Christmas Stollen

Did you see it? That baked good that snuck into the post of marzipan? Behold the Stollen! This bread doesn't only sneak it's way into posts, but also manages to sneak into several traditions in 'quite a few' countries all over the world. Today, this sweet bread filled with dried fruits is going to be a Christmas tradition. It is Christmas after all!

A part of me is assuming you know what Stollen is. Christmas bread? Christmas stollen? It probably goes by a lot of names that I don't know of. It certainly doesn't go by the name Sweet-bread-studded-with-dried-fruits-and-filled-with-marzipan, which is what it is. If you didn't know it already, you should be getting an idea now right? Have I made you hungry?

Ah yes, the recipe. Once I'd written down the ingredients and steps everything in me went "wauw, that's a long list!". But don't worry, it's really just making bread. Most of the time is spent waiting for the bread to rise. You probably have most of the ingredients in your house as well. So here goes, don't freak out okay?

1 very large loaf - adapted from Bread

150 grams sultanas and currants
3-5 tablespoons rum
375 grams bread flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
50 grams sugar
1 teaspoon mixed spice or cinnamon
7 grams dried yeast (1 3/4 teaspoon)
120 ml milk
50 grams butter
1 egg
50 grams almonds
50 grams chopped mixed (candied) peel
Marzipan *

1. Take a small bowl for the sultanas and currants and cover them with the rum. Set aside to soak. (If you leave to soak overnight you'll get a much more prominent rum flavour).
2. Sift the flour, salt, sugar, and spices together into your bread machine if you're using one.
3. Heat the milk until lukewarm and add the yeast. Pour this into an indent in the dry ingredients. Using a fork, break down the 'walls' of flour around the edges until you get a very thick batter. You'll still have some flour at the sides. Leave this for 30 minutes to rise (cover with a damp cloth or foil).
4. Melt the butter, leave it to cool slightly and beat the egg in. Pour the mixture over the risen 'bread' and start the bread machine on dough setting. If you do not own a bread machine or do not want to use it, then knead the ingredients for about 10 minutes, then leave to rise for 2 hours or until doubled in size.
5.Once risen, knead the dough again to remove large air bubbles. Sprinkle the fruits and nuts over the dough and knead until everything is fully incorporated.
6. Roll the dough out into a long thin oval. Shape the marzipan into a cylinder shape that is slightly shorter than the length of your bread. Place the marzipan onto your dough and fold the dough over the marzipan to seal it in.
7. Turn the bread around (seam-side down) and place on a baking sheet. Leave to rise for 30-40 minutes in a warm place until doubled in size.
8. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius or 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the bread for about 30 minutes. It should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Brush with butter (optional: it makes the top shiny) and leave to cool completely.
9. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving! (also optional)

* Let's face it: a REAL stollen has marzipan in it. So I'm not going to mark this as optional, however I will allow you to omit the marzipan if you're not a fan of it. You know, if I have to!

I realize the recipe may come a bit late for those of you who want to eat this for Christmas (there is still time for New Years though?). But don't worry! This bread is perfect for any morning breakfast or brunch all year long. Or if you want to eat this for a special occasion: wait till Easter! Every year people complain about the fact that Easterbread is exactly the same as the Christmas Stollen in a different package. It is really, but I don't see the point in complaining. Shouldn't we be happy that we have a very good and pressing reason to eat this more than once a year?

I hope you have/had a Very Merry Christmas with lots of presents and lots of food 
and above all lots and lots of fun!