (i omitted this too)
1/4 cup candied orange peel (i used 1/2 cup of homemade candied orange peel)
1 1/4 cup raisins (i used golden raisins- highly recommend)


6 Tbsp milk, room temperature
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar

Sift the flour into a bowl and make a crater in the center. In the crater, add 1/4 cup powdered sugar and 1/4 cup lukewarm milk. Sprinkle yeast over the milk and dust the yeast with a tiny bit of flour. Allow the yeast to develop for 15-20 minutes.

Add the butter, lard, egg, salt, remaining 3/4 cup powdered sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, lemon peel, and candied lemon and orange peels. Add only enough remaining 1/4 cup milk to make dough pliable. Knead thoroughly and cover dough with a damp towel. Let it rise overnight.

The next morning, heat oven to 350 degrees. Knead the dough for 1 minute. Shape dough into an oblong loaf that tapers at each end. Place dough on a large, greased baking sheet. Push back any raisins that are poking out to prevent scorching. Baste the loaf with 6 Tbsp milk and bake for about 50 minutes, or until golden brown.

Upon removing from oven, rub the hot Stollen generously with half the butter. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Rub with butter again, and end with another sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Wrap in plastic when cooled if not eating immediately.


Alysha said...

My mouth is watering and I have never even tried such bread. It just looks delicious!
Also, CONGRATULATIONS!!! I am so excited for you and your upcoming new bundle of joy. So sorry you haven't been feeling well, but I hope that spending the holidays in Utah was just what you needed. I can't wait to hear what you are having!

Emily said...

Way to go Kate! I love that you made this . . . I don't think it will grace my table anytime soon . . . I totally remember hauling that tree! Then we just put it out on the balcony after Christmas . . . I wonder if it is still their?

Sarah Flib said...

Nope, not still there. I served in Dahlem after you sisters and there was no tree on the balcony. I'm pretty sure there were traces of it, though! Lots of dead pine needles.