Monday, December 5, 2011

Holidays - Homemade Stollen

Hello! It's become common to see German-style stollen sold in grocery stores and in gourmet food catalogs this time of year. Quite frankly, the ones in grocery stores look dry and boring to me, and as much as I love the famed Zingerman's of Ann Arbor, MI, I would never want to pay the $40.00 they charge for their stollen in their holiday catalog. 

Fortunately there is an alternative - my bread machine. I probably never would have thought to make stollen in it, but then several years ago I received Rustic European Breads From Your Bread Machine as a gift. Not only was there a stollen recipe in it, but there was also a suggested substitution of dried fruits for the traditional candied fruits. That sounded good to me, as I don't care for candied fruits. 

The recipe turned out fine, but then I happened to sample the aforementioned Zingerman's stollen while visiting their store one December. I realized that their stollen had much more fruit in it than mine did, so the next year I doubled the amount of dried fruit. 

This made for a very good stollen, but I still thought that overall the bread seemed a little dry. So after buying The All-New Ultimate Bread Machine Cookbook at a thrift store a couple of years ago, I was intrigued by the author's recipe of stollen using a brioche base (brioche is another recipe I've fiddled with over the years). This recipe makes a richer bread than the first stollen recipe, so I decided to try it. It turned out very well!

Ever since I began making stollen, I always make one loaf for my dad - the rest either stays with me or is given away to someone else. I made this year's stollen this morning (after the required overnight chilling of the dough) and here's how it turned out:

Above, you see a slice from my loaf -after all, I had to taste-test it to make sure it turned out okay! The loaf that'll go to my dad is behind it. This bread is great toasted and spread with a little butter - and also makes wonderful French toast!

I have a little thriftiness shown here with the plates and table linens. The plate that my stollen slice sits on is part of a set of Christmas tableware that I got half-off at a secondhand store after Christmas (the holly leaf design isn't visible); I paid $10.00 for a complete set of dishes for eight, which included two sizes of drinking glasses. The plate that the loaf rests on was 80c at a thrift store. I paid 25c last year for the napkin - it's labeled Kolf and comes from Austria. Cute folk art design. The table runner underneath isn't vintage but looks it - it was a gift from a friend 12 years ago. 

Even the bread machine was a thrift store find. The model is the Breadman Ultimate and I got it last year at the Salvation Army for $13.00. It looked like it had never been used and came with an equally-pristine bread machine cookbook that would have cost $8.95 on its own. I already had a similar model that had begun to act up, so when that machine finally died, I had my thrift store machine waiting to take its place. 

Happy baking to anyone out there who's gearing up their ovens for the holiday season!

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