Monday, December 27, 2010

Daring Baker's Challenge: December 2010 - Stollen Wreath

I know it's been a while since my last post... a month to be exact, but don't worry, I'm still alive and kicking! I've just gotten a bit distracted by another blogging side-project. Tumblr's got a hold of me and while I haven't been posting a lot of my baking adventures, if you check out my Tumblr blog ( you can take a peak into my other obsessions.

But, even though I haven't been blogging recipes recently, I will always do my best to keep up to date with the Daring Baker Challenges. So, here's my Stollen Wreath for December's challenge.

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book.........and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

Stollen Wreath


- ¼ cup lukewarm water

- 2 packages active dry yeast

- 1 cup milk
- 10 tbsp unsalted butter

- 5 ½ cups all-purpose flour

- ½ cup sugar

- ¾ tsp salt

- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten

- Grated zest of 1
lemon and 1 orange
- 2 tsp vanilla extract

- 1 tsp lemon extract or orange extract

- ¾ cup mixed peel

- 1 cup firmly packed raisins (I substituted 1/2 a cup with cranberries)
- 3 tbsp rum
- 12 red glacé cherries (chopped) for color & taste (optional)

- 1 cup flaked almonds (I didn't use these, as my sister is allergic)

- Melted unsalted butter for coating
- Confectioners’ sugar for dusting


1. In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the rum (or in the orange juice from the zested orange) and set aside.

2. Pour ¼ cup warm water in
to a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.
3. In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup milk and 10 tbsp butter over medium - low heat until butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes.

4. Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon and vanilla extracts.
5. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests.

6. Then stir in the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/butter mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl
with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes. 7. Add in mixed peel, soaked fruit and almonds and mix with hands to incorporate. Here is where you can add the cherries, if using. Be delicate or your dough will turn red
8. Sprinkle flour on counter, transfer dough to the counter, and begin kneading to distribute the fruit evenly, add additional flour if needed. The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for ~8 minutes. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough – a few
raisins will start to fall off the dough onto the counter because at the beginning of the kneading process the dough is very sticky and the raisins will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn't enough to bind the outside raisins onto the dough ball.
9. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

10. Put it in the fridge overnight. The dough becomes very firm in the fridge but it does rise slowly… the raw dough can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week and then baked on the day you want.
Shaping The Dough
11. Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.
12. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
13. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with the oven rack on the middle shelf.

14. Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches and ¼ inch thick.

15. Starting
with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder.
16. Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan. Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle. You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape.
17. Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough.
18. Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
19. Proof for ~2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.

20. Ba
ke the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, should register 190°F/88°C in the center of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom. 21. Transfer to a cooling rack; brush the top with melted butter while hot
22. Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sifter.
23. Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over-top.

24. The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar.

25. Let cool at least an hour before serving. Coat the stollen in butter and icing sugar 3 times, since the many coatings help keep the stollen fresh.

26. When completely cool, store in a plastic bag. Or leave it out uncovered overnight to dry out slightly, German style.

This recipe was challenging for me, as I'm not that gifted when it comes to baking with yeast. As my regular readers may know, yeast and I do not get along very well... we're fair-weather friends, one might say. But thanks to my patience and sticking to the recipe to a "t", I was able to produce a Stollen Wreath which I was most proud of sharing with my family and friends for a Christmas potluck. The wreath was wonderfully moist and sweet, thanks to the many layers of butter and icing sugar, and it was the perfect addition to our holiday banquet. I will definitely be making this recipe again, come next winter-time.