Friday, December 25, 2009


My maternal grandparents were from Germany, so stollen is traditional for my family at Christmastime.  My mom and I used to make it on Christmas Eve after opening up presents. We used a recipe, sort of, but usually changed it so much that it's barely recognizable.  It was then topped with a highly non-traditional powdered sugar icing.  Despite all of our efforts to mess with tradition, my mom still speaks fondly of more traditional stollens she's had, the most memorable being from a friend's mother, who was a German lady who worked as a cook at a sorority at the University of Michigan.  Her stollen was so rich and tasty that it melted in your mouth and tasted just as good months later.
For the last few years, I've used the following recipe that I got online. It's pretty good, but it's a lot of work.  My mom says it's almost as good as the legendary stollen, but not quite.  It does keep well in the freezer. This year, Relish magazine, which is this little recipe/food magazine that is included in the Sunday newspaper once a month or so, published a stollen recipe.  My mom honed in on it immediately and told me about it. It looked like a lot less work, since it's basically a variation of the no-knead bread that I make. 
I made a double batch, with the following variations.  I didn't have cardamon pods, so I just used 1 tsp ground cardamon. Likewise, I used the stand mixer instead of the food processor, and just cut/crumbled the flour and butter together prior to adding it to the sponge.  Once the sponge and flour mix were blended, I added the fruit and nuts.  I then let the mix rise at room temperature for about an hour before putting it in the fridge overnight.
The next day, I pulled it out of the oven, punched it down, and divided it into thirds.  The dough was very soft and sticky.  I pressed each portion into a flat disk and then spread the almond past mix over half the disk, and folded it over into the classic stollen shape.  I then let the dough rise for about two hours and baked it.  It smelled really good.  The loaves are a lot softer than my usual recipe.  After they cooled for a while I coated them with melted butter and then rolled them in powdered sugar.
My brother is visiting.  He didn't want to wait, so we tested it while it was still warm.  It was a lot softer and had a coarser crumb than the usual recipe.  The flavor was pretty good.  After a day, the flavor had mellowed somewhat.  I still like the texture of the traditional recipe better, but this was very nice - good flavor, and rich but not too rich.  It is definitely worth it not to have to knead the dough multiple times.

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