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.
I briefly contemplated skipping this challenge because of Christmas chaos, and I just barely managed to bake off my stollen loaves before my husband and I hopped on an airplane home, but I am so glad I participated this month. My husband enjoys my day-to-day cooking and he definitely lets me know, but he has never heaped praise on me the way he did with this stollen. He loves it. I stashed the majority of the loaf I cut for the photos below in my carry-on bag and hauled it back to Nebraska; my family loved it as well. I guess my dad tried to go to a European bakery to buy some Czech Christmas bread on the 23rd or 24th and they were completely cleaned out at 10 a.m.; this bread was similar and satisfying enough to save the day.
Here are my notes and variations from the challenge:
- After reading Audax’s posts in the forums, I used bread flour instead of all-purpose flour.
- I used orange extract when we had the choice between orange and lemon.
- I made my own candied orange peel using the recipe provided. (It will be my next blog post!)
- I did not use any maraschino cherries because I didn’t want to risk turning my bread pink.
- I used slivered almonds instead of sliced almonds because that’s what I had in my pantry.
- From there, I followed the recipe exactly as written except that I formed my dough into two wreaths instead of one. I saw how large the wreaths were in the forum posts and figured that my tiny 24-inch oven wouldn’t be able to handle one. I baked each half-recipe wreath for 36 minutes, rotating the baking sheet from front to back halfway through. The major upside of baking two wreaths? We came home to one waiting for us in the refrigerator.
This bread was so tasty! It wasn’t like fruitcake at all. The bread texture reminded me a lot of cinnamon rolls; it was moist and chewy, though the crust was pleasantly crisp. The powdered sugar and butter coating was heavenly. My bread had a distinct orange flavor since I used orange extract and all candied orange peel (instead of candied mixed peel), and I would make it this way again next time. I could have gone for a bit more fruit and nuts in the bread, but I appreciated that it wasn’t totally packed.
My family enjoyed this recipe so much that I’ll be adding it to our permanent Christmas collection. Thanks for a new family tradition and a great challenge, Penny!
Recipe link: Christmas Stollen