A no-sugar no-nonsense Stollen recipe


Fusion baking at its finest

Arguably the best thing about the holiday season is the abundance of cake made with booze. A close second is probably Stollen, the traditional German Christmas cake sometimes found in other parts of the world.

The above two premises inevitably lead to the logical conclusion that a boozy Stollen is something that needs to be invented, if it doesn’t exist already. Surely this fusion of the best two things about Christmas would have the potential to transcend both and become something so much more? Being no fan of mere theory, I decided to test this idea out empirically.

* drum roll *

But, first some preliminaries.

There are quite a few people out there who would be willing, or perhaps even eager, to put all kinds of random stuff in a Stollen – glace cherries, lemon peel, cardamom and other spices, chocolate chips and what-have-you. But I find the presence of so many different and often incongruous ingredients in a single cake distracting and simply unnecessary.

Therefore I have decided to strip this particular Stollen down to the basics and use only those ingredients that matter – namely, almonds, raisins, marzipan and, of course, the booze. Naturally, there’s also the yeast dough, which is a necessity when it comes to yeast cake.

Marzipan substitute

The marzipan substitute – perhaps not as good-looking as the real thing, but more virtuous

As for the marzipan, you might recall that I tend to frown upon sugar and artificial substances. Well, you might or might not be surprised at just how much of both a typical package of supermarket-bought marzipan contains. The last one I checked contained as much as 80% sugar and something called “invert sugar syrup”. Perhaps the latter sounds like a standard Christmas baking ingredient to some individuals, but in my mind’s eye the phrase “invert sugar syrup” evokes images of a putrid toxic sludge oozing down a rusty conveyor belt. Or the green chemical goo that Jack Nicholson falls into in Tim Burton’s “Batman” just before he turns into the Joker.

Either way, not a very Christmassy association. Therefore, I’ve had no choice other than to make my own marzipan substitute, one that contains only the good stuff (primarily ground almonds) and no bad stuff (such as toxins and sugar). Needless to say, creating a sugar-free version of something that is typically at least 50% sugar and whose very shape is defined by its sugary consistency is a bit of a challenge, but it is a challenge that can be easily overcome as long as one isn’t too fussy about the solidity of the marzipan. Which one needn’t be since marzipan goes inside the Stollen. Moving on to the recipe now.

The no-sugar no-nonsense Stollen recipe

For the dough:
600g unbleached white flour
200g butter
cca 200ml lukewarm milk
1 egg and 2 egg yolks
20g fresh yeast or 1tbsp dried yeast
40g honey
50g flaked almonds
50g booze-soaked raisins (rum or brandy)

For the marzipan substitute:
200g ground almonds
100ml warm milk
2 or 3 (or more) shots of rum or brandy
60g (or more) clear honey

First, soak the raisins in rum or brandy. Be generous.

Activate the yeast using your preferred yeast-activation method.

Stollen dough

The marzipan formation

Then start making the yeast dough. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and pour the yeast on top. Stir in some of the warm milk and then let the mixture rest for about 20min.

Melt the butter, stir it into the mixture and then add the egg (and yolks), honey and the rest of the milk. Knead until you’ve got an elastic lump of dough.

Let the dough rest for another 30min and then add the flaked almonds and soaked raisins. Knead until all the bits have been incorporated into the dough. Let the dough rest some more while you make the fake marzipan.

For the fake marzipan, mix all the ingredients in a bowl, perhaps adding a bit of extra honey or rum/brandy until you’re happy with the sweetness and booziness.

Roll the dough onto a lightly floured surface into a rectangular shape and arrange the marzipan mixture lengthwise along the middle (see picture). Fold the dough over the marzipan on either side and wrap everything up into a neat loaf.

Bake in a preheated oven on 190C for about 1 hour.

Once the Stollen has cooled down, you can sprinkle it with a light dusting of icing sugar just for aesthetic purposes.

Sugar-free Stollen

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About Sonja Kudei

Sonja Kudei is a writer and web developer based in London.

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