Sunday, January 03, 2010

Trees and Stollens

Or maybe stolen trees, but puns are the topic of another post. =)

Hope you have had a safe, happy, and enjoyable New Year's celebration with your loved ones!

Overall, our holidays were lovely. We had a nice, quiet Christmas Day lunch with my FIL at his assisted living home, and invited a friend/dh's colleague over for dinner the Saturday after Christmas, and that was about it.

I had hoped to take a photo of our tree in daylight, but that never happened. Here it is at night:And, more prettily, with the tree-lights on (and regular lights off):
But enough about me and my tree obsession.

Here's the thing you've all come here to check out: the Stollen recipe. I thought I had lost the Stollen recipe that I used last year, when in fact, it was merely tucked under a cushion of the space-time continuum. Many thanks to my dear friends J&G who tried to answer my distress calls, and who introduced me to the joys of candying my own citrus peels.

Just so that I won't ever lose the recipe again...unless Blogger shuts down suddenly and leaves me in a lurch before I get to my Blog2Print order (thanks, Sherrie, for telling us about the service!)...I've taken a photo of it and put it in here.Because I love to make things difficult for myself, I make my own almond paste (using organic almonds). And to top it off, I had to blanch the almonds first. Note to self to never do that in the winter because rubbing off the skins totally turns my fingertips into sandpaper when my skin is already prone to resembling the Gobi. Here are the almonds, blanched and in the processor, ready to be pulverized.
You can find tons of instructions on how to blanch almonds, as well as how to make almond paste, online, and most of them are fairly identical, but if you're curious, here are the ones I used:
Oh food processor, how I love thee! You turn tedious tasks into such a breeze.
The recipe above says to soak the currants in brandy, so I soaked my raisins in rum. I love following recipes to a T. snort.
The citrus peels being candied:
I used grapefruit and orange peels, but will try lemons and limes next year too. I enjoyed making candied peels so much that I made a second batch just to keep on hand, because one never knows when one might run into a candied peel emergency.

Here are the fruits and peels being tossed with flour.
Because I have sensory issues, I prefer not to knead dough by hand. This is why I love my KitchenAid mixer even more than I love my KitchenAid food processor. The dough hook is like a sister to me.
After dividing the dough into four sections (I didn't want 2 humongous loaves), I flattened each piece out and rolled a "tube" of almond paste to put in the flattened dough:
The almond paste should be slightly offset. Those of you who roll your own sushi will recognize a similar technique:
A proper stollen must be folded offset too, apparently. Maybe it stems from a tradition of bakers being drunk on the rum/brandy that they soak their currants/raisins in?
After the loaves have risen for an hour:
And hot out of the oven:
Stollens are usually served with icing/confectioners sugar sprinkled on top, but we don't like it that way. Instead, we prefer to slather it with way too much butter.

And if you think I'm going to do this again this are absolutely right! I have exactly half the almond paste left and lots of candied peels, and we loooove stollen!

Have you ever baked Stollen? If you try it, please let me know!

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be." ~ Douglas Adams