Stollen (With Just a Few Sour Grapes)

stollen

Today’s post was supposed to be about this year’s panettone, but we’re not going to talk about that right now. If you must have panettone, fine, go, get out! And don’t bother coming back!

Stollen is much easier than panettone. None of this fussy sweet Italian levain business, none of this persnickety adding of the sugar in stages so you don’t overhwhelm your poor fragile gluten, none of this namby-pamby hanging upside down after baking so the sissy little bread doesn’t collapse under its own weight.

No, with stollen you just throw everything into the mixer and mix the hell out of it. The hardest part is shaping the loaf so it looks like the baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in the manger. (I think I did a pretty good job with that. I mean, I really see the resemblance there, don’t you?) And you won’t catch our little Lord collapsing under his own weight any time soon, now, will you?

sliced stollen

Stollen does have lots of butter and a fair amount of sugar, and if you’ve been paying attention you’ll recall that these things are not kind to gluten, so in many breads they’re withheld from the mixing until the gluten is well on its way to development. With stollen, though, they need to be in from the start or the dough would be too dry to mix at all. The tradeoff is that the dough has to be mixed for a good long time before the gluten does develop. I wouldn’t go so far as to turn on the mixer and go take a bath, but maybe you could squeeze in a shower.

At first you will not believe me. You will think that there is no way you are ever going to get a windowpane from this cookie-dough mess. Have faith, keep mixing, and you’ll be rewarded with your own Christmas miracle.

Stollen
(Adapted from SFBI)

Yield: 1475 g (1 small and 3 larger loaves)

Time:

  • Ferment sponge and soak soaker: 12 hours
  • Mix final dough: 20 – 30 minutes
  • First fermentation : 30 minutes
  • Preshape, rest, and shape: 30 minutes
  • Proof: 90 minutes
  • Bake: 30 minutes

Soaker Ingredients:

(Note: It’s easy to make your own candied citrus peel. Here’s one recipe.)

  • 204 g raisins
  • 61 g candied orange peel
  • 92 g candied lemon peel
  • 82 g slivered almonds
  • 34 g rum

Sponge Ingredients:

Final Dough Ingredients:

  • 348 g flour
  • 53 g milk
  • 18.6 g (2 T.) osmotolerant yeast
  • 8 g (1-1/3 t.) salt
  • 8 g (2-1/3 t.) diastatic malt powder (omit if you don’t have it)
  • 51 g sugar
  • 53 g egg (about one large egg)
  • 5 g grated lemon zest (one average lemon)
  • 5 g grated orange zest (one small orange)
  • 1/3 t. of each of these ground spices: cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, allspice, nutmeg
  • 273 g unsalted butter, at room temperature (should be pliable)
  • all of the sponge
  • all of the soaker

Finishing Ingredients:

  • clarified butter
  • fine granulated sugar
  • powdered (confectioner’s) sugar

Method:

  1. Combine the soaker ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate for about 12 hours.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the sponge ingredients in another medium bowl. Cover and ferment at room temperature for 12 hours.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all of the final dough ingredients except the soaker. Mix in slow speed until all the ingredients are incorporated, about 4 or 5 minutes.
  4. Continue mixing in medium speed until the gluten reaches full development. The dough should come together around the hook and should no longer stick to the sides and bottom of the bowl. This could take about 20 minutes or more, but will depend on your mixer.
  5. Add the soaked fruits and mix on slow speed just until they are evenly distributed through the dough.
  6. Transfer the dough to a lightly buttered container. Cover and ferment for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  7. Turn the dough onto the counter. Divide into 400 – 450 g pieces (I made three loaves at 400 g and one smaller one at 275 g). Preshape the dough into balls and let them rest, covered, for 30 minutes.
  8. To shape each loaf: Form a blunt-ended batard and dust it lightly with flour. With a thin rolling pin, press down firmly, separating about 1/3 of the dough from the other 2/3. Roll out the flap of dough connecting the sections so it is about 2 inches wide. Flatten the larger section slightly with your hand, then fold the smaller section over to rest on the larger one.
  9. stollen batard crease the stollen
    roll a flap shaped stollen

  10. Place the loaves on parchment-lined baking sheets (two per sheet) and slip them into a large plastic bag with a bowl of warm water. Proof for about 90 minutes, replenishing the water when it cools.
  11. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 on convection setting or 400 on regular bake setting. You will also need steam during the initial phase of baking, so prepare for this now.
  12. Bake for 10 minutes, open the oven door briefly to allow any remaining steam to escape, and bake for another 20 minutes. If you do not have convection, you may need to rotate the position of the baking sheets halfway through the bake to ensure even browning.
  13. While the loaves are still warm, brush them with clarified butter. Dredge them in fine granulated sugar (left), brushing off the excess (right).
  14. dredged stollen  stollen with a coating of fine granulated sugar

  15. To finish, sift powdered sugar over the loaves.
  16. Cut when completely cool. To store, wrap tightly in foil; it will keep for several days.

CommentsLeave a comment

  1. caroline says

    Funny…you made me and my chef son laugh. Although he and I decided that the best thing about stollen is the almond paste and you left that out. Thanks for a good chuckle.

  2. Greg C says

    Susan:

    Well, I’m at it again, and when I saw your post tonight, I just about cried for you (I just finished the first dough on a double batch – plan to bake tomorrow, mail the 23rd to family around the country – yeah, it’s spendy, but everyone appreciates it so much). The stollen looks great! My wife and I will be trying this out after the panettone is gone. Have a wonderful holiday!

