Happy Christmas Eve! It's strange to be in a climate with no snow this time of year. Although Southwest Michigan doesn't always have snow on Christmas, more times than not it is beautiful and crisp. There were years that my family would pile into the car and drive down to CandyCane Lane in Kalamazoo. The park would have a huge display of lights and decorations and after loads of Christmas candy and the excitement of new toys, nothing could be better than running off that energy amongst bright colored lights. This year the majority of the lights we see are decorated construction cranes. South Lake Union is a maze of new construction sites and all of the cranes are decked out in festive lights. It makes the city skyline pretty festive!
Like Christmas lights and CandyCane Lane, baking and cooking have become holiday traditions. Finding new recipes to call my own, starting my own holiday traditions, these are all part of what makes this time of year so special. For the past few years, I've been trying my hand at Stollen. A yeasted fruitcake, Stollen is a great holiday bread. It's chock full of dried fruit and nuts and sweetened with honey. Dusted in a heavy coat of powdered sugar, to me a baked stollen invokes the crisp snowy mornings in Michigan this time of year.
I start this bread with the fruit. Lots of it. Dried currants, golden raisins, dried apricots, candied ginger, slivered almonds, and the best part, homemade candied orange peel. You can certainly purchase candied orange peel, but it's not difficult to make and it's really delicious. I followed a simple recipe from the Food Network.
Dice the larger fruit into small uniform pieces, and mix together in a large bowl. Toss with 2/3 of a cup of dark rum or brandy. I used Calvados, an apple brandy since that's what I had on hand. Soak the fruit for at least an hour or preferably, overnight.
The sponge starts with 1/4 of a cup of warm water and a package of yeast. Mix together until yeast is dissolved. Add 2/3 of a cup of warm milk (roughly 100 degrees), a tablespoon of honey, and a cup of flour. Mix well and cover with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place for 30 minutes while the yeast proofs.
When the yeast has bloomed, in a large bowl combine soaked fruit, yeast mixture, 1 egg, 1/3 of a cup of honey, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of mace, 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger, 1/2 cup (1 stick) of room temperature butter, the zest of 1 lemon, and two cups of flour. Mix well. Add remaining 1-2 cups of flour 1/2 cup at a time until dough starts to pull away from the bowl. Turn out onto a floured board and knead until smooth, adding flour as necessary. Form dough into a ball and place in a oiled bowl. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm area for at least one hour.
When dough has doubled in size, turn out onto parchment paper and knead 2 or 3 times. Divide into two loaves. Place each loaf on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel and allow loaves to rise for 45 minutes. Bake in a 375 degree oven 25-35 minutes or until browned. Cool completely and dust with powdered sugar before serving.
Christmas StollenBy Land of Noms, December 24, 2014
- 1 cup dried currants
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 1 cup slivered almonds
- 1/2 cup of dried apricots
- 1/2 cup candied orange peel
- 1/2 cup of candied ginger
- 2/3 cup of brandy, preferrably Calvados
- 1 package of quick acting yeast
- 1/4 cup of warm water
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 2/3 cup of warm milk
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/3 cup of honey
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground mace
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
- 3-4 cups of flour
- powdered sugar
- Chop dried apricots and candied fruit into even sized pieces, toss together with raisins, currants and almonds
- Mix dried fruit and nuts with brandy, cover with plastic wrap and soak at least one hour, preferably overnight
- Mix yeast and warm water in a small bowl until dissolved, add 1 tablespoon of honey and warm milk (roughly 100 degrees), add flour and mix well, cover and allow yeast to proof for 30 minutes
- Combine brandy soaked fruit, yeast mixture, 1/3 cup of honey, egg, butter, salt and spices in a large bowl; mix well
- Add two cups of flour and stir well to combine
- Add remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until dough pulls away from the bowl
- Turn dough out onto floured counter and knead until smooth and elastic adding flour as needed
- Form dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl to rise; cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour
- When dough has doubled in size, turn out onto parchment paper and knead 2-3 times; divide dough into two oval shaped loaves
- Place loaves on a parchment lined baking sheet; cover with a clean towel and allow to rise for 45 minutes
- Preheat oven to 375
- Bake loaves 25-35 minutes or until browned
- Cool completely before dusting with powdered sugar to serve
Sharing our culinary adventures in Cascadia with simple, sustainable & satisfying eats. Bon Appétit!