Why yes, we are submerging that entire loaf of bread in melted butter. Why, you might ask? Because it’s the holiday season and all of our New Year’s resolutions about dieting are just around the corner so we’re attempting to consume as many calories as possible in the meantime. And because it’s possibly the most delicious bread you will ever eat. Ever.
This fabulous bread is called Stollen and is studded with liquor-soaked dried fruit, marzipan, and citrus zest. If we didn’t get your attention at liquor-soaked, how about the part where the bread is dunked in butter and then rolled in sugar…THREE TIMES. And if that doesn’t pique your interest, I guess we’ve just gotten the meaning of Christmas all wrong.
Start by soaking 1/2 pound of dried chopped fruits (we like apricots, plums, cranberries, currants, and raisins) in 1/4 cup each of the following:
- Grand Marnier (orange liqueur)
- Dark Rum
- Spiced Rum
Also add the juice and zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange and enough boiling water to cover the fruit. The fruit can soak for up to a week in the refrigerator, and in fact it is best to soak it at least 24 hours before making your Stollen.
To make the dough:
In a pot, bring to a gentle boil:
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 lb butter
- 2 tsp salt
Remove from the heat and add:
- juice and zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
- 2 tsp lemon extract
- 2 tsp almond extract
- 2 tsp orange extract
- 1 tsp vanilla
Cool mixture to room temp.
In the bowl of your mixer (mixer should be fitted with a dough hook attachment), add the butter and milk mixture to:
- 2 cups of warm water (as warm as you can comfortably stand, not too hot or you will kill your yeast! Too cold, and the yeast will not activate.)
- 2 eggs, room temp.
- 1/2 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
- 1 T instant yeast
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg (freshly grated if you have it)
Mix this around a bit to dissolve the yeast, and then let it sit to get the yeast going for about 15 minutes. By then you should see the yeast bubbling away in the bowl.
Now add your (room temperature – let it warm up otherwise it will make the dough too cold) boozy fruit with an additional 1 cup of the soaking liquid (if your fruit soaked up all of the liquid, add 1 cup of Grand Marnier instead). Mix the dough on low, about 6-10 minutes, adding more flour a little at a time until a soft but not too sticky dough forms (this can take up to 6 or 7 cups of flour, depending on the absorption of the particular flour you are using and how much liquid your fruit has soaked up). The dough should form a ball and come away from the sides of the mixing bowl, not stick to your hands when you touch it, but it should be very soft, not stiff or dry.
Place the dough in a bowl sprayed with pan spray (spray the top of the dough as well) and cover just the dough surface with plastic wrap (do not seal up the bowl as the yeast turns sugars in the dough into carbon dioxide and will give off gas as the dough rises – give it some room!) Set the dough aside in a warm spot to rise until it doubles in size (about an hour).
On a lightly floured surface, turn out the dough and divide into 2 portions. Flatten each portion into a disk shape, about the size of a large dinner plate. Roll a log of marzipan, about 5 ounces in size, and place on the center of each of the doughs. Roll up the dough around the log, tucking in the sides (like you would roll a big burrito!) and place it seam side down on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake at 350 for about an hour, or until golden brown on the top and bottom. To test bread for doneness, you can tap it repeatedly on the underside. If it sounds hollow, it is done. If it sounds like a dull thud, it hasn’t dried out enough inside and it will be doughy. Let it go a little longer.
While your bread is baking, melt 4 lbs. of butter (in a pot large enough to fit the finished loaf) over low heat and add to it 1/2 cup of Grand Marnier. Set aside. Fill a large mixing bowl with powdered sugar (you will need at least 3 two pound bags). Set that aside.
When the loaves are done baking, let them cool on a wire rack just long enough for you to be able to handle them. Make several punctures with the tip of a sharp knife through the loaves; these holes will allow for even more butter to be absorbed into the bread. Paula Dean would be so proud of us!
Now dunk (drown?) the first loaf in butter, holding it under for about 10 seconds to soak, and immediately drop it into the powdered sugar, rolling it over a few times to coat it. Then quickly dip it back into the butter, and then back into the sugar, pressing the sugar to the loaf to form a crust. Then ONE MORE dip in the butter and back to the sugar, and then immediately wrap in 2 layers of plastic wrap. Repeat the process with the second Stollen Loaf.
You can store them in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. The flavors intensify as it ages, but the texture does get a bit drier. You can enjoy it cold, at room temp, or toasted with butter (as if it needs more…but why not) or you can freeze the Stollen for up to 6 months for later (like after you give up on those silly New Year’s Resolutions)
Happy Holidays from all of us at the 2nd Street Baking Co.!