"Why do I keep instant yeast with a December 2009 use-by date?"
Like with many a baked good not involving chocolate or obscene amounts of sugar, stollen and I have a rocky past.
For those of you unfamiliar with stollen, it is a bread-cake hybrid usually enjoyed during the Christmas season in Germany. Chock full of dried fruit, some versions also have an alluring marzipan center--you'll have no trouble guessing that's my favorite part.
When I was younger, I made a run for the chocolate or sugar-covered lebkuchen when Christmastime came around. My sister, meanwhile, indulged in stollen: the one thing I probably never tried to pry from her hands. I'd rather we didn't get into all those Barbie heads I pulled off. No, really, I'm not even sure that ever happened.
Fortunately for me and unfortunately for my calorie intake, I grew into loving every and any baked good I can get my hands on. Stollen is no exception. The yeasty cake is made even more moist thanks to raisins, almonds and candied zest. The taste doesn't scream "HOLIDAY SEASON!", yet hints at it with elegant subtelty.
Now, a stollen made with yeast that doesn't provoke any chemical reaction is another story. It becomes a denser block of dough and fruit--one with a marzipan filling. Meaning, I ate it anyway and it wasn't bad at all. And I guess even my sister agreed.
I'm quite positive, however, that Mary's recipe which I used and adapted according to what I had on hand is great--and all aspiring stolleners (stollen makers in made-up language) should have a go at it.
It's sure to be a Stollen Christmas--just don't tell anyone you're the thief.
makes two medium loaves
recipe adapted from One Perfect Bite
2 3/4 c. flour
1/4 TS salt
1 scant TB instant yeast
1/2 c. milk
6 TB butter
1/4 c. sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 c. dark raisins
3/4 c. white raisins
zest of one lemon
zest of one orange
1/2 c. lightly toasted chopped almonds
1 tube (6 to 7-ounces) almond paste
In a medium bowl, mix salt and flour. Microwave on high for 1 minute, or heat in a saucepan for 2 minutes, watching closely. Add yeast and whisk.
Heat butter, milk, and hugar in a saucepan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and butter is melted. Let cool slightly. When mixture is tepid, add egg and whisk to combine.
Blend both mixtures together and add raisins and zest.
On a floured surface, knead for approximately 5 minutes. Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover and let sit in a warm spot until doubled in size (about two hours).
Separate dough into two logs, and flatten into rectangles. Add a log of almond paste in the center of each rectangle and roll dough around it. Pinch edges and turn the loaves seam side down.
Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, cover with a damp kitchen towel and let sit until doubled.
Preheat oven to 375°F / 190°C. Bake on the middle rack until golden, approximately 30 minutes.
Remove form oven, brush top with butter, and let cool 30 minutes. Dust with confectioner's sugar.