A Christmas Stollen

I love a slice of warm toasty stollen at Christmas and so I made it my mission this year to bake my own.

And after tasting a slice of this you’ll definitely be glad you did too!

In parts of Europe, stollen appears in every household around Christmas time (I assume in other countries too!) and you can tell why. It’s essentially a fruit bread that originated in Germany many centuries ago, and is packed with dried fruits and zest and optionally filled with a roll of marzipan (why would you leave it out?) running through the middle and topped with icing sugar. Dried fruit and citrus zest/peel plays a big part in a lot of our Christmas recipes, with mince pies and Christmas pudding being the traditional centrepieces, so stollen just makes the perfect festive companion.

The Queen of traditional Christmas food is obviously Delia Smith, and so her Christmas cookbook is where I headed for my first ever stollen recipe. In the UK, Delia’s recipes are the place to go when you want to learn how to cook or bake anything, as she has a recipe for almost everything – from boiling an egg to cooking a full roast dinner and everything in between!

I actually used the recipe from her original 90s book, however she has updated it since then so I’ll link the online recipe below. The newer method is quite different at the start and a few of the ingredients have slightly different weights, so if you have both, you can pick the one you prefer. I made a couple of alterations to the original as I went along, so my recipe will be slightly different, and I’ll give a bit more detail too to help with any doubts you might have (I had a few!).


Taken from Delia Smith’s Christmas (with alterations). Updated Delia recipe can be found here.

150ml milk

50g caster sugar

2 level teaspoons dried yeast

350g strong white bread flour (plus extra in case of sticking)

1/4 teaspoon salt

110g softened unsalted butter

1 egg, beaten

90g sultanas, raisins & currants

25g mixed candied peel, finely diced

40g no-soak dried apricots, chopped

25g dried cranberries

grated zest of 1/2 a lemon

175g marzipan

110g icing sugar, sifted

1-2 tablespoons lemon juice (as needed)


1. Warm the milk until you can still dip your little finger in it. Pour into a glass jug and add 1 teaspoon of sugar plus the yeast. Mix it together and leave until a layer of froth/foam forms on the top (the recipe says an inch, but mine didn’t froth up that much!)

2. While waiting, sift 300g of the flour into a bowl and mix with the salt and the rest of the sugar. Make a well in the centre and pour in the milk mixture, the beaten egg and the softened butter. Mix everything together with your hands or a wooden spoon until the mixture is well blended. Then mix in the dried fruits, peel and zest. Try to distribute them as evenly as possible.

3. At this point I found my dough to be really sticky so I added the remaining 50g of flour. I still didn’t find it came away from the sides cleanly, like in other dough based recipes, but I continued as instructed! Put it on a floured board/surface and knead for 5 minutes until elastic. (The updated recipe doesn’t require it, but as my stollen turned out well, I’d rather not miss this step out!)

4. Put the dough in a warm place covered in cling film (or alternative) until it has doubled in size. I just rinsed out my mixing bowl, dried it and popped the dough back in there to prove. It took about an hour to double but Delia says it can take up to two, so just keep checking.

5. Once risen, put the dough back on a floured board/surface and knock the air out of it and knead again until smooth and elastic. Press the dough out into a rectangle of about 10 x 8 inches. Roll out the marzipan into a long sausage and place lengthwise in the centre of the dough finishing just short of the ends.

6. Fold both sides of the dough over the marzipan and flip it over so the join is on the underside of the stollen. Put the whole thing on a baking sheet with room for expansion and leave again in a warm place to double in size. This time I just placed a clean tea towel over the top to protect it.

7. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan and once the stollen has doubled, remove the tea towel and put it into the oven to bake for 35-40 minutes. I recommend checking the colour on top at 25 or 30 minutes and if you think it’s going too dark, cover lightly with some foil for the final minutes.

8. Allow it to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then move to a wire rack.

9. While it’s cooling, mix up the icing sugar and lemon juice to make a glaze. Use less lemon juice for a spreadable glaze to completely cover the surface, or more lemon juice of you fancy a bit of a drizzle like I did. Traditionally, I believe people used to cover the surface in melted butter and then dust over icing sugar while still warm. The choice is very much yours! Delia says to spread the glaze over while warm, but I was a bit late in the day with my baking and did my drizzle the following morning – it still worked like a treat!

10. Slice and eat either while warm from the oven, cold, or even toasted again on the following days. NOTE: Toast the slices in the oven on baking parchment, not in a toaster, as the marzipan will soften and sometimes fall out and the icing will most definitely bubble and slide around!

