This week I’ve returned to my favourite patisserie book and that is Patisserie by William and Suzue Curley. There are so many reasons why this is my favourite book, but the main reason is the reliability of the recipes. The quantities are accurate, when base recipes such as syrups, genoise, mousses and creams are referred to in another recipe the exact amount required is specified.
Also when making things like creme patissiere or the rum-marinated sultanas for this recipe, clear information is provided about how many grams the recipe will yield, so you know if you have enough of that ingredient leftover to make other things with.
The amount of recipes I’ve made, where the instructions tell me to make a genoise from another section of the book, only to find that I didn’t need to make two 30 x 25cm sponge cakes, when I only needed a 20 x 20cm square. This might not sound like a big deal, but 8 egg whites and a hour later it’s quite frustrating to see how much has been wasted.
A lot of patisserie ingredients are expensive and the Curley book keeps the leftovers to a minimum and provides storage instructions for all of the recipes and an expected shelf-life. I’ve made quite a few recipes and base recipes from this book and I haven’t found fault with anything, which is really refreshing. Two of the other patisserie books I own I have had to contact the publishers about discrepancies that I’ve found.
It seems ironic that I find William Curley to be such an inspiration but I am still to visit any of his boutiques in London. I just never seem to be in the right area at the right time, I think I may have to embark on a pilgrimage, or attend one of the many cookery courses they offer.
Now back to the Stollen that I made from this wonderful book. Before you make this recipe, you need to make the rum-marinated sultanas at least 24 hours in advance, the recipe for these can be found here. Stollen is a German yeasted cake that originally was more like a house brick than the light sweet substance we know now. Originally Stollen didn’t contain marzipan, which for me is a depressing thought as I love marzipan and I couldn’t imagine Stollen without it.
Stollen has a very long history and is strongly associated with Dresden. This is possibly one of my favourite bits of food related trivia, every year at the Dresden Christmas Fair a giant Stollen is made (usually 3-4 tonnes) and paraded through the town on a carriage. The Stollen is then ceremoniously cut with a 1.6m long silver-plated Grand Dresden Stollen Knife which weighs 12 kilos. The cut cake is then sold for a small fee and the money is given to charity. I really have to attend this, it sounds amazing.
The stollen is made by mixing warmed milk, yeast, eggs, flour, salt, and sugar in a food mixer. Butter is then beaten into the mixture and finally the marinated fruit, nuts and mixed peel are added. This dough is then left somewhere warm to prove for 1 1/2 hours, until almost doubled in size.
After the first prove the dough is knocked back, divided into four and rolled into rectangles. A tube of marzipan is added to the Stollen and the dough is folded over to contain the marzipan. These are then left to prove for a further 45 minutes.
The proven stollen are cooked until golden brown and then brushed with melted butter and dusted with icing sugar. These cakes will keep up to a week in an airtight container, or you can wrap them in some cellophane and ribbon and give them to someone as an early christmas present, to spread some christmas cheer.
The Stollen goes particularly well with dessert wine, such as Beaumes-de-Venise. This is a really delicious fruity, sweet wine that would work well with the marinated fruit, mixed peel and the marzipan, but it won’t overpower the Stollen. The two should compliment each other and a chilled glass of this with a lightly toasted slice of Stollen, sounds like perfection to me. Perhaps you could give someone special a bottle of Beaumes-de-Venise, as well as your homemade Stollen this year for Christmas.
I thought Stollen would be daunting to make, but this is a very easy recipe, it’s a bit time consuming because of the proving, however that’s no different to any normal bread recipe. You can see for yourself here:
- 200g Marzipan
- 500g Strong White Flour
- 60g Caster Sugar
- 10g Salt
- 125ml Whole Milk
- 25g Fresh Yeast
- 165g Eggs (about 3-4)
- 250g Softened Unsalted Butter
- 40g Chopped Walnuts
- 40g Roasted and Chopped Almonds
- 200g Rum-marinated Sultanas
- 1g Lemon Zest
- 40g Mixed Peel
- 20ml Dark Rum
- 2g Ground Cinnamon
- ***To decorate***
- 100g Melted Unsalted Butter
- Icing sugar for dusting
- Sift together the flour, sugar and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Warm the milk in a saucepan over a very gentle heat until it reaches 30-34C, then mix in the fresh yeast.
- Add the eggs, yeast and milk to the flour mixture. Beat together for 10-12 minutes until the mixture is elastic and comes away from the sides of the bowl. Add the butter to the mixture in four batches and continue to beat until the mixture comes away from the sides again.
- Add the nuts, fruit, rum and cinnamon and mix until dispersed within the dough. Leave the mixture to prove for about 1½ hours.
- Divide the marzipan into 4 equal portions, shape into balls and roll each one into a 15cm log on a lightly floured surface. Place on a baking tray.
- Knock back the dough, then divide into 4 equal pieces. Knock back each piece, shape into a ball and roll out to a 17 x 10cm rectangle on a lightly floured surface.
- Place the roll of marzipan inside each rectangle of dough and fold over the dough to enclose the marzipan. Press gently to seal. Repeat 3 more times.
- Place the rectangles of dough onto baking trays and leave to prove for about 45 minutes, or until it has doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 190C Fan, 200C.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes until dark in colour. Leave to cool for 10 minutes and coat in the melted butter. Leave to set and dust with the icing sugar.
I remember making mince pies with my mum at christmas time and we’d always add more alcohol to the shop bought mincemeat, like it was our little secret! Do you have any family baking traditions at Christmas time? Or any treats that you must have each year?
Thanks for reading.
The wine pairing mentioned is my own personal choice and I have not been sponsored by Yapp Brothers Ltd. I have however entered this post into their Christmas Blogging Competition, the Ts&Cs are here.