Weinacht Stolle(German) - Kerst Stol(Dutch) - Christmas Bread(English)

Family recipe since 1975, by Tony van Roon

Christmas Bread with Almond Paste filling

Makes 1 very large, or 2 large loaves
150 grams is approximately 1 cup
500 gram - all purpose white flour, sifted (about 3-1/2 cups)
 25 gram - yeast* (or about 2 TBSP or 3 pkgs active dry yeast (8gram/pkg)
 60 gram - dark brown sugar (1/2 cup)
150 gram - raisins (Thompson), (about 1 cup)
200 gram - currants, seedless (about 1-1/2 cups)
 50 gram - yellow (golden) raisins
 50 gram - fruitmix (optional) (use apple, cranberry, etc. instead)
 1 lemon - grated rind from 1 lemon
 1 egg   - large
  8 gram - salt (1/4 tsp)
100 gram - REAL (no-salt) butter
150 ml   - 2% warm milk (about 4 oz, or 1-1/2 cups)
150 gram - Almond Paste (see recipe below)
sliced almonds for garnish (optional)
Icing sugar (for garnish)
*You can substitute the real yeast for the 'Quick rise' dry yeast. I find it much easier to work with. Proof the yeast first: 1 cup water, 2 TBSP white sugar, and the 25 grams yeast (3 packages). Heat the water to about 100 °F. Dissolve the sugar into the warm water, when it is fully dissolved whisk the yeast into the warm sugar-water mixture and let it stand for about 10 minutes or so. If the yeast is foaming you can proceed with the recipe. If not, your yeast is no longer good and needs to be replaced.

Real yeast is hard to come by these days and when you finally find it you have to buy a whole brick when you only need 30 grams or so. So, quick-dry-yeast is in. It also keeps in the refrigerator for about a year. If you don't have lemon-rind you can leave it out, don't worry about it.

Wash the raisins and the currants and let it soak in hot water for 10 minutes. Then drain and dry everything with tea towels or paper towels and set aside. Neither I or my family like fruitmix so we never use it. Substitute the 50 grams fruitmix for something else of your choice, like cranberry, apple, or orange. I use chopped up apple myself because it keeps the bread moist after baking.

Soften the butter to warm (not hot). Mix the sifted flour with the salt, brown sugar (you can use white sugar if you wish), and lemon rind in a large bowl. Starting in the middle of the flour, add the egg and yeast mixture.

Unless a real dough-kneader is used (like KitchenAid), mix the dough preferable by hand. Add more milk (or flour) as needed. Knead until the dough feels smooth, fluffy and not too sticky.

Let the dough rise under plastic wrap on a draft-free spot for 1 hour (less with the quick-rise' dry yeast) or until at least double in bulk.

Mix the dough with the currants, raisins, lemon rind, and the optional fruitmix. The dough will most likely become sticky because of the wet raisins and currants so just add a little more flour if so. Don't make it too dry. A bit sticky is fine.

Flatten the dough to an oval shape and about 1 inch thickness. A bit thicker is okay but not thinner or the dough mixture will not rise properly.

Roll the almond paste (room temperature) to about 1 inch thickness also and put it length-wise somewhere in the middle of the oval shape. (NOTE: it is difficult to really specify, in grams, how much almond past to use. Use whatever amount you feel is right for your bread or about 1-inch diameter.) Moisten the edges of the oval shaped dough with a bit of water or milk. Flip one half of the oval shaped dough over the almond paste roll and press it down on the bottom half of the dough and make sure all the almond paste is completely closed in. (Optional: Brush the top very careful with warm water and then place the shaved almonds on top.) Put it on a large cookie sheet and cover again (loosely) with plastic wrap. Let it rise again on a draft-free spot for another 45 minutes. If you can, try to make the almond paste yourself instead of the store bought crap. It is really easy, and I promise you will never ever buy almond past again!

Note: Place a cup or small bowl of boiling water in the corner of the oven. It really helps a lot to make the dough rise in the oven during the first 10 minutes of baking.

Bake in a preheated oven at 400 °F (200 °C) for about 20 minutes. Put one rack all the way at the top of the oven covered with a cookie sheet or aluminum foil to prevent the top from burning. Put the second rack with the bread just below the middle of the oven.
After the 20 minutes, temper the oven to 350 °F (175 °C) and quickly remove the cookie sheet/aluminum foil from the top rack, and bake for another 10 minutes. Bake with the top of the bread just below the middle of the oven (if possible, if not, don't worry about it). A couple of minutes before the end of the baking time brush the top with water. This recipe is for one large bread or two smaller ones.

About 10 minutes before serving, brush the top of the Weinacht Stolle with a bit of melted butter (See 'Optional' below) and give it a light dusting of icing sugar and garnish with a red flower or something.

Optional: (Instead of brushing with water and melted butter) before baking, brush the top of the bread lightly with a bit of warm water and garnish with sliced almonds. Then bake as stated above.
Dust very lightly with the icing sugar just before serving to give it a real Christmas look.

Almond Paste:
Also an old family recipe. Or use this as a base to make Marzipain.
1 egg   - large
1 lemon - juice and rind from 1 lemon
1 pound - blanched Almonds (500 grams)
1 pound - regular, fine sugar (don't use icing sugar!) (500 grams)
Making the Almond Paste:
Grind the almonds in a meat grinder (fine). Mix thoroughly with the sugar. Add the egg, the lemon rind and halve of the lemon juice. Mix it using your hand; it is the only way to 'feel' the consistency of almond paste. Let it rest for about 10 minutes. Then start kneading it again with your hand until it is firm. Don't make the mixture too wet with the lemon juice, dry is good but not so dry that it crumbles and not stick together. Just add 1 spoon at a time until the paste is firm. This will happen faster than you think, so watch it!
Give the sugar another 10 minutes to absorb the fluids. Roll the Almond Paste in several layers of plastic wrap and a final layer of aluminum foil and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 6 weeks (use enough plastic wrap to prevent the almond paste from drying out). Personally, and by family tradition, I make the Almond Paste the first week of October and start baking one week before Christmas so the almond paste cures for a good 80 days. However, if you forgot or don't have enough time to cure the Almond Paste you can add a bit of "Pure Almond Extract" to hasten the taste. Let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour so before using it so it can absorb the lemon juice into the sugar/almonds. If you have almond paste leftover, use it to make Marzipain.

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Copyright © 1975 - Traditional family recipe, by Tony van Roon