I have mentioned before that I believe in eating Christmas treats out of season. One benefit of this, when it is a dessert that you like but is not popular with others, is that you don’t have to share it with people who are unworthy of it. Another is that you don’t have it in a season when most of us really don’t need more dessert options. You can eat it when you are able to truly appreciate it.
Recently, I decided to make this favourite of mine, fruit stollen. This recipe is a quick bread, rather than a yeast bread, which means it is fast to put together. The dough includes cream cheese, which makes it easy to work with. It comes from Anna Thomas’s lovely cookbook The Vegetarian Epicure.
I mostly follow the original recipe. I use orange juice, not brandy, to soak the dried fruit, and I double it. I also double the cardamom, using 1 teaspoon. I follow the original recipe for the fruit ingredients. It uses sultanas, currants and candied peel (1/2 cup, 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup for one loaf). The dough gets some of its richness from ground almonds. And I use a gluten-free flour blend.
The dough requires a bit of patience, but eventually the flour gets absorbed, and you are left with a pliable dough. You can then pat this out by hand, on parchment paper, to the size of your choice. The original recipe calls for an oval 8 x 10 inches, which you then fold over just off centre. This time, I made my oval slightly bigger. If you adjust the size, keep this in mind when baking it, as making it thinner or thicker will affect the baking time.
One other change I make is to add about a cup of marzipan to the centre. This bread is lovely as is and the marzipan is not needed, but it is does make it quite special. When it is finished, you dust the whole thing generously with icing sugar after it has cooled a little.
The flavours improve over time, making it better a day or two after baking. I enjoyed the piece above at my desk the day after it was made. The rest I have portioned out and frozen, ready for me to enjoy later this summer.