The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book.........and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.
Stollen is a traditioal German christmas recipe. So I should be very happy to finally have the possibility to make something from my own cuisine, especially I am located in the middle of this pastry comes from. The town where I live now (and went to school) is just 30 km away from Dresden where the center of the Stollen tradition is located. Outside my home village (8 km away) was the famous 'Zeithainer Lustlager' where Augustus II the Strong had the giant 1.7 ton-Stollen in 1730 - read more at the 'Dresdner Stollen festival' section here.
There is just one twist: I hate Stollen. I remember clearly every time in my childhood we were making it. I had to get up at six in the morning and stand in the kitchen for hours, wearing a headscarf and kneading tons of dough in big washing bowls, sinking into it as far as my elbows. We usually made around 10 to 12 large ones which were baked at the lokal bakery in our village. The best thing was covering them with butter and sugar because I would get the rests of melted butter and sugar which were spilled around. I rarely ate a piece afterward because I don't like candied oranges or lemons and most of all raisins. So I though about making a Quark or poppy seed version (last year I made one with chocolate and almonds - the recipe is in German). Someone in the forum later mentionde dried fruits, so I changed my mind and tried my own version with dried cranberries (instead of raisins) and dried strawberries (instead of zests) soaked in Contreau (instead of rum). Finally I changed the almonds with macadamias and added a marzipan filling.
My mother-in-law who watched the baking procedure while knitting in the kitchen immediately fell in love with the smells evaporating from the oven and could't wait until the wreath was cooled for a taste. She asked me for the recipe afterwards. My brother on the other side, who is a real Stollen fan first refused to taste my version. After tasting a slice he stated that it wasn't bad but didn't deserved the name Stollen. "It is a nice yeast-dough bread and you can have butter or jam on it for breakfast, but don't call it Stollen." he said. I liked my creation (especially the untraditional shape) - maybe the Stollen and I will become friends at last ;)