Spiced Stollen Plait
Stollen dates back to the 14th century Germany but was very different to the lovely Christmas treat we enjoy today. As Advent was a season of fasting, bakers could only use flour, yeast, oil and water, resulting in a, by today's standards, rather tasteless bread. Thankfully restrictions were eventually lifted so that butter and spices could be used. Over the centuries more luxurious ingredients have been added, such as marzipan, though traditional Stollen isn't as light and sweet as most copies made around the world.
We used the BBC Good Food's Spiced Stollen Plait recipe and started by macerating the dried fruit in some cranberry juice and set aside. Next the butter is melted into warmed milk and honey, and once cooled is mixed with the flour, yeast, salt, spices, egg and orange zest to make an enriched dough. A quick knead and the dough is left to proof.
An hour or so later, the dough is knocked back and the soaked fruit is kneaded through. The now speckled dough is then divided into three, made into a sausage shape and used to encase a stand of marzipan. Pinching the ends together, the dough is plaited and left to proof again. After an egg wash and a sprinkling of flacked almonds it's time to put it in the oven.
Once cooled the Stollen is finished with a dusting of icing sugar or you could go with some glacé icing. The Stollen will last for up to 5 days in a sealed container, though we have a feeling it won't last that long!