(7 tablespoons) unsalted butter, preferably European-style, softened and cut into a few chunks, plus 30 g (2 1/2 tablespoons), for brushing
large egg, at room temperature
large yolk, at room temperature
(about 1 scant cup) part-skim ricotta cheese, at room temperature
Boozy Dried Fruit, soaked overnight (see below for link)
to 2 tablespoons, light or dark rum (or apple juice), for brushing
(1/2 cup) sifted confectioners’ sugar, for dusting, plus extra for serving
In This Recipe
DOUGH: Add the flour, almond meal, baking powder, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and salt to a medium bowl and thoroughly whisk to combine. Add the fine sugar and both types of zest to a small bowl and combine, using fingers of one hand, until the zest is well distributed and the mixture looks like wet sand. Lightly flour a work surface and have a bench scraper at the ready.
Add the 100 g butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the citrus-infused sugar and beat for 1 minute to blend, scraping sides as needed (sugar will not be dissolved). Add the egg and the yolk and beat until well incorporated, about 1 minute. Add the ricotta, and beat 1 more minute, scraping the sides again. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in four additions (about 2/3 cup each), alternating with the boozy dried fruit (https://food52.com/recipes/78284-boozy-dried-fruit), starting and ending with flour, and scraping the bowl as needed.
Use a spatula to scrape the heavy and slightly sticky dough onto the work surface. Lightly flour your hands and quickly shape into a ball. If the dough is shaggy, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon flour or so, just enough to bring it together. Use the bench scraper to place into a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rest at room temperature for at least 1 hour (or chill for up to 24 hours). This allows the bran to absorb moisture for a more appealing texture.
Remove the dough from the fridge about 2 hours before you want to bake it. After 30 minutes (or 1.5 hours when working with a chilled dough), place a rack in the center and preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a large rimless baking sheet with parchment paper. Have a small bowl of water on hand and a pastry brush.
SHAPE: The following three shaping steps are not difficult at all—just work the heavy dough with confidence. Lightly flour your work surface. You might have to clean and flour the work surface a few times, depending on the moistness of your dough. Loosen the dough and allow it to gently drop onto the work surface. Cut in half with the bench scraper, and work with one piece (500g each) at a time, keeping the other one covered with the turned-over bowl.
Lightly flour your hands. Shape the first piece into a ball and gently pat into a 4 x 6-inch rectangle between your palms. Place it onto the work surface with the short side facing you. With a lightly floured rolling pin, gently roll the piece to about 8 x 5 inches (3/4-inch thick), loosening it with the bench scraper as needed. If small cracks appear around the edges, press together gently.
Use the bench scraper to rotate the dough 90 degrees so the long side is facing you. Lightly brush with water across the lower third. With the help of the bench scraper, fold the far edge of the dough towards you but not all the way, leaving an uncovered edge of about 1 inch. Use the side of your palm to gently seal the edge, thus creating the characteristic stollen shape. Finally, gently press in both sides to reshape the loaf and place crosswise onto the baking sheet. Repeat with the second piece of dough and place it crosswise as well, leaving at least 4 inches of space in between.
BAKE: Bake for 15 minutes, rotate the baking sheet, and lower the temperature to 350ºF. Bake until the loaves turn deep golden brown around the edges and lightly brown on top with cracks across the whole length, 20 to 25 more minutes. Loosely place a piece of aluminum foil on top if loaves brown too fast. A cake tester, inserted into the center, should come out clean.
When the stollen is almost ready, melt the remaining 30 g butter in a small saucepan over low heat; set aside. Slide the baked loaves with the parchment paper onto a wire rack. Immediately brush each loaf with some of the rum. Repeat, then generously brush each loaf with melted butter and sift a thick layer of confectioners’ sugar across.
STORE: Allow to cool completely, at least 2 hours, before carefully wrapping each loaf in aluminum foil. Store in a container at cool room temperature for at least 1 day for flavors to meld. Stollen will last for up to 7 days. Just before serving, dust once more generously with confectioners’ sugar. Cut into thin slices, using a long sharp knife.
Maria Speck is the author of Simply Ancient Grains and Ancient Grains for Modern Meals (both by Ten Speed Press). Her work has received multiple awards, including a Julia Child and an M.F.K. Fisher cookbook award. Raised in Germany and Greece, Maria is a veteran journalist and food writer with a lifelong passion for whole grains.