Monday, December 27, 2010

Daring Bakers Challenge: Christmas Stollen

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book.........and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

Stollen is a traditional German sweet bread. It contains a generous amount of butter, candied peel, glace cherries and almonds. When I saw this month's challenge, I have to admit, I wasn't thrilled. Especially when I read some of the ingredients. Candied peel? Glace cherries? Not only had I never baked with either of these, but I found them both incredibly unappealing. Still, my whole goal in joining this group was to be more adventurous with my baking, so shopping I went.

This challenge did not get on my good side when it took me 45 minutes to prep all the ingredients for the dough. I thought "good lord, if this is how long it takes for me to prep the ingredients....I'm hooped when it comes to the dough." Okay, back story. Yeast dough and I have a love hate relationship, I love to make it, it hates to make it easy. I make most of the bread products my family consumes, and it has been hit and miss with me. It's a good thing my children have grown up with my bread, so the occasional (frequent) dense loaf is a fact of life. Long story short, this stollen made me nervous. I shouldn't have been. This recipe is amazingly easy. It is time consuming, so if you decide to give it a shot make the dough 1-2 days in advance.  Just follow it step by step, and you will be fine.

The dough turned out to be smooth, supple, and really easy to work with. Here it is ready for a sleepover in the fridge.

The next day I let the dough warm up for two hours, and after that it was time to shape. One of my favourite things about this dough is that it was very forgiving when it came to my clumsy attempt at shaping. After many attempts I finally managed to join the ends, and the wreath began to take shape.

After the shaping ordeal I was a little worried about proofing it, but it rose beautifully. After 50 minutes in the oven, I had the makings of a German masterpiece.

The competed wreath was huge. I am so glad I decided to make this for a family gathering. I have a large extended family, so they have a shot at finishing this monster. I wanted a simple presentation, so I filled the centre with some lovely dried mangos, pineapple and strawberries. 

1 comment:

Ken said...

Beautiful, and tasty for breakfasts :)