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Stollen has been on my “must try” list for years now. On Sunday last I decided to have a go. I knew that I had an out of code block of marzipan – I decided that if it was OK on opening, I’d forge ahead and try a Stollen.

Being short of time, I had only a brief Google. I found this recipe: Stollen by Simon Rimmer at  the BBC.

  • The recipe calls for Plain Flour, not Bread Flour. I had my doubts, but recalling the texture of Stollens I have consumed, I thought perhaps it was the correct course. I did as instructed.
  • I replaced the dried yeast with fresh, but used it in the same way as instructed.
  • I left out the glacé cherries, as I did not have any. I used mainly sultanas, some raisins, and a whole heap of candied peel.

The mix exhibited a sullen rise, as one might expect from soft flour.

The results were less than perfect, I think. That is, it closely resembled Lidl’s Stollen (although spicier), which I assume is not the best – I can imagine a far nicer product. Mine did not live up to my imagination. The crust is thick and heavy, not unlike cardboard… the kind that stiffens the soles of slippers. The marzipan is far too solid and dominates the slice.

It tastes good. That much I can say for it. In fact, even though I can tell that it is very much not right, it is at the same time strangely delicious.

There are no photographs, it really did not look anything like worth shouting about.

There shall be further Stollen experimentation. This much so far I know:

  • Further Googling reveals recipes that do use Bread Flour, and I shall try this next time
  • I shall make my own almond paste for the next version, to obtain the required degree of goo.
  • I might add rum to my almond paste. Possibly.

Nigel Slater’s variation uses fresh yeast and tempts me with its spicing of cardamom and cinnamon, and I approve of Delia’s addition of fresh citrus. Another intriguing slant is the steeping of the fruit in spiced tea. This authentic recipe is a marzipan-free zone and is a phenomenal looking bake – 700 grammes of butter are involved, with similar industrial quantities of fruit and almonds. Perhaps not the recipe for me. Not for me either is the recipe from Delicious, that excited me by the addition of sour cherries but then swiftly saddened me with its orange icing. I am strictly a melted butter and icing sugar kind of girl when it comes to Stollen.

So many ideas! I can see that much further research and several months’ of experimentation lie ahead of me. Perhaps by next Christmas I will have the one truly perfect Stollen recipe to offer up here.

Just wait until I get stuck into my Pannetone Programme…

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