High Country Baking: Stollen recipe for this busy season
High Country Baking
1 cup dried berries/fruit
2 to 3 tablespoons dark rum or orange juice
2 and 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, spoon and level
1/2 cup superfine granulated sugar, preferably Baker’s
1 and 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds
1 cup part skim-milk ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
The “I-Don’t-Have-Time-to-Make-Stollen Stollen” is what this recipe is sometimes called. Why? Because it uses baking powder instead of yeast to make this popular Christmas bread. So instead of taking several hours to get it in the oven, it’s in there after about 25 minutes of preparation time; a great boon for those of us who bake during this busy time of year. The results are lovely, too. The dough is moist and tender and the dried fruit and toasted almonds contribute delicious flavor.
Use any dried berries or fruit you like, just make sure they’re moist and pliable (I selected dried cherries, blueberries and golden raisins for the ones in the photo). If you’re an almond fan, add a quarter teaspoon of almond extract to the dough and about a quarter cup of almond paste, formed into a flattened rope, placed in the fold of the stollen before sealing and baking it.
1. All the dried fruit should be in ¼-inch pieces or smaller, so, if needed, cut/chop them to the required size. (Use a greased pair of kitchen scissors). Place all the fruit in a wide shallow bowl, add the rum and toss until all are wet; add more rum or water if needed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and zap at high temperature in a microwave for about 20 seconds, until the fruit is very soft and moist. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 325 with a rack in the center position.
2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine well. Cut the butter into small pieces, add them, and use a pastry blender or your fingers to blend them into the dry ingredients until small, moist clumps form. (This can also be done in a food processor. If you use one, transfer the mixture to a large bowl.) Drain the fruit and add it, with the slivered almonds, tossing to distribute them evenly in the flour mixture. Place the ricotta, egg, vanilla and lemon oil in another large mixing bowl and whisk/beat until fully combined and smooth. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, about ¼ of it at a time, stirring until blended after each addition. It will get hard to mix towards the end but keep going (use your hands if it’s easier) until all the dry ingredients are moistened and a stiff, sticky dough starts to take shape. Turn the dough out onto a silicone mat or a lightly floured surface and knead gently until the dough comes together. (Flour or wet your hands if the dough sticks to them).
3. Divide the dough in half and pat each half into a slightly-flattened ball. Roll each one between two floured sheets of waxed paper into an 8×7 inch oval, about ½-inch thick. Remove the top sheet of waxed paper and use the bottom one to help you lift one of the long sides and fold it over onto the other side so it’s about ½-inch short of the bottom edge. To make the traditional stollen shape, seal the two sides by making a deep indentation with a finger or the side of your hand an inch in back of the open edge of the top layer.
4. Move both stollen to the prepared cookie sheet, spacing them several inches apart. Bake until they’re lightly browned around the edges and a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Melt the butter for the topping just before they’re done.
5. Remove the stollen, still on the parchment, to a rack. Brush each generously with the melted butter followed by a heavy sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar. When they’ve cooled enough to move easily, place them directly on the rack to cool completely. Serve or double-wrap airtight in plastic wrap and store at cool room temperature for up to 7 days. Add another shower of confectioners’ sugar, if needed, before serving. If freezing the stollen, sprinkle on the confectioners’ sugar after defrosting.
High altitudes makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall, and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips that make baking in the mountains successful. Vera Dawson, author of the high-altitude cookbooks “Baking Above It All” and “Cookies in the Clouds,” (available at The Bookworm in Edwards and Next Page Bookstore in Frisco), is a high-altitude baking teacher. Her recipes have been tested in her Summit County kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at email@example.com.
Whistle Pig Vail at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater and Vilar Center’s summer series in Beaver Creek bringing in some high-end talent.