I don't know how I wound up as the one who inherited stollen making from my great-grandmother--it seems to have skipped a couple of generations--but that's what happened.
I've tweaked the original recipe a bit; lemon zest is traditional but I prefer orange, and I like golden raisins better than dark ones, so they're what I use. Nothing wrong with adding a bit of your own tradition, I think.
Note that while you can make this by hand, a stand mixer is strongly recommended unless you have the arms of Hercules. And while regular instant yeast works in this recipe, SAF Gold, or another yeast that's formulated for high-sugar doughs, makes a huge (and positive) difference both in rising time and the texture of the finished product. You can buy it online.
You can also divide this recipe to make 4 smaller loaves of 1 1/2 lbs each, which is a nice size for gifting. In this case, start checking them for doneness at 45 minutes to an hour. —gorboduc
1 hour 30 minutes
3 2 lb loaves
For the Bread
diced candied orange peel
diced candied citron
unsalted butter, room temp
fresh grated nutmeg
zest of 1 orange
1 1/2 cups
milk, warmed to roughly body temp
SAF Gold yeast, or 2 tbsp + 2 tsp instant yeast
5 1/2 - 6 cups
All Purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons
light brown sugar
In This Recipe
In a medium sized bowl, combine the raisins, candied fruit, almonds, and rum. Toss to combine and set aside, covered, for at least 12 hrs.
Add the yeast, milk, butter, sugar, cardamom, nutmeg, grated orange zest, and 2 1/2 cups of flour to the bowl of a stand mixer that's fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until everything comes together in a smooth batter--2-3 minutes. Turn off the mixer, cover the bowl loosely with a towel, and let stand for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes is up, switch the paddle attachment to the dough hook, add the salt and enough additional flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 8-10 minutes on a low speed, until the dough is satiny smooth, elastic, and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, adding more flour by the tbsp as needed.
Place dough in a large greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm draft-free place until doubled--90 minutes or so if you're using the SAF Gold yeast, 2 - 3 hrs otherwise.
Punch down the dough. At this point, you can go either of two ways--the easy, fast way that results in some burned fruit/nuts poking out of the stollen's crust, which you'll want to remove before coating with the sugar topping--or the slightly fiddly way of preventing burned fruit and nuts. For the easy way, knead the fruit, nuts, and whatever rum is left in the bowl into the punched-down dough, and shape it into three oval loaves. You can skip the next step.
For the fiddly way, you're going to divide the dough into fruited and plain portions, then cover the fruited dough with the plain. To start, set aside 1/3 of your punched down dough. Add the fruits, nuts, and any remaining rum in the fruit bowl to the remaining 2/3 of the dough and knead to combine. Divide the fruited dough into 3 equal pieces and shape them into ovals. Divide the plain dough into three equal pieces, and roll each one into a thin sheet large enough to completely cover the fruited loaf. Drape the dough sheets over the fruited center, then flip the loaves and cover the bottoms, pinching the seams of the plain dough closed. Flip the loaves right-side up again and firmly shape them into their final oval forms, pressing to make sure that the plain dough is adhered to the fruited dough and you don't have any air pockets between them.
Set the shaped loaves on a parchment lined sheet pan and drape them with plastic or a damp towel to keep them from drying out as they rise. Let them sit in a warm, draft free spot until roughly doubled in size. This should take an hour or so if you used yeast formulated for high sugar dough, or 90 minutes to two hours if you used regular yeast.
When the loaves are nearly risen, preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Bake the loaves for 1 1/2 - 2 hrs, until golden brown and baked through. Keep an eye on them. If, at the 1 hr mark, They are already well-browned, turn the oven down 25 degrees. Very light gold at that point means the oven temp is probably good as is. You're shooting for an internal temp of 190 degrees. Use an instant-read thermometer to make sure, otherwise it's nearly impossible to know whether the stollen is completely cooked in the center (Don't worry about the holes from taking the loaves' temps--they'll get covered up with sugar coating in a later step.).
Cool the stollen on a rack. As they're cooling, prepare the sugar topping.
Set up your stollen-topping station by lining a large sheet pan with a sheet of parchment and setting a cooling rack inside the sheet pan--this keeps the mess to a minimum. Carefully move the stollen to the topping station.
Mix the brown sugar and confectioner's sugar until thoroughly combined.
Melt the butter, and brush the stollens generously with it. The stollens should still be a bit warm when you do this, but don't do it straight out of the oven--the bread is too delicate and the loaves will break.
Use a sieve to sift the sugars in a generous coating all over the buttered stollen.
Let the stollen cool completely, then wrap tightly for storage. I vacuum seal mine, stopping the sealer just before it sucks all the air out of the storage bag and crushes the bread. They freeze well if carefully wrapped--just let them thaw overnight before you eat them.