My recipes have been richly influenced not only by my Italian origins but also by our urban multicultural surroundings. I guess you could say that my trove of recipes is a reflection of our truly mosaic society. This Stollen recipe is no exception, and I have to attribute it to my husband, who as far as I know has no Teutonic bloodline. He does however have a propensity for German sweets, anything from elderberry jam to Pfeffernüsse cookies. It all started about fifteen years ago when out of the blue he purchased a Stollen, and thereafter took it upon himself to make his own for the following Christmas. In his search for the ideal recipe he enlisted the help of our dear German neighbour. I was sure that the novelty would wear off but much to my astonishment each year since, he embarks on his "Stollen production" project. Actually for a guy who never bakes, he does a pretty good job.
Ingredients: (to make 4 loaves or 6 small ones)
Note: this recipe was converted from the metric to the imperial system, thus the somewhat strange quantities and volumes... but it's tried and true!
1-1/3 cups (225gr) currants
1 cup (150 gr) orange zest
1 cup (150 gr) lemon zest
3 cups (500 gr) Thompson raisins (or sultanas)
4-1/3 cups sliced almonds
6-1/2 cups (1 kilo) sifted flour
6 packets yeast (8 gr each)
2 cups (250 gr) icing sugar
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 pinches mace
2 pinches allspice
1/2 tsp salt
2.8 oz rum
2 cups (1/2 liter) lukewarm milk (reserve 1 cup for proofing the yeast)
1-1/3 lbs (600 gr) butter
Sprinkle the rum onto the mixture of currants, raisins,almonds & candied peel, cover and allow to soak overnight.
"Proof" the yeast by sprinkling it over 1 cup of the lukewarm milk (about 100 º) to which has been added a tablespoon of sugar. Set aside in a warm place for about 10 minutes. The yeast is active if it forms a creamy foam on top of the milk.
Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the room-temp butter, icing sugar, the remainder of lukewarm milk, spices and the "proofed" yeast mixture and mix Transfer to a slightly floured work surface and thoroughly knead.
Cover the dough and allow to rise for approx. 30 minutes in a warm place.
Add the previously prepared fruit mixture.
Thoroughly knead the fruit mixture into the dough. The dough should be smooth and elastic.
Roll the dough into a long thick cylinder shape and cut into 4-6 pieces. Make the typical Stollen shape.
Transfer to a greased and floured baking tray and leave to rise for 20-30 minutes in a draft free place.
Pre-heat the oven to 350º F and bake for 50 minutes.
While the Stollen is still warm, brush with melted butter and dust with icing sugar. Wrap well in aluminum foil and store in a cool place.