Wow- am I late this month with my posting for The Bakers Challenge! While I had it baked a few days before Christmas I am always typing it up at the last-minute (why can I never plan ahead??) With Christmas just 2 days before the posting date I knew I wouldn’t even begin to write until the 26th. It all seemed so good in theory… until Christmas Eve when I was at my friend Scott’s annual holiday party in NYC when who should walk through the door, but my husband! He surprised us and flew from Calgary for the weekend. I might have even worked around that except for the BLIZZARD that we got hit with on the 26th!!! Twenty-one inches of snow in the front yard. No trains or buses of any kind. It really brought everything to a halt. Two days later and things are still not back to normal. Ahhh, nothing like a good nor’easter at the holidays.
This months Bakers Challenge was brought to you by Penny from Sweet Sadie’s Baking . I made stollen for the first time last year and was eager to try it again. My nana was German and we ALWAYS had stollen in the house at the time of year- we still do. Instead of making myself crazy trying to run around and buy Christmas presents for everyone I like to make and give out something special and stollen is perfect for this. I find I enjoy the season to the fullest now and am just so thankful that I can be here in NY with my family that Christmas shopping seems silly (except for the 4 yr old, but that is so easy). Baking comes from the heart and takes more time and effort (enjoyable time and effort!) that just picking up a trinket for the sake of it. That being said, please bake something for the people you love and let them know how much they mean to you… Happy Holidays everyone!
I decided to go all out with this challenge and followed the recipe outlined in Peter Reinhart’s book Artisan Breads Every Day.
It required making a seed starter and a mother starter over the course of 9 days, stirring it 2-3 times a day and feeding it every 48 hours. This is to give the bread a depth of flavor that you just can’t achieve by making the entire recipe in one day. There was a lot of love going into this one! I just loved how this came out and really believe all the work was so worth it. It was so tasty and moist- wow!
Peter uses a pannettone dough recipe for his stollen with the huge difference being that there is NO rising time and it is put in a cold oven for baking. Since I was making the dough anyway, I also made 9 loaves of panettone (which require 12 hours of rising). I am giving instructions using a standing mixer. While you could make this by hand, I personally do not have the strength to mix anything by hand, especially bread dough, for 30 minutes.
3 Tablespoons (1.5 oz/42.5 g) mother starter, cold or at room temp.
1 1/3 C (6oz/170g) unbleached bread flour
1/4 C plus 2 Tablespoons (3 oz/85g) water, at room temp.
All of the sourdough starter
1 Tablespoon (o.75 oz/21g) honey
1/4 C (2oz/56.5g) lukewarm water
1 tsp (0.11oz/3 g) instant yeast
1 egg, at room temp
3 egg yolks, at room temp
1 tablespoon (0.5 oz/14g) pure vanilla extract
1 2/3 C (7.5 oz/213 g) unbleached bread flour
3/4 tsp (0.21 oz/4g) kosher salt
3 Tablespoons (1.5 oz/43g) sugar
3/4 C (6 oz/170 g) unsalted butter, at room temp.
2 C (12 oz/340 g) dried or candied fruit (I used dried cherries,cranberries,crimson raisins and candied orange peel)
8 oz (227g) almond paste or marzipan (I used almond paste) or 2 C sliced almonds, lightly toasted
melted butter and confectioners sugar, for topping
Make The Starter:
Combine all of the starter ingredients in a bowl. Stir (or use the paddle attachment on your mixer) for 2 minutes until well blended. It should feel doughlike and tacky. Transfer the starter to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 30 seconds. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover loosely. Leave it at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours, until it doubles in sizes or swells considerably. You can now use it immediately or put it in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Make the Dough:
Cut the starter into 10-12 small pieces and place in your mixing bowl. In a separate small bowl, stir the honey into the warm water until dissolved and then add the yeast until dissolved. Let it sit for a minute or two then pour over the starter and stir to soften the starter.
Separately, whisk the egg,yolks, and vanilla together. Add to the starter mixture and mix on low until well blended.
Add the flour and salt. Use the paddle attachment for this. Mix on low-speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl. Put the mixer back on low and add the sugar, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, making sure each addition had been thoroughly incorporated before adding any more. The dough will now be smoother, though still sticky. Increase the speed to medium-low and mix for 5 minutes to develop the gluten, stopping once or twice to scrape down the bowl and paddle.
Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium-low, adding the butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Again, make sure each piece is fully incorporated until adding the next piece. It should take about 5 minutes to add all of the butter. Scrape down the bowl again and then mix on medium speed for 5 minutes more. This will fully develop the gluten. The dough will be taffylike and gorgeous.
Add the dried fruit and mix on low for 2 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and dust the top of the dough with flour. Firm up the dough and form it into a smooth ball by stretching and folding it once.
To make 2 smaller loaves, cut the dough in half. You could make one large loaf, but it will be large, so I would recommend making 2 smaller ones, but as usual, it is always up to you, the baker. Roll the dough out into a rectangle,approximately 9 x 6 inches. Roll out a thin tube-shaped piece of almond paste the length of your dough and place it on the end of the dough closest to you, then roll up the dough, pinching the seams shut and shape into a wreath of loaf. If you are using almond slices instead of paste just sprinkle the toasted almonds over the dough before rolling it up and shaping. I wrapped my wreath around a glass to help hold it’s shape during baking.
Place the stollen on a parchment lined sheet pan and put the pan into a cold oven. Turn on the oven to 350 F.
Bake for 25 minutes (as the oven comes up to full heat) then rotate your pan and bake for another 25-35 minutes. this all on your loaf size. It will be done when it is a golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped. If you have a thermometer it should read 185F but don’t worry if you don’t. As soon as you take it out of the oven, brush it with melted butter (I added some rum to my butter) and sprinkle heavily with confectioners sugar.
Cool thoroughly before serving.