100% Whole Wheat Stollen with Almond Paste

 

The traditional German Christmas bread just got a little healthier! This version is made with 100% whole wheat flour, studded with plump fruit, and stuffed with almond paste. It’s perfect for breakfast or with a cup of tea or coffee.

It was in 2008 that I first tried my hand at stollen. This was because the varieties available in the shops grossed me out. The resulting loaf was a little bit of a disaster. 2009 was my first year of stollen success. This is a great recipe, however I wanted to try out Reinhart’s recipe and he did not disappoint. He’s done wonders  in the world of  100% wholemeal (whole wheat) bread… I may even add a few toasted nuts for Christmas 2011!

This recipe takes a little while to make, but the results are really worth it. Once the stollen is made, it tastes best if allowed to age for 24-48 hours. I advise that you start making this at least 4 days ahead of when you want to enjoy it.

 

100% WHOLE WHEAT STOLLEN WITH ALMOND PASTE

Makes two large 1 kg (2 lb) loaves

Adapted from “Whole Grain Breads – New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor”, by Peter Reinhart

 

Ingredients

For the soaker

  • 225 g (1 ½ c) wholemeal (whole wheat) flour
  • ¼ t salt
  • 140 ml (½ c and 4 t) milk*
  • 115 g (½ c) unsalted butter, melted

For the biga

  • ½ t dried active baking yeast
  • 225 g (1 ½ c) wholemeal (whole wheat) flour
  • 170 ml (⅔ c and 2 t) water

For the fruit soaker

  • 275 g (1 ⅔ c) chopped dried or crystallized (candied) fruit** (chop to the size of raisins, keep raisins whole)
  • 170 ml (⅔ c and 2 t) orange liqueur, rum, brandy or orange juice
  • 2 t vanilla extract 

For the final dough

  • All soaker
  • All biga
  • All fruit soaker
  • 170 g (1 c and 2 T) wholemeal (whole wheat) flour
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 T dried active baking yeast
  • 60 g (¼ c) brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Wholemeal (whole wheat) flour for adjustments^

 For the almond paste

  • 300 g (2 c and 2 ¼ T) ground almonds (almond meal)
  • 150 g (1 c and 4 T) icing (confectioners’) sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 pinch grated lemon zest
  • ¼ t almond extract

 To finish

  • Melted butter for brushing
  • Icing (confectioners’) sugar for dusting

* Can be substituted for milk alternative, such as soy milk

** I used sultanas, raisins, dried cranberries, dried apricots and candied mixed peel

^ I used 150 g (1 c) extra flour, which is completely dependent on the type and age of the flour

 

Method

1. Soaker – Place all ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attachment. Mix together using low speed for 2-4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover with cling film (plastic wrap) and leave at room temperature for 12-24 hours (or chill for up to 3 days).

2. Biga – Place all ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attachment. Mix, using low speed until a tacky dough is formed, then knead for 8-10 minutes, using medium-low speed. Cover the stand mixer bowl with cling film (plastic wrap) and chill overnight (or up to 3 days).

3. Fruit Soaker Place all ingredients into a large bowl, combine and let soak overnight.

4. Final Dough Add everything to the biga in the stand mixer bowl, then using the dough hook attachment mix. Once a dough has formed, knead for 8-10 minutes until smooth, soft and slightly tacky, adding more flour as necessary.

5. Form the dough into a ball, lightly oil and place back into the stand mixer bowl. Cover with cling film (plastic wrap) and sit in a warm, draft-free area for 1 hour, or until 1.5 times its original size.

6. Meanwhile, make the almond paste. Combine everything together and knead until everything is well incorporated. Divide into two equal sized pieces. Roll each into a 30 cm (12 inch) log, wrap in cling film (plastic wrap) and chill until needed.

7. Punch dough down and divide into two equal sized balls.

8. On a floured surface, flatten one piece into an oval of 30 cm (12 inch) long and 15-20 cm (6-8 inch) wide. Press an indentation into the length of the dough to accommodate the almond paste. Lay almond paste roll in the centre of the dough. Fold dough over the almond paste to create a mounded loaf about 10 cm (4 inch) wide. Repeat with the other piece of dough and almond paste roll.

9. Transfer each loaf to one parchment-lined baking tray (sheet). Cover loosely with a damp tea (kitchen) towel and let rise for 60-90 minutes or until 1.5 times its original size.

10. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 200°C (400°F).

11. When ready to bake, remove damp tea (kitchen) towel and pop both trays (sheets) into the middle of the oven. Reduce temperature to 170°C (335°F) and bake for 20 minutes.

12. Rotate the loaves by 180 degrees and bake for another 20-30 minutes or until the loaves are a rich reddish brown color. The bread should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

13. Transfer to a wire rack with a tray underneath. Brush liberally with melted butter and dust liberally with sifted icing (confectioners’) sugar. Let cool. Once cold, wrap in cling film (plastic wrap) and allow to age for 24-48 hours before slicing and enjoying.

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