Stollen is a traditional fruit cake/bread from Dresden in Germany which usually contains spices, dried fruit, nuts and marzipan and it is generally eaten during the Christmas season. It is much lighter in texture than the traditional fruit cake eaten in Ireland and the U.K. and, frankly, I much prefer it. I made these Mini Christmas Stollen as an alternative to traditional mince pies and the open structure of the Stollen is quite like that of Swedish Cinnamon Buns. Like Cinnamon Buns, they are also made with a yeasted dough which requires two separate rises to enable the yeast to do its work. These Mini Stollen are not difficult but they do require a bit of patience as they require around two hours rising time in total. For those of us who are sick of heavy fruit cake and mince pies, this is a much lighter alternative but, because they are lighter and not as densely moist as a fruit cake, they do not last that long (so be sure to have lots of hungry mouths around when you are finished icing them!) . They are at their best eaten on the day that they are baked but you can also freeze them un-iced and thaw completely before icing and serving. This recipe has been adapted from a Sara Buenfield recipe on the BBC Good Food website.
For the dough –
550g strong white flour
2 x 7g sachets of fast action yeast
85g caster sugar
1 tsp nutmeg
85g cold butter, cubed
250ml warm milk
Some oil for oiling the bowl
For the fruit –
160g mixed dried fruit (I used raisins, golden raisins, and cranberries)
3 tbsp brandy
1 tbsp angostura bitters
2 clementines, juice and zest
Roasted and chopped hazelnuts
Icing sugar, to decorate
To begin with, you need to steep the fruit in the alcohol and juice for as long as possible so do this before you make the dough. Put the mixed fruit, 3 tbsps brandy, 1 tbsp angostura bitters and the juice and zest of the two clementines in a bowl and set aside for later.
For the dough, mix all the dry ingredients (flour, yeast, sugar, salt and nutmeg) in a large bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Warm the milk in a small pot and allow to cool slightly as you don’t want the egg to curdle. When cooled slightly, mix the egg into the warm milk and pour into the dry ingredients.
Mix together to make a soft dough and knead the mixture for a few minutes (I do this in the bowl). Transfer to a separate oiled bowl, cover with cling film and allow the dough to rise in a warm place for an hour or until it has doubled in size.
When the first rising time is up, roll the dough out to a thin rectangular shape (bearing in mind you can discard the uneven edges at a later stage so don’t worry too much about getting the shape exactly rectangular). You may need some flour on the board at this point to prevent sticking. Squeeze out the fruit at this point (reserving the liquid for later) and scatter all over the rolled out dough. Scatter a handful of both the hazelnuts and the flaked almonds at this point as well along with some more nutmeg and cinnamon. On a separate surface, roll the marzipan into a thin tube and place this on the edge of the jewelled dough.
Roll the dough around the marzipan into a large sausage roll shape, discard the uneven edges of the roll and slice the roll into individual Stollen pieces. Place these on a baking tray lined with baking parchment, cover with cling film and leave to rise for a further hour or so.
Preheat oven to 190 C and bake for 20-25 minutes (or until golden brown all over – the time may vary depending on your oven).
Take the Stollen out of the oven and, while they are still hot, brush the reserved steeping liquid over each Mini Stollen to give a nice shine to them.
When cool, decorate with icing, chopped hazelnuts and pistachios.