Snidal’s Christmas Stollen

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Since my family stopped exchanging gifts at Christmas, food has taken on more importance. This is that one time of the year when you can rationalize buying those fancy Spanish sardines in olive oil, some of that aged-to-perfection, sliced-paper-thin jamón ibérico, that sublime, creamy raw goat cheese from France. Expensive yes, but hey, it’s Christmas.

Of course, it’s also a time for baking. This year I’m making Mexican Wedding Cakes, Chocolate Hazelnut Crinkle Cookies, Coconut Stars, and Pecan Sandies. (Notice that all those cookies contain nuts!) I’m also making this stollen, a recipe that comes from Leslie Snidal, my friend in Nova Scotia who makes it every Christmas, as her mother did. It is baked earlier in December, wrapped up well and frozen, then warmed in the oven on Christmas morning to be served with a cup of hot coffee well before the real breakfast preparations begin.

Stollen, in case you’re not familiar, is a traditional sweet German yeasted bread full of nuts, dried fruit and spices, usually eaten at Christmas, and usually for breakfast, although a slice in the afternoon with a cup of tea would be lovely. This version is quicker than the traditional, relying on baking powder and eggs – not yeast – to give it some rise, but still rich and buttery, with cottage cheese and ground almonds, candied citrus peel and currants all folded into the batter. Plenty of vanilla, a splash of rum, and a sprinkle of mace, intensify the flavour.

Of course, stollen also makes a good gift, or, divided into two, makes two good gifts. Gifts that will surely be appreciated and don’t involve shopping in a mall.

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Snidal's Christmas Stollen
Stollen, a traditional sweet German yeasted bread full of nuts, dried fruit and spices, is usually served on Christmas morning with a cup of good hot coffee. This version, from my friend Leslie Snidal, contains no yeast but is just as delicious, and is easier to make. Make it for yourself, make it to give as a gift. It will be appreciated.
Ingredients
  • 2½ cups al-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon mace
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup ground almonds
  • ½ cup cold unsalted butter
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 2-3 tablespoons rum
  • ¼ cup diced candied citrus peel
  • ½ cup currants
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, mace, sugar, and ground almonds. Cut in butter using a pastry blender until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Alternatively, this step could be done in a food processor; once the mixture resembles a coarse meal, transfer it to a large bowl.
  3. Press cottage cheese through a sieve into a small bowl (a wooden spoon or study spatula work well). Add egg, vanilla, almond extract, rum, lemon peel and currants. Mix well.
  4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the cottage cheese-egg mixture. Stir just to combine.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, shape into a ball, and knead 6 to 10 times until smooth. Pat or roll into an oval shape roughly 8 inches by 12 inches. Brush with melted butter.
  6. Fold one side of the stollen over lengthwise just past the centre line. Place on the lined baking sheet. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden and a toothpick inserted into the thickest part comes out clean. If the stollen is browning too quickly, cover loosely with foil.
  7. When cool, dust stollen with powdered sugar.
  8. The stollen freezes well; first wrap in aluminium foil, then in plastic. To serve, bring to room temperature, remove plastic but not foil, and place in a hot oven for a few minutes to warm. Serve in slices.
Makes 1 12-inch stollen.

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