Saturday, December 25, 2010

Daring Bakers Challenge: Christmas Stollen

A month or so ago I came upon the website for the Daring Kitchen. I had heard of their site before, but I did not think I was up for the challenge. Well this month I decided it was time for me to give it try. You can sign up as a Daring Baker and/or a Daring Cook. I am a better baker than I am a cook, so I only signed up as a Daring Baker.

I was very excited to see that the challenge for this month was Stollen.  Avery seasonal choice by Penny from Sweet Sadie's Baking. I had never had Stollen before, so I was not really sure what to expect. My family makes a bread that is similar called Jul Kaga, but it has some different flavors in it.

I followed the recipe that Penny provided pretty closely. The following is basically her recipe showing the ingredients I chose. The only change I made was to use green cherries instead of red. I just could not find red ones. Next time I would like to make my own candied peel.  I have given quarters of this away to friends and family. I am looking forward to seeing what they thought of it!

¼ cup lukewarm water (110º F)
4 1/2 teaspoons
1 cup milk
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
5½ cups all-purpose  flour
½ cup sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract or orange extract
¾ cup mixed peel
1 cup firmly packed raisins
3 tablespoons rum
12 green glacé cherries (roughly chopped) for the color and the taste.
1 cup flaked almonds
Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath
Powdered Sugar for dusting wreath


Soak the raisins
In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the rum and set aside.
To make the dough

Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.
In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup (240 ml) milk and 10 tablespoons (150 ml) butter over medium - low heat until butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes.
Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon and vanilla extracts.
In a large mixing bowl (4 qt) (4 liters) (or in the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment), stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests.
Then stir in (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/butter mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.
Add in the mixed peel, soaked fruit and almonds and mix with your hands or on low speed to incorporate. Here is where you can add the cherries if you would like. Be delicate with the cherries or all your dough will turn red!
Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing with the dough hook) to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed. The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 8 minutes (6 minutes by machine). The full six minutes of kneading is needed to distribute the dried fruit and other ingredients and to make the dough have a reasonable bread-dough consistency. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough – a few raisins will start to fall off the dough onto the counter because at the beginning of the kneading process the dough is very sticky and the raisins will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn't enough to bind the outside raisins onto the dough ball.
Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Put it in the fridge overnight. The dough becomes very firm in the fridge (since the butter goes firm) but it does rise slowly… the raw dough can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week and then baked on the day you want.
Shaping the Dough and Baking the Wreath

1. Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.
2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
3. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
4. Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches (40 x 61 cms) and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick.
Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder.
Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan. Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle. You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape.
This was before I pinched it together
Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough.
Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.

Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, should register 190°F/88°C in the center of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.
Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the top with melted butter while still hot.
Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter.
Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first.
The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar.

Update 1-2-2011-- I was supposed to include the following lines in this post:

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book.........and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.


  1. Oh, your first Stollen looks so tasty! The website of the Daring Bakers seems to be much fun, the internet can be so wonderful!

    By the way, I was surprised by the pictures of the Stollens there. Their form is somehow strange for someone from Germany because our Stollens are not baked as rings but as bars. But, of course, it's the taste that is crucial. I hope you liked it!

  2. I really enjoyed Stollen. In the future I will make it in a loaf instead of a ring. I only made it this way because The Daring Kitchen challenge called for it. It it very similar to my beloved Jule Kaga, but I like that I could toast it if I wanted. The frosting on the Jule Kaga prevents toasting. Though I suppose I could make it without frosting, but that would not be as much fun!