Christmas is all about building traditions: the music that comes round year after year, the decorations we bring out to annual squabbles about who gets what to put on the tree, the films we watch (The Snowman every Christmas Eve) and the food we eat.
Our ritual tree-putting-up on the first of December is always accompanied by chestnuts roasted on the wood burner but we also allow ourselves to indulge in Stollen, the traditional German bread eaten at Christmas time.
I’ve never made it before so I’m taken guidance from baking expert Paul Hollywood and his traditional recipe but I’ve made a few tweaks as I’m not a fan of candied peel so I’ve chosen to omit it.
- 500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 100g golden caster sugar
- 10g fast action yeast
- Pinch of salt
- 150g butter, softened
- 250ml milk
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- Pinch of ground cloves
- Half tsp vanilla extract
- A few drops of almond extract
- 55g ground almonds
- 300g raisins
- 225g marzipan
Combine the flour, salt, sugar and yeast together in a large mixing bowl. Add the milk and softened butter and combine to form a dough. Knead on a well floured surface for 5-10 minutes or until it becomes soft and smooth.
In another bowl, mix together the raisins, nutmeg, cloves, vanilla and almond extracts. Place the dough on top then knead from the outside in to incorporste all the dried fruit.
Cover the bowl with clingfim and leave somewhere warm to rise for 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.
Flatten and roll the dough out in a rectangle approx 35x15cm or to fit a baking tray. Roll out the marzipan so it is a similar length, place inside the dough and roll up to enclose the marzipan inside.
Leave to rise again for approx an hour, or until risen and puffed up to double its size.
Bake at 170C for an hour, covering with foil if it begins to colour too quickly. When cooked, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with icing sugar until covered.
Leave to cool and serve in thick slices.
The Stollen, as always went down a treat. The very essence of Christmas, if we hadn’t already decorated the tree it would made a perfect accompaniment. However, I’m still using it as an excuse to post this very cute picture from way back in 2011 though…