Why this recipe works Originating in Dresden in the Middle Ages, stollen is a sweet yeasted bread served at Christmas throughout Germany and Austria. Its characteristic folded shape symbolizes the baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes, and its candied fruit and nuts represent the gifts of the Magi. We sought a buttery, sweet stollen featuring a balanced mix of dried and candied fruits and a perfume of spirits and almonds. To achieve the dense texture and rich flavor we were looking for, we got the best results from a dough enriched with milk, brandy, egg, and a generous amount of butter. We found that melted butter produced the short crumb we wanted. This dough, however, was too wet and sticky to work with. Letting the dough rest overnight in the refrigerator helped firm it up considerably. In addition, the refrigerator rest allowed the dough to ferment slowly so that the baked bread had a wonderful yeasty flavor. After testing a variety of fruits, we chose a combination of brandy-soaked raisins and candied lemon and orange peel for their colorful jewel tones and bright flavor. Many recipes feature a core of marzipan running through the loaf, and we followed suit; we softened our almond filling with butter and water and scented it with a pinch of nutmeg. Infused with liquor, bathed in butter, and liberally coated with confectioners’ sugar, stollen keeps well—a perfect treat to share with guests over coffee throughout the holiday season. This recipe makes two loaves, ideal for giving one away as a gift. We do not recommend mixing this dough by hand. If the dough becomes too soft to work with at any point, refrigerate it until it’s firm enough to easily handle. The texture and flavor of the stollen improves over time and is best eaten 2 weeks after baking; in plastic wrap, it can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 month.
- makes 2 loaves
- resting time 30 minutes
- rising time 12 hours
- baking time 40 minutes
- total time 17¼ hours
- key equipment stand mixer, 2 rimmed baking sheets, instant-read thermometer, pastry brush
- 1 tube (7 ounces) almond paste, cut into 4 pieces
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tablespoon water
- pinch nutmeg
- 1 cup raisins
- ½ cup (4 ounces) brandy
- ½ cup chopped candied lemon peel
- ½ cup chopped candied orange peel
- ½ cup slivered almonds, toasted
- 3½ cups (17½ ounces) all-purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
- 1¼ teaspoons salt
- 1 cup (8 ounces) whole milk, room temperature
- 10 tablespoons (5 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
- ½ cup (3½ ounces) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- confectioners’ sugar
1). For the filling Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat almond paste, butter, water, and nutmeg on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.
2). For the dough Microwave raisins and brandy in covered bowl until steaming, about 1 minute. Let sit until raisins have softened, about 15 minutes. Drain raisins and reserve brandy. Combine raisins, candied lemon peel, candied orange peel, and almonds in bowl.
3). Whisk flour, yeast, and salt together in clean, dry mixer bowl. Whisk milk, 8 tablespoons melted butter, granulated sugar, egg, vanilla, and reserved brandy in 4-cup liquid measuring cup until sugar has dissolved. Using paddle on low speed, slowly add milk mixture to flour mixture and mix until cohesive dough starts to form and no dry flour remains, about 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Slowly add fruit mixture and mix until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Transfer dough to lightly greased large bowl or container, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours.
4). Stack 2 rimmed baking sheets, line with aluminum foil, and spray with vegetable oil spray. Transfer filling to well-floured counter, divide in half, and press each half into 7 by 2-inch rectangle; set aside.
5). Transfer dough to well-floured counter, divide in half, and cover loosely with greased plastic. Using your well-floured hands, press 1 piece of dough into 10 by 8-inch rectangle (keep remaining piece covered), with short side parallel to counter edge.
6). Place 1 piece of filling across top edge of dough, leaving 2-inch border at top. Fold dough away from you over filling until folded edge is snug against filling and dough extends 2 inches beyond top edge.
7). Fold top 2 inches of dough back toward center of loaf. Pinch side seams together to seal. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Transfer loaves to prepared sheet, spaced about 4 inches apart. Cover loosely with greased plastic and let rest for 30 minutes.
8). Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake until golden brown and loaves register 190 to 195 degrees, 40 to 45 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Brush loaves with remaining melted butter and dust liberally with confectioners’ sugar. Transfer to wire rack and let cool completely, about 3 hours. Dust with additional confectioners’ sugar before serving.
problem The dough doesn’t come together.
solution Use the paddle attachment.
Most of our bread recipes call for using the stand mixer dough hook attachment for kneading. However, in order to quickly incorporate all of the fruit and nuts into it (so we don’t develop too much gluten and compromise its short, cake-like crumb), you’ll want to use the paddle attachment here. The paddle attachment works its way through the whole mass of dough at once, distributing the ingredients evenly as it goes.
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