Sunday, 14 December 2014


What a difference a day - and a trip to the shops makes. Presents have been purchased, the tree is up and there is food in the fridge.  The Husband is returned from his last week away of the year. And lo! Christmas can begin.

I'm not a huge Christmas fiend in the way that some people are - seeing Christmas adverts in September makes me groan, and I can't get worked really up about it  - piling too many expectations into one day is a sure fire recipe for disaster. But I do like having time to be with family, to catch up with friends, to switch off. I love a good carol, a 'Christmas film' - either one that's themed around Christmas, or failing that, the Sound of Music. As the kids have grown older, we're developing our own traditions - different from those of the Husband & my own childhoods (the Husband was never going to let me maintain the tradition of not opening 'main' presents till AFTER the Queen's speech, which is what happened in our house when I was a child...) 

But I don't think of myself as a Christmas purist - more a bit of a Christmas pirate, and I'll pick and choose from new ideas, mostly happy to go with the flow, and frankly, when the traditions of other Christmases are so tasty why wouldn't you? In the interests of making sure we have the means for a bit of a party next weekend, I have been trying out various drink options of the mulled variety (hic), and I made a stollen.

Stollen is, I think German/Austrian in origin but for the opportunities it presents for Marzipan, it's a winner for me. I've never made one before, and only occasionally eaten it (there's lots of other things to eat at Christmas, aren't there?), but having had a go, I can see this becoming a bit of a fixture. I mean what is not to like? Enriched bread dough, all those Christmassy spices and of course, marzipan... I ate it unadorned for breakfast this morning in a quiet house (the Husband took the kids off kayaking) with a cup of coffee. The marzipan melted into the dough, a sugary hit from the icing sugar drenched over the rop, plenty of dried fruit, turning it immediately into a health food...Bliss.

I wouldn't begin to suggest this is an authentic recipe - I started off with a Paul Hollywood version and went from there - but I think in terms of flavour and sheer Christmassy food joy, it hits the spot.


250 semi-skimmed milk
150g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into cubes

500g strong white flour
100g caster sugar
10g dried easy blend yeast
10g salt

400g dried fruit (I used a bag of luxury dried fruit mix left over from the Christmas cake)
130g marzipan, grated
2 good shakes of ground all spice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract

To finish
25g unsalted butter
1 tbsp icing sugar
a good handful of flaked almonds

You'll need a lined baking sheet and a seive to sift the final icing sugar over the hot loaf.

Warm the milk in a small pan then remove from the heat and add the butter and allow it to melt in to the milk.

Combine the stong white flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a bowl, then gradually incorporate the milk/butter mixture. Once combined into a rough dough, knead until you have a smooth dough (I did this in a food processor with the dough hook)

Combine the dried fruit, marzipan, all spice and vanilla & almond extracts in a bowl.

Flour the work surface (again if you kneaded by hand and it's necessary) and pat the dough into a rough rectangle, then carefully tip the fruit mixture onto it and knead it all together. You may think the fruit will never incorporate into the dough, but it will - just go steadily!

Once the fruit is incorporated into the dough, place the dough in a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise for 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.

Pre-heat the oven to 190C (170C Fan). Tip the dough onto a floured work surface, form into a rectangle, about 30 cm by 20 cm, then roll tightly into a sausage shape, and place on the lined baking sheet. Cover with a tea towel and leave for 30 mins-1 hour. 

Remove the tea towel, put the loaf in the oven and bake for 50 mins-1 hour. Keep an eye on it and cover with foil if it looks like it's catching.

Just before you take the stollen out of the oven, melt the final 25g of butter. Remove the stollen from the oven, brush it with the melted butter then chuck the flaked almonds over it, then sift the icing sugar over the top and leave to cool completely.

Christmas? Bring it on.


  1. I agree with your perspective on Christmas. I love it but i'm no fiend... although it does come out in my baking!... love this stollen... anything with that amount of marzipan is ok in my books!

    1. To be honest, I think it could take more marzipan - but that was all I had. Next time, I'm thinking at least 200g...

  2. Love stollen, slightly addicted to the mini ones from Lidl, yours looks delicious! Still not it a particularly festive mood, just seem to have got so behind with everything! Running out of days! This is my sorting out week. Easy to be optimistic on a Monday.. Hope you have a lovely Christmas Sally xx

    1. You too Tracey - it will all get done in the end, and if it doesn't it probably wasn't that important - that's my philosophy. Hope you get to relax a little over the break. xx

  3. Compared to me, you are definitely a Christmas fiend. If I hear that it's the most wonderful time of the year again, then I'm locking myself in the shed and I'm not coming out until twelfth night. On the other hand this stollen does look excellent. I might take one to the shed with me.

    1. Definitely shed food - and I would never say that Christmas was the most wonderful time of the year. Having kicked the kids out of bed this morning and then finished off the stollen for breakfast, this part of the Christmas run up is at best endured, but I will feel happy and joyous (probably) on Christmas day morning). I think I need some more Aldi mulled wine...

  4. I live in the land of Stollen, and I still think homemade is best. Nothing nicer than the smell of it freshly baked and soaking up layer upon layer of butter and icing sugar! Delicious! :) Yours looks lovely! x

    1. Thanks Emma. It was delicious and I think I'm going to have to make another one before Christmas. I ate far too much of it myself though - the pitfalls of working from home :-(


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