Category Archives: Fruitcake

How to Make Stollen

This is American stollen, mind you. Which is to say it tried hard to be the real German article, but not being truly German, it isn’t. My shape isn’t perfect (I left a little too much lip down below), and I used things like cherries and dark raisins which are verboten among the purist crowd. I bring this up because there are people out there who feel strongly about stollen (similar to those who feel strongly about biscuits), and are going to give me grief after this is over. So be it.

Begin by putting the sponge ingredients, save for the milk, in the bowl of a stand mixer.

Whisk to combine…

Then stir in the milk with a wooden spoon until you get a thick batter.

Cover with a cloth and let sit while you prepare your dough ingredients. Have ready your macerated fruit mixture from day 1. Notice I have dark raisins in there. What can I say, I had them and didn’t want to run to the store for the golden kind. Technically the cherries aren’t kosher either (they will tend to color the crumb a bit) so if you don’t want them, swap them out for more raisins or an equal portion of the other fruit.

Now for the dough. Again put your dry ingredients in a bowl…

…and whisk to combine. You should also combine your wet ingredients at this time, beating them lightly.

After half an hour has passed, check your sponge, it should be bubbly.

Fit the dough hook on the mixer and turn it on low. Add the dry ingredients.

Then the wet ingredients.

Stir (knead, really) until a dough comes together.

Then add your butter in pieces. Looks like brioche, no? Zat iz because eet iz.

When the dough is uniform, add half the marzipan.

Then the macerated fruit and nuts. If they don’t incorporate easily in the mixture, turn the whole mess out and knead it by hand for a minute or two until the mixture is evenly distributed. Let it rest for half an hour.

Now then. Roll the dough out into a rough oval

Make trench in the middle by pressing on it with a rolling pin…

…and fill the trench with the remaining half of the marzipan (some people use much more than that, rolling it into a thick log and putting the log in the trench…it’s up to you).

Then fold the dough over to enclose the marzipan, ideally, leaving less lip than I’ve done here. Oh yes, stollen lovers, I know there are many more ways to shape stollen. However this is the shape my grandmother used to buy hers in, so I’m partial to it.

Bake for 50-60 minutes until it’s well browned. All to cool on a rack.

Paint with butter.

The dust it with powdered sugar.

Slice, toast, eat.

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Stollen Recipe

I adapted it, actually. This is a variation on a formula I came across a few years ago and loved. Notice that the dried and candied fruits are all light in color. No raisins or currants, not even any brown-skinned nuts. This is intentional, since unlike an English-style fruitcake, a light, golden crumb is part of the aesthetic of a perfect stollen. Like fruitcake, however, it is a two-day process.

Day 1:

The fruit mix:

2 cups golden raisins
1/2 cup candies orange peel
1/2 cup candied lemon peel
1/2 cup candied cherries, chopped
1/2 cup candied citron
1 cup slivered almonds
3 tablespoons dark rum
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon

Combine all in a large bowl and toss until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and macerate at room temperature overnight.

Day 2

Preheat your oven to 375.

The sponge:

7 ounces all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons (2 envelopes) instant yeast
2/3 cup milk, room temperature

Whisk together the flour, sugar and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer, then stir in the milk until a thick batter is formed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap let sit for 30 minutes until bubbly.

The dough:

10 ounces all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
the sponge
1 egg, room temperature
5 egg yolks, room temperature
3 ounces milk, room temperature
10 tablespoons butter, room temperature

then:

6 ounces marzipan, chopped

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Lightly beat the egg, yolks and milk together. Attach the dough hook and turn the mixer on low. Add the dry ingredients, sponge and the egg mixture, turn the mixer up to medium and knead until the dough is fairly smooth. Add the butter tablespoon by tablespoon, letting each be incorporated before adding the next.

Turn the mixer back down to low and add half the marzipan and then the fruit mixture from day 1 (draining off any excess liquid first). If necessary, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand until all the marzipan and macerated fruit is evenly incorporated. Let the dough rise for half an hour more.

Cut the dough in half and roll each half out into an oval roughly 12″ long and an inch thick. With the rolling pin, make a depression in the dough running end to end and fill each trench with halk the rest of the marzipan pieces. Fold the dough in half to enclose the marzipan. Place the breads on a sheet pan or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Let rise a further 20-30 minutes.

Bake for 30 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for 20-30 minutes more until the outside is well browned. Cool on a rack, then paint each stollen liberally with butter (about half a stick) and dust amply with powdered sugar (about a cup).

Filed under:  Pastry, Stollen | 2 Comments

Fruitcake, Day 2

Another day where I meant to post more, but didn’t. I’m in a new work situation, you see, and still trying to achieve a state that one might call “normalcy”. That of course is no excuse — fruitcake makers await! So let’s get down to it.

