I've been making Stollen each Christmas for 3 years now. I don't know why I don't make it more often; whilst it has several steps and requires time for rising it's really not that difficult.
Most commercially sold Stollens contain both eggs and butter, however when it was first created (almost 600 years ago) it was made without eggs and with oil instead of butter. I'm not convinced the 600 year old version bares any resemblance to what is sold today, but eggs certainly aren't needed for it to bind or rise.
First off I should make it clear that I didn't invent this recipe; it's adapted from an already eggless version that I found at myhouseandgarden.com. The original made way too much mixture for me (3 stollens is surely enough!), didn't contain as much spice as I like and it seems to be offline now.
It's also one of the few recipes I make with fresh yeast. Normally I'm far too lazy, but in this case it is worth the effort. The cheapest source of fresh yeast I've found in the UK is Morrisons. I've not seen it in other supermarkets. I've bought it in a healthfood shop before, at around 5x the price of Morrisons and I once got it from a local baker for 3x.
Ingredients (makes 3 stollens):
- 500g Plain Flour
- 100g Castor Sugar
- 55g Fresh Yeast
- 250ml Soya Milk
- 1/2tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1/2tsp Almond Extract
- 1/2tsp Ground Nutmeg
- 1/2tsp Ground Ginger
- 1/2tsp Ground Cloves
- 1/2tsp Ground Cinnamon
- Pinch of Salt
- 200g Margarine
- 55g Ground Almonds
- 200g Raisins
- 100g Currants
- 125g Mixed Peel
- 400g Marzipan
Warm the soya milk slightly, add a teaspoon of sugar and crumble in the yeast. Stir, cover and put to one side.
The time it takes to rise will depend on how warm your house is; I normally leave it for about half an hour. I should smell nice and yeasty and look something like the photo below:
Mix the dry ingredients together, then combine them with the margarine (softened) and risen yeast until you achieve a smooth dough. If you find it too sticky add more flour, too dry some soya milk.
Tip out onto a work surface and knead for several minutes (the longer the better), then slowly add the fruit (trying all in one go won't work!).
Cover the dough in a clean bowl and leave to rise for around an hour in a warm place. If your house is freezing and you don't have an airing cupboard then you can carefully heat your oven to 50 degrees, turn off, place a tea towel over the shelf then place the bowl on top. Ensure you don't go higher than this or that the bowl conducts heat directly from the shelf as you could otherwise kill the yeast.
The dough should visibly increase in size:
Divide into three and knead/roll out each in turn. Place marzipan in the centre and fold over. The photo at the start of this post is from 2006 when I used one line of marzipan (traditional), but I tend to do two these days as I'm obsessed.
Seal up the ends (to stop the marzipan from burning), transfer to the pan on which you'll cook, cover and leave to rise again for 1 hour. You may want to use a narrower pan if you have one to encourage the bread to rise upwards as opposed to outwards, but it don't make a difference other than aesthetic.
Cook at 190oc for 45-60 minutes, with a piece of baking paper on top to prevent scorching. When golden brown on top and obviously cooked remove from the oven, allow to sit for a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack.
Brush the top with margarine and sprinkle on icing sugar. You'll find that most of the icing sugar will melt in, so add some more after a couple of minutes.
When completely cool store in a tin until required. It should keep for a few days, but I don't know exactly how long as it tends to get eaten pretty quickly :)