"In medieval Saxony, stollen was made with oil because the use of butter during Advent season was considered so provocative," says Nadine Ingram. "Five Popes died before only the prince's family was finally granted consent to use butter. When Saxony became Protestant, the ban was lifted all together. This recipe makes two loaves, but it can be halved – or give one as a Christmas gift."
- 100 gm dried sour cherries (see note)
- 50 gm roasted almonds
- 60 gm candied orange peel
- Finely grated zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
- 30 ml Marsala
- 70 gm fresh yeast or 21gm (3 sachets) dried yeast
- 300 ml milk
- 100 gm caster sugar
- 600 gm (4 cups) baker's flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 1 tsp finely grated nutmeg
- 2 eggs
- 200 gm unsalted butter, softened, plus 150gm extra, melted, for brushing
- 100 gm pure icing sugar, for dusting
- 300 gm marzipan, coarsely chopped
- 50 gm caster sugar
- 25 gm unsalted butter
- 1½ tbsp beaten egg (from 1 small egg)
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 1 tsp rosewater
- 1Combine cherries, almonds, candied peel, citrus zests and Marsala in a non-reactive bowl (see cook's notes). Cover and leave to macerate, turning occasionally (2 hours).
- 2For marzipan filling, process ingredients in a food processor to a paste. Divide among 2 small bowls and freeze until firm (2 hours). Roll each piece into a 20cm cylinder, wrap in plastic wrap and return to freezer.
- 3Stir yeast, 200ml milk and 20gm sugar in a bowl until well combined, then whisk in 200gm flour. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until doubled in size (1 hour).
- 4Warm remaining milk in a small saucepan until tepid. Pour into an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, add yeast mixture, vanilla, spices, eggs, remaining sugar and flour, and 2 tsp fine salt. Mix slowly to combine into a shaggy dough, then increase speed and knead to develop elasticity (5 minutes; dough may be sticky, but don't add extra flour). With the motor running, add butter little by little until dough is glossy. Cover and rest for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a clean work surface and flatten slightly. Scatter fruit mixture evenly over dough, and fold dough over to encase fruit. Continue folding and kneading until fruit is well distributed. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave at room temperature until doubled in size (1 hour).
- 5Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Roll each half into a 25cm log and flatten to 2cm thick to form a 12cm x 25cm rectangle. Rest, covered with a tea towel, for 10 minutes. Place a chilled marzipan cylinder along the centre of each piece of dough, brush edges of dough with water, then fold dough over to encase marzipan, pinching edges to seal and forming oval shapes. Grease two baking trays and line with baking paper, then place stollens on trays, seamside down, and brush with a quarter of the melted butter. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and stand until 1½ times their size (1 hour).
- 6Preheat oven to 200°C. Remove plastic wrap from stollens, brush with another quarter of the melted butter and bake, swapping trays halfway, until golden (40 minutes). Remove from oven and pierce small holes over the loaves with a skewer. Brush with remaining melted butter and dust with icing sugar to cover. Stollen can be served immediately, but are best if left for at least 2 days or preferably a couple of weeks in an airtight container in a cool place.
Dried sour cherries are available from specialty grocers and select delicatessens.