Weihnachten stollen is a German winter favorite, but actually tastes well the whole year round. The rich taste of dried fruit and almonds, macerated for one or two days in coconut rum or brandy, characterize this bread. The dough itself is not necessarily sweet and makes use of a sponge. The bread keeps well at room temperature for 2-3 weeks!
Origin and art of making Weihnachten stollen
Stollen originates from Germany’s Saxony region. People have eaten it since the middle ages in the Christmas season. Dried fruit and nuts, the zest of citrus fruit and spices such as cinnamon and cardamom are typical of this bread. And it is made with butter which helps to keep the bread soft upon storage. A very special taste is obtained my macerating the nuts and dried fruit for a few days in rum.
One or two days before baking, at room temperature, macerate the dried fruit and almonds in the coconut rum in a covered bowl until all the fluid is absorbed. Toss around now and then. The fruit and nuts should have absorbed all the liquids before using
Instruction to make the sponge
Combine the milk, flour and yeast and allow the mixture to pre-ferment for 1 h
Meanwhile work on the dough
Instructions for making the final bread
Mix all the dough ingredients and add the sponge when it shows signs of vigorous fermentation
Let the dough rest for 15 minutes
Then incorporate into the dough half of the macerated fruit and mix by kneading carefully (6 min)
Bring the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and let is ferment for 45 min, covered with wrap
Then sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough and flatten the dough with a dough pin to a roughly 9 by 6 inch rectangle. In the middle, using the dough pin, mix in the remaining half of the macerated fruit by inserting it in the middle. Then flap the dough closed and seal the crease by pinching it with the edge of your hand
Then transfer the stollen to a oiled and lightly dusted with flour sheet pan and bring it in a crescent form
Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise for 1-1.5 h until the product is 1.5 times its original size
Thereafter place in a hot oven, add some steam or hot water and bake further at 180 C for 1 h until the bread shows a dark brown mahony color
Take the bread out of the oven and while hot, use a brush to cover the top of the bread with melted butter. Immediately thereafter cover with icing sugar. After a minute cover with more icing sugar
Let the bread completely cool down before cutting it. The bread can be stored for several weeks at room temperature in a closed paper bag.