Friday, December 31, 2010

Stollen (DB)

"You stole what?" Yes, that is the response I got when I told my husband that I was making stollen!

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.

I had actually never heard of or tried stollen before, so I had no idea what to expect.  Stollen is a very traditional German Christmas bread.  It is made with yeast, water and flour, and usually with zest added to the dough. Candied orange peel and candied citrus is often also added.  What you end up with is a bread-like fruitcake.

I was pleasantly surprised by this recipe.  When you bake something until it is a "dark mahogany color,"and sounds "hollow when thumped on the bottom" you kind of expect something dry and hard.  This was quite the opposite, actually.  It was moist and had a nice, tender crumb.  The citrus zest and candied orange peels really gave the bread an interesting flavor that reminded me of the Italian sweet bread panettone.  I have to admit that the sugared butter coating was my favorite part of this bread (the finished bread is coated with three layers of melted butter and sprinkled with powdered sugar).  Without it, the bread wouldn't have been nearly as good. 

Thanks Penny, for hosting this month's challenge.  I actually made this weeks ago but my post is a few days late because we just got back from a trip to (rainy) California and I completely forgot about this until now! Make sure you check out the Daring Bakers' Blogroll to see how everyone else enjoyed this sweet German holiday treat.

Wishing everyone a safe and Happy New Year's!

Stollen Wreath

Makes one large wreath or two traditional shaped Stollen loaves. Serves 10-12 people


¼ cup (60ml) lukewarm water (110º F / 43º C)
2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) (22 ml) (14 grams) (1/2 oz) active dry yeast
1 cup (240 ml) milk
10 tablespoons (150 ml) (140 grams) unsalted butter (can use salted butter)
5½ cups (1320 ml) (27 ozs) (770 grams) all-purpose (plain) flour (Measure flour first - then sift- plus extra for dusting)
½ cup (120 ml) (115 gms) sugar
¾ teaspoon (3 ¾ ml) (4 ½ grams) salt (if using salted butter there is no need to alter this salt measurement)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 grams) cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (very good) vanilla extract
1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon extract or orange extract
¾ cup (180 ml) (4 ¾ ozs) (135 grams) mixed peel
1 cup (240 ml) (6 ozs) (170 gms) firmly packed raisins
3 tablespoons (45ml) rum
12 red glacé cherries (roughly chopped) for the color and the taste. (optional)
1 cup (240 ml) (3 ½ ozs) (100 grams) flaked almonds
Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath
Confectioners’ (icing) (powdered) sugar for dusting wreath

Note: If you don’t want to use alcohol, double the lemon or orange extract or you could use the juice from the zested orange.


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

To make the dough

Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.

In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup (240 ml) milk and 10 tablespoons (150 ml) butter over medium - low heat until butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes.

Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon and vanilla extracts.

In a large mixing bowl (4 qt) (4 liters) (or in the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment), stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests.

Then stir in (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) 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.

Add in the mixed peel, soaked fruit and almonds and mix with your hands or on low speed to incorporate. Here is where you can add the cherries if you would like. Be delicate with the cherries or all your dough will turn red!

Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing with the dough hook) to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed. The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 8 minutes (6 minutes by machine). The full six minutes of kneading is needed to distribute the dried fruit and other ingredients and to make the dough have a reasonable bread-dough consistency. 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.

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.
Put it in the fridge overnight. The dough becomes very firm in the fridge (since the butter goes firm) 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 and Baking the Wreath

1. Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.
2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
3. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
4. Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches (40 x 61 cms) and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick.

Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder.

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.

Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough.

Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.Bake 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.

Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the top with melted butter while still hot.
Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter.
Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first.
The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar.
Let cool at least an hour before serving. Coat the stollen in butter and icing sugar three times, since this many coatings helps keeps the stollen fresh - especially if you intend on sending it in the mail as Christmas presents!

When completely cool, store in a plastic bag. Or leave it out uncovered overnight to dry out slightly, German style. The stollen tastes even better in a couple of days and it toasts superbly…. so delicious with butter and a cup of tea

The more rum and the more coatings of butter and sugar you use the longer it will store.
The following is for the recipe as written and uses the 45 mls of rum and two coatings of butter and icing sugar
1. Stollen freezes beautifully about 4 months
2. The baked stollen stores well for 2 weeks covered in foil and plastic wrap on the counter at room temperature and
3. One month in the refrigerator well covered with foil and plastic wrap.

