The more often I bake stollen bites, the more I love them. They are the perfect as late afternoon treats with a cup of tea. They are a perfect little Christmas gift for friends and colleagues. And they are perfect for testing new stollen variants in small scale.
The idea of a whole grain stollen grew in the last year somewhere in my mind. And as it happens so often I felt a itching in my fingers to try the variant. But I was absolutely unsure if I would like the flavour of whole grain flour at all in such a festive bread. And so I did a recipe test with half of the recipe of the stollen bites. After two weeks of resting I finally tested them last weekend and I was thrilled. The slight bitter and nutty tones of the flour harmonises perfectly with the spices and the sweet dried fruits. The flavour is deeper and more complex then of the white flour variant. And they stay as moist as the original, too. And I’m now sad that I made just half of the recipe…
Besides of baking Martinsbrezel I tested a recipe as well: St. Martins Rolls. Like for the Martinsbrezel I learned about them from a dear reader. These rolls are stuffed with candid orange peel and hazelnuts and topped with a generous amount of pearl sugar. They are only baked in the time between St. Martin and Christmas.
And even with the temperature far away from winter, I felt a bit like Christmas when I smelled the candid orange peel and nuts during baking. And on breakfast I fell completely in love with the rolls. Spread with some honey (a gift from a baking course participant) they are so delicious!
Spelt is a favourite and so I was regulary asked if my Stollen can be baked with spelt flour, too. I answered “theoretically yes” and decided to bake a Stollen with spelt flour instead of wheat, too. I like to have a practical background for those answers.
The dough contains only minimal changes to the regular recipe: I used a mixture of sultanas and currants instead of raisins and I reduced the amount of yeast, too. And I replaced the wheat flour with spelt flour, of course.
After three long weeks of resting time we cut the spelt stollen for the first Advent. And it was as moist and mellow as a good stollen has to be. Maybe it is a bit more mellow then the normal recipe, but that was the only difference I recognize. The different spices are stronger then the slight spelt flavour and I doubt that I could tell the spelt and wheat stollen apart when blind testing. And so I can tell now with own experience: Yes, you can bake a spelt stollen!
Some time ago Eva made “Rutite” (Fruit bars) for her little nice. The recipe sounded very simple and the needed dried fruits where all in my kitchen cupboards. After an intense search in the depth of my baking cabinet I even found the unloved round wafer paper which sleeps there unappreciated for several years.
As my mixer is really strong, I throw in all ingredients in whole, even the nuts. And after some minutes of mixing and scrapping down the mixture every now and then, the nuts started to release some oil and mixtrue turned into a dough with a similar consistence like marzipan. The rest was easily done: rolling out, cuting circles with an cookie cutter and placing them between wafer paper. And so I could test my Fruit bars soon. It is very delicious – even with wafer paper!
Before we look back at the Blog year 2015 tomorrow, there is one last Christmas recipe I want to share with you. The little chocolate rounds are a delicious addition for the cookie plate and are a very nice little Present for everyone with a sweet tooth. And as they are easy to make they are a good last minute present as well!
For a good, shiny surface it is important to temper the chocolate. I do this by melting part of the chocolate, then adding the remaining part and then carefully heating it up to 30°C. This work best with a digital thermometer!
For the topping you can use what ever you like: dried fruits, nuts, candid fruits. I for myself prefer highly the variant with chopped (homemade) candid orange peel, as I like the contrast of sweet chocolate and the slightly bitter, fruity flavour of the Orange!
Last year I saw a Christstollen with Sourdough which “Ofenkante” published on his blog. This stirred my brain and I started to think about Stollen made with sweet starter. But as I was already done with Stollen baking at this time point, I stored the idea in the back of my mind. After one year of thinking about it I decided to bake directly two stollen for this Christmas: a traditional and a experimental one.
In the experimental stollen with sweet starter I kept the same ratio of ingredients then in my traditional one (never change a winning team) but build the the sweet starter over several steps to get a enough strength for rising. It is always amazing to see how strong the sweet starter gets when fed three times in a row! But as the feeding is time consuming, this recipe needs a day until it is done.
After four weeks of ripening I brought the stollen from the cold attic back to the warm kitchen and sliced it. The crumb was perfect, firm but moist and the different flavours had fused to a harmonic consonance. Compared to the traditional stollen there are subtle differences in flavour nuances, but it is hard to pin them down. After all, both of them taste terrific and I can not name a favourite.
