There is 20 inches of snow on the ground here in Minneapolis and the temperature has dipped WAY below zero. This is why we Minnesotans are such bakers, it warms up the house and makes everyone happy. Christmas Stollen is a great tradition this time of year. A sweet loaf that is studded with fruit, spiced with cardamom and a little treat of almond paste runs through it. Once it comes out of the oven we dust it with a thick layer of confectioners’ sugar to look like the snow outside. If there is any left the next day it makes amazing French toast.
100% white whole wheat Christmas Stollen from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day
Makes enough for three 1 1/2 pound loaves
6 cups White Whole Wheat Flour
1 tablespoon granulated Red Star Baking Yeast
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon ground cardamom
1/4 cup Vital Wheat Gluten
2 cups lukewarm water
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (see the book for other alternatives)
1/2 cup honey
4 large eggs
1/4 cup brandy (OJ or black tea can be substituted)
1 1/2 cups finely chopped dried and/or candied fruit (you choose your favorites. I used cherries, raisins, craisins, and apricots.)
1/2 cup Almond Paste
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water)
Confectioners’ sugar for the top
Mixing the dough: Dump the flour, yeast, salt, cardamom, and vital wheat gluten in a 6-Quart Round Food-Storage Container with Lid and stir them together with a spoon or dough whisk. Add the water, butter, honey, eggs, brandy and dried fruit, mix until well incorporated. No kneading! Cover loosely and let stand on the counter for 2 hours. This dough will be sticky, but much easier to handle after it has been refrigerated for several hours. It can be stored in the refrigerator for 5 days or frozen for 2 weeks.
For a version that is a little more decadent, you can use the Brioche Dough (page 189, ABin5) and add the cardamom, the dried fruit fruit and replace 1/4 of the water for the brandy.
On baking day take a 1 1/2 pound (small cantaloupe-size) piece of dough from the bucket.
Using plenty of flour roll it out into a 1/4-inch-thick oval. Form the almond paste into a rope and lay it onto the dough about a 1/3 of the way from the end.
Fold the dough over the almond paste…
in thirds, so that it forms an S-shape…
when you look at it from the end.
Preheat the oven to 350F degree, with rack in the middle of the oven.
Once it has rested brush with the egg wash and bake for 35 to 40 minutes.
Let the loaf cool for about 20 minutes and then Sprinkle it with confections’ sugar…
Until it is completely covered and looks like snow!