Recipe: Chef Gabriel Ask’s Almond Cream-Filled Stollen

‘Tis the season to break bread with family and friends.

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As the nights grow long and a chilly wind chases autumn’s leaves away, our thoughts turn to bread. The smell of dough rising on the counter, yeasty and warm, is only bested by the flavor of a finished loaf. At the Montage Hotel Beverly Hills, afternoon tea is accompanied by a selection of petit fours and small loaves of stollen. A cross between a cake and a bread, stollen is a German Christmas tradition. What sets this version apart is the secret hidden within: a filling of dense almond cream. Serve warm loaves for breakfast with fragrant tea or bowls of creamy café au lait. Double the recipe and package the sugared logs into gifts. This is a bread to break with friends and family.

Stollen filled with almond cream by chef Gabriel Ask

Ingredients:
¾ cup milk (¾ cup)
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. SAF gold (or other instant yeast)
4 cups bread flour
1 1/3 cups butter, soft  
1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for coating   
1 ½ tsp salt  
½ tsp ground cardamom
3 Tbsp. almond paste, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. orange juice concentrate
Zest of 1 orange
1/3 cup candied lemon peel  
3 ¾ cup dried currants  
1 cup almond paste
½ cup candied lemon peel, diced
3 ¼ cups dried currants
1 cup almond paste, softened

Method:

  • Bring the milk to a boil in either a small saucepan or in a microwaveable container.  It only needs to reach a slight boil.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.  You can cool it down faster by pouring it into a glass bowl.  When it is cooled stir in the yeast and let it stand for about 5 minutes.
  • In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook pour in the yeast/milk mixture.  Add 1 ¾ cups flour to this and begin mixing on low speed to incorporate everything.  Once it is all wet, turn the mixer up to medium speed and knead until it is smooth, strong and elastic, about 5 minutes.  It is important to knead the dough well, because you are going to add a lot of “stuff” to it.  Once it is nice elastic remove from the machine, place in a small well greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for about an hour.

After an hour:

  • In the bowl of your electric mixer add the butter, sugar, salt, cardamom, almond paste, vanilla, orange juice concentrate and the zest.  Fit the machine with the paddle attachment and beat until fluffy.Add the fermented dough and the remaining 2 ¼ cups of flour to the butter mixture and mix on medium with the paddle attachment.  Once incorporated, turn the machine to medium high and mix until very smooth, and elastic, about 20 – 30 minutes. 
  • The dough will be crumbly and at first but will become stronger and shiny after mixing.  Due to the high percentage of fat in the recipe it will remain shiny.  A good sign to know that the dough is finished is if it is flinging off the paddle attachment.  Once finished, place the dough in a large greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let it rise until double in bulk, about an hour.

After an hour:

  • On a lightly floured work surface roll out the dough into a thin sheet.  Sprinkle with the lemon peel and currants.  Fold the ends toward the middle and press down all over the dough to distribute the fruit.  Again, let it rest for about 10 minutes.  Cut the dough into 4 pieces and roll each one into a 10 inch cylinder.  Cover and let rest for about 20 minutes.

Shaping:

  • Again on a lightly floured surface, roll one piece of dough into a 10 inch square.  Break off ¼ of the almond paste and make a thin sausage.  Place it on the dough about ¼ way down from the top.  Roll the dough up from top to bottom.  With the side of your hand divide the dough lengthwise into thirds.  Repeat with the remaining three pieces of dough.  Put two stolen on a sheet pan, cover them loosely with plastic wrap and allow to proof or about 2 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 and bake the cakes until well browned, about 25-35 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven, and if you really want to make great stollen, brush melted butter all over the hot stollen and roll in granulated sugar.  Allow to cool and serve slices dusted with powdered sugar.

Stollen actually is better the more it ages.  It will keep for about a month in a sealed bag.

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