If I can't be beautiful, I want to be invisible.
~ Chuck Palahniuk
I had spent 3 Christmases in Germany while I worked there years ago, and every time the festive season rolled around, the shops, markets and bakeries were filled to the brim with beautiful baked goodies bearing the scents of cinnamon, almond, apples and all the heartwarming things of the earth. Stollens would be amongst the good things in abundance and I never missed the opportunity to purchase and savor them - lots of them! The ones I especially enjoy are the marzipan-filled stollens, so moist and heart-stoppingly rich...it's no wonder I was then double the size I am today!
You may have noticed that I have done zilch-all on this blog lately. It's not that I've stopped cooking or baking completely, for if you're on Instagram, you may have spotted some of my baked goods being captured and uploaded for posterity there. It just seems to me like everything I do right now is bordering on the (how shall I phrase this?)...UGLY. Yes, that's right. Not nearly postable, in fact downright yuckky. Or maybe that's just how I'm feeling inside.
Anyway, a quick peek at the blogosphere shows me that many people around the world are in a celebratory mood, and therefore coming up with joyous kinds of food. The festive season has dawned, Ms. Foodiva, so why don't you get with the program already?
So yes, today I decide to crawl out of my own blue funk and attempt a blasphemous take on the Christmas Stollen. One with a green dough laden with premium matcha and filled with a homemade marzipan roll that's just on the shady side of pink due to the rose syrup I used to flavor it. Apart from the usual dried raisins and cherries, I also kneaded in some homemade candied ginger and candied lemon and orange peels, but didn't bother with the nuts and spices. As someone who's eaten plenty of stollens in her life, take it from me, you won't find this exotic one anywhere on the planet (yet) outside of my very own kitchen!
I won't tire you needlessly with the history of stollens and what the swaddled loaf signifies, but if you're interested you can have a quick read here. What I am going to regale you with, however, is the tale of what actually happened to me while I was baking this. After I was done making the marzipan and candied ginger/peels (which I dried under the hot sun and not overnight as should have been done), I set about to make the dough and film the process while I was at it.
You can imagine that the set up took a fair amount of time and by the second hour into the first rising, it was very nearly 5pm and the precious sun was sinking fast in tandem with my heart. Then I suddenly remembered I had to be at another place at 5pm, an important appointment that had totally slipped my mind, so I had to abandon the dough and tend to real life first.
2 hours later (4 hours total first rising), I returned to find my dough hadn't exploded and as a favor to me, had risen very, very slowly. Phew... all was well.
Normally after the process of baking, the fresh loaves are buttered two times before they get a coat of sugar. I buttered mine before and after baking, just to be on the safe side of decadence. What usually happens to the stollen after the sugar coating is that it is sealed to allow the fruits and spices (if you're using any) to develop their flavors. The sealing is also the reason a stollen can be stored and stay fresh for a long time.
The texture of this stollen is somewhere in between a bread and a cake and is an excellent alternative to a traditional Christmas cake. Although my rolling wasn't quite up to my usual standards, causing the marzipan cylinder to happily sit on one side, it didn't affect the taste of the loaf one bit. Yes, it's not my most beautiful stollen, but then so what...it's festive and rocks to the high heavens with original flavors. It certainly does not want to be invisible!
Matcha Stollen with Rose Marzipan Filling
Makes: 1 loaf
2¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons matcha powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 scant tablespoon dry instant yeast
1/2 cup milk
6 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup raisins
2 tablespoons candied orange peel, finely chopped (see recipe below)
1 tablespoon candied lemon peel, finely chopped
1 teaspoon candied ginger strips, finely chopped
1/2 cup quartered, glaced cherries (mixed red and green)
250g rose-flavored marzipan/almond paste (see recipe below)
2 tablespoons butter, melted for brushing
icing or confectioners' sugar, for dusting
1. Mix salt with flour in a microwavable bowl. Place in microwave oven and heat on HIGH power for 1 minute. Whisk. Add matcha powder and yeast and whisk again to mix. Set aside.
2. Combine milk, butter and sugar in a microwavable bowl. Cook on HIGH power for 1 minute, or until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. When mixture is tepid add egg and whisk to combine.
3. Pour milk mixture into flour and mix well until the dough leaves the sides of bowl and forms a ball. Add candied fruits and nuts working into dough with hands.
4. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, or until fruits and nuts are evenly distributed.
5. Place dough into an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 to 3 hours.
6. Turn onto a lighly floured board. Flatten and roll into a 14 x 8-inch rectangle, about 1cm thick.
7. Form almond paste into a log about 13-inches long. Place in the middle of dough, then roll dough around it. Pinch the and two ends of the cylinder and turn edges under. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place dough on parchment paper, cover with damp towel and let rise until double, about 1 hour. Brush loaf with melted butter, and set aside the remainder of the butter.
8. Preheat oven to 180C/375F. Bake in the center of oven for about 35 minutes, or until an even golden brown. Move loaf to cooling rack. Brush top with melted butter. Let cool for 30 minutes. Dust liberally with confectioners' sugar. Can be frozen up to a month and also keeps at room temperature for a few days if wrapped with plastic wrap.
Candied Ginger, Orange and Lemon Peels
(Adapted from Wild Yeast)
1 medium lemon
1 medium orange
2-inches fresh ginger
water for blanching
2 cups caster sugar
1 cup water
1. Score the orange and lemon peel in quarters. Peel off, leaving the orange and lemon whole.
2. Peel and slice the ginger into thin strips, set aside.
3. In a saucepan, cover the peels with cold water. Bring to a boil, drain, and rinse the peels in cold water.
4. Slice each peel into 4 strips. Blanch the peel strips twice more, changing the water each time.
5. In a saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
6. Add the ginger and peels, then reduce the heat and simmer until the peels are starting to become translucent, about 45 minutes.
7. Drain the ginger and peels, reserving the syrup in a jar for future use.
8. Place the peels in a single layer on a wire rack and allow to dry overnight.
9. Store in an airtight container, or in the freezer. Store the syrup in the refrigerator.
250g of peeled almonds
1/2 cup icing/confectioners sugar
1-2 tablespoons rose syrup (Monin)
1 small egg white
1. In a food processor, pulse the almonds until you obtain a very fine almond flour.
2. Add the sugar a quarter cup at a time and pulse until very well combined.
3. Finally add the egg white and one tablespoon rose syrup. Pulse until the mixture starts to resemble marzipan. Pinch a bit of the dough and press in between your fingers, it should feel soft and pliable. Add more almond flour and rose syrup if necessary.
4. Roll the dough in a plastic film and refrigerate it for at least one hour. After that take it out and place on a clean surface dusted lightly with confectioners sugar. Roll out the dough and fold it two or three times.Roll into a 13-inch long cylinder and return it to refrigerator. The dough is ready to be used when it is no longer sticky.