Monday, December 27, 2010

December Daring Bakers: Stollen


Julia pondered "What's in a name? That which we call a rose, By any other name would smell as sweet."

Kat declared "Fruitcake is fruitcake, baby. Call it what you will, it's still an abomination."

Stollen.  Gag me.

But wait, what if I try to make it into something sweet and rosy, something good?  Boxed mac and cheese is no contender against the real, homemade deal.  Could it be that fruitcake, er, I mean, stollen, suffers the same slings and arrows of misfortune when it's mass produced?  Had I only ever sampled the tragic blue-boxed version of this Christmas tradition, and mistakenly surmised that fruitcake was all the same?

This Daring Bakers challenge would be a challenge to myself, then, of epic proportions.  Could I make an honest to goodness from-scratch stollen that even I would like?

(Mandatory Blog-checking lines:)
The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book.........and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

First things first.  Candied fruit from the store  is just plain wrong.  So, I made my own citron.
The pretty plate of citrus up there is actually the waste. 
Mr. Boom put it to god use, though, as you'll see later.

I boiled the peels in fresh water for a few minutes, then drained the pot
and added clean water and brought to a boil again.  I did this for a total of three boils.

The peels were then diced finely and thrown back into the pot with equal parts sugar and water.

The result is shiny, sweet, and chewy. 
They didn't taste a whole lot different of the orange jelly wedge
candy you can buy at the store.

The fairly uncomplicated bread dough was easily made in the mixer.  Instead of adding the citrus zest, I used some lemon sugar left over from a previous cooking project.  The lemon sugar is made of lemon zest and  sugar, finely whizzed in a food processor. The result is a nice lemon flavor without the ickiness of biting into a bitter bit of stringy lemon zest.  I figured this would further reduce the chance of and icky taste to the final product.  I left out the rum and raisins, further increasing the odds of a palatable result.

The citrus bits are blended into the dough, which is then left to rise in the fridge for a day, or three, depending on how long it takes you to face the fact that you really are going to make a fruitcake stollen.

The dough is rolled out, and at this point you can add marzipan, more fruit, or whatever makes you feel happy and fruitcake-like.

Rolled into a ring, the smell is appetizing and a small glimmer of hope begins to surface...

Slices are made partway into the ring. Not only is this pretty, but it helps cooks this large, dense, fruitcake monster all the way through.

Mr. Boom, in his infinite wisdom and thrift, took the fruit leftover from the first step and mixed it with some raspberry pulp, added a bit of yeast and ginger, and made the loveliest frizzy drink you can imagine.
I added a bit of vanilla vodka to mine and I don't remember much else...

The monster has risen!

The bits of peel are positively bursting off the surface of the dough.
The house smells...funny.
Like danishes. 
I really don't like danishes at all.  I have literally thrown up due to their smell alone on more than one occasion.
Mr. Boom loves danishes.
He's allowed to eat them when I'm gone, as long as he doesn't store them in the house.

 The house now smells entirely like danishes. 
It's freezing cold outside and snow is hammering down.
(There are different types of snowfall, for those who aren't in the know.  Sometimes snow falls like rain in a thunderstorm, though how something of that shape and mass can gain that velocity is beyond me!)
I want to throw all the windows open, but I can't.
So, I start dry-heaving instead.

The monster has won. 

I don't like fruitcake, you can't make me like fruitcake, and I won't ever make one again.  I gave this challenge my full effort.  I really tried to get into the spirit.  I was even hopeful for a while. I will stick with this from now on:

If you want to give this a shot, and I see no reason why you should let my mortal fear and all-consuming hatred of fruitcake stop you, here's the recipe for the challenge.


  1. I've been looking forward to your post ever since you posted to the forums. Good job giving it such a dedicated try, that really is quite daring of you. I feel the same way about shortbread... I finally figured out I was making it *right,* I just hated it. :) Fair enough, at least you tried!

  2. Like the comment above I have been hanging out for your posting after your comments on the forums about fruitcake.

    I do admire and applaud your heroic effort on this challenge nobody likes everything and you just don't like (i.e. hate)it and most people wouldn't have done it at all - so 10 out of 10 for your wonderful effort.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  3. Daring of you to have done the challenge, successfully (even if you still don't like it any bit), and making us all laugh at the forum, specially with the inflatable fruitcake :P
    Happy New Year!!

  4. Kat, hats off to your efforts in making something you despise this much! You truly are a Daring Baker..very well done!! :)

  5. Mmmm... your stollen looks amazing! Hats off to you for making your own citrus peel! You certainly are a very daring baker!

  6. I love following your photos down the page to watch the transformation you create.

    I have to admit - I love fruitcake. And I've been very disappointed that I couldn't find it anywhere this holiday season, and had decided at the outset that I wasn't up to making it.

  7. Thanks for all your kind comments, everyone!
    Jenny- I could live out the rest of my life quite happily on shortbread alone.
    Audax and Renata- Your approval and support mean so much to me, and I really appreciate your friendliness and willingness to help. I hope Santa was good to you both!
    Namratha and Silverrock- Your stollen are gorgeous, and so is your photography.
    Pollinatrix-Your last post still has me laughing. For that I would *almost* make another of these and send it to you. Instead, I really think you should try to make one yourself. It was really quite easy.

  8. You have made me laugh. My entire family has an aversion to fruit in breads, add liquor and they refuse to set foot in the kitchen. Good job giving it a try.

  9. You're right - I should make one. I'm especially taken with the idea of candying orange peel.

  10. I'm not overly fond of fruit cake either. I just love how pretty the one you made turned out though.