Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Treats: Sourdough Stollen

Last year I made  Dresden Stollen for friends for Christmas.  Not that I'm German (I'm not), but I do find the German Christmas traditions endearing, and yes, one day I may even  experience them.  This year I adapted my stollen recipe and made sourdough stollen, sadly it didn't make it to friends.  My family ate all three loaves (apart from a half loaf that could still be sitting in Jamie's bag?)  It was a great success, and stayed moist for much longer than my previous stollen.  But after eating so much  stollen , I couldn't face making any for  friends.  Instead they got or are still to get torrone, loukamis and/or paneforte.
Stollen is a German yeast bread, made traditionally for Christmas.  My (skippy) Mum made great stollen and some of my sisters try to emulate it, but they never succeed in my opinion.  My mother followed the wonderful recipe in the Foods of the World German Cookbook for Dresden Stollen.. I have also followed this recipe in previous years, but have adapted it this year for use with sourdough and  according to what is available in my pantry in terms of dried fruits ((I have added some beautiful dried sour cherries. )
So, you will need an active 'mother' or starter, and it needs to be ready to go.  I had been feeding mine for 24 hours before I started this recipe.. Also, this recipe is meant for a warm humid Australian summer day... perfect for bread-baking, and the amounts are a bit of guess work, in particular the ratio of starter to white flour.

150 gm sultanas
150 gm glazed citrus (I have used orange and citron)
75gm glazed cherries
75 gm dried cherries
6 tbsp brandy
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon or lime rind
pinch salt
Vanilla bean
100gm unsalted butter
2 eggs
50gm melted unsalted butter
200gm White sourdough starter
600gm White flour
100ml Milk
200gm white sugar
Icing Sugar

  1. Place sultanas, glazed citrus and cherries in bowl with brandy and soak for at least one hour.  
  2. Drain the fruit (keeping the liquid) and pat dry. Toss the fruit with about one datblespoon of flour and set aside.
  3. Heat 125 gm sugar with milk and allow to cool.
  4. Put flour, sourdough starter, milk, eggs and brandy into the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough attachment and 'knead' until a rough dough is formed.
  5. Add pinch salt and grated lemon or lime rind, vanilla and continue to knead for another 5 minutes.  The dough should be quite moist.
  6. Place a tea-towel on top and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
  7. Return the dough to the mixer, and with the speed on low, gradually add the dried fruit and almonds.  Allow to rest for another 20 minutes.
  8. Return the dough to the mixer, and with the speed on low gradually add the butter piece by piece until is is fully absorbed.  Allow the dough to rest for between 1 and 2 hours.
  9. Divide the dough into three.  
  10. Place one of the pieces onto a floured board and roll out or press out until the dough is about 30cm long and 20cm wide.
  11. Divide melted butter and sugar into three lots and spread the butter and sugar down the centre of the dough (leaving aside a tablespoon of extra butter for each loaf.).
  12. Fold one long end of the dough over then the over end.  The dough should resemble the baby Jesus in swaddling clothes.  Place on baking tray and coat the loaf with some remaining butter.
  13. Put plastic over top and repeat with the other two loaves, and allow to rest for at least two hours or up to three hours depending on the temperature.
  14. Half an hour before you are ready to bake the bread, preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  15. Bake the bread for around 45 minutes until golden and crusty.
  16. When ready, allow to cool completely on rack.  Repeat with other loaves.
  17. Just before serving, dust with icing sugar.