Start by whisking together your dry ingredients.

Then cream (as best you can) your butter and sugar. I do it with a wooden implement since it helps me better get into that Old World spirit.

Add your eggs one or two at a time and beat until you have a soupy mess that looks like this:

Add it to the dry ingredients…

…and stir until you have a thick batter. Don’t worry that it’ll be too thick for a fruitcake, because once you add in your fruit and nut mixture, it’ll loosen back up again.

See?

Now then. Taking your prepared pan, put in half the batter (a quarter if you’re doing the full recipe).

Mine came out to 2 3/4 pounds per loaf (that’s serious cake, man).

Bake as instructed until the fruitcakes look like well-fired fruit and nut bricks. Like so:

After they’re cooled down, it’s time for the fun part. Grasping the nearest spritz bottle full of rum — and who doesn’t have one of those lying around? — spritz the loaf liberally on all sides.

Swaddle in a double layer of cheese cloth to keep the loaf from sticking to the outer layer of foil…

…then apply the outer layer of foil.

Ta-da! A fruitcake ready for cellaring. Of course you can also put it in the fridge if you want, but a basement is traditional and still best. If you fear rodentia or other types of cake-eating vermin, you can put the cakes in a plastic tupperware container. That’ll have’em stymied. Check the cakes every other day or so to check for drying (you don’t want that) and spritz and rotate as you see fit. See you on Christmas Eve, boys!

Filed under:  English-Style Fruitcake, Fruitcake, Pastry | 2 Comments

Fruitcake, Day 1

Now there are the makings of one fine fruitcake (actually two, I cut the recipe in half). You may notice there are cranberries in there. The reason for that is I couldn’t find any figs at Kroger yesterday afternoon. I could have gone somewhere else, but I’d already spent enough time in the supermarket. The first Wednesday of each month is old folks day, you see, and the place is packed with cranky octogenarians bumping their carts into one another. Slowly. It took me almost half an hour to navigate around them all to pick up what I needed for this shot. Fortunately none of them could figure out the self check-out computers, so I was out of there in a flash after that. Still, I’d had enough. And anyway, you think Medieval fruitcake makers were choosy? They took what they could get, bub, and so did I. Anyway cranberries add a nice color.

So then, once you’ve got your fruits and nuts measured, your zest zested and your spices in, pour in the wet ingredients…

…and stir to combine.

Easy. Wrap and let macerate overnight. What’s the difference between macerating and marinating? The former involves sweet ingredients and the latter, savory. That’s all I know.

Filed under:  English-Style Fruitcake, Fruitcake, Pastry | 2 Comments

Old School Fruitcake

You know you’ve got hold of a good, solid traditional fruitcake recipe when the ingredients list is as long as your arm. These recipes date back hundreds of years in America, but their pedigree goes back to at least the High Middle Ages, when European bakers emptied their pantries of every last good thing they could possibly think of, and put them all into one giant, dense, dark cake: candies, fruits, sweeteners and spices of all kinds. That, my friends, is when you knew it was a party. Is this my old man’s famous fruitcake recipe? Of course not, I don’t even know it. This, however, is a very close match:

Day one:

2 cups golden raisins
2 cups currants
2 cups dried apricot halves
2 cups dried figs, halved
2 cups pitted dates
4 cups chopped walnuts
2 cups chopped pecans
Zest of 3 oranges
Zest of 3 lemons
1/2 cup candied ginger, chopped
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon mace
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 cup molasses
2 cups brandy (or rum)
1/2 cup orange juice

Combine all the dried fruits, nuts, zest ginger and spices in a large bowl (my father uses a roasting pan). Toss well to mix. Add molasses, brandy (or rum) and OJ and mix well. Cover the mixture and let it macerate at room temperature overnight.

Day two:

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 lb butter, softened
3 cups dark brown sugar
8 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 275. Spray the inside of four 9″x5″x3″ loaf pans with nonstick spray and line with wax paper or parchment. Spray again with cooking spray

Whisk dry ingredients together in a bowl. Separately, cream the butter with the brown sugar until light in color. Add eggs one or two at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla.

Add the dry ingredients to the butter and egg mixture and beat until the batter is smooth. Pour the batter over the fruit and mix well. Divide the mixture among the pans and bake for 2 hours. They’re done when a toothpick or sharp knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool completely on a rack, dribble more brandy (or rum) on top (or spritz with a spray bottle) then wrap each individual loaf, first in cheese cloth, then in foil. Every 2-3 days inspect the loaves. Check for dryness and spritz with booze as needed (hey, it’s medicinal). Do this for a minimum of two weeks, over which time the cake’s flavor with develop enormously.

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