Stollen is definitely my unexpected perk of festive food. Every year I seem to forget about the joys of lightly spiced, raisin studded, marzipan filled bready goodness. That is until it is too late and I end up stuffing my face with it in the last few days of festivities. Well not this year, my friends, not this year. No, stollen has been firmly at the top of my baking list for this Christmas season.
That was until I heard about three or four horror stories from different sources about ‘when stollen goes bad’ – sinking mixtures, overly yeasty dough, far too dry, and so on. My favourite was the story of the ever expanding stollen dough that ended up taking up every bowl, pot and plate in someone’s house….which sounds rather like an odd fable or fairie story intended to warn young children about the perils of wishing for too much stollen.
Cue Dan Lepard to the rescue, with this little beauty of a recipe for stollen bars. 30 minutes baking time? Everything in one bowl? Surely this is too good to be true!
The process of baking is hypnotically easy. Mix the wet ingredients, stir in the nuts and sultanas, mix in the flour to form a batter and then stir in the marzipan bits. Perfect if you have a lot of other baking to get round to – or just want a quick way to make the kitchen smell amazing.
I’m not really sure if the texture of my stollen worked out as it should – it was softer, more doughy than bread-like, which means that it probably could have done with longer in the oven. The original recipe also calls for glycerine to help hold the whole thing together, which I omitted, so that would probably help with the texture too.
But, as S. pointed out, it’s hard to imagine it being better. Truly. They may not be much to look at, but honey, they have other qualities. The flavours of orange and cardamom and spice combine beautifully, they are interesting without being overpowering. The marzipan avoids being sickly sweet but there is a good almond flavour with the addition of the ground almonds.
Overall, if you are looking for a quick, easy and rewarding way to get into Christmas, then this is the bake for you! Mr Lepard also says that they keep well, but you will have to take his word for it and not mine. I intend to be spreading some stollen joy with cups of tea to all friends, guests and random passers-by this winter.
Recipe after the jump
175g caster sugar
75g soya spread
125g lactose free cream cheese
2 tsp orange extract
¾ tsp mixed spice
¾ tsp cardamom seeds, ground, husks discarded
1 medium egg
75g ground almonds
100g shelled pistachios
250g strong white flour
1 tsp baking powder
Melted butter and icing sugar, to finish
1) preheat oven to 180 C/ 160 c fan
2) Beat together sugar, soya spread and lactose free cream cheese until smooth.
3) Mix in egg, spices and orange extract.
4) Stir in ground almonds, sultanas and pistachios.
5) Mix in the flour and the baking powder until a soft dough forms.
6) Chop the marzipan into 2cm pieces and mix through the dough.
7) Spoon the dough into a 20cm square tin, lined with tin foil. Be sure to press the dough right into the edges – use a wetted spatula if necessary.
8) Bake for 30 mins, when the top should be golden brown and a little puffy.
9) Brush on the melted butter when still warm, but then leave to cool before adding on the icing sugar.
10) Cut into bars and enjoy with a nice cuppa.