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Christmas Stollen

Servings: Makes 1 large loaf
What is Stollen?

Definition: [STOH-luhn; SHTOH-luhn] Germany's traditional Christmas yeast bread, stollen is a rich, dried fruit-filled loaf that's often topped with a confectioners' sugar icing and decorated with candied cherries. It's shaped like a folded oval and somewhat resembles a giant parker house roll.

From The New Food Lover's Companion, Second Edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst

1/2 cup dark rum
1 cup currants
2/3 cup milk
2 (1/4 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup ground almonds
9 tablespoons (1 stick + 1 tbsp./4 1/2 oz./127g) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons diced candied orange peel
2 tablespoons diced citron or other candied fruit
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting

Heat the rum in a small sauce pan, remove from the heat, add the currants, and set aside to plump.

In another small saucepan warm the milk slightly. Pour the milk into the bowl of a standing mixer, sprinkle the yeast over the surface, and add a tablespoon of the granulated sugar. Let the yeast proof. After about 5 minutes, the yeast will expand and start to bubble.

With the dough hook attachment and the machine on medium speed, add 1 1/2 cups of flour and the salt to the milk to make a wet dough; mix for 2 to 3 minutes, until smooth.

Continue mixing on medium speed, and add th almonds and the remaining sugar. Reserve a tablespoon of butter, break the rest into 4 or 5 pieces, and add it to the dough. The dough will be very wet and sticky. Add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft, elastic dough, and continue to mix at a medium speed for 4 or 5 minutes.

Drain and reserve the rum from the currants. Add all the dried fruit to the dough and mix for 2 or 3 minutes more, or until evenly incorporated.

Coat the inside of a bowl with the reserved tablespoon of butter. Turn the dough out of the mixing bowl, dust your hands with flour, and form the dough into a ball. Roll the dough in the bowl until it is covered with the butter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set the bowl aside in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

When the dough has doubled, carefully turn it out onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, lightly dust with flour, and press it out into a large oval, about 15 inches long. Fold the dough over lengthwise like a clam shell, with the top covering four-fifths of the bottom. It's like a very long Parker House roll. Straighten the long edges of the loaf. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel. Let it rest for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F/200 degrees C.

Bake the stollen in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes rotate the baking sheet to insure even cooking. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C. Continue to bake the stollen for 25 to 35 minutes until golden brown and it sounds hollow when thumped. If the bottom of the loaf is browning too quickly, slip a cool baking sheet underneath to control the heat. Transfer the finished loaf to a rack to cool.

As the loaf cools, make the glaze. In a small pan whisk 2 tablespoons of the reserved rum or water with the confectioners' sugar. Cook over a low heat until the mixture is dissolved and slightly thickened, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Paint the top of the warm stollen with the glaze. Cool. Wrap in plastic wrap until ready to serve. Dust with the confectioners' sugar for a finished look before serving.

Makes 1 large loaf.

Source: DianasDesserts.com
Date: August 10, 2002