When Sourdough Surprises announced that this month’s challenge would be Sourdough Stollen, I had mixed feelings about it. I often do make Stollen for Christmas, but this year I had so many people to give cookies to that I was feeling a little overwhelmed. Until the challenge was announced, I had already decided I wasn’t going to try to make Stollen this year. I didn’t feel I could pass up the opportunity to make it with my starter though!
My maternal grandmother was a great baker and made an amazing amount of cookies and treats at the holidays to give away to friends. One of her traditions from her German background was Stollen. I’ve never seen a Stollen like hers in the store. Her recipe has no marzipan in it, it’s much more like a Panettone or Challah bread with candied fruit and it’s topped with a butter icing with sprinkles on top. I always loved her bread as a child, except for the candied fruit. There would always be a little pile of fluorescent bits on my plate after breakfast!
I have Granny’s Stollen recipe, but it makes a whopping 7 loaves, quite a bit more than this household can handle, so I’ve never made it. However, a few years ago I found a very similar recipe to my grandmother’s Stollen on AllRecipes that made a much more reasonably sized batch. I kind of mashed the two recipes together and got something pretty close to the Stollen I remember. I still haven’t matured enough (maybe I never will) to enjoy candied fruit, so I use fancy dried fruit instead. I usually get a gourmet blend of golden raisins, blueberries, cranberries and cherries.
The recipe was a snap to convert to use sourdough starter instead of yeast. I used the “20% build” method that I discovered during the croissant challenge, taking the liquid in the recipe and using 20% of that weight for the amount of starter. I mixed in the same weight in flour for the recipe as I used for the liquid. I let this mixture sit overnight until it was nice and bubbly and then continued on with my recipe the next day. The dough rose very well, even in my chilly house. It tastes delicious and not too different from what I usually make. There is a very slight sourdough flavor and aroma, but it’s not overwhelming. I’m glad I made the stollen after all! Be sure to check out the other stollen recipes from this challenge:
- For the sponge:
- 1½ cups (12 oz/340g) milk
- 2.4 oz sourdough starter (100% hydration)
- 2¾ Cups (12 oz/340g) all purpose unbleached flour
- For the bread:
- ½ cup (3.5 oz/99g) white sugar
- ¾ cup (1½ sticks, 6 oz/170g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- ½ tsp. salt
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 2¾ cups (12 oz/340g) all-purpose unbleached flour, plus more if needed
- 2 cups dried fruit
- For the Frosting
- 1 cup (4 oz/113g) powdered sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2 Tbsp. butter, softened
- 1-2 Tbsp. milk
- colored sprinkles
- For the sponge:
- Scald the milk and let it cool to lukewarm. Mix with the starter and the flour. Cover and let sit at room temperature overnight or until doubled in size and bubbly.
- For the bread:
- Melt the butter and add the sugar and salt to the butter and stir until dissolved. Let cool to lukewarm.
- Add eggs and yolks to the cooled butter mixture.
- Add the butter mixture to the sponge in a large mixing bowl. Whip until smooth. Add in the remaining flour, plus extra as needed to form a soft dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl when stirred. The dough will be a little sticky and should be soft, but have some shape.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 2 -3 hours (depends on room temperature and the strength of your starter).
- Turn the dough out onto a floured board and top with the dried fruit. Gently knead in the dried fruit. Continue to knead until smooth, adding more flour as needed if the dough is too sticky.
- Let rise in a greased bowl until doubled, about 2 hours.
- When risen, cut into 3-4 pieces. Roll each into an oval and fold in half lengthwise.
- Place the loaves on greased baking sheets, cover with floured towels or greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, 1-2 hours.
- Bake at 375F/190C for 20-25 minutes until puffy and golden brown.
- Cool on a rack.
- For the frosting:
- Mix the butter, vanilla and powdered sugar together. Add milk 1 Tbsp. at a time until a smooth and spreadable frosting is formed.
- Frost the bread with the butter frosting and sprinkle with colored sprinkles.