Saturday, 24 December 2016

Yeast Or No Yeast? - That Is The Question!

When I was very young my grandmother and  my mum always had an argument at the beginning of December as to which type of Stollen we were going to have at Christmas! My grandma, being very traditional, always opted for the one baked with yeast. My mum, on the other hand, preferred the one made with baking powder for the simple reason that it was less time consuming.

But yeast was not easily available in the area where we lived, and dry or instant yeast had not yet been invented (or commercialized)! So my grandma would write a letter to her friend who had a farm, and ask her for the supply of some fresh yeast. Now the waiting would begin for the precious yeast to arrive. There was a specific date on which the baking was to be done to give the Stollen enough time to mature before Christmas Eve!

If the yeast arrived in time my grandmother would gleefully assemble all the ingredients and chase the rest of the family out of the kitchen! But if the deadline passed without any yeast in sight, grandma would sulk and sit in a warm corner, wanting nothing to do with a yeastless Stollen.

By Christmas Eve the differences were forgotten and everyone enjoyed whatever was on offer! I still have my mum's handwritten recipe, which I will include in this post. But today I have chosen the traditional yeast Stollen from my grandmother's recipe collection which, in my opinion, is for advanced bakers only!

2 tsp dried yeast
100g sugar
500g  flour
2 eggs, a pinch of salt
1/8 -1/4 l warm milk, scant
250g butter
100g raisins
100g sultanas
50g chopped candied peel
75g ground almonds
200g extra flour for kneading in

                               (Shaped loaves)

Make a regular yeast dough using only half the milk, keeping the fruits and almonds back. Knead dough thoroughly and allow to rise. When risen, add the almonds and dried fruit and knead lightly. If necessary add more flour and milk until you have a fairly stiff consistency. Shape into 2 loaves and place on buttered and floured baking sheet to rise again. Picture above.

                                (Well risen and ready for the oven)

Bake in preheated oven for 1/2 hour at 200C, gas mark 5. Immediately after baking, brush with melted butter and dust heavily with icing sugar.

                               (All wrapped up and ready to be enjoyed!)


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