My experience of making this cake taught me that a risk can pay off. Maybe I’m just over-analysing this situation, but it just goes to show that sometimes it is good to venture out of one’s comfort zone. Within reason of course. Here is a bit more insight: I deliberately took a gamble making this for a Xmas bake-off at work. I had never even heard of a Stollen cake prior to the week before making this, until I went to a friend’s dinner party and tried some. I was told that Stollen is a rich German yeast cake containing dried fruit, nuts, and marzipan, typically covered in powdered sugar. To my surprise, I quite liked it and found myself wondering why I had never come across such a cake before. Upon my first taste of the Stollen at the party, it instantly took me back to my childhood memories when I used to have battenberg cake on a rare basis. Most likely due to the distinct presence of marzipan in both cakes.
I was in two minds about whether or not to enter into the bake-off in the first place; however, I decided to just go for it. Now that I had made my mind up, I flickered through rather a few recipes; these ranged from a mulled wine cake, to a traditional Christmas cake, to the more familiar and typical Chocolate / Carrot cakes. In the end, I decided to take a leap of faith in trying out this following German Stollen Cake recipe (adapted from http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/8352/stollen-wreath):
– 85g raisins
– 50g dried cranberries (plus extra to decorate)
– 100g mixed peel
– 4 tbsp orange juice
– 550g strong white bread flour
– 2 x 7g sachets of easy-bake yeast
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 50g golden caster sugar
– Several pinches of nutmeg (the original recipe says a pinch, but I like to use a ‘tad’ more)
– Zest of one lemon
– 85g butter, cut into pieces
– 250ml whole milk
– 1 egg, beaten, plus extra to glaze
– 50g shelled pistachios, chopped, plus extra to decorate
– 200g marzipan
– 100g fondant icing sugar
– Edible silver balls and a Merry Xmas ribbon, to decorate (entirely optional!)
- Mix the raisins, cranberries and mixed peel in a bowl, and soak them in the orange juice whilst you make the dough.
- Put the flour into a large bowl and stir in ½ tsp salt, yeast, sugar, nutmeg and lemon zest.
- Rub the butter into the dry mixture until the mix is like fine crumbs.
- Warm the milk to hand-hot, then mix into the egg.
- Pour the milk into the flour mix, then stir with a round-bladed knife to make a soft dough, adding a drop more milk (if necessary, if there are any dry crumbs at the bottom of the bowl).
- Gather the dough into a ball, then knead for 3-4 mins on a lightly floured surface. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave until the dough has risen to double the size (about 45 mins-1 hr). This depends on room temperature – I had the heating on, which helped immensely.
- Knead the dough 2 or 3 times, then roll out to a rectangle about 37cm x 17cm.
- Stir the chopped pistachios into the soaked fruits, then spread one-third of the fruit mix down the centre of the dough, leaving all the edges uncovered.
- Fold each side into the centre to overlap slightly.
- Press the edges with the rolling pin to seal, turn the dough, then repeat the rolling out and spreading of the fruit twice more. Roll out to a final rectangle that is 55cm x 16cm. I didn’t roll it to these exact specifications; see below picture.
- Roll the marzipan into two long strips, slightly shorter than the length of the dough. Place it down the centre. Roll the dough over the marzipan, then turn the dough over so the join is underneath.
- Curl the dough around a buttered round cake tin. Brush the ends with a bit of the beaten egg and pinch them together to seal.
- Cover and leave to rise for 30-45 mins or until puffy and doubled in size.
- Heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/ gas 5. When the dough has doubled, brush with beaten egg and bake for about 25 mins until golden. Cool on the baking sheet briefly, then transfer to a wire rack.
- Make the icing by stirring in 2-3 tsp water into the fondant icing sugar and drizzle the icing over the Stollen once it has cooled down.
- Decorate with the remaining pistachios, cranberries and the edible silver balls. I wrapped a ribbon around the cake as well, in celebration of Christmas.
And tah-dah, the end result! It may seem like a lot of effort, but it is worth trying out this recipe at least once:
My comments: I wasn’t sure what to expect from this, but it was pleasantly nice, to my utter surprise. I realized I had accidentally overcooked this, as I had completely forgotten that there was marzipan inside. So when I took the cake out a few times during the cooking process to check whether it had been completely cooked through, and noticed it was still a bit moist inside, I ended up cooking it far much longer than I had needed to. Oops; however, it was still edible (phew!). So yes, a note to keep in mind for sure. I really liked the combination of the bread, nuts, dried fruit, and marzipan. I made this the night before I took it to work, and I didn’t actually sample any until the day after the bake-off, so unfortunately it had gone a tiny bit stale by then. I would’ve loved to try some fresh, so perhaps I’ll try out this recipe again in the future!
Happy Christmas Everyone! 😀