Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Chirtsmas in The Hunt House Kitchen is usually a very busy time with last wedding cake deadlines almost dimming our Christmas spirit. This year seems to be different and I have time to indulge in some Christmas baking. I love fruit cake, any, dark and rich and light and especially marzipanny.

Christmas Stollen with homemade marzipan and jugs full of rum and butter is the ultimate joy. This recipe yields 4 large ones or 8 smaller ones: 4 as gifts and 4 for my own indulgence. The Stollens need at least 4 weeks to mature but in my kitchen the first stollen gets munched away as soon as it is cold enough to cut. We call it the TEST STOLLEN. After this year's TEST STOLLEN I had to bake another batch as it was soooooo gooooood, so now family and friends, there will be about 8 very happy friends and 8 for my own consumption. I am sharing aren't I?

For the best Stollen your fruit mix needs to be proper drunk. I use a very good rum, my best is Stroh for that rum and raisin taste. The cherries are actually optional and can be left out without substituting. Start a day or two ahead. I make my marzipan at the same time too. This time I'll be using a very  simple marzipan recipe which uses whole egg.

Drunk spicy fruit mix
600g Dried fruit mix with raisins, sultanas and currants
250g mixed citrus peel
250g red glacé cherries, chopped
125ml rum
Grated rind of 2 lemons
1/2tsp each ground cardamom, cinnamon and mixed spice
Or recipe 1/2tsp each cardamom and nutmeg only

1. Mix it all together in an airtight container and leave to mature and part for 2 days.

Yields 700g
200g ground almonds
400g icing sugar
1 whole egg beaten
15ml brandy or more
a few drops of almond essence to taste

1. Grind the already ground almost extra fine in a food grinder for a smooth marzipan.
2. In a food processor, combine the almond flour and the icing sugar and process for a few seconds.
3. Add the whole egg and just enough brandy and essence to taste to process the mix into a paste that is firm enough to be rolled out or moulded.
4. Divide into 8 equal parts of about 75g each. Cover and refrigerate until required.

The rich, yeasty, buttery  Stollen dough
Makes 6-8 small Stollens, 4 medium, 2 large or one huge Stollen
I always use fresh yeast bought from my local bakery. It really does make a difference. It is an ultra rich dough and requires quite a bit of yeast. I very seldom will us an electric mixer as I find this too straining on the mixer and above all, the process of kneeing and working your dough really gets you into the Christmas or any other spiritual place you can transfer yourself to. I usually spend some time with my Gran up in heaven...we always talk about the time when her mom in law made her knee the bread dough whilst she was highly pregnant with twins.
100g fresh yeast
200ml lukewarm milk
15ml castor sugar
1kg cake flour
200g castor sugar
15g salt
400g butter, soft but not melted
200g eggs, 4 large
extra flour for dusting and rolling
Another 300g butter and a good 1/2cup of rum for brushing
extra icing sugar for final dusting

1. Liven up the yeast by mixing with the lukewarm milk and sugar. Cover and stand to sponge for 15 minutes.
2. Sift together the flour, castor sugar and salt. Reserve a handful of flour mix to be sprinkled over prepared fruit. Make a well in the centre to pour the happy, lively yeast mix into. Stir some of the flour into the mix to create a proper starting dough the consistency of a thick batter and allow to sponge for another 15 minutes.
3. Add the butter and start to incorporate all of the flour into a soft, glossy dough that is not too sticky and holds its shape. The eggs are added gradually as you go. If the dough is too dry add more milk and if too sticky, add more flour. The kneeing/mediation process should take no less than 10 minutes, close your eyes and have fun.
4. Shape the dough on a floured surface into  a large rectangle of about 2,5cm thick. Spread the whole surface with the fruit mix and roll up as you would a Swissroll. The fold in half gently over and over again to incorporate all the fruit evenly.
5. Shape the dough into a ball, dust with flour and cover with plastic film or a plastic bag or place in a large container with a lid. Allow the dough to rest and rise at room temperature for at least 2 hours or until it has doubled in volume.
6. On a lightly floured work surface, knock the dough down and divide into 6-8 equal parts of around 400-500g each. Shape into a rough rectangle.
7. Roll each marzipan ball thinly to size and place to cover all but 1cm around the outer edge of the small rectangle.
8. Roll up again, Swissroll style, and tug in the outside edges. Make sure the marzipan is fully enclosed with dough as to prevent it from boiling out.
9. Stand your Stollens on prepared baking trays spaced out to allow for expanding and rising. Allow to rise a second time at room temperature for a min of 30 minutes to an hour before baking.
10. Bake at 180°C on the thermofan setting of your Lofra for 40 minutes.
11. Soften or melt the last lot of butter and mix with the rum. Brush over the hot baked Stollens.
12. When cold, cover Stollens with whatever you like remembering that they will have to be reheated and brushed at least twice or three times more over the next 2 days. Warm them in the oven at 180°C for 5 minutes each time before brushing so that they can soak up the lovely rumbutter to their little marzipan hearts' content.
13. When the Stollens are cool after the last brushing, sprinkle liberally with icing sugar and wrap in cellophane, tied with, traditionally, a red ribbon. Keep them in a cool place for at least 2 weeks and up to 6 weeks even better.

Recipe, styling and pic: Kanya Hunt
Baked in my gorgeous  Lofra oven available from Electrical Industries

Nb re baking:
Thermofan and not fan assisted


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