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Daring Bakers Challenge: Christmas Stollen

December 24, 2010
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The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge 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.

Christmas Stollen is a delicious variety of fruit cake. Similar to fruit cake, Stollen keeps for a very long time; up to a month in the refrigerator!

The Stollen has many components which makes it fun as you can customize each part to your liking. In the recipe we used, the components are candied citrus peel, dried fruits, and nuts. I choose to make candied Clementine peel. For the dried fruits, I used cranberries, figs, and dates. For nuts, I went with my favorite, walnuts.

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Making your own candied citrus peel was a fun additional mini-challenge. I used clementines, as I already had a crate of them. First, wash the clementines and peel them, trying to keep the peels in as large pieces as possible. Slice the peels, and then cover them in water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Strain the peels, and re-boil them in fresh water two more times. Once you’ve boiled the peels (to remove any lingering pithy taste), you need to boil them in syrup. Combine 4 cups of water with 4 cups of sugar, bring to a boil and then add the peels. Boil them for one hour and  then allow the peels to cool in the syrup. Once cooled, remove the peels and place them on drying racks to let the excess syrup drip off. If needed, pat them on a paper towel before tossing them in sugar. After coating each peel in sugar, allow them to air dry either on drying racks (cleaned from the syrup, please!) or on a plate until they are hardened, at least 2 hours.

After you’ve made the peels, you can gather and prepare the other ingredients.

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Dice your chosen dried fruits (1 – 1.5 cups). Soak fruits in 3 tablespoons of rum, brandy or other spirit. Proof 1/2 ounce active dry yeast in a 1/4 cup warm water. Melt 10 tablespoons of butter and combine with 1 cup warm milk. Crack 3 eggs, and combine with 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon orange extract and beat together. Roughly chop your nuts (4 ounces). Then  you’re ready to go!

Combine 27 ounces all purpose flour in a stand mixer with 1/2 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Then, add in the egg/extract mixture, butter/milk mixture and citrus zests and process until the dough comes together. Finally, add in the fruits and nuts and process in the stand mixture on medium strength for 6 minutes before transferring to a fresh oiled bowl. At this point, the dough needs to in all the flavors, so pop it in the refrigerator for at least overnight or up to three days.

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When you’re finally ready and worked up for that first delicious piece of Stollen, pull the dough out the fridge and let it come back to room temperature for at least two hours. Then, roll the dough out into rectangle with about 1/4 of an inch width. Once you’ve worked out the dough into a sheet, then gently roll the dough up into a long snake and form your Christmas Stollen by wrapping the ends together into a long wreath.

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Cut the shaped loaf with scissors 2/3 the way through the width of the loaf in regular intervals and allow the Stollen to proof for at least two hours. Bake in an oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes, or until the interior of the loaf reaches 190 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pull the Stollen out and admire it’s dark mahogany color.  Now, it gets fun and a little Paula Deen-ish. Using 3/4 stick of melted butter, brush the Stollen in the butter. All the butter. Douse it, really. It’s what allows it to keep for such a long time! A form of preservation, really. So when the loaf looks like satin and is shining from all the butter, it’s time to coat it with powdered sugar. Three times, sift powdered sugar over top of the Stollen.

Once it’s coated and covered, you can either leave the Stollen out overnight to harden slightly (German-style), or wrap it up to enjoy over the next month. Enjoy toasted with some butter and a cup of tea. Delight in the oh-so-delicate sweetness and the toothsome bits of fruit and nuts.  IMG_7879

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