Thursday, 11 December 2014

Plaited Cranberry, Cherry and Orange Stollen

This is a variant of this stollen recipe I posted in December 2011. The dough recipe and quantities were based on this Delia Smith recipe for stollen. My original recipe changed the fruit to my liking- adding in dried cranberries and apricots, and taking out the candied peel. I also soaked the fruit in Cointreau, and surrounding the marzipan core in cranberry sauce.  This time, I kept the fruit mostly the same, but made up some of the sultanas’ and glace cherry weight with dried sour cherries. The Cointreau stayed, but the layer of cranberry sauce was left out- I did like it, and I would make it like that again, but wasn’t especially in the mood for it at the time of baking.  
The biggest change was plaiting the loaf, which is a bit fancier than my usual cooking-style, but I had a piece of plaited stollen made by a friend, and I really liked it- the marzipan is dotted throughout the loaf instead of a big chunk in the centre- I prefer it that way. I suppose this could be simplified by cutting the marzipan into chunks and adding it to the dough with the fruit- but then you might get burnt bits of marzipan at the surface of the stollen- plaiting it will keep all the sugary marzipan encased in the loaf. And it is no way near as fiddly as I thought it would be- you need quite a gentle hand working with the dough, but that’s about it.
Finally, this time I didn’t add any orangey icing, because I didn’t want to anything to disguise my success of plaiting bread dough.
The recipe below makes two stollens- I used half the dough to make one stollen, put the other half in the fridge, and made a second stollen the following day to take to a party. The dough keeps for 2 days in the fridge, according to Delia.

150ml Cointreau, Triple Sec or brandy
300ml full fat milk
100grams caster sugar
4tsp dried yeast
700 grams strong white bread flour
220 grams softened unsalted butter
2 eggs, beaten
140 grams dried cranberries
70 grams sultanas
80 grams dried no-soak apricots, chopped

60 grams dried sour cherries
30 grams glace cherries (natural colour, preferably), halved
50 grams almonds, chopped
grated zest of 1 lemon
grated zest of 1 orange
350 grams marzipan

 Put the dried fruit and glacé cherries in a small saucepan with your chosen alcohol. Bring the liquid to a simmer, and then remove from the heat. Now get on with the dough while you allow the fruits to become imbued with festive spirit.  Alternatively, soak the fruit overnight in the Cointreau. Warm the milk (I do this in the microwave), add 2 tsp of the caster sugar, and sprinkle of the yeast on the surface of the milk. Leave the yeast to create a frothy head on top of the milk. Now sift the flour into a large mixing bowl with the salt and remaining sugar. Make a well in the centre, and pour in the yeasted milk mixture, along with the eggs and butter. Mix with a wooden spoon, along with the dried fruits, almonds and zest. Knead the dough, either with your hands, or an electric mixer with a dough hook attachment. You may need to add more flour, you want a slightly sticky dough, it is ready when it feels springy and elastic. Put the dough in a bowl, clingfilm and leave to double in size, this could take up to 2 hours.
After the first prove, punch the dough down, and divide into two. Knead one of the halves of dough on a floured surface until it feels springy.  Divide the dough into 3 balls, and using your hands, roll each ball into a 25cm sausage. On a floured board, roll one of these pieces of dough so it has a width of about 7-8cm. Take a third of the marzipan, and using your hands roll it into a sausage almost the length of dough and place in the centre, and fold the dough over it. Remove carefully to a lined baking sheet. Repeat with the other two pieces of the stollen dough.  Plait the three lengths of dough as tightly as you can, sealing the edges together. You can repeat this process to make a second loaf, or return the other half of the dough to the fridge, covered in clingfilm. Leave the loaf or loaves to rise again, this time about 20 minutes. Set your oven to 180 degrees, and when they have finished the second prove, bake for about 35-40 minutes. Dust with icing sugar when you take it out of the oven.

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