Have you ever had stollen?
If the answer is “Yes, I've had that dried-out, hard stuff they sell at the supermarket, and if that's stollen you can keep it – preferably far away” – then you haven't had stollen at its best.
Or what I'd consider its best: fresh stollen, a loaf that's intriguingly half cake, half biscuit in texture. A moist loaf scented with citrus and vanilla, studded with tasty dried fruit, enrobed in melted butter, and showered with confectioners' sugar.
Now THAT'S stollen. Not traditional bakery stollen, but easy homemade stollen, much more familiar to our American palates than the austerely dry/crumbly German-style stollen sold at supermarkets during the holidays.
I didn't used to like stollen – but that was before reader Laura Lane sent us her recipe, which she aptly named “The I Don't Have Time to Make Stollen Stollen.”
It's fast: fast as any quick bread, since baking powder – not yeast – is responsible for its rise. It stirs together easy as cookie dough. You end up with two nice loaves – one to keep, one to give away. And tasty?
Not only is this “The I Don't Have Time to Make Stollen Stollen.”
It's “The I Didn't Think I Liked Stollen But Boy Was I Wrong Stollen.”
A.k.a. Our Easiest Stollen.
Let's start with two of our test-kitchen favorites, flavors that'll take your homemade stollen from average to WOW: Buttery Sweet Dough Flavor, a citrus/vanilla/butter flavor emulsion found in professional bakeries. And lemon oil, the perfect stand-in for freshly grated lemon peel. Just a touch – 1/4 teaspoon or less– yields vibrant lemon flavor. No need to buy a fresh lemon; no grating.
And here's our favorite fruit blend, a tasty mixture of dried fruits I use year-round in cookies, muffins, and bread. Apricots, raisins, pineapple, dates, and cranberries – no peel, no citron. What's not to like?
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Next, whisk together the following:
2 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
If you're planning on using salted butter, reduce the salt to 1/4 teaspoon.
Add 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) cold butter, cut in pats.
Blend the butter into the flour mixture to form uneven crumbs.
Next, mix the following in a separate bowl:
1 cup ricotta cheese, part-skim milk type preferred
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons Buttery Sweet Dough Flavor, optional but good
1/4 teaspoon lemon oil or 1/4 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia
Stir it all up; all it takes is a few quick strokes with a whisk or spoon. Did I mention this is EASY?
Next come 1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted. Toasted means baked in a 350°F oven till they go from white (l), to tan (r).
Or, since you're preheating your oven to 325°F, go ahead and use that temperature; it'll just take a bit longer, perhaps 15 minutes, as opposed to 10 to 12 minutes. Whatever, keep your eye on them. Ovens vary, and nuts can very quickly go from perfectly toasted to burned.
Add 1 cup dried fruit and the toasted slivered almonds to the flour mixture; stir till evenly distributed.
Then add the wet to the dry ingredients.
Mix until everything is moistened.
Now you're going to divide the dough in half. A scale always helps with this task, but you can certainly eyeball it.
Here we are, two sticky balls of dough on a nicely floured work surface. In this case, a silicone mat.
Why use a flexible mat instead of just shaping dough on your plain wood or formica countertop?
Well, have you ever tried to pick up your countertop, tip it over the wastebasket to shake off the flour, then carry it to the sink to rinse it off?
HA! Didn't think so.
Shape each piece of dough into a 7” x 8” oval. Don't make yourself crazy about this; approximate size is fine.
Fold kind of in half. KIND of - leave the top about 1/2” short of the edge of the bottom.
Gently press the dough to seal it 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.
Question: Do you fold the stollen lengthwise...
Lengthwise will give you a longer, narrower stollen, with shorter slices; folding crosswise will give you a wider, fatter stollen, with longer slices.
See what I mean? Your choice entirely.
Place the shaped stollen on the prepared baking sheet, and bake for about 40 minutes.
They'll be very lightly browned, especially around the edges; a cake tester inserted into the center of one should come out clean.
They also may crack across the top. That's OK; butter and sugar will hide a world of sins.
Get your butter and sugar ready: 6 tablespoons melted butter, and about 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar.
Brush each warm stollen heavily with melted butter, using about half of the total amount; you'll be using the rest later.
Use a sieve or sifter to coat each stollen with a thick layer of confectioners' sugar.
If you do this on parchment, it makes it easy to simply remove the loaves, funnel the parchment, and pour the sugar back into a bowl for the next dusting.
Whoops, missed a corner.
Let the stollen cool completely.
Then repeat the process. Brush with butter.
The sugar will seem a little gummy; that's OK.
Sprinkle with more sugar.
Again, coat the stollen heavily. Since the dough itself isn't very sweet, this won't be overkill.
Slice when completely cool.
See the thick layer of butter/sugar on the right of each slice? This helps preserve the stollen's freshness. And it adds incredibly rich flavor, as well.
Imagine your first bite... Can you tell it'll just melt in your mouth?
Wrap in plastic wrap till ready to serve. Plastic-wrapped stollen will keep well for 2 weeks or so at room temperature.
Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for Our Easiest Stollen.