I can not tell how I learn about the Reformationsbrötchen (reformation rolls). But the idea somehow stuck in mind and so I had to bake them just in time for the 31. October (Reformation day).
This rolls originate from the area around Leipzig and are baked in Saxony, Thüringen and Saxony-Anhalt. It is made from a buttery yeast dough enriched with a lot of raisins, candid orange and lemon peel and almonds. The square form with the red jam in the middle is said to symbolize either the Luther rose, the seal of Martin Luther, or a bishops hat.
My variant is made with a biga preferment for a complex flavour and is rich with raisins and almonds. The candid orange and lemon peel I added in a smaller amount. The crumb is soft and moist due to cream and butter and the tart cherry jam is a great counterpoint to the sweetness of the dough and fruits. A great pastry for the last day of October.
When I bake my Sourdough Pandoro with the special (not sour) sourdough called sweet starter last year I knew already that I would have to make my own Panettone recipe for the following christmas. Similar to the Pandoro recipe I planed to build the dough in some steps so that the yeasts in the sweet starter would get used to sugar and fat which would help to let the dough rise fast. The sweet starter I kept during 2014 alive and baked rather a lot of different breads with him.
On 22. December I refreshed the sweet starter tree times to make him strong and fast rising. He was so strong and fast rising that he only needed two instead if three hours to double his volume when I started the sweet starter for the Panettone at the 23. in the morning. And even the sugar and the butter in the following first and second dough did not slow him down, and tripled its volume in 90 minutes instead of 2 hours. But anyway the third (and last) dough had to take 3 hours for rising because I had to run some errands. Coming home again I formed the Panettone (Susans Tip to grease hands and counter with a lot of butter is really helpful!) and during forming I calculated: I’m now two hours earlier then planned… but it will need about 12 hours at least to proof… and at seven in the morning I’m normally already awake. So there is no problem at all…
At five o’clock the next morning, on my way to the bathroom, I quickly checked the Panettone in the kitchen. And turned the oven on. Ten hours were what they needed to reach the rim of the form. And who needs sleep?
One hour later the panettone was already hanging between two chairs and I crawled back into bed to have another little nap. Later that day we took some pictures and sliced one cake. And it was so delicious: soft and fluffy, the crumb could be teared into long strands, flavours of orange and vanilla and subtle, but complex notes from the sweet starter. And it keeps fresh for a long time, we eat one with my family on the first christmas day, and had some on second christmas day as well and it still tasted like freshly baked. It is a fussy cake and I could less sleep then normal but it is worth everything! It is the perfect christmas cake!
Stollenkonfekt – this is Christstollen baked as little bits. I saw it often in the last weeks in the supermarket. And I thought “I can do some of this delicious bits by my own!” This was the beginning of this recipe. I made some adjustments in my favourite Christstollen recipe, increasing the amount of water roux to prevent drying out in the oven and cutting the marzipan into the small cubes. I halve the recipe so it will yield one tray of Stollenkonfekt.
And because the Stollenkonfekt is so small, no one will recognise when you taste one or two still oven warm. They then already delicious, moist and fluffy. That makes it even harder to wait the one or two weeks of rest a stollen needs so the different flavours can infuse and melt together. But the taste is worth the patience. The crumb gets denser during that time and stays incredible moist. A perfect little bit of stollen in a size which fits on every christmas cookie plate.
I do not make an changes on the recipe of my Christstollen, but some members of our family do not like raisins, and so they do not like Stollen as well. So an alternative was needed! Years ago I already baked a Almondstollen for them, but Almondstollen always has the tendency to get very dry. And that is not so surprising when you take out the ingredients that keeps it moist like raisins for example! But nevertheless I take the challange once again and baked a Marzipan Almond Stollen this year.
The basis for the recipe is the proofed and true recipe of my Christstollen, of course without the raisins and with more almonds. For moisture I use a water roux and added grated Marzipan as well, which adds a nice flavour, too. The fine almond flavour get enhanced from some Tonka bean, and for the classical stollen flavour I grounded candid orange peel in the food processor as fine as possible.
After two weeks of ripening we tested the stollen, and it was still moist. Not as moist as Christstollen, but so much better then every Almond stollen I ever baked before! And it taste very good, too! Maybe I have to bake to different kinds of stollen from now on…