Our family devours this nut and fruit yeast bread every christmas. Except for our son - he is not fond of homemade yeast breads - go figure. I've been making this as long as I can remember. Over the years friends have told me that they make the same bread - and call it by a different name. Whatever you call it - it is delicious and delightful!!!!
One of my favorite christmas teapots - we drink tea and eat Stollen, for a mid morning pick-me-up
Before we cook - here is a little history about Stollen - from a German grandmother.
Dresden Stollen is said to have originated in 1329 as a result of a contest offered by the Bishop of Nauruburg. The bakers were not allowed to use butter and the sweet additions that we have today in our stollen, during the holy days, as it was considered a sin to be extravagent. The breads were hard and tasteless. If anyone used butter in their baking they had to pay a fine - which was used to build the cathedral.
The Bishop asked permission from the Pope for his people to use butter, which was more plentiful in their area than oil (which was made from turnips). The Pope granted permission for the bakers to use butter and the Bishop held a contest to see who could present him with the best loaf of bread.
A baker in the region produced a wonderful bread baked with the finest butter, sugar, raisins, citron and other specialty ingredients. The Bishop enjoyed the stollen so much that he ordered a quantity of grain saved for stollen only.
Stollen at that time were baked in loaves weighing 30 pounds. Stollen became such a part of Dresdeners' lives that it was cut and served with special, stollen only utensils. It was also tradition that the first piece of stollen was set aside and kept to ensure the family would be able to afford a stollen the following year and the last piece saved to ensure the family had enough food for the year.
The largest stollen was 1.8 tons - made around 1570. Now THAT'S a big stollen.
The shape of a loaf of Stollen reminded miners of a tunnel - and that is what Stollen means - tunnel. Some find a religious symbol in Stollen's shape -the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes - while others find it to be natural and moon shaped - giving them a connection with light in the dark of winter.
Thirty pounds is a lot of Stollen - I think we'll have to settle for something a little smaller. Can you imagine the mixing bowl for that much Stollen?
Get out your ingredients and let's bake - but first - a spot of tea would be just the thing while studying the recipe - and in my favorite christmas cup too.
1 ½ cups milk
½ cup sugar
¾ cup butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 pkgs active dry yeast (I like rapid rise yeast – but regular works too)
½ teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
¼ tsp nutmeg
½ cup raisins
½ cup candied fruit mix
½ cup candied cherries
1 cup pecans or walnuts – you do not need to chop
Scald milk ( very hot but not boiled). Pour into mixer bowl – Kitchen Aid - add sugar, butter, and salt. Cool to luke warm. Add 2 eggs. Beat well.
Add to 3 cups flour and yeast to wet ingredients – beat on medium for 1 minute. Add 1 cup more flour, along with cardamom, nutmeg, raisins, candied fruit, cherries and nuts
Change to dough hook and beat until the dough forms a ball around the hook, adding more flour if necessary.. If stirring by hand – work flour in until dough is firm, no longer sticky and soft.
Remove from mixer bowl and knead for 20 or 30 strokes – just enough to make the ball of dough round and smooth. Most of the kneading was done in the Kitchen Aid Mixer. If kneading by hand – knead for 5 minutes until same results are achieved.
Grease bowl and place dough in bowl – turn once to grease (I use Pam) – cover with plastic wrap and let rise until double.
When risen, cut into 2 to 4 pieces, depending on how big you want your finished loaf to be. Pat each into an oval, about 1” thick, fold in half lengthwise, overlapping the top of the fold about 3/4 of the way across the bottom.
Form into a crescent – it should look like two moons – one on top of the other, a little more "crescent" shaped than the photo . Put on greased baking sheet, cover with a towel, and let rise until double.
Bake at 350 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 25 minutes.
Remove and place on cooling rack. When cool, frost with white butter frosting, or sprinkle with powdered sugar – or leave plain. Slice when cool – unless you really can't help yourself – then slice it while hot – slather on some butter and enjoy!
To reheat – slice and place in the toaster – or microwave – or preheated oven – all work wonderfully. This is our favorite holiday bread – I make three or four batches during the holiday season for gifts and for family eating.
After we get the kitchen cleaned up - let's get out the christmas tree teapot and have more tea.
And if that isn't enough - here is another holly teapot - we can make several kinds of tea and pick our favorite.
Merry Christmas - and happy tea and Stollen.