Growing up with a mother who was born and bred in a land thousands of miles away from these shores I’ve had my fair share of ‘regular’ meals that only a handful of people I’ve met would also consider regular food.
I know this is a factor of many people on this diverse planet. I know there will be many tables tonight and in the next few nights where celebrations (or lack thereof) will be associated to the shared history of families and their own or mixed cultures.
Germany is a country that has strong Christmas roots, they do the decorations and they have food only consumed at this time of year – Stollen included. 10 years ago I spent my one and only holiday season in Germany and I’m positive I ate this during my stay, I don’t remember, but I do remember that it’s something I have never eaten with satisfaction.
Rum and raisins may be perfection to some, but not this girl here, no, I’d rather have a whole loaf of marzipan bread in one sitting thank you.
Now, this is one occasion where I followed the recipe to the measurement and last gram, it’s detailed and time consuming, but most of the time that it consumes is just to sit in your pantry while you avoid eating it.
There are a few things I would have done differently to improve it so will note this at the bottom.
In saying that, this is a 400 year old recipe, so my findings may be naivety.
Recipe by NY Times
Makes 2 loaves
2/3 cup black raisins
2/3 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/3 cup dark rum
1 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
7 grams active dry yeast
1/2 cup milk, room temperature
4 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg yolk
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup candied ginger, roughly chopped
1/2 cup candied citrus peel (optional)
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 cups confectioners/icing sugar
1/2 cup confectioners/icing sugar
Place the raisins and cherries in a small flat container and pour the rum evenly over. Cover and set aside. Place the almonds in a container with 1/4 cup water, cover and set aside.
Place the yeast and milk in a bowl and mix on low speed until dissolved, approximately 1 minute. Add in 1 cup of flour and mix for another 2 minutes until well combined and the dough is soft and stick.
Place in a lightly greased bowl and set aside at room temperature for 40 minutes.
In a separate bowl place the remaining flour, 3 teaspoons of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, salt, cinnamon, cardamon, nutmeg, lemon zest and vanilla seeds. Set on low speed to combine then in a slow stream add 1 cup of the melted butter in until well combined. Add the egg yolk while continuing to mix and mix until all the liquid is well adsorbed. Approximately 3 minutes.
When the starter has rested for 40 minutes, cut into third’s and add one third at a time into the spice mixture. Mix on low speed and allow to absorb into the dough for approximately 3 minutes per third. Once well combined, increase speed to medium and mix for a further 5 minutes, until glossy.
Once well combined, add in the candied ginger and almonds. Mix on slow for 2 minutes. When it has been well mixed add in the rum raisins and cherries and combine for a further 2 minutes.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, until the fruit and nuts are well inside the dough and its a nice smooth dough. Place in a bowl and set aside to rest for 1 hour to rise.
When the hour is complete, knead once more for just 1 minute maximum then rest for a further hour.
Remove from the bowl and divide into 2 pieces, shaping each into an oval loaf. Rest on top of two rimmed baking sheets, the top one lined with greaseproof paper. Allow to rest for a further hour at room temperature.
Allow enough time for your oven to preheat to 180°C/350F. Remove the plastic covering and bake for an hour. The loafs will be a dark brown and if testing internal temperature it should reach 85°C/190F.
When complete, transfer the loafs with the top pan to a cooling tray.
Melt the remaining cup of butter and spread all over the loaves a little at a time. You want the butter to really soak into them, next mix together the 3/4 cup sugar and 2 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger and pour/pat all over the loaves.
When cooled cover and set aside overnight.
Sift 1 1/2 cups confectioners/icing sugar over loaves and roll to coat evenly. Wrap in plastic and sit for at least 2 days.
Sift remaining 1/2 cup confectioners/icing sugar over.
Slice and serve.
I found that 1 1/2 cups raisins is too much, 1 cup would have been sufficient.
I chose not to use citrus peel.
I found that the butter made the dough far far too crumbly, so would add a whole egg in to compensate and ensure the dough is smooth and not crumbly.
3/4 cup sugar was a little too much, 2/3 would have been more then sufficient. This also applies to the confectioners sugar.