  3. Erika says

    Susan, oh my–I love the spirited message in this entry! Being the Season of Christmas Spirit, I like the way you just say no to expectations. And anyway, I think stollen is delicious, although I never knew it was supposed to look like the baby Jesus–hmm.
    I am going to get some stollen (way too hard for me to make myself) and share your blog with my family! Happy Holidays to you and your family!! :-)

  4. says

    Oh, I love this post, Susan! I’ve been debating which stollen recipe to bake this year, and now you’ve added another contender to my mix!! I won’t get around to baking it until after Christmas Day, so a few days more to decide.

  5. Captain Batard says

    Well…I just got done making my pagan treat…just when i thought I knew what I was doing..Baby Jesus threw me a curve…I read the SFBI recipe and it said add all to bowl and mix…I thought I knew better…and in the back of my head i thought i had to develop the gluten first…and then add butter….panic set in and i was ready to toss the whole batch out…added a little water and threw in the butter….saved…I wish i saw your post first…

  6. javapot says

    looks like a lovely yummy treat. Just wanted to wish u and your family Merry Xmas and Happy New Year. To more bread baking next year :)

  7. mlaiuppa says

    It’s supposed to look like baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes? Ok.

    I’m going to my Mom’s tomorrow to help with the baking. She wants to make stollen. I’ll pass that swaddling thing on along with the extended kneading. We’re going to use the dough hooks on the mixer because she’s old and I’m lazy.

    Even though you’re abandoning the pandoro and panettone, could you still moderate my comments from that post? They have links to molds I found online. Overstock is out but I’ll be getting my metal ones online after the Christmas rush.

  8. DavidM says

    Hi Susan,

    There are few things better designed to kill the Christmas spirit than the Christmas season. (He types grumblingly, after having been stuck in a shoppers’ traffic jam just because I had to run to the grocery store to pick up a few last-minute holiday-candy ingredients I’d foolishly forgotten, and even more foolishly chose to go to the nearest grocery store–which just happens to be next to a mall.)

    Anyway, good on ya for not giving up and, instead, adjusting your expectations/plans. This year–for once–I planned ahead, and got my seasonal Buche de Noel finished last week. Just need to pull it out of the freezer on Thursday morning, et voilà!

    Thanks for another great year of informative, inspiring and entertaining writing and photography. Happy Solstice, to you and all.

  9. says

    Susan, do I detect a little sourness? Don’t let one failure prevent you from trying again.

    That is exactly what I needed, a tried recipe from you of this great bread to try for Christmas.

    Thanks and, yes, the shape looks beautiful!

  10. says

    I like stollen very much. This recipe is really interesting because it use so little yeast. German professional bakers (like Bäcker Süpke in his Blog) always suggested to increase the amount of yeast because of all the fat and sugar in the dough and don’t care about developing gluten at all. I have to test your recipe (next year). For this year my christmas baking is nearly done. Just your pandoro is missing.
    I wish you and your family a merry christmas.

  11. says

    Utterly beautiful, but without a mixer I’m going to stick to my own stollen recipe (Nigel Slater’s, actually).

    We want to hear about the panettone disaster though.

  12. says

    I can’t thank you enough for the excellent post! Being of German background, I’ve bought stollen every year. I went as far as buying the fruit, from King Arthur Flour, to make stollen– and I bought almond paste, because I love marzipan inside the stollen. Fear has kept me from diving in and doing it. Your photos are so helpful. THank you– and LOL on the Panettone. I saw a special on how it’s made. So, along with making my own puff pastry and croissants, I’ll just buy it. It sounds like way too much hassle when bakeries do a fine job on their own.
    Merry Christmas!

  13. Elizabeth says

    Thanks for the post! I just made the stollen from the SFBI book (bought on your recommendation) a few days ago. Like you said it takes quite awhile for the dough to resemble anything at all like a bread dough but I went ahead and let my mixer go to town on it until there was finally good gluten development. The crust was amazingly delicious.
    The loaves came out awfully small, though, and had very little oven spring. Was that true for yours as well? There’s nothing to compare the size to in the SFBI picture so I couldn’t tell if mine were normal or had suffered as a result of not using osmotolerant yeast like I should have…

  14. Chris says

    Oh dear… someone had a little accident ;)

    Luckily, I’m sure a number of readers have made your recipe and will submit it to YeastSpotting for your *ahem* enjoyment ;)

    have a great christmas Susan and all the best for the new year.

  15. says

    You ask if your stollen looks like the baby Jesus in the manger? Had I ever seen the baby Jesus in the manger, I’d take a shot at your question, but as it is, … sorry.

    I do, though, have an interesting experience to share re this “adding the sugar in increments …”. I make a bacon/onion roll at this time of year, and each year I use a different dough (still haven’t found the right one) – this year I was using a challah dough that had a goodly amount of sugar, and the recipe called for adding it in increments – however, when it came time to do so, I failed to remember that part, and I poured it all in at once! TMALSS, that dough spent 2 nights in the fridge, and 1 full day at room temp, and part of a 2nd day at 80F before it took off – and when it took off, it was spectacular! The rolls were super light.

    If you have any idea what happened with that, please let me know, will you?

    Have a Happy!

  16. says

    To all who expressed concern about my panettone — thank you, and no worries, I have some lovely ones hanging as we speak. The stollen is still great, though.

    drfugawe, you got me. Time is a friend of gluten (up to a point) so maybe all that resting was just what it needed to be spectacular!

    Very happy holidays, everyone!

  17. says

    I love stollen and must make it one day – I never knew stollen was to look like swaddling – yet another challenge for when I finally get around to making it

  18. says

    This post made me laugh incredibly much. Panettone is definitely way too complicated for me. I need a bread that’s less of a diva. Your stollen looks amazing. I can definitely see baby Jesus in it ;)

  19. says

    Susan, I made the stollen not once, but twice while in Italy. It came out fantastic, despite the challenge of using fresh yeast and flour I didn’t know how it would perform. A keeper recipe. Thanks and Happy New Year!

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