So that's it! This is the last door of this Advent calendar. Christmas is here! And we need something more than a cookie today!
I had my ambitions set very high for this last post; it had to be panettone; THE Italian Christmas bread. It's not an easy one, but hey, I thought, with my own personal bread baker at home, it shouldn't be a problem...but then the days went by and we didn't make panettone even once, until Sunday, when we decided we would give it a try, and started the preferment.
Stollen was my plan B, THE German Christmas bread or cake, that is. It was on my list of recipes for the blog but I had discarded it before because it is so similar to panettone (in some way).
We worked on the panettone in the late evenings of Monday and Tuesday, adding ingredients and foldings and taking good care of the dough. But, again, it's a complicated one!
So yesterday morning, before it went into the oven, I was sure it wouldn't turn out as it should.
It hadn't risen enough, I got nervous, and put another batch of raisins to soak in rum.
I would make Stollen, too, for if all else (i.e. the panettone) failed.
At this point, it had to be Quarkstollen (made with quark curd), as the original (yeasted) Hefestollen has to be left to rest for days before eating it. Quarkstollen is a quicker, easier version that doesn't keep for that long but otherwise is just as fine and full of wonderful ingredients.
I prepared the ingredients while the panettone was baking. And raising and raising in the oven! It didn't seem like such a failure in the end. But the Stollen was already started.
Long story short, I ended up with two recipes for today. Because the panettone turned out pretty fine! And so did the Stollen. And my house smelled so lovely for the entire day, enough to make all the effort worth it.
The recipe for the panettone comes from here (in Spanish), plus from some books and websites.
The Stollen is the one my mother makes every year, from a recipe she got from a box of oatmeal many years ago. I love how this recipe is explained, too, and when I compared them I noticed they were basically the same.
I'm giving you my recipe for Stollen today, considering it's the easier one, without being less festive or delicious. If any of you wanted to know more about the panettone, I will write that recipe down here too. But before that it needs some more work and experimenting.
Quarkstollen recipe (makes 4 little loaves or two bigger ones)
250 grams raisins
100 grams ground almonds or other nuts
70 grams candied citrus peels, chopped
rum for soaking
175 grams soft butter
250 grams quark
90 grams golden cane sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
130 grams marzipan, chopped or torn into little pieces (optional)
400 grams flour
100 grams ground oats
1 package baking powder (15 grams)
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
0,5 teaspoons salt
about 150 grams melted or very soft butter and confectioner's sugar for topping
Leave the raisins and candied peels to soak in a bit of rum (better the night before).
Preheat your oven to 180º C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a big bowl (I used the stand mixer), cream the butter, quark and sugar together. Add the eggs one at a time, the lemon zest and the vanilla and almond extracts.
Drain the raisins and peels and add them to the dough, then add the marzipan and mix.
Combine the flour, oats, baking powder, cardamom and salt. Add them to the dough bit by bit while you keep kneading with the dough hook of your mixer or your hands.
Divide the dough into 2 or 4 pieces and shape them into longish loaves.
Bake for 20 minutes. Take the Stollen out of the oven and brush their surfaces generously with butter. Bake for 15 more minutes and brush with butter again, then for another 15 minutes and repeat.
If they get to dark, cover them with foil.
The total baking time is 60-70 minutes, depending on your Stollen's size. Take them out of the oven and brush one last time with butter, then dust with confectioner's sugar and let cool completely.
Wrap them in aluminium foil, after giving them another dusting of confectioner's sugar.
They keep for at least two weeks.
Epilogue and Christmas card
I'm really happy with the (very spontaneous) decision to make that pop-up blog idea come true.
I've eaten far too many cookies this month, but I've given away lots of them too, which was such a pleasure to do.
I've spent every free minute (mainly my little girl's nap times) baking and every evening editing photos, writing posts and recipes and going to bed too late.
I got much needed and appreciated help, in the kitchen and outside (THANK YOU!!!) and lovely feedback, and felt sometimes overwhelmed but mostly happy and fulfilled.
I had never had the excuse or occasion to be baking THAT much, and I can assure now that I still love it, even if I do it everyday.
And I know that I will back here for more. There's going to be some blog holidays now, resting and thinking and planning for the new year. And then I hope to see you here again.
Thank you so much for reading and commenting and baking along.
All the best, wonderful holidays to all of you, with time to think and listen and many happy moments.