Chock-full of dried fruit, almonds, and spices, the German stollen is a dense bread that is traditionally oblong, symbolizing a swaddled infant. The history of stollen dates to 15th-century Dresden, where the first German Christmas market was held (a festival still honors it each year). The bread has evolved since then, gradually becoming richer and sweeter. In this version, a recipe from Martha's mother, Martha Kostyra, pieces of the dough are braided, letting drizzles of the icing pool in the baked loaf 's twists and turns.
- Yield: Makes 2 braided loaves
Source: Martha Stewart Living, December 2009
- 5 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for surface and more if needed
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 cup whole milk, warmed
- 5 ounces (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast (from two 1/4-ounce envelopes), dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 7 1/2 ounces golden raisins (1 1/2 cups), soaked in 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
- 5 ounces dried currants (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons), soaked in 1/4 cup Cognac
- 5 ounces blanched almonds (1 cup), coarsely chopped
- 4 ounces diced candied citron (2/3 cup; nutsonline.com)
- 2 ounces diced candied orange peel (1/3 cup; nutsonline.com)
- 2 ounces diced dried apricots (1/3 cup)
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- Vegetable oil, for bowl
- 3 cups confectioners' sugar
- 5 tablespoons whole milk
Whisk together flour, granulated sugar, salt, mace, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Stir in milk and melted butter. Add dissolved yeast and the eggs. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth.
Drain raisins and currants. Add raisins, currants, almonds, citron, orange peel, apricots, and lemon zest to dough, and continue kneading until incorporated, about 10 minutes. If dough is sticky, knead in more flour.
Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, 1 to 2 hours. Punch down dough, divide into 6 even pieces, and roll each piece into a 15-inch-long log. Braid 3 logs together, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining 3 logs. Cover with plastic, and let rise until doubled in volume, about 2 hours more.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake stollen until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Beat together confectioners' sugar and milk. Drizzle stollen with icing just before serving.