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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Daring Bakers: Christmas Stollen

Merry Christmas or Happy Chinese food and movie day to everyone! I hope that your day is treating you well, no matter what you are up to. I’ve been enjoying my Buffalo Christmas this year, spending time with family and friends. In the spirit of spending time with the ones I love, I decided to complete my December Daring Baker’s challenge with my mom! We had a great time, made a huge mess and came out with an amazing dessert.

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge the 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.

The original recipe called for lots of candied citrus peels and rum. Personally, I’m not really a rum person, and I didn’t feel like candying that much peel. I was feeling particularly lazy this Christmas. However I couldn’t be too lazy because this stollen has quite a few steps. I recommend getting a partner to help you with this recipe. This will help you make sure everything that needs to be added to the bread, actually is added to the bread. Also, you’ll have four different bowls of ingredients that need to be prepared before they are all combined.

We had a great time making this dessert. The best part of it was watching the bread grow. After we formed it into the wreath we watched it grow and grow (it’s alive!), then once it went into the oven it got even bigger. We decided to bring the monster to our family gathering on Christmas eve. After a little explanation the dessert started to disappear (it goes well with pizza and buffalo wings!). At the end of the evening there was some fighting over the remaining stollen, mostly because I suggested it would make an amazing French toast tomorrow morning.

Plan ahead and spend some time with someone special, baking this dessert. You’ll be enjoying it for days ahead. Make it into French toast, a bread pudding or just as toast with butter. If you coat it with sticks and sticks of butter and layers and layers of powdered sugar, then this dessert will last for weeks. (And also be buttery and delicious, BUTTER!)

Christmas Stollen
Also called a  Weihnachtsstollen or Christstollen

This is an excellent project for two people. There are a lot of components to this recipe! And remember, you have to make the dough the day before you would like to bake it, plan ahead! The combination of orange and vanilla extracts is amazing. I think the addition of some icing or glaze would make this absolutely perfect.

If you really enjoy this dessert, head to Dresden for Stollenfest!  This bread dates back to the middle ages and was only allowed to be eaten at christmastime after the pope allowed for the consumption of butter in the advent season!  Thank you Saxon bakers for petitioning the pope!  I love butter and this dessert would be much less delicious with oil.

1 orange and 1 lemon
1 cup dried cranberries
¼ cup lukewarm water
2 packets yeast (1/2 ounce)
1 cup milk
10 tbsp butter
5 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
¾ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3 eggs, beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp orange extract
¾ cup chopped candied orange peel
12 candied cherries, chopped
1 cup chopped walnuts
Miniature chocolate chips (optional)
4 tbsp melted butter
Powdered sugar

Zest lemon and orange into a large (HUGE!) bowl. Combine juice from one orange and dried cranberries, in a small bowl, and allow to sit until you are ready. Combine yeast and warm water in another bowl and stir to dissolve. In a small saucepan combine milk and butter, gently heat. Once the butter Is melted remove pan from the heat and allow to cool until just lukewarm. In another bowl, combine eggs and extracts, whisk to combine.

In the huge bowl, add flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon to the zests. Stir to distribute all the components. Add the yeast, egg and milk mixtures. Stir to combine, the dough will be fairly dry at this point. Drain the orange juice from the dried cranberries. Add candied orange peel, dried cranberries, cherries and walnuts, use your hands and start to mix in. Once the dough comes together, and all the add-ins are sticking, transfer dough to a floured countertop.

Adding flour whenever the dough gets too sticky to handle, knead the dough ball for about ten minutes (if using a kitchenaid with dough hook it will take about 7-8 minutes). You are looking for a tacky, not sticky dough. This means that the dough shouldn’t stick to your finger when you poke it. Oil a large bowl and toss your dough ball in, turn to coat in oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight.

The next morning…

Remove the dough from the fridge and allow to sit for 2 hours. The dough should have doubled in size since last night. Punch dough down and turn out onto a dry countertop. Roll out dough to about 16x24-inches.

Sprinkle the dough with miniature chocolate chips. Starting at the long end, roll up the dough into a tight roll, pinch the seams shut. Form the dough into a circle and pinch the circle closed, place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Using kitchen shears, cut about halfway through the dough at 2-inch intervals. Cover with a towel and allow to rise for 2 hours. It should increase in size by one half.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and bake stollen for 20 minutes. Rotate pan 180 degrees and bake for another 20-30 minutes. Bread is finished once it is a dark golden brown and registers an internal temperature of 190 degrees.

Remove from the oven and coat with melted butter. Sprinkle top with powdered sugar. Wait a few minutes and sprinkle a little more sugar over the top. Transfer to your pretty serving platter and enjoy!

Christmas Stollen for Santa!  No wonder he brought me such fun presents!

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