Stollen is a type of German bread which is closely associated with the holidays, and Christmas in particular.
A typical Stollen has a slightly mounded shape which is meant to vaguely suggest the figure of Christ in his swaddling clothes. It is usually frosted with a light dusting of powdered sugar, and some bakers add candied or cordialed cherries to the decorations as well. Inside, the Stollen is packed with chopped nuts, raisins, and candied orange peel. Other candied fruits may be included as well, and the cake is often baked with rum for a particularly rich flavor. Some bakers also add marzipan for more flavor and moisture in the finished product.
140 ml warm milk
90g caster sugar + 1 tsp extra for yeast
7g dried yeast
375g strong white bread flour
1/2 level teaspoon salt
125g softened butter
1 large egg, beaten
2 tsp vanilla essence
90g mixed peels
60g flaked almond
1/2 tsp cinnamon
30g melted butter (to glaze)
icing sugar to dust
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5, 375°F (190°C).
1. Pour the milk into a glass jug, add 1 teaspoon of the sugar along with the dried yeast and leave it until bubbles appear on the surface, about 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile sift 11 oz (300 g) of the flour together with the salt and remaining sugar into a mixing bowl, and cream the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Beat in the egg and the vanilla and add the flour mixture and cinnamon. Pour the milk and yeast mixture into this. Mix everything together either with your hands or with a wooden spoon until the mixture is well blended and leaves the side of the bowl cleanly ,add the remaining of the flour as needed. Knead the dough on a work surface for about 10 minutes until it is springy and elastic.
3. Now leave the dough in a warm place, covered with clingfilm, until it has doubled in size (the time this takes can vary depending on the temperature it could take up to 2 hours). After that turn the risen dough out on to a board floured and knock the air out of it and knead the dough for few minutes to expel the air then roll or press out the dough to an oblong 10 x 8 inches (25 x 20 cm) and spread the fruits and nut over the dough. Knead to incorporate the dough and the fruits and nut. Then roll out the dough into an oval shape (7*12 inches), fold in half lengthways. Leave the fold slightly off the center on the top and press down a bit.
4. Place the dough on a baking sheet, allowing plenty of room for expansion. Leave it to prove in a warm place until it has doubled in size again, then bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes. Brush with melted butter before lifting it on to a wire rack to finish cooling. Dust with icing sugar.