Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Pour Me a Cup of Tea Please~~~

Gentle Reader ~~~ As many of you know, I love to bake. I also love to tweak recipes to put my own stamp on them.  Of course, playing with recipes often yields unexpected results, sometimes quite disastrous, sometimes serendipitous.  Here is a little tale of the unexpected goody that has come from a nearly disastrous bake last year.

Stollen is one of my most favourite Christmas treats.  For some reason, probably all the other gazillion and one things to do for Christmas, I have never baked my own, but with each passing year the cost seems to be going up way out of relation to inflation, and with some supermarkets charging as much as £8.00 for a Stollen, or around £3.00 for a small box of tiny Stollen bites, I decided to give it a go.  {After all, what could possibly go wrong with making an enriched dough stuffed full of dried fruits and marzipan?}

If you don't already know the history of Stollen, here is a link with a brief history.

Now, let it be known that I am a Disciple of Delia, so around lunchtime on Christmas Eve, still with loads of jobs to do, I assembled all the ingredients, as listed in my trusted Delia Smith's Christmas  {this link is to the revised version, Delia's Happy Christmas, mine is the original}, plugged in Emily and changed the beater for the dough hook, rolled up my sleeves, and set about baking Stollen for the very first time.  I mean, how hard could this be? It wasn't as if I didn't have enough things still to do, but with the help of Emily to knead the dough there was plenty of time to finish all the other jobs for Christmas Day ~~~ wasn't there? 

Of course, being a Disciple of Delia, I have all her cookery books, and naturally I have both the original and revised Christmas books ~~~

You can find Delia's Recipe here, and if you want to watch the process, you can watch Delia's Christmas Stollen video.  The site is, in general, worth more than a quick peek, so make sure you have a pot of tea on hand as you may be gone some time ~~~

Are you back yet? 

I measured out the ingredients, followed the recipe, and with the help of Emily it wasn't long before there was a lovely rich, yellow, fruit~laden dough rising in the airing cupboard ~~~ the cottage was already taking on the fragrance of Christmas baking ~~~ 

It was then that disaster struck for the first time ~~~ the dough started to take on a life of it's own and in a very short time it had risen well beyond what was expected of it, in fact it was, in my estimation, about double what it should be, so in I ploughed and knocked it back, shaped it and carefully rolled it around the marzipan roll, slipped it on to the waiting baking tray and put it to rise again {which it did, reaching rather gargantuan proportions again} before I tucked it in to the oven to bake ~~~ which it did rather beautifully, despite it's size ~~~ until I {Oh! so very stupidly} got over excited and disaster struck for the second time with vengeance, for as I lifted it off the baking tray too early, much to my dismay, out fell the beautiful, meltingly hot marzipan roll on to the floor ~~~ pass the tissues now!  How painful it was to see that plumptious confection in what I can only describe as an Almond Paste Splat all over my kitchen floor. If you have never seen an almond paste splat, I hope you don't, especially if you love the delightful confection as much as I do ~~~ oh, and hot marzipan cools down quite rapidly {except when eaten hot and it adheres to the roof of the mouth ~ not that I have ever done this, you understand} and has a nasty tendency to stick to the floor in such a way that a bucket and mop job is the only way to clean up, so adding more work to the already bulging list of Christmas jobs ~ which wouldn't be so bad if there wasn't a looming deadline!

Of course, the whole bread was spoiled as a Stollen, but did not waste.  We ate it, warm and buttered; toasted and buttered; warmed with custard; and the very last scraps were put into a heavenly Bread and Butter Pudding served with a warm brandied custard sauce ~~~ heavenly ~~~

Long have I thought and pondered and wondered over what went wrong, and can only think that maybe I forgot to add the salt to the dough {salt is a necessary evil in bread making as it inhibits the yeast from rising too much, so this makes sense given the uninhibited rising of the dough} or maybe I accidentally reached for the wrong flour, over kneaded the dough, maybe the marzipan was just too heavy for the dough, any one of a number of things.  I stopped losing sleep and agreed to move on ~~~

Two things have come out of this ~~~

  • do not wait until the eleventh hour to try a new recipe, especially Christmas Eve ~ and ~
  • try making buns and chop the marzipan through the dough {don't ask me where this thought came from, but come it did} so ~~~
Fast forward to yesterday ~~~ I gathered all the ingredients and made another batch of dough, only this time, the marzipan was cut up into small cubes, just over 1/4 of an inch in size, and added it in with the fruit. I am always changing my mind, so instead of making buns, I pressed the dough into a circle and scored it through to make wedge shapes. I left it in the circle on the baking sheet, and baked it at Gas Mark 5 for about 35 ~ 40 minutes until it looked baked ~~~ 

I then made Delia's icing, but as the lemon was a bit small and the icing a bit thick I added a teaspoon of vanilla extract {something I seem to add in to most of my sweet recipes, even when it is not in the ingredients ~ I think I have a bit of a love affair with vanilla}

So, here is the result of my Christmas kitchen disaster turned good ~~~ yesterday's Stollen wedges ~~~

I did leave the nuts out as there is a nut allergy sufferer in the house, and that is the beauty of home baking ~ you can adjust the recipe to suit any dietary or other needs.  Next time I make this, and be assured there will be a next time, I will put toasted flaked almonds on half the icing as I think they will add to the overall final presentation.

