On the Daring Baker's website there was a lot of discussion about what the December recipe would be this year. It is always something for the Christmas season and a lot of people seem to fear the possibility that someone would pick fruitcake. It turns out there are a lot of fruitcake haters out there. Well this year they did - sort of. They pick stollen. Stollen is a traditional German fruitcake - but it is more of a bread than a cake since it is made with yeast. Traditionally stollen is shaped more like a loaf (supposed to represent the baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes) but we were to make ours in the wreath form you see above.
Well I am not a fruitcake hater. When I grew up my grandmother would make fruitcake every Christmas. I think it was pretty much a traditional southern fruitcake and I still enjoy it when I can get it. I have never made one myself though so I was excited at the thought of making the Stollen this month. The Stollen can be pretty easy to make if you use all store-bought ingredients but I decided to make a few of them.
I have not got out the candy thermometer in a while but I needed it twice for this recipe. The first thing I made was the candied citrus peels. These taste a lot better than anything you would buy and I used this recipe to make them.
The second thing I made was some marzipan. Marzipan is a traditional filling for a stollen and it was something I wanted to experiment with so I decided to make some. My father doesn't like the almonds that are in a traditional marzipan so I decided to experiment and use pecans in place of the almonds. I have never heard of anyone making pecan marzipan but I figured it was worth a try. I used this recipe - http://candy.about.com/od/nougatmarzipancandy/r/Basicmarzipan.htm as a starting point. Instead of grounding the pecans I just processed them in the food processor. I think that left them a little course and it ended up not being quite as much of a paste as a normal marzipan but it worked great in the stollen.
The only other modification I made to the recipe was that I used raisins, blueberries, cherries, and cranberries instead of just raisins and I also used a mix of cherries and pineapple in place of the glace cherries. I also substituted some course chopped pecans for the almonds.
The resulting stollen was fantastic. It looked beautiful in the wreath shape. It is a nice deep brown color and with all the powdered sugar on top it looked and tasted fantastic. I really liked the pecan marzipan - I like almonds but I think the pecans were really good in this. It is a heavy bread but nowhere near as heavy as a traditional fruitcake.
I thought it tasted pretty good but a week or so after I made it I made the discovery that elevates this above a traditional fruitcake for me. Like any fruitcake this is supposed to store well. Like a normal bread it does start to get a little dry after a while. Well many people had posted that it was normal to eat it toasted and normal to put butter on it. Well toasted with butter was incredible - like a good cinnamon raisin toast - only better. I was going to be saving some for Christmas to share with the family but I have finished off half the loaf (the other half went to a pot luck) myself. I still enough of the citrus peels and marzipan for another so I think I will try making a smaller loaf - maybe in the traditional shape so I can bring it to Christmas dinner at my mom's.
Thanks to Penny at Sweet Sadie's Baking for this months challenge. It was good to get everyone to try out a fruitcake - some found they liked it (an some found out they really didn't). Also thanks to Audax at Audax Artifex - He provided a lot of hints and I used recipes he provided for the citrus and marzipan. If you have not checked out his blog - do it - he takes all of the daring kitchen challenges to a whole new level. I think he has made at least 4 completely different stollen for this challenge.
Here is a pdf with the recipe used for the challenge.