My friend, Lois, is a remarkable woman. She teaches our ladies' Bible class on Wednesday evenings, taking us on deep journeys into all of the scriptures that relate to whatever we are studying. Recently her husband, Rick, passed away. Even in the midst of her grief, she has demonstrated amazing strength. I love the words of wisdom that fall, so naturally, from her lips.
About a month ago Lois approached me, at church, and asked if I had ever made stollen bread. I told her that I had not, but that I was familiar with it, since my dad used to make it in the bakery. She wondered if I'd be interested in getting together to make some, sometime before the holidays. I was honored to be asked.
Yesterday I went shopping for the special ingredients needed for stollen bread. Most stollen bread is made with candied fruit, but neither Lois nor I are fond of it, so Lois came up with a recipe that used dried fruit, instead. The fruit had to be covered with boiling water and then soaked overnight. Then, this morning, it was drained and soaked, again, in 3 tablespoons of rum. Another ingredient needed for stollen bread is almond paste. I was pleased that it was readily available at the supermarket, so I didn't have to go hunting the specialty stores for it. The main spice used in the dough is mace, although we added a little bit of cinnamon and a little bit of nutmeg to our almond paste, as well.
We started our baking adventure this morning, at 10:00. It was a straight-forward bread recipe. The dough, which had the rummed fruit and some chopped, roasted almonds incorporated, was a great consistency and easy to knead and shape. While the bread rose for the first time, we went out to lunch together.
After lunch we shaped the dough. Traditionally, stollen bread is shaped into a flat oval. A rolled out strip of almond paste is placed on one half of the oval, then the dough is folded over the almond paste, the long way, forming a loaf with one straight side and a curved side, the almond paste sandwiched inside. I read somewhere that the shape is supposed to be reminiscent of a swaddled baby Jesus. After shaping, we let it rise a second time and then baked it off. I can't describe how heavenly my house smells right now! After it came out of the oven, we sat down together, each with a cup of tea and a hot slice of buttered stollen. It was great, even without the powdered sugar that is supposed to be sprinkled on top once it is cool. I'll be making more of this before the holidays are over - FOR SURE!
Lois, enjoying the hot, buttered bread.
Our two loaves, still lacking the powdered sugar sprinkles.
Thanks, Lois, for initiating this enjoyable day. It was terrific spending the day with you and getting to know you better.
Before Lois left, she said to me, "Okay. Next time it's your recipe!" I'm looking forward to it.
Here's the recipe we used, with our own adaptations: Stollen Bread Recipe