Germany

Dish

This traditional German recipe makes a great alternative to Christmas cake. The early Stollen was a different pastry to the one we enjoy today, the ingredients were very different - flour, oats and water and oil. As a Christmas pastry, Stollen was baked for the first time at the Saxon Royal Court in 1427, the Advent season was a time of fasting, and bakers were not allowed to use butter, only oil, and the cake was tasteless and hard. Over the centuries, the cake changed from being a simple, fairly tasteless "bread" to a sweeter cake with richer ingredients, such as marzipan, fruit and nuts. Enjoy it with a glass of brandy.

Ingredients

  • 100ml/3½fl oz warm milk
  • 2 tsp dried yeast
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 225g/8oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 200g/7oz mixed dried fruit (including glacé cherries)
  • 25g/1oz flaked almonds
  • 50g/2oz unsalted butter
  • 1 free-range egg, beaten
  • 250g/9oz marzipan
To finish
  • 25g/1oz butter, melted
  • 50g/2oz icing sugar

Method

  1. Place the milk and yeast into a bowl and mix well. Leave to sit for 5-6 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, sift the salt, sugar, flour and mixed spice into a large bowl.
  3. Add the dried fruit, almonds and butter and mix well.
  4. Add the yeast and milk mixture and mix well.
  5. Add the egg and stir well to make a dough.
  6. Knead the dough for 5-6 minutes, then cover and leave to prove for 20 minutes.
  7. Uncover the dough and turn out onto a clean, floured work surface. Using your hands knock the dough back to reduce the volume, then knead the dough for 3-4 minutes.
  8. Push and roll the dough out by hand into a flat oval shape about 23cm x 18cm/9in x 7in.
  9. Roll the marzipan into a piece about 18cm x 5cm/7in x 2in. Place the marzipan into the centre of the dough, then fold over the sides of the dough to seal in the marzipan.
  10. Place the stollen seal-side down onto a greased baking tray. Cover and place somewhere warm to prove for one hour.
  11. Preheat the oven to 180C/365F/Gas 4.
  12. Place the stollen on the baking tray into the oven to bake for 40 minutes, or until golden-brown and cooked through.
  13. To finish, remove the stollen from the oven, brush with the melted butter and dust with icing sugar immediately.
  14. Allow the stollen to cool, then serve in slices.