Monday, December 20, 2010

iPad Giveaway

This is a compensated review by BlogHer.

Have you gotten all of your Christmas shopping done yet? If you're anything like me, you're still working on getting some last minute gifts together! I was recently asked to check out and see what features I liked. One of the first things I stumbled across was their holiday gift guide.  There's several categories, including "Gifts for the Photographer," "Gifts for the App Addict," "Gifts for Animal Lovers," "Gifts for the Cook," and many many more.  Take a peek and see if you get inspired!

They have featured content for entertainment, family, home & garden, life, style, etc. but of course what caught my attention was the food section!  There I found some great posts from around the web from other bloggers on the BlogHer ad network.  One that particularly caught my attention was the Rolo-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies - can you say yum?!

Take a look around and visit this week's Sweepstakes post. This week’s giveaway is for an iPad. I'm sure that most of us could use a free iPad, right? The contest is open to US and Canadian Residents (except Quebec) who are 18 or older and is running today through Sunday, December 26th. Good luck, and Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Apple-Coconut Family Cake (TWD)

 This week's Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) recipe was chosen by Amber of Cobbler du Monde: Apple-Coconut Family Cake. I had seen this recipe in the book before, and thought it looked interesting. I honestly thought it was more of a fancy cake, so I passed it up, waiting to make it another day. Had I spent a little more time to read the recipe instructions (and not just the recipe list), I would have quickly realized that this is not a fussy cake, and it doesn't take long to make at all. The most time consuming aspect of it is slicing and dicing the apples. Otherwise, it's pretty much like any other muffin or quick bread recipe that doesn't even require an electric mixer. 

I found that my cake took considerably longer to bake through completely - a full 20-25 minutes extra! I was worried that the edges would burn because they started to brown much sooner than the center, but in the end it was okay.  The edges of my cake were a little drier than the center, but they weren't burnt at least.  Otherwise, this recipe came together quickly and easily for me. The slightly chewy texture that the coconut gives this cake did not bother me, but I did read that a few did not like that. I love apples and I love coconut, but I never would have thought to put the two together like this.  It was a nice combination of flavors.

Thanks Amber, for hosting this week.  I will definitely be making this again. If you would like the recipe, you can find it here.  Make sure you check out the TWD Blogroll, to see how everyone else enjoyed this cake.

* Recipe notes:
- Make sure you test your cake before removing it from the oven - mine took a full 20-25 minutes longer to bake!
- For more recipe tips, click here

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Translucent Maple Tuiles (TWD)

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) recipe was chosen by Hindy of Bubie’s Little Baker: Translucent Maple Tuiles. I was honestly a bit intimidated about these because they look so beautiful and delicate and in the book. When I read the recipe and realized how quick and easy they are, I decided to give them a try.

The dough is simply butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup with just a little bit of flour. It can be made in a matter of minutes but requires a bit of refrigeration so you'll need to plan ahead when making these. Luckily, the dough will also keep in the refrigerator for up to a week, so you can make it ahead of time.

My tuiles did not turn out at all! They look more like pringles than translucent tuiles! I think my idea of a small cherry is a little different from Dorie's so my dough balls were a bit too big. So I ended up with cookies that did not spread as much as they should have but luckily only the appearance was affected because the taste was amazing! These tuiles are like part cookie, part candy.

Thanks Hindy, for hosting this week.  I will definitely be making this again - next time I will be sure to roll out smaller balls of dough so they'll actually get their characteristic honeycomb appearance. If you would like the recipe, you can find it here.

Make sure you check out the TWD Blogroll, to see how these are really supposed to look :)

* Recipe notes:
- Keep a close eye on these to make sure you don't burn them! Mine were done after a short 4-5 minutes in the oven!
- Make sure you make your balls of dough really small, as they spread quite a bit in the oven and a little bit goes a long way.
- For more recipe tips, click here