my stollen and my mom's nutbread
My older sister gave me two amazing books for christmas, The Bread Baker's Apprentice and The Bread Bible. I celebrated by making stollen this morning from BBA. I was going to make cinnamon rolls, but the stollen recipe seemed more appropriately festive.
It's an unusual recipe for me; I prefer savory to sweet breads and generally use levain instead of instant yeast, but I think these new books will be great for pushing me beyond my comfort zones.
Stollen has an interesting history and apparently a wide range of variations. I was amused and intrigued by the idea that the bread's shape references the baby Jesus wrapped in a blanket and the fruit/nuts represent the gifts of the wise men. My mom might not have been as amused however, as I kept dancing around the kitchen referring to the rising dough as my "baby Jesus bread". Anyway!
The stollen starts with a milk-based very short preferment of sorts, which is then mixed in with more flour, eggs, butter, citrus zest, and bunch of dried fruit. Oh, and the dried fruit is soaked in alcohol (I used dark rum). The whole thing smelled pretty intense while I was mixing it up! I was also nervous about the tackiness of the dough and thought there would be too much fruit+raisins in it. In the end both things turned out just fine! The loaf was really large; we sliced half of it for Christmas dinner at the grandparents' and kept the other half home.