Cranberry and Dark Chocolate Christmas Stollen
Merry Christmas everyone, from Honey and Soy!!
While Soy has been busy with spiced nuts and ham, my contribution to Christmas dinner is this cranberry and dark chocolate stollen. I can’t say I am a huge fan of stollen- the ones I have had in the past just tasted like fruit bread. Nothing special about fruit bread when I can have raisin toast any time of the year! Plus, neither Soy and I are fans of glacé fruit. Yes, no fruitcake in our house! So, when devising a Christmas stollen that Soy and I would actually want to eat, I knew it had to have plump cranberries, dark chocolate, and lots and lots of cinnamon.
And bathed in dark chocolate glaze… yumm!
Can I also say that I now know why our grandmothers had such strong arms. Even with my KitchenAid, my arms are still aching from rolling out the dough. Imagine if I actually had to knead it by hand as well. I used fresh yeast, and do notice a difference in the texture of the dough. It is much softer and airier than the bread I’ve made with dried yeast.
As part of the DB challenge, we were asked to make our stollen into a wreath rather than the traditional loaf shape which was meant to represent baby Jesus in swaddling clothes. I had fun making the wreath shape (watch the Martha Stewart video) and it was really easy too!
I’ve changed my mind about stollen. I love how this stollen is really cinnamony, chocolatey and dotted with juicy tangy cranberries. The wreath makes it look really festive, and I hope our friends SM and J will be wowed when we turn up to their house with it!
We hope everyone has a lovely, safe holiday period and a very happy Christmas!
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.
Cranberry and Dark Chocolate Christmas Stollen
adapted from Penny’s recipe
¼ cup (60ml) lukewarm water (110º F / 43º C)
28g fresh yeast
1 cup (240 ml) milk
10 tablespoons (150 ml) (140 grams) unsalted butter (can use salted butter)
5½ cups (1320 ml) (27 ozs) (770 grams) all-purpose (plain) flour (Measure flour first – then sift- plus extra for dusting)
½ cup (120 ml) (115 gms) sugar
¾ teaspoon (3 ¾ ml) (4 ½ grams) salt (if using salted butter there is no need to alter this salt measurement)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 grams) cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (very good) vanilla extract
1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon extract or orange extract
1 cup (240 ml) (6 ozs) (170 gms) cranberries
500g dark chocolate chips
3 tablespoons (45ml) Cointreau
1 cup (240 ml) (3 ½ ozs) (100 grams) flaked almonds
melted dark chocolate mixed with a little cream for the glaze
Note: If you don’t want to use alcohol, double the lemon or orange extract or you could use the juice from the zested orange.
Soak the cranberries in the Cointreau or orange juice.
To make the dough
Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water into a small bowl, crumble the yeast in and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.
In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup (240 ml) milk and 10 tablespoons (150 ml) butter over medium – low heat until butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes.
Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon and vanilla extracts.
In a large mixing bowl (4 qt) (4 liters) (or in the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment), stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests.
Then stir in (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/butter mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.
Add in the soaked fruit, chocolate chips and almonds and mix with your hands or on low speed to incorporate.
Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing with the dough hook) to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed. The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 8 minutes (6 minutes by machine). The full six minutes of kneading is needed to distribute the dried fruit and other ingredients and to make the dough have a reasonable bread-dough consistency. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough – a few cranberries will start to fall off the dough onto the counter because at the beginning of the kneading process the dough is very sticky and the cranberries will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn’t enough to bind the outside cranberries onto the dough ball.
Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Put it in the fridge overnight. The dough becomes very firm in the fridge (since the butter goes firm) but it does rise slowly… the raw dough can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week and then baked on the day you want.
Shaping the Dough and Baking the Wreath
1. Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.
2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
3. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
4. Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches (40 x 61 cms) and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick.
Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder. Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan. Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle. You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape.
Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough. Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.
Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The bread will bake to a dark mahogany colour, should register 190°F/88°C in the center of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom. Cool completely then drape with the chocolate glaze and decorate!