OMG! You should smell this house right now! I have died and gone to Culinary Heaven!
I’ve said over and over that our baking has been the best, ever. And I’m here to say it, again. It’s the best, ever!
I got the recipe from a friend several years ago and finally decided to make it last year.
The first stollen I made was horrible. I totally and completely screwed it up. Don’t ask me how – I just did. I actually threw it all away and re-did it. It was really good the second time, but this year?!? Perfection! Absolute perfection. Oma guided my hand.
It started with the dough. It felt right from the beginning. Even though I’m a baker, there are a lot of things I’ve just never baked before, and Stollen was one of those things.
When you bake a lot, you learn how to touch and feel dough. It speaks to you – you just need to learn how to listen with your hands. Today it spoke and I listened. It said “be patient”.
It takes a lot longer to rise than the breads I’m used to making. It also takes longer to knead. Of course, the breads I’m used to making don’t have a pound and a half of butter in them! Patience.
I cut the recipe in half because 4 loaves is more than I really need to have in the house.
Oma’s Christmas Stollen
This recipe is huge and makes 8 loaves (it freezes well – in Germany, it’s traditional to consume the last Christmas stollen on Easter) so feel free to cut it in half. It isn’t overly sweet and heavy and nasty like traditional fruitcakes – it’s more like a sweet bread, and the butter in the recipe makes it very flaky.
- 6 pounds flour
- 2 cups white sugar
- 7 oz yeast
- 1 lb golden raisins
- 1 t almond extract
- 3 t salt
- 3 lb butter
- 1 quart whole milk
- 1 lb dark raisins
- 1 lb blanched almonds, ground finely (but not overly fine – you get it)
- 1/2 lb citron, chopped finely (as above) and floured
In a saucepan, heat the milk. Remove from heat and add butter, sugar and salt. When just warm, add yeast. Put into large mixing bowl and begin to add flour, about five pounds, mixing well after each addition. Stir in raisins, citron and almonds. Add almond extract. Mix well and knead on floured board (dough will be a little sticky – you’ll use probably half a pound of flour doing this, which accounts for the six pound total) until it’s very smooth and elastic (about 20 minutes). Put into a covered bowl and let it rise until doubled. Divide dough into 8 parts and flatten each piece into a circle and fold over *almost* in half – the bottom diameter will be larger than the top. Let rise again until doubled and bake at 350° for 35 minutes. When cool, dust heavily with powdered sugar.
The house really isn’t all that warm this time of year, either. I let them rise for several hours, formed the loaves, and let them rise, again, for several hours.
They look beautiful, they smell beautiful, and I know they’re going to taste beautiful.
This is our year. No question about it.
And I think I finally figured out why… It’s because we decided we weren’t going to go crazy and bake a bazillion cookies like we do every year.
Just by cutting back and coming up with fewer batches of everything, the stress went away. Once we decided it just didn’t matter, it all fell into place.
There’s a few things still planned for the next few days and the weekend. And when we get to them, we get to them.
‘Tis the Season to be Jolly!
And we are.