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Christmas Stollen

by Jack Sturgess from Bake with Jack: Bread Every Day

With plenty of dried fruit and the subtle nutty taste of the roll of marzipan hidden inside the light dough, this Christmas Stollen is a must-have for the festive season.

From the book

Jack Sturgess

Introduction

Stollen IS Christmas. That sweet, fruity, spicy softness, the little treat circle of marzipan in every slice, the soft blanket of snow draped over the top – you can almost hear the sleigh bells jingling. SO OFTEN in classes I hear people saying they don’t like marzipan as the flavour is too strong, and some even opt for leaving it out of their stollen altogether – initially, at least. But when we make it together ourselves and try it, we realise that it’s a completely different beast to that yellow, slightly weird-tasting block you buy in the shops. It’s almondy but in a natural way rather than overpoweringly so, and those people opting out soon opt back in when they discover what the real thing tastes like. If you are making these as gifts for Christmas, do your best to deliver them on the day you made them, when they’re at their best.

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Ingredients

100g warm milk, 25–30°C
1 medium (50g/1¾oz without the shell) egg
1 (20g/¾oz) egg yolk, the white reserved for the marzipan
15g (½oz) OR or 7g (¼oz) fresh yeast, crumbled OR fast-action dried yeast
250g (9oz) strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp (4g) salt
40g (1½oz) golden caster (superfine) sugar
2 tsp (4g) mixed spice
50g (1¾oz) room-temperature unsalted butter, broken up into pieces, plus 50g/1¾oz for brushing the baked stollen
For the filling:
50g (1¾oz) sultanas (golden raisins)
50g (1¾oz) dried apricots
50g (1¾oz) dried cranberries
50g (1¾oz) candied orange peel, chopped
For the marzipan:
100g (3½oz) ground almonds (almond meal)
50g (1¾oz) golden caster (superfine) sugar
50g (1¾oz) icing (confectioners’) sugar, plus extra for dusting
pinch of salt
1 egg white reserved from making the dough

Method

Pre-soaking the dried fruit: Overnight

Place all your dried fruit in a bowl and pour over just enough water to cover. Soak at room temperature overnight.

Drain the soaked fruit and pat dry really well with kitchen paper, then mix with the peel. Set aside.

Making the dough: 20–25 minutes

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, whole egg and egg yolk and yeast with a balloon whisk until the yeast has softened.

Add the flour, salt, sugar and spice, then mix with a dough scraper until the mixture starts to come together into a rough dough. Add the butter and dimple it into the dough with your fingertips.

Turn your dough out onto a clean work surface and knead without any additional flour for 10 minutes. It has the potential to be slippery and buttery here, but keep your scraper handy to tidy up every once in a while and the dough will come together nicely.

Cover the dough with a clean cloth and rest on the work surface for 5 minutes or so to make the next stage easier.

Adding the fruit: 5–10 minutes

Dust the work surface lightly with flour and roll out the dough with a rolling pin into a 30cm circle. Sprinkle over half your fruit mixture evenly and dimple it into the dough with your fingertips. Fold the bottom third of your dough circle up and the top third down over it. Then press the dough with your fingertips to spread it into a rectangle.

Sprinkle your remaining fruit evenly over the dough and again dimple it in with your fingertips. Roll up the dough from one short side into a short sausage.

Resting: 1½–2 hours

Shape the dough into a ball and place it back in the bowl. Sprinkle the top with a little flour, cover with an upturned bowl and rest at room temperature for 1½–2 hours.

Making the marzipan: 5–10 minutes

Meanwhile, mix together the dry ingredients for the marzipan in a bowl. Then add the egg white and keep mixing until a dough forms.

Work the marzipan with your hands on the work surface until it has all come together. Cut it in half and roll each piece into a sausage about 12–15cm long, dusting with flour along the way. Set aside at room temperature.

Dividing and pre-shaping: 2 minutes

Divide the dough in half with your dough scraper, about 370g each depending on how much moisture your fruit absorbed. If you want the pieces of dough to be exactly the same size, weigh the dough as a whole, divide the weight by 2 and then weigh out each piece accordingly.

Fold and roll each piece of dough into a tight ball.

Resting: 15 minutes

Line up your dough balls on the work surface, cover with an upturned bowl and rest for 15 minutes to relax ready for the next stage.

Shaping: 5–10 minutes 

Line a large baking tray with baking parchment.

Dust the work surface with flour. Working with one at a time, slide your dough scraper underneath a dough ball to release it and flip it sticky side up onto the dusted surface. Roll it out into a 15–20cm circle with a rolling pin, then push the rolling pin down horizontally across the middle. Roll up and down slightly to create a flattened area in the middle about 10cm wide, with a plump bit of dough at the top and bottom.

Lay your marzipan sausage in the flat area and fold the top part of the dough over it so that the 2 plump parts meet. Press your fingertips down between the rolled-up marzipan and 2 two pieces of dough to seal the gap, then place on your lined tray. If you want, you can pinch the dough to seal it around the ends of the marzipan, but I like to leave them open and that way you get a crunchy golden piece of marzipan on the end slices. Space the 2 stollen well apart on the tray to give them plenty of room to expand.

Resting: 1–1½ hours

Cover the stollen with a cloth and rest for 1–1½ hours. They may not puff up as much as you may be expecting, but that’s because a large part of them are made of marzipan, which obviously doesn’t puff up! Touch the plump part of dough, and if it feels soft and delicate, you are good to bake.

Towards the end of resting, preheat your oven to 180°C fan/400°F/Gas Mark 6 with a shelf in the middle and a deep roasting tray on the oven floor. Half fill a kettle.

Baking and finishing: 25-30 minutes

Boil the kettle.

Place the baking tray on the oven shelf and carefully pour the hot water into the tray below. Bake your stollen for 25–30 minutes.

Finishing: 5 minutes

As soon as they are cool enough to handle, transfer the stollen to a wire rack. Place the lining paper underneath the rack to catch any butter drips. Dip a pastry brush into the extra soft butter and brush it all over while the stollen are still hot, then dust liberally with a thick blanket of icing sugar. Let them cool completely before slicing.

Tip: Get ahead with your filling. The marzipan takes no time at all to make, but if you wish you can make it in advance, roll it up into sausages ready to use and keep them in the fridge where they will firm up. Then take them out as you are making your dough and leave at room temperature so that they are not cold when you fill your stollen.

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From the book: Bake with Jack: Bread Every Day

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