Monday, December 27, 2010

Daring Bakers

Well, I seem to the last one to post yet again! This time we were challenged with Stollen, a cake like yeast bread with history as rich as its flavors. While it is thought to have originated sometime around 1330s, it is first mentioned in the accounts of the Christian Hospital of St. Bartholomew in Dresde, Germany.  Want to read more about it- check these pages here or here.

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.



Stollen Wreath
Makes one large wreath or two traditional shaped Stollen loaves. Serves 10-12 people (I made one medium-sized and two small loaves)

¼ cup lukewarm water
28gms fresh yeast {or 14 grams active dry yeast}
1 cup milk
140gm unsalted butter
5½ cups {770 grams} all-purpose flour ,  plus extra for dusting
½ cup{130gm}  vanilla sugar
¾ teaspoon  salt {if using salted butter there is no need to alter this salt measurement}
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Grated zest of 2 lemons
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup firmly packed raisin (golden and black), cranberries
3 tablespoons rum
1 cup almonds, chopped
Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath
Powdered sugar for dusting wreath

Note: If you don’t want to use alcohol, double the lemon or orange extract or you could use the juice from the zested orange.


Method

In a small bowl, soak the raisins and cranberries in the rum and set aside.
Whisk together the eggs, vanilla extract, and lemon zests. Set aside.
Melt the milk and butter gently in a pan. Stand until lukewarm.
Pour ¼ cup warm water into a small bowl, add fresh yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange zest.
Then stir in {or mix on low speed with the dough hooks} the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/butter mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.
Add in the soaked fruit and almonds and mix with your hands or on low speed to incorporate. Here is where you can add the cherries if you would like. Be delicate with the cherries or all your dough will turn red!
Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading {or mixing with the dough hook} to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed. The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 8 minutes. The full six minutes of kneading is needed to distribute the dried fruit and other ingredients and to make the dough have a reasonable bread-dough consistency. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough – a few raisins will start to fall off the dough onto the counter because at the beginning of the kneading process the dough is very sticky and the raisins will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn’t enough to bind the outside raisins onto the dough ball.
Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Put it in the fridge overnight. The dough becomes very firm in the fridge {since the butter goes firm} but it does rise slowly… the raw dough can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week and then baked on the day you want.

Shaping the Dough
Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Preheat oven to moderate 180°C with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches (40 x 61 cms) and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick.

Forming and Baking the Wreath
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. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.
Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, should register 190°F/88°C in the center of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.
Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the top with melted butter while still hot.
Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter.
Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first.
The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar.
Let cool at least an hour before serving. Coat the stollen in butter and icing sugar three times, since this many coatings helps keeps the stollen fresh – especially if you intend on sending it in the mail as Christmas presents!

When completely cool, store in a plastic bag. Or leave it out uncovered overnight to dry out slightly, German style.

Judgement

Thank you Penny- this was one of my successful DB digs! The house smelled great and the Stollen tasted awesome. I love fruit cakes and this is one of my new favorites.

Do check out other magnificent stollens @ Daring Kitchen.

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