Monday, March 8, 2010

BBA Challenge Bread #36 — Stollen

No, you're not reading that title incorrectly or have slipped into a time warp and missed about eight breads. I finally got a chance to get back to BBA baking and am at the sourdough section. I didn't plan enough ahead and my starter wasn't ready. I'd neglected the poor thing and it needed lots of feedings and attention. While that was happening, I skipped past the sourdough section and landed on Stollen. And oh, what a landing.

I'm baking my way through Peter Reinhart's award winning book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice, along with a number of other amateur bakers (I'm not sure how many are still with us, and a few have finished!). Want to join in the madness, or just learn more about this semi-crazy undertaking? Check out the following links:

Stollen is an celebration bread, this time from Germany. We've baked a few other celebration loaves, including Artos, the Greek celebration bread, and Panettone, the Italian Christmas bread. I loved the Artos bread and will definitely make it again. After all, Easter is just around the corner. I didn't love the Panettone. It was just OK, but thought about giving it another shot.

Until I made Stollen. Like Panettone, Stollen begins with booze-soaked fruit, but they become distinctly different after that.

For one thing, this stollen comes togther very quickly–for a yeast bread, at any rate. It's a one day bread (not counting the fruit soaking) that mixes, proofs and bakes in about 4 hours. Trust me, that's lightning fast.
stollen-orange extract

I started the fruit on Friday night. I decided to used orange extract and rum. It was cheap rum, but it's what we have. What can I say, we don't have snooty taste buds in this house. I mixed up the bread on Sunday, so the fruit had plenty of time to soak up all the flavor and plump up nicely.
stollen-dough plain

The fruit-to-dough ration is pretty crazy. I thought the Cranberry Walnut celebration bread was packed. That has nothing on this. Check it out:
stollen-dough fruit
stollen-dough mixed

The shaping was tricky. I read and re-read the directions and couldn't quite figure out how what was described was what was shown in the book. I went by description, and it ended up being a pretty basic letter fold. You add extra fruit plus slivered almonds to the folds, bend it into a crescent then let it proof about an hour.
stollen-shaping fold3
stollen-shaping fold4

After baking, you immediately brush with butter. When I was doing some research on Stollen, I read where someone brushed with butter, sprinkled with powdered sugar, then repeated both, creating a much "crustier" sugar coating. I gave it a shot and it worked great.
stollen-baked butter

I love this shaker. I have one for powdered sugar and one for flour. It's perfect for dusting cake pans.
stollen-psugar shaker

I thoroughly enjoyed this bread. I keeps a long time because of the booze (nice) and gets better through the week. I loved it so much that I made another half batch this weekend. This time, I soaked the fruit in triple sec. WOW! Excellent flavor and none of the in-your-face alcohol flavor that the rum had on the first day (although it did mellow after the second day).

I even got the shaping right! Turns out the shaping is more of an accordion fold than a letter fold.
Man, I miss being able to take my food photos in natural light. Doesn't this look about a bazillion times better than the others?

If you like panettone or other celebration breads, I sincerely hope you give stollen a shot. It's SO worth it!


  1. Beautiful!! I, too, loved this bread. Unfortunately, so did my dog. I will definitely have to make it again.

  2. Beautiful Stollen and gorgeous photos! I also liked the Stollen better than the Panettone. Adding butter to the crust to make it crustier sounds like a wonderful idea! I'll have to try that!

  3. Well, I loved your stollen - gorgeous - but also fell in love with your measuring spoon, and your sugar shaker!

    Had never seen one quite like it....

    I might have to search for one, you know, help the economy :-)

  4. Phyl- I read about your dog. Tragic and funny at the same time. I saw one of our cats eyeballing the bread and immediately thought of you. Needless to say, I'm not letting the cats anywhere NEAR that bread!

    Cathy - Thanks! The double butter-sugar combo is great. It'll turn into paste when you put on the second layer of butter, but a healthy dose of sugar will cover it!

    Sally - Thanks! The spoons are from Target, I think and the shaker is Pampered Chef. Love them!

  5. It has already been said, but I echo the beautiful sentiment. Looks fantabulous!

  6. Mmmmm! Triple sec! Thanks for the inspiriation. Can't wait to get to this one. Your shaping is perfect.

  7. Very awesome bread. I brought this to a late Christmas party which was super convenient because Stollen is a Christmas bread here in Germany. However, it is held in the same esteem as the fruitcake has in the States. I, however, could eat it every day.

  8. YUM! Looks great. I couldn't figure out the shaping instructions either, but I used my stollen tin for one loaf and tried the original stollen shaping for the other loaf which wasn't perfect - but hey, there are going to be a lot more X-mases I can practice it for.


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