Dec 25, 2010

Frohe Weihnachten--Stollen

I tried. I really, really tried. I had these wonderful dried figs and dates...soaked in espresso. Organic cocoa powder and handmade marzipan. I followed the directions to the best of my abilities. In the end however, I came up against my nemesis, who unfortunately is almost guaranteed to take me down every single time: Yeast, I loathe you. I'm not sure what happened but my dough didn't raise at all and I ended up scraping the entire thing and then I was in a super funk about it and not sure if I could afford the extra ingredients.  However anyone that knows me knows that I love a challenge and I had to try it again.. different recipe.

This months daring bakers challenge was to make stollen which according to our friend Wiki has been around since before 1474. I did make stollen it just wasn't quite the recipe from the bakers challenge. Was this challenge a success? I will give it a 50/50. The stollen is AMAZING. First the smell hits you and then the taste... its outta this world. I made this bad boy last night and we ate a piece about three in the morning and then really cut into it today. I am definitely adding this one to my repertoire and my sweets for holiday list! Tonight we had it with some Marzipan coffee and it was delectable!

(delightfully modified from King Arthur website)
2 1/4 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt*
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) cold butter
1 cup ricotta cheese, part-skim milk type
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup dried fruit blend; or 1/2 cup golden raisins + 1/2 cup of your favorite dried fruits, chopped to 1/2" pieces if necessary
Reduce the salt to 1/4 teaspoon if you use salted butter

Preheat your oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line it with parchment.
Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl.
Cut the cold butter into small chunks, then blend it into the flour mixture to form uneven crumbs.
In a separate bowl, mix together the cheese, egg, vanilla, and flavors.
Toss the fruit and almonds with the flour mixture until evenly distributed. Then combine the wet and dry ingredients, mixing until most of the flour is moistened.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead it two or three times, until it holds together. Divide it in half.
Roll each piece of dough into an 8" x 7" oval about 1/2" thick.
Fold each piece of dough roughly in half, leaving the edge of the top half about 1/2" short of the edge of the bottom half. Should you fold the long way, or the short way? The long way will give you a longer, narrower stollen, with shorter slices; folding the short way will give you a wider, fatter stollen, with longer slices.
Use the edge of your hand to press the dough to seal about 1" in back of the open edge; this will make the traditional stollen shape. It's also the familiar Parker House roll shape, if you've ever made them. *
Place the shaped stollen on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake the stollen till they're very lightly browned around the edges, about 40 minutes. A cake tester inserted into the center should come out clean.
Remove the stollen from the oven, and transfer to a rack. Brush them each with 2 to 3 tablespoons melted butter and Rum.  Sprinkle heavily with confectioners' sugar.
Allow the stollen to cool, then brush with butter again, and sprinkle with sugar again. Wrap in plastic wrap till ready to serve.

I severely changed the protocol here :
roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches (40 x 61 cms) and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick.

put a 1/4 inch "snake" of marzipan in the center.
Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder.
Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan. Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle. You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape. Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough. Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape.

Blog Checking Lines:
The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book.........and Martha Stewart’s demonstration


A Feast for the Eyes said...

Oh, I'm so sorry you struggled with yeast. I should post a tutorial on that, because I finally conquered my fear of bread baking. There are two yeasts I adore-- fast-acting yeast and SAF instant yeast. The difference between the two is that you don't have to dissolve instant yeast in liquid. Try turning your oven on to WARM, then turning it off. That creates a warm incubator to help the yeast rise. Works for me every time. Still, this recipe is da bomb, isn't it? I love how you broke away from the traditional shape. Good for you for adding marzipan! My fave!

Merut said...

I hate it when the dough doesn't rise! Yeast is my enemy. It may have won the battle (or many) but it has yet to win the war.

Jennifurla said...

Good for you trying it again...yeast kicks my butt too. Lovely job on the challenge.

GourmAndrea said...

That is too bad about yeast being your nemesis. I like to take the temp of my water if it is 110F to 115F and you get some "activity" ex: bubbles or foaming after 5 to 8 min its all good otherwise throw out that yeast because if nothing happens its dead. Recipes always say warm water(way to vague)and on a side note: how cute is butters!?!

alice said...

My nemisis is meringue so I understand the pain you're going through. When I've gone wrong with yeast it's been because I dissolved it in water that was too hot so the yeast died.
Your stollen looks good and the flavour combination sounds delightful.

Velva said...

Cheers to your beautiful stollen! Glad you took the challenge, it came out very nice.

Yeast can be difficult and it stinks when the dough does not rise. All you can do is try again.


Kristen said...

Let me tell you my secret to yeast success: Instant Yeast. I am hopelessly unable to get the regular stuff to work, but instant yeast rises every time. Before you throw in the towel, buy a little packet of rapid rise yeast and see if it works better for you.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful stollen. Happy New Year!

Mary said...

Yeast can be a problem, no doubt about it, but I am really impressed you persevered and found a way to make stollen. It looks delicious and no one eating it would care that it wasn't made with yeast. I hope you had a great New Year's Eve and that 2011 brings you increased health and happiness. Blessings...Mary

Reeni said...

I'm sorry you had problems your first time around. I made this recipe too and loved it! It was so easy and the flavor just improved with time. I'm already planning to make it for Easter. Thanks for stopping by my new site!

Bo said...

Yeast can be tricky to work with...maybe the yeast was out of date. Good for you for trying again.