Stollen is one of those things, like panettone, that are suddenly in all the shops and cookbooks; we’re embracing European sweets if not their currency or their union.  Stollen is infinitely more appealing than stale old corner shop panettone.  Imagine the stollen is German economic policy – sensible, safe and, um, all about supporting manufacturing.  The panettone is Italian fecklessness, with a dry heart and more than a little bit stale.  Go for the stollen, everytime.  Stollen is very similar in style to the lardy cake I made a few weeks ago, basically bread with sticky deliciousness wrapped up in it.  Lots of similarities between Britain and Germany, just saying.

I know it’s usually my fashion to claim that whatever I happen to be baking is ridiculously easy, however, stollen is deceptively a bit more difficult than I expected.  Still, don’t let that put you off.   I used a Nigel Slater recipe, crossed with a Delia recipe which led to a lot of stressed to-ing and fro-ing between the kitchen and the computer.

Stollen (based on Nigel)

100g butter
500g plain flour
40g fresh yeast
150ml warm milk
teaspoon sugar
a large egg
for the filling: 6 green cardamoms
50g undyed glace cherries
100g mixed peel
110g sultanas
½ tsp ground cinnamon
200g marzipan
for the glaze: 50g butter
icing sugar

Melt the butter in a pan, then leave to cool.  Measure out the flour and salt into a bowl and make a hollow in the middle.  Re-activate the yeast by dissolving it in the warm-ish milk with a teaspoon of sugar.  Wait for an hour for the yeast to rise a bit, then mix in the yeasty milk with the flour, and add the butter (I forgot the butter, only to be reminded later by my gleeful father and brother).  beat the egg and add it in too.  By now you should have a dough-like consistancy, a bit sticky but essentially bread like.  Knead it for a bit and it should get less sticky, if not add in a bit more flour.  Leave under a teatowel to rise.

Meanwhile, chop the glace cherries and mix with the peel, sultanas and cinnamon.  Split open and crush the cardamon seeds and add them it.  Roll out the dough until it’s about 2-3 centimetres thick, then divide into two.  Place the filling onto the dough and put in a few bits of marzipan where you think it looks nice.  Roll up the dough with the mixture and marzipan inside it and leave for another hour/hour and a half until its risen again.  Bake at gas four for 15-20 minutes.  Melt the butter, then brush over the loaves.  Sift over as much icing sugar as you like.

Now, according to Nigel they freeze well, which I’ll be experimenting with.