From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...She was, hands down, the best bread baker in the neighborhood. Long time readers of my blog met Hannie five years ago and her Potato Bread was one of the first recipes I featured on my blog. She was a slight women who bubbled just as surely as the yeast she bloomed, and though only 5 feet tall, she could beat and pound five pounds of flour into submission with no special equipment, save for her arms and a wooden spoon. She had what my mother called a "hand" and the loaves that came from her kitchen were often extraordinary. Hannie's kitchen truly bustled in the weeks that lead up to Christmas and one of the breads she shared with the neighbors was a loaf she called her everyday stollen. Now between you and me, there was nothing remotely ordinary about her everyday loaf. It was chock full of fruit and nuts, but its reputation suffered because Hannie also made Dresdener Stollen, a rich yeasted loaf filled with almond paste, that was so good it made grown men beg for mercy or at least another slice. The ingredients used in that special bread were costly, so Hannie, instead, made her everyday stollen as Christmas gifts for the neighbors. I do hope you'll give this recipe a try. If you are comfortable working with yeast dough, you'll find this to be a simple recipe, but despite the ease with which it comes together, it makes a lovely loaf. For maximum flavor, soak the raisins in brandy or orange juice for about an hour before using them, and make sure the bread is done before removing it from the oven. Here is how this holiday bread is made.
Everyday Stollen...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
2-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons warm water
1 cup warm milk
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1-1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon salt
4-3/4 to 5-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup mixed candied fruit
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons milk
1) Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl. Add milk, butter, sugar, eggs, lemon peel, salt and 3 cups flour. Add raisins, candied fruit and almonds. Add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours.
2) Punch dough down and divide in half; cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll or press each half into a 12 x 7-inch oval. Fold a long side over to within 1 inch of opposite side and press edge lightly to seal. Place on greased baking sheets and curve ends slightly. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 1 hour.
3) Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.
4) Combine confectioners' sugar and enough milk to achieve a consistency suitable for drizzling. Drizzle over stollen. Yield: 2 loaves.
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