For Christmas this year, I’ve started making Stollen. This rich yeasted cake originated in Germany, but you can find it in our Suisse romande bakeries and grocery stores (and I assume it’s even more readily available in German-speaking Switzerland).
I adapted a recipe from Croqu’menus—the Swiss cookbook students use in public school classrooms—so it’s dairy-free for my son. The dough is studded with raisins, flaked almonds and candied lemon and orange peel. My favorite part is the log of almond paste that spans the length of the cake.
Swiss Stollen at a local bakery
Dating back centuries, the Stollen’s oval shape supposedly resembles the baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes. In particular, Dresden, Germany seems to be the international epicenter for this special Christmas cake. For more information about the history of the Stollen, the Food Network has compiled a quick summary.
Marzipan vs. Almond Paste
Stollen recipes vary, but from what I’ve seen, they often contain marzipan. For the first one I made, I used marzipan. Soon after, I came across a very helpful post from The Kitchn comparing marzipan and another similar product, almond paste. Before, I thought these products were the same thing, but when I visited our Swiss grocery stores, I noticed two different products to choose from: marzipan and pâte d’amandes.
My Swiss recipe calls for pâte d’amandes, which I used in my second batch of Stollen, and I thought the consistency was better than marzipan. The pâte d’amandes seemed a little softer and less sweet. I think you can certainly use marzipan, but I prefer the almond paste—even though they only have a slight difference both in taste and appearance.
Stollen de Noël
Recipe adapted from Croqu’menus (9th edition, 2005, p. 268).
Makes two loaves
150 ml milk substitute (I used soy milk)
20 grams fresh yeast
4 tablespoons sugar
60 grams dairy-free margarine, softened
300 grams all-purpose flour (and about an extra 1/4-1/2 cup for kneading)
1 teaspoon salt
Dried fruit and nut mixture:
5 tablespoons raisins (I used golden raisins)
5 tablespoons flaked almonds
1 tablespoon candied lemon peel, chopped
1 tablespoon candied orange peel, chopped
2 drops of almond extract (essence d’amandes amères)
100 grams almond paste (pâte d’amandes; marzipan works too if you can’t find almond paste)
50 grams dairy-free margarine
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar (optional)
1. Add the fresh yeast to the soy milk and sugar. Let is set for a few minutes and then stir until completely dissolved. Set aside.
2. Whisk the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Make a well in the center. Pour in the yeast mixture, along with the egg and spoonfuls of the softened dairy-free margarine. Stir together until a soft dough forms.
3. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Please note: The dough is very soft and sticky to start, but be patient. Add some flour to prevent sticking, but only a little at a time. Try not to add too much so it stays nice and soft. I even use Paul Hollywood’s dough-throwing method for this recipe, because the dough is difficult to handle at first.
4. When the dough is ready, quick knead in the fruit and nut mixture, along with the almond extract, just until well incorporated throughout the dough. Please note: I find it easier to do this final knead back in the bowl, rather than on a flat surface.
5. Place the dough in a bowl covered with plastic wrap or a towel and let it rise until doubled, about 1-2 hours.
6. Punch down the dough. Divide the dough in half. Roll each of the two pieces of dough out and make two ovals about 1-inch (3 cm) thick.
7. Divide the almond paste in half, so that each piece weighs about 50 grams. Using your hands, roll the paste into 2 logs measuring a little less than the length of the two ovals. Place them in the center of the ovals. Fold the dough in half, covering the log of almond paste.
8. Cover the loaves in plastic and let rise for another hour or so.
9. Melt the margarine and brush some over the loaves, saving about 2/3 of the margarine for two additional coatings—the second about halfway through the baking process, and the third and final coating brushed on after the loaves are out of the oven, but still warm.
10. After the first coating of margarine is brushed on, bake the loaves at 200°C/400°F for about 20-30 minutes, until the loaves have developed a deep brown color. About halfway through the baking process, give them another coating of margarine.
11. Take the loaves out of the oven, and while still warm, brush the rest of the margarine over them. Let them cool on a wire rack.
12. After the loaves have cooled, mix together the powdered sugar and vanilla sugar and coat the loaves generously with this mixture. Store them tightly wrapped in plastic. Tie them with a ribbon for a perfect holiday gift! Best eaten the first day or two after baking.
I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and a happy and healthy 2015! Please check back the week of January 5th for my next post. Joyeuses fêtes, et bonne année!
Save the date: January 27, 2015 – Benefizkonzert der stiftung aha! Centre d’Allergie Suisse in Bern