James Morton Cooks the Perfect Stollen


Stollen makes the perfect festive treat. James Morton, runner up in last year’s Great British Bake Off demonstrates his recipe for this sweet bread.

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Makes 2 sizeable stollen or 1 sensationally colossal one.
Time spent in the kitchen: 20–30 minutes. Time taken altogether: 4–18 hours

For the fruit soaker

150g dried fruit (traditionally raisins, better with dried cherries)

150g Italian mixed peel grated zest of½orange

100g brandy or rum

For the dough

150g strong white flour

150g plain white flour

20g caster sugar

Grated zest of½orange

grated zest of½lemon

5g salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 sachets (14g) fast-action yeast

100g white sourdough starter

1 medium egg

170g full-fat milk

75g butter, softened

For the frangipane (optional)

100g unsalted butter, softened

100g caster sugar

100g ground almonds

25g plain flour

100g egg (about 2 medium eggs)

50g flaked almonds, plus extra to decorate melted butter or oil, for brushing icing sugar, to decorate

Preparation Method

1. The day before you’re going to bake, soak the raisins, mixed peel and orange zest in the brandy or rum. Cover with cling film.

2. In a large bowl the next day, combine the flours, sugar and zests. Rub the salt and cinnamon into the dry mix on one side of the bowl, then the yeast on the other side. Add the starter, egg, milk and butter and combine to form a dough. Cover and leave to rest for 30 minutes, if you can.

3. Knead your dough for about 5 minutes, until it is just starting to come together. Add about half of your fruit soaker then continue to knead until holding together and passing the windowpane test.

Cover and leave to prove for 1–2 hours, or until at least doubled in size. Alternatively, leave to rest in the fridge for 10–14 hours.

4. When your dough is proved, make the frangipane, if using. In a bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until you have a smooth paste, then mix in the ground almonds, flour and eggs until combined.

5. Turn your dough out on to a sheet of oiled baking paper. Flatten it out into a large rectangle, about 2.5cm thick. Smear your dough with the frangipane, then scatter the flaked almonds and the rest of the fruit across it. Try to leave a 3–5cm seam at either side of the dough clear of filling; this helps when you roll it up.

6. Roll your stollen up to make a spiral of fruit and almond in the centre. Lift with the paper and put on a baking tray, brush with a little oil or melted butter all over then leave to prove for a final 1–1½ hours, or overnight in the fridge.

7. At least half an hour before you’re going to bake, preheat your oven to 240°C/gas 9. Once ready, turn your oven down to 180°C/gas 4 and bake for 1 hour, until a dark golden brown all over and it sounds hollow when tapped underneath.

8. As soon as it is removed from the oven, brush with a little more oil or butter then sprinkle on a few flaked almonds and dust with a layer of icing sugar. After a minute, dust with another layer of icing sugar, liberally coating it. Leave to cool before enjoying. It’ll keep for up to a week or two, even longer.

Taken from the book James Morton Brilliant Bread