It was delicious with coffee for breakfast, and I must confess, I planned to present the wedges on a pretty plate and take a better photograph, but I notice that one wedge is already missing from the above circle, and as I type there are just three wedges left ~~~ 


  1. that looks yummy, but I do not like dried fruit of any kind, which is sort of crazy as I am British!!!

    1. I didn't used to be as keen on dried fruit as I am now, but I've always enjoyed mince pies. I think I've come to like them more since becoming vegetarian.

  2. Oh my goodness Deb--your Stollen wedges look so good I wish I could lick the screen! Good for you in going at the recipe again. You and Emily make a good pair in the kitchen. I've had many times that a recipe didn't go as planned. I love your description of the first try of Stollen--it reminded me of an I Love Lucy episode---I'll visit your links soon as I don't know anything about Delia. ♥

    1. Please, try not to lick your screen! lol I'm quite thrilled to be compared to an I Love Lucy episode! Just don't tell me I dance like Elaine!

  3. I LOVE stollen! Your story is wonderful and I think that many of us can relate to a baking mishap. (Or 2!). Your sense of humor and perseverance are to be admired! Someday I'm going to make stollen and I can only hope it will turn out as wonderful as yours looks in the picture! I enjoy reading your stories as they are educational and fun!

    1. Hello Polly and thank you for your kind words. I do have many baking mishaps, but most turn out with perseverance. Do try to make a Stollen ~ it isn't all that difficult at all and the taste beats shop bought by a mile ~~~Deb

  4. I agree with Martha Ellen, Deb, about how good it looks! I'm glad to hear that your first disaster did not go to waste, except for the marzipan--which I'm not sure I'd like anyway. Is it really necessary in a candied fruit-laden bread? You story was quite funny, though. I'm sure it didn't feel very funny when it happened, but you sure did get a good story out of it.

    1. Hi Cathy ~ in some of the references, Stollen represents part of the Nativity and the marzipan is Baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes {the dough} Others reference it as a German king wanting a rich, sweet bread to impress at a banquet. There is much to read online and in books about this bread. One of the joys of baking is that if you don't like a particular ingredient you can leave it out!
      You are correct, I was horrified and disappointed when the accident happened, but at least something good has come out of it.

  5. I grew up on Stollen. LOL Grandma didn't use marzipan though. :-(
    You definitely should put the toasted almond slices on top!


    1. What a wonderful thing to grow up with! Next time, I will be trying it without marzipan and maybe add cranberries? What do you think?

    2. Sounds better than green citron. LOL I never had the marzipan kind until I saw it in the commissary.

  6. What a delightful post, Deb! You are such a wonderful storyteller! It felt like I was right there in the kitchen with you and Emily. Your baking experience really shows! I'm quite sure that I would have given up on Stollen forever when the disaster struck! So grateful, Deb, that you shared your recipe for traditional Welsh Bara Brith last year. I made it for our family Christmas celebration, with rave reviews from everyone. Now we will always include this Welsh treat in our holidays! I just love hearing about your culinary adventures! ♡

    1. Oh, kind words indeed, sweet Dawn ~ thank you. I'm thrilled to have brought something Welsh to your special celebrations! ~~~Deb

  7. Oh....I know I shouldn't, but I did have a good laugh reading this, especially the almond paste splat stage.
    The final results are heartwarming though.....melt in the mouth no doubt!xxx

    1. It's fine to laugh ~ I'm glad you did ~ I am laughing about it now, but I wasn't laughing on Christmas Eve.

  8. OK this is just not fair!!!
    I want a piece of THAT!!!
    Humph I'm getting a ticket for the Queen Mary
    and stompin' right over to your house...
    .. to BEG a piece!!!
    Hee Hee!!!
    Oh my Deborah dear that looks so delish!!! Yum!
    It was fun to share in your story and I must say that when it comes to baking
    my disasters out weigh my achievements!! :-)
    Blessings dear one!!! Much warmth Linnie

  9. I have never made stollen Deborah, yours looks wonderful, I bet it tasted so good.
    I am so glad you had another go, I am the same.
    I love Delia too & her little cottage.
    Fondly Michelle

  10. I think it looks wonderful! I'd love a cup of tea and some Stollen right now, please. Some flaked almonds on your half would be good, solves it up perfectly.

    I agree with Martha Ellen, your mishap does sound like an I Love Lucy Episode. I can see it now... :-)


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