Michael Franck is the partner of my dear friend Rea Francis and he kindly shared this recipe with me. His grandmother, of German origin, was a pastry chef in Dresden (the history of the Dresden Stollen dates back to the Middle Ages), and he’d often cook alongside her during his childhood.
Make sure all the ingredients are out on the benchtop before you start, as it's easy to forget someting, especially at this "silly" time of the year. Legend has it that the Stollen in its typical shape and with its white layer of icing sugar symbolised the Christ child wrapped in a nappy (diapers).
- milk - 375mls (or more, if required)
- vanilla extract - 1 teaspoon
- dry yeast - 2 sachets (14g)
- plain flour - 1 kg, sifted
- salt - 1/2 teaspoon
- caster sugar - 150g
- blanched almonds - 200g, finely chopped (do these in the food processor)
- seedless raisins or cranberries - 150g
- mixed peel (candied citrus peel) and chopped glace cherries - 150g
- lemon - 1, finely grated zest
- very soft unsalted butter - 350g, chopped
- egg yolks - 5, at room temperature
- To Finish
- melted butter - for brushing tops
- pure icing sugar - for dusting
Makes 2 loaves (it's customary to keep one for yourself, and to give one away).
Preheat oven to 140degC/120decg (fan forced)
Place milk in a saucepan and bring to simmering point. Remove from heat and add the vanilla. Leave to cool to blood heat.
Make a sponge with the yeast: pour half the milk into a mixing bowl. Stir in 250g flour, yeast, and 2 tablespoons of the sugar to make a medium firm dough.
Cover with plastic wrap and a tea-towel and lave to rise until doubled in volume, 1/2 to 1 hour.
Sift the flour and salt into a medium mixing bowl. Add the sugar, almonds, fruits, nuts and lemon zest. Add the yeast sponge and more warm milk as required (be careful not to add too much milk as you don't want a wet dough). Work in the softened butter and then the egg yolks gradually. Turn out onto a floured bench and work into a smooth dough kneading by hand for about five minutes.
It should be firm and spring back when you push a finger into it.
Divide into equal parts, shape into two loaves of equal size and place on buttered baking tray. Using a knife, make 6-10mm deep cut into top of loaves through the middle of both loaves. Allow to rise a bit more for 15 -30 minutes
Bake for about 1 hour or until golden on top - not dark.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes. Paint with melted butter and dust generously with icing sugar until butter no longer shows through sugar.
Good Luck and Merry Christmas!
Tip: store the egg whites in the freezer in a plastic container with lid. When de-frosted, they whisk up really well for pavlovas and meringues