Date, Almond and Clementine Christmas Stollen
Portion/Yield:Makes 2 loaves
I adore almonds and I think marzipan is a food of the gods, especially a good-quality marzipan. So I take every opportunity to create a recipe using either almonds or marzipan and grab it with both hands. With Christmas just a few weeks away, I thought that now is the perfect time for me to make one of my favourite Christmas celebration recipes. As usual, I like to be a bit different and so I have given this stollen recipe the true British larder twist.
Instead of using candied orange and lemon zest, I use fresh clementine zest and I replace the glacé cherries with dates and raisins and soak them in strong Earl Grey tea. This recipe makes two large loaves, one to enjoy now and the other one for the freezer. Perfect!
This recipe does require a bit of effort to make but it’s definitely worth every minute. I make an egg wash to glaze the stollen by mixing together an egg with a splash of brandy and a tablespoon of sugar. I then brush the stollen with this drunken egg wash at the beginning and towards the end of the baking time, which gives my stollen a beautifully crisp, sweet and glossy crust. Truly delicious!
I usually serve thin slices of stollen slightly warm for afternoon tea along with a lovely cup of Earl Grey tea, then any leftovers can be lightly toasted for breakfast. After a couple of days or so, the stollen becomes a touch stale, so I use it to make a super delicious bread and butter pudding, which is a bit different and definitely worth the effort!
Ingredients & Method
- 80g dried stoned dates, chopped
- 80g raisins
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 4 tablespoons hot strong brewed Earl Grey tea
- finely grated zest of 2 clementines
- 550g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 40g fresh yeast, crumbled
- 1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
- 100g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus extra for greasing
- 30g caster sugar, plus 1 tablespoon, plus extra for dusting
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 280ml tepid milk
- 2 large eggs
- 2 x 100g marzipan logs (each rolled into a log shape about 10cm long)
- 1 teaspoon brandy
- icing sugar, to dust
First soak the fruits. Put the dates, raisins and bicarbonate of soda into a small bowl, pour over the hot tea and stir, then leave to soak for 30 minutes (or you can cover and soak the fruits overnight, if you prefer). Stir in the clementine zest, then set aside until needed.
Meanwhile, weigh the flour, yeast, mixed spice and butter into the bowl of an electric stand mixer, attach the dough hook and mix until the butter is rubbed in and the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add 30g caster sugar and the salt and mix in swiftly. The sugar and salt can have an effect on the yeast, especially fresh yeast, so I add the sugar and salt after the initial mixing stage.
Whisk the milk and 1 of the eggs together. With the mixer running on a slow speed, add the milk and egg mixture, then continue kneading the dough on a slow speed for 8–10 minutes. The dough will look sticky and wet but it’s perfectly good. Alternatively, you can make and knead the dough by hand, if you prefer (though it is a trickier than normal dough to make by hand, so I recommend using a mixer), or you can make it using the Thermomix method (see Cook’s Notes).
Lightly grease a mixing bowl. Turn the sticky sweet dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, knead the dough into a smooth ball and then place it in the greased bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean dry tea towel or cling film and leave the dough to prove (rise) in a warm place until doubled in size, about 40–50 minutes.
Once the dough is ready, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface, knock it back, then divide the dough in half. Shape each portion of dough into a log shape, then press out and shape each one into a rectangle about 25 x 15cm. I try not to use a rolling pin to do this as it compacts the dough too much, and all that proving time is sort of defeated, so use your fingers instead.
Grease a large baking sheet and set aside. Drain the soaked fruit mixture, discarding any liquid, then divide the fruit between the two rectangles of dough, spreading it evenly over the dough. Fold over the 2 short (15cm) ends of each dough rectangle to cover the fruit mixture (making a rectangle about 15 x 12.5cm). Place a marzipan log in the centre of each rectangle of dough (along the 12.5cm length), fold the two 12.5cm-long sides over the marzipan log to make an envelope (each finished loaf will be about 12.5cm long), then turn each loaf over so that the join is underneath.
Place the loaves on the prepared baking sheet, leaving a 15cm gap between them (or place each loaf separately on a smaller baking sheet, if you prefer). Lightly cover the loaves with a clean dry tea towel or cling film and leave to prove again in a warm place until well risen, about 35–40 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4.
Prepare the egg wash. Put the remaining egg, 1 tablespoon caster sugar and the brandy in a small bowl and whisk together. Generously brush each risen loaf with the egg wash and dust heavily with caster sugar.
Bake the loaves in the oven for 40 minutes, then remove them from the oven, brush with the egg wash for a second time and then return the loaves to the oven for a further 5 minutes or until cooked, risen and deep golden brown. Once cooked, the loaves will sound hollow when tapped on the base.
Remove from the oven, transfer the loaves to a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Store the baked stollen in an airtight container and eat within 2 days, or freeze on the day of making (see Cook’s Notes).
To serve, heavily dust each stollen with icing sugar, then slice and serve.
This stollen freezes well for up to 3 months. Wrap the loaf well and freeze on the day of making. Defrost overnight at room temperature before serving.
Replace the dates with dried cranberries or chopped ready-to-eat dried apricots, and if you really want a boozy kick, replace the tea with dark rum, brandy or cognac.
I normally use dried dates for this recipe, but you can use fresh medjool dates instead, if you like. Remove the stones and chop the flesh. Soak the raisins in the hot tea with the bicarbonate of soda, as above, then stir in the chopped medjool dates and use in the recipe above.
Thermomix method for the dough
Weigh the flour, yeast, mixed spice and butter directly into the Thermomix bowl using the built-in weighing scales. Gradually turn the dial to 8 for 30 seconds until the butter is rubbed into the flour and the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add 30g caster sugar, the salt, milk and 1 egg, then press the Pulse button twice. Set the timer for 1 minute 30 seconds and press the Dough button. Warning: the kneaded dough is meant to be sticky; do not panic! Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover and leave to prove in a warm place until doubled in size. Shape, assemble, second-prove and bake the stollen loaves as per the recipe above.