How to Bake Stollen: A Delightful German Christmas Tradition
Are you ready to embark on a baking adventure this holiday season? Look no further than Stollen – a delicious fruit bread that has been enjoyed for centuries in Germany during Christmas time. With its delightful combination of nuts, spices, and dried or candied fruit, this traditional German bread is sure to bring joy to your taste buds and warmth to your heart. In this article, we will guide you through the step-by-step process of baking your very own Stollen, so you can experience the enchantment of this holiday treat.
Ingredients you'll need
To begin your Stollen-baking journey, gather these simple yet essential ingredients:
- 500 grams (4 cups) of all-purpose flour
- 200 milliliters (3/4 cup) of warm milk
- 100 grams (1/2 cup) of granulated sugar
- 100 grams (1/2 cup) of unsalted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon of active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground cardamom
- 200 grams (1 1/2 cups) of assorted dried or candied fruit (such as raisins, mixed peel, and cherries)
- 100 grams (1 cup) of chopped nuts (such as almonds or walnuts)
- Powdered sugar for dusting
Let the baking commence!
Start by dissolving the yeast in warm milk. Make sure the milk is warm, but not too hot, as extreme temperatures can kill the yeast. Let it rest for a few minutes until the yeast becomes frothy.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, granulated sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. Mix well, making sure all the ingredients are evenly incorporated.
Add the softened butter to the flour mixture and mix until it resembles coarse crumbs. This step helps create a tender and flaky texture for your Stollen.
Pour in the frothy yeast mixture and vanilla extract. Stir until a soft dough forms. If the dough feels too sticky, gradually add more flour until it becomes more manageable.
Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for about 5-7 minutes, until it becomes smooth and elastic. This kneading process helps develop the gluten in the dough, giving the Stollen its characteristic texture.
Once the dough has reached the desired consistency, flatten it with your hands into a rectangular shape. Sprinkle the dried or candied fruit and chopped nuts evenly over the dough, pressing them gently to adhere.
Starting from one of the longer sides, tightly roll the dough into a log shape, ensuring that the fruit and nut filling is evenly distributed throughout. Place the Stollen on a parchment-lined baking sheet, with the seam side facing downwards.
Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F) and let the Stollen rest in a warm spot for about 30-45 minutes, allowing it to rise and double in size.
Once the Stollen has risen, bake it in the preheated oven for approximately 30-40 minutes, or until it turns golden brown. Keep an eye on it to prevent over-browning.
Remove the baked Stollen from the oven and transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, generously dust it with powdered sugar to resemble a snowy masterpiece. The sugar adds a touch of sweetness and a picturesque finish, making your Stollen truly delightful.
Your homemade Stollen is now ready to be enjoyed! Slice it into thick pieces and savor the blend of flavors and textures. Pair it with a warm cup of coffee or a glass of mulled wine for the ultimate festive experience.
Now that you have mastered the art of baking Stollen, it's time to share this traditional German treat with your loved ones. Whether you indulge in it during a cozy winter evening or offer it as a heartfelt gift, your homemade Stollen is sure to create magical moments of joy and celebration. Embrace the spirit of Christmas baking and let the aroma of freshly baked Stollen fill your home with warmth and happiness.