Some Christmas masterpieces from Deutschland

Cakes hold a very important place in German cuisine. Stollen is a traditional cake usually eaten during the Christmas season, when it called ‘Christ Stollen’. A bread-like fruit cake made with yeast, water, flour, candied citrus peel, raisins, almonds and different spices, the finished cake is sprinkled with icing sugar and resembles the swaddled Christ child. There are many more favourites such as this. Some recipes:

Christmas Stollen Cake

Ingredients

Flour - 375gm

Fresh yeast- 40 gm

Sugar- 50 gm

Lukewarm milk- 100 ml

Vanilla essence- 1 tsp

Salt - a pinch

Ground cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg - 1 tbsp

Eggs- 2

Butter or margarine - 175 gm

Candied orange peel - 100 gm

Candied lemon peel - 100 gm

Ground almonds - 100 gm

Rum - 100 ml

Raisins - 200 gm

Currants - 100 gm

For coating & sprinkling

Butter- 75 gm

Icing sugar- 2 tbsp

Method

Pour rum over the raisins and currants and leave to soak overnight. The next day, put the flour in a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Crumble the yeast inside, add 1 tsp sugar and lukewarm milk. Using a fork, stir the three ingredients carefully with a little of the flour and allow the leaven to rise for about 15 minutes at room temperature.

Now add the remaining sugar, vanilla essence, salt, spices, eggs and butter or margarine and whisk everything together with the hand mixture (kneading hook attachment), first briefly on lower setting, then on highest setting for about five minutes until the dough has become smooth and even.

Briefly knead the candied orange peel, candied lemon peel, almonds, soaked raisins and currents into the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Cover the dough, place in a warm place and leave it to rise until it has visibly increased in volume.

Line the baking sheet with three layers of baking parchment (this will prevent the stollen from getting too dark underneath) Pre-heat the oven to about 200 degrees C.

Shape the dough into the round shape of a stollen. To do this roll out the dough to make a rectangle of about 30x25 cm. Roll up the dough, starting from the long side, then with rolling pin make a depression lengthways. Now fold the left side over the right side but slightly offset. Again using your hand, make a bulge lengthways along the middle.

Put the stollen on the baking sheet and leave it to rise in warm place again until it has visibly increased in volume. Put the baking sheet in the bottom third of the preheated oven. Immediately lower the oven temperature by 90 degrees C for ovens with top/bottom heat to about 160 degrees C and by 80 degrees C for fan ovens to 140 degrees C. Bake the stollen for about 50 minutes.

Melt the butter and brush over the warm stollen. Leave the stollen to cool on a cake rack, then sprinkle with icing sugar.

Cinnamon Stars

Ingredients

For the pastry

Egg whites - 3

Icing sugar - 250 gm

Vanilla essence - 1 tsp

Cinnamon powder - 1 tsp

Ground almonds - 400 gm

Icing sugar - a little

Method

Line the baking sheet with baking parchment. Preheat the oven to about 140 degrees C.

To make the dough, whisk the egg whites using a hand-mixer with whisk attachment on the highest setting until they form stiff peaks. Sift the icing sugar and whisk in briefly. Then remove two heaped tablespoons of the stiffly beaten egg whites and put to one side for the icing.

Carefully whisk the vanilla essence, cinnamon and about 150 gm of the almonds into the rest of the stiffly beaten egg whites with the hand mixer on the lowest setting. Using your hands, knead in enough of the almonds so that the dough is hardly sticky any more.

Roll out the dough on a work surface, sprinkled with icing sugar to a thickness of about 5 mm in and cut out the stars, put them on a baking sheet and cover with the beaten egg whites you have put aside. The texture of the beaten egg whites must be such that it can be spread on the stars; add a few drops of water if necessary.

Put the baking sheet on the lowest shelf in the pre-heated oven. Bake the stars for about 25 minutes. Prepare the rest of the stars as indicated in the recipe and put them on the baking parchment.

Slide the baked cinnamon stars together with the baking parchment off the baking sheet on to a cake rack.

Chelsea Buns

Ingredients

For the yeast dough:

Flour – 500 gm

Yeast - 10 gm

Milk - 125 ml

Butter or margarine - 100 gm

Sugar - 50 gm

Vanilla essence - 1 tsp

Eggs - 2

For the filling

Vanilla custard powder - 80 gm

Milk - 750 ml

Sugar - 80 gm

Raisins - 100 gm

For the apricot glaze

Apricot jam - 4 tbsp

Water - 2 tbsp

Method

For the dough, heat up the milk in a small pan. Melt the butter or margarine in it. To make the dough, carefully mix together the flour and dried yeast in a mixing bowl. Then add the other ingredients and add warm cream fat mixture. Mix all the ingredients using a hand mixer (kneading hook), first briefly on the lowest setting, then on the highest setting for about 5 minutes to make a smooth dough. Cover the dough and put in a warm place to rise until it has visibly increased in volume.

For the filling, make a custard with custard powder, milk and sugar, using only 750 ml of milk. Leave to cool, stirring occasionally. Then stir in the raisins.

Line the baking sheet with baking parchment. Pre-heat the oven about 200 degrees C. Sprinkle the dough with a little flour, take out of the mixing bowl and knead again briefly on a lightly floured work surface.

Roll out the dough to make a rectangle about 60x40 cm and spread the custard filling over it. Roll up the dough, starting with the long side and cut into slices about 2 cm thick. Arrange 6-8 slices a little distance from each other on the baking sheet.

Put the slices again in a warm place to rise until they have visibly increased in volume. Put the baking sheet on the middle shelf in the preheated oven. Bake for about 15 minutes. For the apricot glaze, rub the jam through a sieve, bring to boil briefly with water, stirring all the time, then brush on to the Chelsea buns as soon as they come out of the oven. Bake the remaining Chelsea buns. Leave the buns to cool on the rack.