My family is German and part of our Christmas tradition is marzipan stollen for breakfast. Every year my siblings and parents search out the best brands and recipes. At our peak, we had 7 different types of loaves. Wowzer. Luckily, there were enough folks in the house to polish it off.
Over the years I have tried a few recipes for from-scratch loaves. The dense bread must balance fruitiness and citrus notes in the right amounts. This is my current favorite.
Recipe Source: King Arthur Flour Stollen Bites
The original recipe and ingredients are listed below. My notes are preceded with an “HB”.
Part 1: Fruit
1/2 cup (2 3/4 ounces) dried pineapple, chopped in 1/4″ dice
1/2 cup (2 3/4 ounces) golden raisins or dried cranberries
1/2 cup (3 ounces) candied cherries, snipped into quarters
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) rum or brandy
Mixing the fruit: Mix together and set aside to allow the fruit to absorb the liquor.
HB: I prefer the fruit cake mix that is available at the grocery store. I pour a generous helping of spiced rum and cherry brandy into the large container just after Thanksgiving (no joke), keep it in the fridge, and give it a good shake every couple of days. The liquor breaks up the gooey sugar in the container and the fruit soaks up the flavors. The 2 lb container will give me about 6-8 good sized loaves throughout the season. (More than this recipe makes!) Once it is soaked and spiced, it is soft enough to chew and adds moisture to the dough when it bakes.
Part 2: Sponge
1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
3/4 cup (6 ounces) lukewarm water
2 teaspoons instant yeast
Making the sponge: Mix together and set aside for 1 hour, or for up to 4 hours.
Part 3: The Dough
2 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) softened butter
1/4 cup (1 1/2 ounces) Baker’s Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk powder
1/3 cup (2 3/8 ounces) granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange zest or 1/8 teaspoon orange oil
1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) toasted almonds, chopped
The dough: Combine the sponge and the dough ingredients (except for the almonds), and mix and knead to make a soft, shiny, elastic dough. Towards the end, knead in the soaked fruits (along with any liquid) and almonds. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
HB: At this point you have a choice. The original recipe is for “bites”. But I thought that the tiny loaves were too much like doughnut holes, and I really like a slice with a ribbon of marzipan running through the center. It is your call!
Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide it into 40 pieces, rolling each piece into a ball. Place the balls on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving about 1″ between them. Cover and let rise for about 45 minutes, until the balls are puffy.
HB: If making loaves, it may take an hour or so to rise. The dough may feel dry, but the fruit is adding in moisture. When you divide the loaves, don’t forget the marzipan if you are adding that.
Part 4: Baking
Bake the stollen bites in a preheated 350°F oven for about 18 minutes, until they’re light brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes.
Part 5: Coating
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) butter, melted
2 cups (8 ounces) confectioners’ sugar, glazing sugar, or non-melting sugar
Toss stollen in the melted butter, then the confectioners’ sugar. Allow to cool completely before wrapping and storing. Stollen bites keep well for a week at room temperature; freeze for longer storage. Toss with confectioners’ sugar again just before serving, if desired.
Slice and enjoy!