I am writing this while basking in the (relative) cool of the evening, which is quite a strange feeling on Christmas Eve. Where I’m from, we tend to bask in the warm glow of turf fires on the 24th, instead I’m battling with the cats for who gets to sit closest to the fan. The cats are winning; they use their cuteness against me, clever things.
It’s still 24 °C at 10 pm, which is not generally a temperature that makes me think of mulled wine and mince pies. Or stollen for that matter, but I’ve got to make some concessions to this festive season, right?
I have to admit (and I’m sure it’s already clear), this year I’m finding the summer-time Christmas a little difficult. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve no problem sitting in the sun sipping many cool drinks (like this one), but let’s call a spade a spade here, it’s just not Christmas when it’s over 30 °C out. Today I’ve been pining for Grafton St and Grogans and going out with my girlies.
But who can’t resist marzipan fruit bread? Not me I tell you, doesn’t matter what the temperature is! So I rolled up my sleeves, whacked on my oven and set to work, and the results were worth it, oh so worth it…..
Nollaig shona daoibh!
This recipe is adapted from BBC Food, a wonderful website that I highly recommend.
200 g mixed dried fruit (including glacé cherries)
¼ cup of Cointreau
100 ml warm milk
2 tsp dried yeast
1 pinch salt
1 tsp caster sugar
250 g plain flour
1 tsp ground mixed spice
50 g unsalted butter
25 g flaked almonds
1 egg, beaten
250 g marzipan
25 g butter, melted
50 g icing sugar
The night before (or at least a few hours before) you plan to make the stollen; mix the dried fruit and Cointreau together and leave the alcohol to soak into the fruit, letting all those yummie boozy flavours mingle.
On the day you’re going to make your stollen, you need to first mix the milk together with the yeast in a bowl and leave to sit for 5-6 minutes. Next, preheat the oven to 180 °C. Meanwhile, sift the salt, sugar, flour and mixed spice into a large bowl, rub in the butter, then add the dried fruit and alcohol mixture and mix well.
Add the yeast and milk mixture to the flour, fruit and nuts and mix well. Then add the egg and stir well to make a dough. The dough shouldn’t be sticky and should come together fairly quickly. If you feel you need to add more flour, do so in small amounts until the dough comes together. Knead your dough for about 5-6 minutes (this will make the stollen nice and light, which is important, as it can sometimes be slightly heavy), then cover and leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour.
Uncover the dough and turn out onto a clean, floured work surface. Using your hands knock the dough back to reduce the volume, then knead the dough for 3-4 minutes. Push and roll the dough out by hand into a flat oval shape about 23cm x 18cm. Roll the marzipan into a piece about 18cm x 5cm. Place the marzipan into the centre of the dough, then fold over the sides of the dough to seal in the marzipan.
Place the stollen seal-side down onto a greased baking tray. Cover and place somewhere to rise for a further hour. Then, bake the stollen for 40 minutes, or until it’s golden-brown and cooked through.
To finish, remove the stollen from the oven, brush with the melted butter and dust with icing sugar immediately, once it has cooled slightly, you can gobble up in great big slices.
You might also like:
Upside-down Christmas pudding ice-cream
Christmas in July
Lemon lime and bitters