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…
I love the Italian Christmas cakes Pandoro and Panettone. And as my sweet Starter is happily active it was no question that I would bake one of this cakes for Christmas eve. And when i found the lovely mini panettone forms for little cakes of 50g each the decision was quickly made. Panettone it would be this year.
My recipe for panettone yields an amount that fits for 3 normal sized cakes or for 30 mini ones. But forming so many minis was a bit to much, even for me and so I went for 2 big and 10 mini Panettone.
I tweaked the recipe a bit, too. I increased the liquid and butter amount but reduced the raisins a bit. The resulting cake was incredible light with a crumb that can easily be shredded into long strands and so tender that it seems to melt in the mouth.
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!
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.
Christmas seems to be still far far away. You could buy Spektulatius and Lebkuchen in the supermarket since months but I ignore this fact since month, too. For me it is still autumn!
But then I realize that in three (!) weeks we have the first Sunday in Advent and that I have to bake christstollen right now if I plan to serve a christstollen infused with all the flavours that only three or four weeks of storing can create.
And so I bake again the same recipe like last year – the one I invented for a super moist stollen. The Taste of it is great: some vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom and mace fused with raisins and candid orangepeel and citron peel. Make sure to buy the best ingredients you get, the quality of the ingredients affect the quality of the stollen!
For the recipe, please look at my last years post here.