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Stollen – how do you bake this festive treat?

Ah, stollen. It’s one of those breads which people have an opinion on. In the UK we are used to the sickly sweet bread with mixed fruit and a big rope of sugary marzipan running through the middle. It’s usually the marzipan that has the Marmite effect on people.

Well you’ll be pleased to know that the number of stollen varieties is huge. By huge, if you can imagine that Dresden in Germany hosts a market each Christmas dedicated to stollen, then you will start to appreciate what you might be missing out of if you are a marzipan naysayer.

Let’s take a look at why stollen is so special.

First off, it’s an enriched bread. By this, we mean that it has butter and eggs added in the dough which makes it deliciously dense. Mixed fruit is also added, which have been steeped in booze for a good week or so. This imparts an amazing festive dimension to the stollen flavour, which is often lacking in the supermarket varieties. After that, you are simply limited by your imagination.

You don’t even have to have marzipan running though. A delicious variety of stollen has a poppy seed mixture in the middle which adds an amazing depth. Check out the incredible recipe by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou. It’s pretty much foolproof.

This stunning plaited stollen is called a Strietzel, and is packed with Christmas colours.

Tradition holds that stollen is to represent the manager that Jesus slept in as a baby – a perfect Christmas analogy. Part of the process of making stollen is after knocking back the dough into a rectangle, you lay the baby Jesus (AKA marzipan sausage) in the middle and wrap it up in a blanket of dough.

Once it is out of the oven and cooled, you drench it with layer upon alternate layer of melted butter and sugar, before finally dusting the whole thing with snow (icing sugar).

Stollen doesn’t have to divide opinions – there is a recipe out there for everyone!

We had great full baking stollen along with cinnamon buns, mince pies and panettone on our Festive Baking class on Friday. A brilliant day was had, with a delicious festive lunch with wine, crackers and mulled wine in the afternoon!

If you would like to book a place on an upcoming class, our Festive dates are booking out quick!

Quick here to find a date that is suitable for you.

It is absolutely hands on – you do everything just with some great guidance from the expert baker. The course covers three loaves – a white farmhouse, a French Pain de Campagne and a wholemeal loaf. Matt encourages you to add your own flair to each – with an array of delicious ‘extra’ ingredients available to add to the loaves; poppy, chia seeds or sunflower seeds, olives and sun-dried tomatoes, dried fruits or chopped nuts. You can even add grated cheese or pieces of pancetta to really pimp things up when you bake them again in the creative comfort of your own kitchen! And that’s precisely the point. I can’t wait to bake bread again now. And I feel absolutely confident that I will be able to do it. And do it well. The smell in that kitchen – honestly, it was divine. When the loaves came out and were cooling, we sat in the living room and Matt recommended his favourite books for baking. A great touch with was very helpful indeed. I have been to a fair few cookery classes in my time but this one was, by far, the best. The tips I have picked up on, the newfound confidence, the way it has made me appreciate homemade baking so much more. I don’t want to buy or eat a mass-produced loaf of sliced bread ever again!
Sophie
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