Stollen is a sweet yeasted bread, eaten at Christmas time (and sometimes called Christstollen), originally from the German city of Dresden. The dough is enriched with egg, sugar, butter, dried fruits and almonds and sometimes marzipan is placed along the centre, before it is folded into an oval and baked. The shape is said to represent the baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling cloths.

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Ingredients

  • 80 ml ( fl oz/ cup) warm milk
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dried yeast
  • 125 g ( oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 85 g (3 oz/ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 375 g (12 oz/3 cups) white strong flour
  • 80 g ( oz/ cup) raisins
  • 75 g ( oz/½ cup) currants
  • 95 g ( oz/½ cup) mixed peel
  • 60 g ( oz/½ cup) slivered almonds
  • 30 g (1 oz) butter, melted
  • icing (confectioners’) sugar, for dusting

Method

  1. Combine the milk, sugar and yeast with 80 ml ( fl oz/ cup) warm water in a bowl and leave for 10 minutes, or until bubbles appear on the surface. The mixture should be frothy and slightly increased in volume.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar with electric beaters until creamy, then add the egg and vanilla. Add the yeast mixture, cinnamon and almost all the flour and mix to a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, or until smooth. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and leave in a draught-free place for 1¾ hours, or until doubled in size.
  3. Lightly grease a baking tray. Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a floured work surface. Press it out to a thickness of 1.5 cm ( inch). Sprinkle over the dried fruit and almonds, then knead to mix them through the dough. Shape the dough into an oval, 18 cm (7 inches) wide and 30 cm (12 inches) long, then fold in half lengthways. Press down to flatten, with the fold slightly off centre on top of the loaf.
  4. Place on the tray, cover and leave in a draught-free place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4).
  5. Bake for 40 minutes, or until golden. As soon as the stollen comes out of the oven, brush with the melted butter, allowing each brushing to be absorbed, until you have used all the butter. Cool on a wire rack. Dust with icing sugar.

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