Wake and Bake: Stollen
It seems that no one (aside from David Lebovitz) attempts to make stollen anymore, which is really a shame. I suppose I understand why—the process has quite a few steps and, because you have to remember to do something every hour for six hours, it takes a fair amount of organization. In other words, don't choose this project on a day that you need to leave the house.
Additionally, if you don't have a stand mixer—and I don't—things get considerably harder. While wrestling the large amount of dough in the bowl (this recipe makes four loaves), I managed to shoot yeasted starter into my eye, and let me tell you, that stuff is hard to get out of your eyelashes.
I'm not saying all this to deter you, because in fact the steps are completely manageable and take much less finesse than say, assembling perfect macarons. And the final result, a sweet yeasted bread studded with raisins, cranberries, candied ginger, and more, is a wonderful breakfast-friendly alternative to fruitcake or panettone. (Some people top it with slices of ham or prosciutto for a sweet-salty treat.)
Stollen is packed full of all those great warming spices like nutmeg, cardamom, and cinnamon, in addition to almonds, cherries, raisins, and orange zest. Once out of the oven, the warm loaves are brushed (read: saturated) in melted better and topped with a sugar-ginger mixture. This recipe called for additional powdered sugar, which is traditional, but I don't even think it's necessary. This bread is sweet, spiced, and buttery enough already.
So go on and make this your next holiday project. 'Tis the season for staying in your pajamas, cranking up the carols, and baking all day.
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About the author: Carrie Vasios is the Community Manager of Serious Eats and writes the Wake and Bake, Cookie Monster, and Serious Entertaining columns. She likes perusing her large collection of cookbooks while eating jam from the jar.