Vegan Stollen and a Tea
It’s the time of year to fill your kitchen with the aromas of warm spices and sweet delights. For me, that means preparing Vegan Stollen, Homemade Marzipan and Winter Fruit Black Tea Stew
I don’t tend to go over the top during the holiday season and prepare too many special dishes. I like to keep things simple. One exception, though, is my vegan version of the classic German sweet bread Stollen. I find it irresistible during the holiday season – especially when it is filled with a log of homemade marzipan!
As a bonus this week, I offer one of my favorite and unique preparations – something I first learned while working in a high-end Zürich restaurant. It is an unusual recipe and preparation, but it’s also simple and amazing when you pair my winter fruit and black tea stew with a scoop of your favorite vegan ice cream.
I hope you try these recipes during the holiday this year. Who knows – maybe they will turn into a regular part of your future holidays?
Please feel free to leave a comment below or share your creations with me or on your social media sites. I am always happy to hear from you or answer your questions.
Converting a traditional recipe to a vegan version is an obsession of mine. I try hard to preserve the integrity of a recipe while breathing new life into its soul and making the recipe healthier…more respectful of living beings…more respectful of the world we live in.
An example of what I’m talking about is converting the wonderful German Christmas bread known as Stollen. This brioche-like bread is filled with the goodness of Christmas flavors…candied citrus, almonds, raisins, lots of warm spices and of course, a healthy glug of rum.
Veganizing this recipe presented me with three challenges. The original Dresden recipe has a texture that is something between a cake and a sweet bread. The unusual texture is created by using butter, milk and eggs…and the role each of these ingredients must be understood before replacing them. These are not impossible challenges but it did involve about a dozen attempts to get the flavor and texture just right.
Making this veganized version of Stollen is not difficult, but it does require close – very close – attention to detail and a strict adherence to the steps I outlined below. I might add, it also helps if you have patience. In the end, I’m sure you will be thrilled with the outcome as you enjoy a thick slice during the holidays.
A word about the marzipan. Running a tube of marzipan through the middle of a Stollen is controversial. Some say this is perfect because it adds to the almond flavor and supplies much needed moisture to the middle of the bread. Others say this is simply not part of the original Dresden art of making Stollen. Personally, I don’t know what is right or wrong in this discussion. But I do know the marzipan contributes a great deal to my vegan version – moisture, flavor and that wonderful surprise of biting into soft and delicious marzipan – especially if you go through the trouble of making your own.
Yield: makes one rather large loaf
150 grams (1 cup) raisins
45 grams (2 tablespoons) candied orange peel
45 grams (2 tablespoons) candied lemon peel
60 ml. (1/4 cup) dark rum or whisky (optional – see tips)
180 ml. (2/3 cup) soy milk, warmed to body temperature
10 grams (2 teaspoons) dry, instant yeast
320 grams + 4 tablespoons (2 ½ cups + 4 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
65 grams (1/3 cup) caster sugar (granulated)
1 teaspoon baking powder
Zest of 2 oranges
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg (ideally freshly ground)
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
90 grams (3 ounces) unrefined rapeseed oil
30 grams (1 ounce) aquafaba
90 grams (3 ounces) almond slivers
120 grams (4 ounces) marzipan
Unprocessed rapeseed oil and powdered sugar (icing sugar)
Combine the raisins, candied citrus peel and alcohol (or another liquid) in a small bowl. Allow everything to soak for 1-2 hours (30 minutes is your minimum). Mix 2 tablespoons of flour into the softened fruits.
Begin the dough by making a starter – mix together the warmed soy milk (no more than body temperature), dried yeast and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour. Mix well to get rid of any lumps and set aside for 30 minutes.
Sift 320 grams (2 ½ cups) flour, the sugar, the baking powder, the orange zest and spices into the bowl of a stand mixer (see tips to mix the dough by hand). Start on low mixing speed, then add the oil, aquafaba and the reserved starter. Continue mixing on low speed for one minute, then mix an added 6 minutes on medium speed. The dough should be moist and slightly sticky at this point. Remove the dough from the mixer and begin to slam it down onto a clean work surface. The dough will stick a bit at first, but gradually lose its stickiness. Throw the dough onto your surface 20 times, then return it to the mixer. Add the softened dried fruits and the almond slivers to the dough. Mix the dough an added 3 minutes, beginning on low and increasing the speed to medium. The dough should feel soft and only slightly sticky at this point. Place the dough in a bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow the dough to ferment for 2 hours in a slightly warm location.
Once the dough has fermented (it will only rise about 50-75% - it won’t double in size), carefully remove it to a lightly floured surface. Form the dough into an oval about 20-cm X 28-cm (8 x 10 inches). Make an impression in the dough about 1/3 of the way from the bottom – in other words, not in the center. I use a rolling pin and press the dough to create a small trench – this is where you will put your marzipan (see tips if you want to leave this out).
Form the marzipan into a cylinder that is the same length as the dough. Place the marzipan into the trench and flatten slightly. Lift the bottom part of the dough up and over the marzipan to seal it inside the dough – just be sure to avoid coming all the way to the other edge because you want one part slightly narrower than the other side – the characteristic hump in your Stollen. Press the seal together with the rolling pin and transfer the Stollen to a baking tray lined with parchment paper (baking paper or a silicon mat). Loosely cover the Stollen with a towel and allow it to rest for one hour in a warm location.
Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F).
Bake in a preheated oven for 35-40 minutes (the internal temperature – if you have an instant read thermometer – should be 88°C (190°F). Avoid over-baking to preserve a moist interior. Remove the Stollen and place it on a cooling rack to rest for 5 minutes. Poke holes into your Stollen with a toothpick and coat with the unprocessed rapeseed oil. Wait 15-20 minutes, then dust with powdered sugar.
