I’ve got to come clean–there was some cheating involved on the BBA rules when I made this bread. The idea is to make all the recipes from Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice in order. I’ve pretty much stuck to this, but there have been deviations from the straight and narrow. And the subject of this post, Stollen, is certainly in that category. To justify myself, stollen is a Christmas bread, and we were going to my husband’s aunt’s house for a big Christmas celebration, and how could I not bring a baked good? They know me, after all. In addition, I reasoned that I might not get to Stollen until the summer, and how could I make it then? Sacrilege, people.
Peter Reinhart’s stollen starts with a very heavily yeasted poolish. I suppose this is in part to support the weight of all the fruit, or perhaps to have a mild tasting bread to serve as a base for the fruits and nut filling.
As you might expect, the ripened poolish was quite bubbly.
I always have trouble finding candied fruit, so I made a mix of what I had on hand. And for a New England twist, I used cranberries. I skipped the soak in alcohol, just in the interests of time.
I didn’t do the greatest job of shaping the dough. That will have to wait until i try again next Christmas.
Adding the marzipan, which in my opinion is the whole point of Stollen. I love love love good European marzipan. When I studied abroad in Spain, I learned that in the 1800s marzipan was sold at pharmacies because it was thought it helped with fatigue and other such ailments. No complaints about taking your medicine in those days or worries about forgetting a dose, eh? (On the other hand, I imagine there were side effects such as sugar high with a subsequent crash plus weight gain).
The last step is to lightly oil the bread to allow the powdered sugar that you sprinkle on top to adhere. I didn’t care for the effect of this–the sugar matted together on the surface of the bread and was slightly gummy. Though taking it on a car ride probably didn’t help.
Here’s the finished stollen allong with another Christmas bread–an Italian pandoro-style loaf. Holiday baking is great, isn’t it?