However you decide to eat it, it will absolutely taste delicious. Fruity, zesty, sweet, nutty and full of festive cheer!

Mint Chocolate Biscuit Bites

Mint and dark chocolate has to be one of my favourite flavour combinations.

Plus, peppermint and chocolate is everyone’s Christmas favourite, right?!

I love to buy chocolate mint creams all year round, but I feel like in December I just doubly love to have them in the house. They make me feel all festive. This recipe came about because I wanted to make my own mint creams, but then I got cravings for tiffin and rocky road, which are pretty biscuit-y, so I thought why not combine them (but in a much simpler way)? Continue reading

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Wow, so this week is a week celebrating the strongest women we know. All of us.

Yes. Today is International Women’s Day, when we as women, alongside continuously campaigning for equality and rights, can be celebrated, in all our walks of life, whatever we choose to do. However, this Sunday in the UK is Mother’s Day, when we say thank you to those specific women in our lives, our amazing mums, for all the work they’ve done for us over the years. And I do think that this Bill Granger recipe lends itself to an amazing Mother’s Day pressie. It’s handmade with love from you to her, plus they’re damn delicious. And who doesn’t like cookies?

Continue reading

Peruvian Desserts – Tres Leches

tres leches

Tres Leches literally translates as three milks, and the milks that it refers to is condensed milk, evaporated milk and crema de leche. Don’t worry it’s not some kind of milky, flan-type panacotta monstrosity, the dessert is actually a light sponge cake soaked in the three milks and sometimes topped partly or completely with soft meringue. Now that sounds so much better, don’t you think?! Also, it normally comes served with all the excess sweet milky mixture, so no mouthful should ever be dry at all. This dessert is heavenly and very rich, especially if you like big fat slices like I do. Coming from the person least likely to drink/eat anything milk related, you know this cake must be awesome.

I LOVE LIMAWhere would I recommend in Lima to try it?

1. Maga…mis suspiros. It costs s/8.50 a slice and it’s so worth it (did I just sound like a shampoo advert?). It’s a good hearty slice, with an amazing flavour and comes topped with little dots of soft meringue (this is the one pictured above). Happy days! It’s probably good to share a slice like this but to be honest you could be selfish and polish this off all by yourself. This is a very popular place to come for tres leches, along with all of her other desserts on sale. It is a small shop but there are a few tables to sit in and eat, otherwise you can take away and enjoy in the comfort of your living room in your pyjamas.

Av. Benavides 1113, Miraflores (Between Paseo de la República and Republica de Panamá)

2. La Bodega de la Trattoría (started by Sandra Plevisani). I tried her Cinco Leches (Five Leches) at Mistura 2013 (Peru’s main food festival) for less than s/7 and I was incredibly lucky. Topped with a soft meringue and served with strawberries, this is some of the best ‘Tres’ Leches I have ever eaten, and don’t just take my word for it. According to El Comercio she sold 10,600 portions of this in just one day at Mistura last year! You can try it too but you will have to pay s/22 in her restaurant for the pleasure. (I have not tried it here but I can only assume it’s just as good!) Honestly, you will not regret paying the money for it once you eat it, but you will regret it if you leave without trying it!!

P.S. Do you want to know what the other ‘leches’ were that made this particular dessert up to a Cinco Leches? They were leche de coco (coconut milk) and manjar blanco (basically condensed milk boiled in the can).

The Cinco Leches is also available at her other restaurant La Trattoría di Mambrino.

Av. Primavera 712, Santiago de Surco. (there are 4 other locations for La Bodega de la Trattoría, so check the website for more details)

****ADDITION TO THE LIST (5/10/2014)!****

Tres Leches La Heladeria3. La Heladeria. Technically you do have to travel outside of Lima city to find this, but the beach town of Punta Hermosa is only about 25-30 minutes away and seeing as summer is approaching, you will be much more likely to find yourself heading out in this direction. This small cafe sells artesanal ice cream, desserts, juices and more, and obviously I have tried more than a couple of the desserts here. The Tres Leches at La Heladeria is sublime. Smooth, creamy and sweet. There is barely a taste of milk, which suits me perfectly, and it is finished with shavings of chocolate. This is absolutely one of the best Tres Leches I have eaten in Peru.

(The map on the Facebook page is not in the correct location and I cannot find the name of the street. Ask anyone in Playa Caballeros and they will be able to direct you to the location! Security guards are really helpful.)

Coming from ‘Playa Caballeros’ you take the road out from the beach called Av. Las Tres Bahias, go through the security gate and just to the left in front of you is La Heladeria, on the other side of the small roundabout.)