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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Kerststol (Christmas bread)

A kerststol is a luxury bread that is traditionally eaten at Christmas time: it is studded with candied fruit peel and raisins and sprinkled with powdered sugar. If the bread contains a ribbon of creamy almond paste it is called a "stol". If it doesn't, it's just Christmas bread. During the December holidays, slices of kerststol will be part of breakfast or brunch and may be offered to guests instead of a cookie with their cup of coffee or tea.

The stores and bakers will sell exactly the same bread at Easter, but then it's called paasstol.  

The commercially prepared stollen are heavy, chewy and rather rich. I prefer mine a little lighter so I use all purpose flour instead of bread flour.


1/2 cup of golden raisins
1/2 cup of candied peel (orange, lemon, citron)
1/4 cup of orange juice
1/4 cup of milk, warm
1/4 cup of sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick of butter, melted
2 teaspoons of active dry yeast
1/4 cup of warm water (110-115F)
2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1 small can of almond paste

2 tablespoons of butter, melted
2 tablespoons of powdered sugar

Combine the raisins and the candied fruit and soak in the orange juice. Set aside. Mix the milk, the sugar, salt and the butter and set aside. Sprinkle yeast on the warm water, stir to dissolve.

In a large bowl, place two cups of flour. Make a well in the center and pour the yeast mix in. Stir. Add the milk mix, stir again and add the lemon zest and the egg. Stir or beat until everything is integrated, then knead on a lightly floured counter for five or six minutes. Drain the soaking raisins and candy peel and quickly squeeze them dry, then fold them into the dough. Knead the dough carefully until the raisins and candy peel are well distributed. Grease a bowl, place the dough inside, cover and rest for an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.

Gently deflate the dough and pat into an oval. Place the oval with the short end toward you and make an indentation along the length of the dough, in the middle. Now roll the almond paste on the counter until it forms a roll almost as long as the dough. Lay the almond roll in the indentation and lift the left side of the dough over the paste. Make sure that the dough does not meet the bottom half all the way: a significant shape of the stol is the bottom "pouting" lip of the bread. If you want a more pronounced pout, fold the right side of the dough one-third towards the almond paste ribbon, and fold the left side of the dough in half, placing it on top of the bottom half and covering the paste.

Rest the dough on a lightly greased baking sheet or silicone mat. Cover it and let it proof for about 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 350F. Bake the bread for 40 minutes on the middle rack, then reduce the heat down to 325F. Brush with melted butter and bake for another five minutes, then brush again and bake for another 5 minutes. If the bread is browning too fast, cover it with a piece of aluminum foil.

Cool the bread on a cooling rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and slice.

Tip: If you have any kerststol left over the next day, toast a slice until nice and golden. Whip the almond paste out with the tip of your knife and spread it on the warm slice of bread. Yummm!!!!!!!!!

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