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.
- 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
- 25g/1oz butter, melted
- 50g/2oz icing sugar
- Place the milk and yeast into a bowl and mix well. Leave to sit for 5-6 minutes.
- Meanwhile, sift the salt, sugar, flour and mixed spice into a large bowl.
- Add the dried fruit, almonds and butter and mix well.
- Add the yeast and milk mixture and mix well.
- Add the egg and stir well to make a dough.
- Knead the dough for 5-6 minutes, then cover and leave to prove for 20 minutes.
- 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.
- Push and roll the dough out by hand into a flat oval shape about 23cm x 18cm/9in x 7in.
- 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.
- Place the stollen seal-side down onto a greased baking tray. Cover and place somewhere warm to prove for one hour.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/365F/Gas 4.
- Place the stollen on the baking tray into the oven to bake for 40 minutes, or until golden-brown and cooked through.
- To finish, remove the stollen from the oven, brush with the melted butter and dust with icing sugar immediately.
- Allow the stollen to cool, then serve in slices.