Date, Almond and Clementine Christmas Stollen

Madalene Bonvini-Hamel, British Larder, Bromeswell

www.britishlarder.co.uk

Stollen.jpg

Ingredients

 

Tea Soaked Dates and Raisins

•    100g chopped dates
•    100g raisins
•    80ml hot strong Earl Grey tea
•    1/2tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
•    Zest of two clementines

Drunken Egg Wash

•    1 whole small free range egg
•    1tsp Brandy or Dark Rum
•    1tsp caster sugar

Stollen    

•    550g strong white bread flour plus a bit extra for dusting
•    14g dried yeast or 40g fresh yeast (do not use fast action yeast)
•    100g unsalted butter, cut into small even size pieces
•    30g vanilla sugar or normal caster sugar
•    1tsp salt
•    1tsp ground mixed spice
•    280ml full fat milk
•    2 small whole free range eggs (100g of whole egg)
•    2 x 100g marzipan logs
•    200g of the drained tea soaked date and raisin mixture (as above)
•    Drunken egg wash (as above)
•    Caster Sugar for dusting

Method

Tea Soaked Dates and Raisins

1.    In a small bowl mix the chopped dates, raisins and bicarbonate of soda.
2.    Make the strong tea and while hot pour 80ml over the mixed dates and raisins, leave to soak for at least 1 hour. (While the fruits are soaking make the stollen dough).
3.    When you are ready to use the tea soaked dates and raisins, drain off the excess tea and add the clementine zest to the soaked fruits.

Drunken Egg Wash

1.    Whisk all of the ingredients together.
2.    Set aside until needed.

Stollen

I use a stand up mixer with a dough hook attachment to make my stollen dough however you could easily make it by hand. 
1.    Place the flour, yeast, ground mixed spice and butter in the mixing bowl, attach the dough hook and mix until the butter is rubbed in and represents fine bread crumbs. 
2.    Add the salt and sugar and mix swiftly. The sugar and salt can have an effect on the yeast, especially fresh yeast and, for that reason, I add the salt and sugar after the initial mixing stage. 
3.    Whisk the whole eggs and milk together. While the machine, with the dough hook, is mixing on low speed (one) add the milk and egg mixture, continue kneading the dough for 8 - 10 minutes on the slow speed setting. The dough will look sticky and wet but it's perfectly good.
4.    Turn the sticky sweet dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough into a smooth ball and place it in a medium size lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl with cling film or a clean dry tea towel in a warm place. When I made the second batch of stollen my kitchen was very cold and it took nearly two hours to prove, be warned it does take quite some time. Prove the stollen dough until it has doubled in size. 
5.    Turn the dough gently out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide the dough into two even size logs. Spread and move each log into a rectangle of about 25cm long by 15 cm wide. I try not to use a rolling pin as it compacts the dough too much and all that time waiting for it to prove is sort of defeated, use your fingers. 
6.    Spread 100g of the tea soaked date and raisin mixture over each log, fold the dough over to cover the mixture, retaining the 25 cm long side. Take the 100g marzipan log and roll it in your hands to about 10 cm long, place this in the middle of the 25cm stollen dough, roll the dough over the marzipan like an envelope, turn the loaf over so that the joint is at the bottom of the stollen loaf. Do the same with the second loaf. 
7.    Place the stollen loaves on a large lined baking tray with a 15cm gap between them. Lightly cover the loaves with cling film or a clean tea towel and leave to prove for the second time, about 35 - 40 minutes. 
8.    While the stollen is proving for the second time preheat the oven to 180°C. 
9.    Once the stollen is ready to be baked brush each loaf generously with the drunken egg wash and dust it heavily with caster sugar. Place in the preheated oven on the middle shelf and throw 100ml of cold water on the bottom of the hot oven, shut the door immediately and bake the stollen for 40 minutes, repeat the egg wash for the second time and return the stollen to the oven for a further 5 minutes. The reason for the cold water in the oven is to create steam this gives the stollen a lovely crunchy crust and a bit of a lift, it adds to the lightness of the loaves.
10.    Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack to cool completely.
11.    To serve heavy dust with icing sugar, slice and serve.