As I’ve mentioned before, some of my childhood was spent living in Germany and I have very fond memories of celebrating Christmas there. During the last few years German Christmas Markets have been springing up in cities over here in the UK. Nothing like the Christkindlmarkets in Berlin, but it’s a good start. The biggest Christmas markets here take place in Leeds and Birmingham. We visited the Birmingham market Saturday evening and it was heaving. Unfortunately I was so enthralled with the whole experience I forgot to take photos.
While there we there we ate kartoffelpuffen with apple sauce, kirschkuchen and pretzels. I was boring Hubby with all my explanations for the different foods and getting overexcited every time I saw something I hadn’t seen in years. I would have had Glühwein but Hubby was driving and I felt a bit guilty drinking again when he was driving. To make up for it the following night we drank mulled cider while putting up the Christmas tree.
One of the popular German Christmas bakes is Stollen, a yeasty fruit and marzipan bread and I’ve been told it represents a swaddled baby Jesus. I would go as far to say I prefer it to Christmas Cake. When I came across this recipe for Chocolate Stollen, although not traditional, I knew I had to make it. A few years back I made a traditional stollen using a slightly different method which worked well, but not as good as this chocolate version. Technically this was one of the most demanding cakes I’ve made. It also turned out to be one of the most impressive and tasty cakes I have ever made. Nigella would be proud. I’ll be submitting it to Yeastspotting. Now take a deep breath and prepare for possibly one of the longest recipes I have ever posted.
Green & Blacks Chocolate Recipes
FOR THE DOUGH
100g mixed fruit
60ml dark rum
zest and juice of 1 orange
50g glace cherries, quartered
100g (1 bar) G&B Maya Gold chocolate (or decent dark chocolate), finely chopped
375g strong white bread flour
25g cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg, grated
1 tsp mixed spice
2 tsp dried active yeast (not the fast action kind)
50g golden caster sugar
100g ground almonds
75g icing sugar
25g cocoa powder
a few drops of almond essence (optional)
40g icing sugar
25g cocoa powder
1) Overnight soak the mixed fruit in orange juice, zest and 30ml of the rum. When you are ready to make the stollen stir in the glace cherries and chocolate.
2) Melt together the milk, sugar and 75g of the butter butter. Leave to cool then beat one egg plus one egg yolk into the milky mix. Keep the spare egg white until later.
3) In a large bowl add the flour, cocoa, salt, nutmeg, mixed spice and the yeast then gently pour in the milk and mix until you have a smooth dough. Knead lightly then place in bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to rise for 30 min. While waiting for the dough to rise make the marzipan, line the 30x20cm baking tray with greaseproof paper and preheat the oven to 190oc.
4) To make the marzipan mix together the icing sugar, cocoa, ground almonds and the egg you saved from earlier (I love very almondy marzipan so also add a few drops of almond essence). Knead until you get a soft, pliable ball.
5) Melt together the remaining 50g butter and 30ml of rum. On a lightly floured board knead the dough then roll out into an oblong shape about 5mm thick (something I’m not very good at!). Brush with the melted butter and rum.
6) Turn the dough so you have a long oblong (rather than a wide oblong) in front of you. On the top cover 2/3 of the dough with half of the mixed fruit mix. Fold the bottom 1/3 two thirds the way up the oblong, then fold down the top third over it. Much like when you fold a letter for an envelope. Press down the open edges to help seal it.
7) Turn the dough 90 degrees clockwise (a quarter turn). Roll out to an oblong shape again. Brush with the butter and rum then repeat step 6 with the remaining fruit.
8 ) Mould the marzipan into an oblong shape just slightly smaller in length than the dough and half the width. Place the marzipan down the centre of the dough, fold the two sides of dough in to meet one another and place join side down in the lined tin. Brush the top with the butter and rum and bake for 35 minutes.
9) As soon as the stollen is baked, brush with the butter and rum (you may need to reheat the butter & rum it to regain the liquid consistency)and dust with loads of icing sugar and cocoa.