Asbach Uralt is the brandy of brandies, but in Ontario the LCBO has delisted it. Although it is unique and the only one I have used for more than 30 years, try your own favourite brandy and I am sure you will still enjoy the results.
Stollen is as old as history itself, and it is said to have originally been made as a symbol of the Christ child wrapped in swaddling clothes. Stollen can be made as bare or as elaborate as the budget permits, having only raisins in during lean years and being plumped up with fruits of all description in the fat years. But don’t skimp on the brandy, for its subtle flavour enhances the actual flavour of this country-German fare in an incomparable fashion.
This recipe is produced entirely in metric. Every kitchen should have a small scale.
I played with some of my yeast doughs as I tested them over the years, and decided on one to turn into Stollen, my way. There’s a multitude of variations, as different provinces create their own versions all over Europe.
If you do not have a heavy-duty mixer, old-fashioned (strong) wooden spoons, bowls and hands will certainly suffice; you will just have a little more work to produce the finished product. If you are a bread maker anyhow, you will understand, and will appreciate the exquisite texture of this dough. If you own another machine, adapt the directions to those accompanying your equipment.
1 c candied mixed peel
1 c mixed red and green candied cherries, cut in half
55 ml Asbach Uralt Brandy (or your favourite brandy)
½ c fresh, slivered almonds, unblanched
¼ c freshly shelled and chopped walnuts (really the shelled ones have a different taste)
Soak fruit in 55 ml brandy for 2-3 hours prior to making recipe. Sliver nuts with food slicer attachment of your kitchen machine or with a very sharp knife (cautiously).
1 (8g) pkg dry yeast
200 ml warm milk
3 g sugar
350 g flour
80 g sugar
60 g softened sweet butter
1 warmed egg, beaten (let egg come to room temperature, then stand it in a cup of warm, not hot, water for a few minutes). Always cook or bake with eggs at room temperature for best results (even when you are doing hard cooked eggs).
Measure 200 ml milk into a beaker. Heat this milk but do not boil. In a warm dish, place 3 g sugar and 100 ml of the milk (reserve the rest). Stir well to dissolve sugar. Add dry yeast and give a little stir. Set timer for 15 minutes. When timer rings, stir yeast mixture well. It will have puffed up in the dish and will deflate when you stir.
In the meantime, place flour, sugar, softened sweet butter and the remaining warm milk into the large bowl of the kitchen mixing machine (not a food processor), along with the beaten egg.
Add yeast mixture and set machine in operation, using the dough hook. Mix for about five minutes on low/slow speed.
This mixing process actually kneads the batter for you, so at this point batter will have left the sides of the bowl and will be a turning blob on the dough hook. Dough will be very pliable and somewhat shiny looking.
Place dough in a warm glass or baked enamel bowl and cover with a clean towel. Allow to double in size in a warm, draft-free place. (About 1 – 1½ hrs).
Dredge fruit and nuts in a few grams of flour (just enough so fruit doesn’t stick together). Sprinkle fruit with a couple of grams of salt and a few drops of natural real almond flavouring (don’t use artificial flavourings). A friend brought me a terrific brand of vanilla and almond flavouring from her trip to Aruba, and I kept it for really special recipes like this one.
Knead fruit mixture into punched down dough, adding only a small amount at a time. Knead for several minutes, but don’t handle the dough unnecessarily. Don’t force dough; knead it gently.
With a rolling pin, gently roll dough on very lightly floured board, into a large oval shape about 1 cm thick. Fold dough off-centre lengthwise, plumping it up a bit near the centre. This creates a ridge down the off-centre midpoint. Brush with a little sweet butter and place on a well-buttered cookie sheet. Cover and put in a warm place to double in bulk.
Bake at 400 F for about 40 minutes. Remove and place on rack to cool. Brush with butter again while still warm. After Asbach Stollen is (absolutely) completely cool, sprinkle with icing sugar, sifted over top. Store in a sealed air-tight plastic bag. Store for a few weeks in a cool place. All the flavours meld during the wait-time and create a whole new scent that is irresistible. Serve, sliced, with all your other Christmas goodies. The scent of the brandied fruit will stay with you as a reminder to make this a seasonal favourite.
Served with a plate of mixed cheeses, a few green grapes and perhaps accompanying your favourite wines or sherry, your guest table will be the talk of the town.