When two people marry, it usually involves a fusion of traditions. Especially in the time of Advent and Christmas I love to go back to a recipe that I learned from my family in law: The Thuringian Stollen!
My family used to bake basketfuls of Christmas cookies, but no Stollen at all, so I adopted the Thuringian version as my own.
Now, of course, Dresden is the hometown of the world's most famous Stollen. I love to buy Dresdner Stollen (yes, there are certain bakeries where people queue up in the darkest and ugliest mornings before opening hour to leave the shop with armfuls of Mohn- and Rosinenstollen. And obviously I don't buy just one!). I also enjoy it at my friends' houses with a good cup of coffee. But when it comes to homebaking it always will be the Thuringian one.
Our family recipe is lighter, less rich, less packed with dried fruit than the Dresden one, but with plenty of milk soaked almonds. It feels more like a wintery, fruity brioche.
1/2 l milk
80g yeast (or 4 sachets of dry yeast)
200g peeled and chopped almonds (soaked in milk)
200g sultanas (soaked in rum or port wine)
125g candied lemon peel
125g candied orange peel
the pulp of a vanilla pod
the grated zest of a lemon
a teaspoon Stollen condiment (a mixture of ground cinnamon, cardamom, star anise and allspice)
125g butter to spread on the Stollen once out of the oven
a few tablespoons of icing sugar
Make sure that all your ingredients have room temperature.
Soak the almonds in milk. Soak the sultanas in rum or port wine. Chop the citrus peel if you bought it in a whole piece. Scratch out the vanilla pod and prepare the Stollen condiment.
Fill the flour into a large bowl, form a small cavity in the middle for the yeast, a bit of luke warm milk and sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
Add the sugar, butter, milk, vanilla pulp, condiments and grated lemon peel. Beat well using the dough hooks.
When the dough has begun to pull together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead in the sultanas, chopped almonds and candied citrus peel. Continue kneading until smooth.
Lightly flour a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, cover with a cloth and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about one hour. Knead it deflating the dough and let it rise for the second time.
Cover a baking tray with a baking sheet, form two loafs of the dough and place them on the baking tray. Fold a piece of baking sheet between the loafs to prevent them from sticking together.
Let them rise again for about 10 to 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 180°C. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 160° and continue baking for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.
Once out of the oven, immediately coat the loafs with butter using a baking brush. Dust the cooled loafs with icing sugar.