Wednesday, December 23, 2009
That aside, there is one thing that does hold us back from totally embracing a distinct identity for noel. Our history is partly formed by colonisation of the English, Scottish and French. Many New Zealanders are but a few generations removed from Europe, thus the cultural ties are not totally severed or subverted. My good friend, the intellectually-ferocious and generous Anita, is an Australian of German descent; she and I are in the same boat when it comes to reconciling the amazing Christmas baking of the north with our southern humidity. Anita's grandparents have been kind to share their recipe for stollen.
Stollen is a fruit cake that is made either with cheese or yeast. As we could not find quark, we opted for a mix of cream cheese and ricotta.
(by way of German tradition, care of Oma and Opa in Australia)
For the cake:
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
8g baking powder
3/4 cups sugar
9g vanilla sugar
4 drops almond flavouring
1/3 cup rum
120g butter, cold
1 1/4 cups combination of cream cheese and ricotta or quark
2 cups dried fruit, such as currants and raisins, macerated in rum for 48 hours
1 1/2 cups ground almonds
3/4 cup citrus peel
250g marzipan, rolled out into two rope-like lengths
For the icing:
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup sifted icing/confectioners' sugar
1) Preheat oven to 160 C/320 F.
2) Into a large bowl, sift together all-purpose flour and baking powder.
3) Add sugars, almond flavouring, run and eggs into flour mixture so that it is combined, then cut in butter until a paste-like substance is formed.
4) Knead cheeses, fruit, ground almonds and citrus peel into paste to make a smooth dough.
5) Separate into two logs. Open each log to place marzipan in the middle, then cover over again so that marzipan is wholly enclosed.
6) Place both loaves on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
7) Bake for 50-60 minutes until golden.
8) Once baked, brush loaves with melted butter and sprinkle over with icing sugar.
Do not be afraid to use ALL of the icing sugar. If you are going save the stollen to eat at a later time (which is wise, for it does mature), the icing sugar will be absorbed by the butter, creating a light, delectable icing. To save for later, wrap in foil, then in cling-film and store in a cupboard.
The interesting thing about stollen is that it does not use any mixed spices at all, which is quite traditional in British Christmas fare. However, it does taste of Christmas - dense, dark fruit and nutty almond flavours throughout. The stollen is light in texture yet rich in flavour. I prefer to eat it as it is, but it is also quite acceptable to eat it toasted with jam or other fruit preserves.
Merry Christmas everyone!!