Tuesday, December 15, 2009
The Circle: Stollen Memories
Thank you Roxana, of Illuminated Perfume, for inviting me to part of your Advent blog series, “The Circle"! Here is my contribution--- an essay about food scents.
For me, the holidays are all about finishing up my work, shipping out gifts to my family, and finally taking some time to enjoy life a bit more. Work doesn’t generally wind down until the 25th, so even now I am thinking of scents I will be enjoying on Christmas Day.
Most of the time I try to eat really sensibly- avoiding white flour, food coloring, and fatty foods --- but when it comes to a holiday, I put that aside and indulge whole heatedly. This brings me to my two most cherished scents of the season- my mom's Stollen, and cheese fondue. (Not that they are necessarily filled with the things I try to avoid!)
Ever since I can remember, my mother has baked a stollen for Christmas. I actually didn't know it was considered a fruitcake until today (thanks Wikipedia!). That's how amazing it is! She soaks the raisins in rum overnight and makes the recipe from scratch on Christmas Eve, so everyone can eat it first thing, on Christmas morning. A few years ago, my mom sent all the kids (we're talking about approx. 8 stollens here) in the family, one to enjoy. I have to say, it was an incredible surprise, and the best gift in the world. We’ve lived so many miles apart, for so long, I hadn’t enjoyed that smell and taste in many moons. This year, I want to make it myself for the first time.
Here's the recipe with a bonus! The oh-so-delicious Poppy Seed Bread, the Stollen's Christmas Twin in the Ensign house!
Yeast Dough for Christmas Stollen and Poppy Seed Bread
(1/2 recipe for each - makes big bread)
8 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 cups milk
5 pkgs dry yeast (5 tablespoons)
1/2 Tablespoon Salt
1 cup sugar
2 sticks butter
Dissolve yeast in warms milk or water with 1 tablespoon of sugar - let
bubble so you know it is active. Warm milk and melt butter in it -
add sugar to mixture. Place all wet ingredients either in large bowl
or dough mixer bowl and start adding flour one cup at at time using
whatever it takes to make the dough come into a soft but not wet ball.
Knead 10 minutes by hand or in mixer with hook.
Let rise double (sometimes takes a long time). Punch down and divide.
For stollen knead in 1/2 lb pound of raisins (or currants or golden
raisins) pre-soaked in rum and 1/2 lb of ground or finely chopped
almonds. Form in folded stollen shape. Let rise double again. When
ready to bake beaten egg and cream. Bake at 350 degrees until golden.
Glaze with confectioners sugar and rum from raisins mixed and then
poured over. Decorate with candied fruit, nuts, etc.
Poppy Seed filling
2 cups poppy seeds
3 eggs separated
4 cups milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
dash of salt
2 Tablespoons lemon
2 Tablespoons of rum
4 Tablespoons butter
1 cup raisins or currants or golden raisins
1 cup of cream of wheat
2 pealed and chopped apples
Heat milk, add cream of wheat, add sugar, add butter, add apples and
lemon juice, vanilla, rum add poppy seeds and raisins, and beaten egg
yolks - cook. Let cool and fold in beaten egg whites and salt. Fill
dough (enough filling for two cakes).
Poppy Seed Cake
Roll out dough in large rectangle fairly thin - spread filling on
dough and fold both long sides to the center. Place the center seam
side down on the pan. Let rise double and bake at 350 degrees until
I love what my mom just told me about these recipes when she sent them to me:
" I was taught this recipe by my dear German friend 40
years ago in her magical warm and loving kitchen. She just had me
write down the recipe and instructions following what she was doing
and that is what I have done ever since. So it was really stollen and
poppy seed cake by apprenticeship. It is flexible because it is so
As far as the fondue goes, the mouth-watering scent of freshly cut bread, Gruyère, Emmentaler and garlic also harkens back to my childhood. I was lucky enough to have a mom devoted to Gourmet Magazine, so we got to eat a lot of what most people consider “exotic dishes”. Well, none of my friends even knew what fondue was, from what I can remember, anyway! So every year, my husband and I sit down for a serious fondue session, until we’re stuffed. Aaa, I can’t wait!