The alcohol adds flavor to the dried fruits. You can leave it out and substitute an equal amount of warm liquid (water, orange juice or other flavored liquid.).
I use unsweetened soy milk in this recipe because of the fat content. Oat milk, almond milk, rice milk or other non-dairy milks work if you prefer using them. Consider adding 1/2 tablespoon of oil to compensate for lower fat non-dairy milks.
I use unrefined rapeseed oil in this recipe because of the butter-like aromas that come from the oil when heated in a baked recipe. You can use other oils, like extra virgin olive oil, but the flavor might be altered.
You can make this dough by hand if you do not have a mixer. Just follow the instruction as written above and note the following: the dough is very wet and it will stick to your hands. Avoid adding more flour to the mixture. Instead, just keep mixing and kneading the dough in the bowl, then begin smacking the dough onto your clean work surface. This helps the dough come together and form the necessary gluten…plus, it’s fun!
The marzipan is optional (although I would encourage you to try it). Just leave this step out of the process and fold your dough into thirds before the final rise and baking.
Keep leftover Stollen wrapped in aluminum foil for up to 3 days.
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Making your own marzipan (or almond paste) is simple and requires only about 30 minutes of your time. The added benefit – it is far tastier than most everything available in the supermarket.
You will need a decent food processor for this job – not a blender.
Yield: makes 385 grams (13 ½ ounces)
175 grams very finely ground almond meal
180 grams icing sugar (powdered sugar)
1 - 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
½ teaspoon rose water (optional)
35 grams (a bit more than an ounce) aquafaba
Mix together the almond meal and icing sugar in the bowl of your food processor. Pulse just long enough to mix the ingredients together. Add the almond extract, optional rose water and aquafaba. Continue blending until the mixture comes together into a thick mass – it should start to form a cohesive ball as it circles in your food processor. If the mixture seems too wet, add a touch more sugar or almond meal. If the mixture is too dry and it won’t form into a ball, then add a bit more aquafaba.
Remove the marzipan, knead the mixture briefly, then form into a log (or two) and wrap tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
I recommend using an almond meal that is made from peeled almonds – it should be white in appearance and finely ground. I’ve tried this recipe with almond flour, but it lacks flavor, so I would stick to the almond meal.
The almond extract gives the flavor a big boost. Avoid using too much because this will give your marzipan a certain processed aroma sensation.
The rose water is there for background purposes – it is not necessary, but it certainly adds to the flavor.
You can freeze homemade marzipan. Wrap tightly in plastic, place in a freezer bag (or seal in an airtight bag) and put a date on your bag. Freeze for 6-9 months. Defrost in the refrigerator one night before using.
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Winter Fruit and Black Tea Stew
The first time I came across the idea of stewing dried fruit and nuts in black tea was while I worked for a creative chef in Zürich – he was a chef who knew how to appreciate seasonal ingredients. We prepared four versions of this dessert – one for each season. They all used different spices and fruit to highlight the season.
The dried fruits I use in the winter version are gently stewed in a spiced and sweetened strong black tea. I’m careful to keep the stewing time minimal to prevent the fruits from turning into a pot of mush. I leave the cooled fruits in the tea overnight – sometimes even two nights – to implant a strong flavor of tea and spices into the fruits. Finally, I strain the fruits out and reduce the tea to a syrupy consistency before adding the fruits back to the strongly flavored tea syrup for another night of cold brewing.
This recipe adjusts easily to whatever dried fruits, nuts or spices you want to use. I recommend serving your version warmed and with a scoop of vegan ice cream!
Yield: makes about 6-8 servings (one liter/one quart)
1 liter (1 quart) strong black tea
4 tablespoons date sugar
1 whole cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean, split in half
2 fresh bay leaves
12-15 prunes, pits removed
12 dried figs, stems snipped away
12 dried apples, cut into 1-cm (1/2-inch) pieces
6-8 pieces crystallized ginger
18-20 whole almonds
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
vegan vanilla ice cream (optional)
Add the black tea to a large pot – about 3 or 4 liters (quarts) in size. Begin to bring the tea to a gentle simmer over moderate heat. Add the sugar, halved lemon, cinnamon stick, split vanilla bean and bay leaves. Stir constantly to dissolve the sugar completely. Once the tea has come to a nice gentle simmer, add the prunes, figs, apples and crystallized ginger. Stir the mixture to combine, then remove the pot from the heat.
Meanwhile, place the almonds on a baking tray and then into a cold oven. Turn the temperature to 150°C (300°F) and set a timer for 30 minutes.
Remove the almonds and cool for 10 minutes, then add them to the tea and fruit mixture. Cover the pot and cool the mixture completely before placing in the refrigerator overnight. Keep refrigerated for 1-2 nights.
Strain the liquid into a clean pot and reserve all the fruits, nuts and herbs. Heat the tea over moderately high heat and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the liquid by one half – it should have the consistency of a cough syrup. Return the reserved fruits, nuts and herbs to the syrup and cool to room temperature. Add the dried cranberries, then cover and refrigerate one night.
Heat gently to serve, along with a generous scoop of vegan vanilla ice cream – perhaps with a dusting of ground cinnamon.
I liked the caramelized notes in date sugar – not as strong as brown sugar but certainly noticeable. You can experiment with different sugars to suit your needs…including just normal white sugar. Syrups (agave, date, maple, etc.) don’t work well in this recipe because they are too strong and tend to dominate the flavor of the tea.
This recipe is very flexible. Use different types of tea for the base. Consider making a tropical version and use dried pineapple and mango. The only rules I can think of are avoid using fruit that is too large (they will expand in the moisture), and don’t overcook the fruit once the stewing liquid is made…just keep everything sensible and seasonal.
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