Stollen. (Say "schtollen," the word spoken with that guttural German flair which, after all, is its birthright).
Dresden, Germany has been known for its stollen since at least 1474, when this classic Christmas sweet bread was first mentioned in print.
And the stollen you purchase at your local supermarket sometimes seems like it might have been around since 1474, doesn't it?
Dry. Crumbly. Filled with hard bits of... what is that? Fruit? The dreaded "peel"?
As Americans we like to change things up. And stollen is no exception.
Case in point: this golden stollen, its color, flavor, texture, AND nutrition all enriched with a healthy dose of...
...why, pumpkin, of course. One of America's truly native vegetables, and a hallmark of so much of our holiday baking.
This stollen is a good example of how you can change a single ingredient in an existing recipe, and come up with something quite unexpected – and wonderful.
I'm a HUGE fan of Our Easiest Stollen which, as the name implies, is a simplified, baking powder version of this yeasted classic. And last summer, while considering the pumpkin recipes I'd like to bake this fall, stollen came to mind.
Should I add pumpkin seeds to the fruit mixture? Too subtle. But wait – the recipe uses ricotta cheese as most of its liquid. Ricotta cheese... puréed pumpkin... might there be an easy substitution there?
The answer is a resounding yes. Simply by swapping pumpkin for ricotta, and tweaking the spices a bit, I created this deep-orange, flavorful pumpkin stollen.
Old World tradition meets New World innovation? You bet.
And we're all the richer for it.
First, let's look at dried fruit. There's nothing that says you have to use traditional "fruitcake fruits" - candied cherries, orange peel, citron... No food police here; use whatever dried fruit you like.
Toss together 1 cup of your favorite dried fruits, chopped in small pieces if necessary; raisins, dates, cranberries, crystallized ginger, and apricots are all good. I'm using golden raisins, cranberries, and crystallized ginger here. Mix with 1/3 cup chopped nuts – I'm using toasted pecans.
Preheat your oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line it with parchment paper.
Whisk together the following:
2 1/4 cups (9 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt*
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
heaping 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
heaping 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
*Reduce the salt to 1/4 teaspoon if you plan on using salted butter.
Cut 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter into pats or chunks, then blend it into the flour mixture to form uneven crumbs.
In a separate bowl, mix together the following:
1 cup pumpkin purée (canned pumpkin)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Toss the fruit and nuts 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; a silicone rolling mat works wonderfully well here, and cleanup's a breeze.
Knead the dough two or three times, until it holds together. Divide it in half; if you have a scale, each half will weigh slightly more than a pound (about 467g).
Pat/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. Brush off any excess flour.
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. Your choice.
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 until they're very lightly browned around the edges, about 40 minutes. A cake tester inserted into the center should come out clean; and an instant-read thermometer will register about 205°F.
Remove the stollen from the oven; leave them right on the parchment, or transfer to a rack, if desired.
Brush thoroughly with melted butter. Sprinkle heavily with confectioners' or non-melting white topping sugar.
Allow the stollen to cool, then brush with more melted butter, and sprinkle with additional sugar.
Let the loaves set for an hour or so, then wrap loosely in plastic wrap until ready to serve.
Plastic-wrapped stollen will keep well for about a week at room temperature. The sugar will gradually soften and disappear, but no worries; simply sprinkle it with sugar again just prior to serving.
For longer storage, omit the second butter/sugar coating; wrap well, and freeze for up to a month. Just before serving, sprinkle with sugar again.
Like this. Cut in 1/2" slices, and enjoy. Coffee and tea are both excellent "go withs."
Please read, bake, and review our recipe for Golden Stollen.
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