Stollen Bites

Bite is one of those interesting words with multiple meanings.

The verb, to bite, hails from Old English & Proto-Germanic *bitan (cf. Old Saxon bitan, Old Norse and Old Frisian bita, Middle Dutch biten, Dutch bijten, German beissen, Gothic beitan “to bite”), from PIE root *bheid- “to split, crack”.  A more modern usage means to “blow” or “suck”, as in, something bad or unfortunate:  “You failed the exam? That bites.”bite

The noun can mean a bug or animal wound, a feeling of cold or a sharp, pungent flavour.  The noun is akin to morsel (n.), late 13c., “a bite, mouthful; small piece, fragment,” from Old French morsel (Modern French morceau) “small bite, portion, helping,” diminutive of mors “a bite,” from Latin morsus “biting, a bite,” neuter past participle of mordere “to bite”

I love stollen, so it’s the morselesque noun in this instance.  At Christmas time, I harken back to my Austrian roots and bake stollen, a fruit cake containing chopped candied fruit and/or dried fruit, nuts and spices, often marzipan and covered with icing sugar.

BTW, I am Austrian in family name only –  Schwakhofer.   I wasn’t raised with any Teutonic traditions.  In fact, the only information I have on my Austrian heritage is that in 1840, my great, great, great, great, something or other, grandfather, Valentine Schwachoffer, age 14,  traveled ON HIS OWN from a village in Austria to Liverpool, hailed The Orpheus and sailed to New York.  I almost certainly have kin in Austria and really mean to look into this soon, while I am so close to Europe.  Anyhow, for the past 5 years, I seem to wind up making stollen around Christmas Eve.

This year, I tried Stollen Bites.  A variation on a recipe from Dan Lepard, writing for The Guardian.

Stollen Bites

  • 175g caster sugar
  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 125g full-fat cream cheese
  • 1tsp almond extract
  • ¾ tsp mixed spice
  • ¾ tsp cardamom seeds, ground, husks discarded
  • 1 medium egg
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 25g golden sultanas
  • 75g sweetened, dried cranberries
  • 100g slivered almonds
  • 250g strong white flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 275g marzipan(there’s no excuse not to make your own)*
  • Melted butter and icing sugar, to finish

Beat the caster sugar, butter, cream cheese, almond extract and spices until smooth, then beat in the egg. Stir in the ground almonds, dried fruit and slivered almonds, add the flour and baking powder, and mix to a soft dough.

stollen1

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* Homemade Marzipan
(makes 300g)

  • 150g icing sugar, sifted
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 1 egg white

Place the ground almonds and icing sugar in the bowl of a food processor.  Beat the egg white lightly with a fork to make adding a little at a time easier.  Start the food processor, and after 10 seconds add a little egg white.  Continue to add egg white until the mix starts to come together and stop once the marzipan forms into a ball.  Finish shaping into a ball with your hand. Wrap it in plastic film and put in the fridge until ready to use.

Ssssssh!  I had 25g left over, asked Steve what his favourite vegetable is and made him a cocoa dusted potato for his Christmas stocking.

stollen2

****************************************************************************************************

Chop the marzipan into 2cm pieces and mix through. Line a 20cm square tin with parchment and spoon the dough into it. Wet your fingers or a spatula and press the dough evenly into the corners of the tray.

Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan-assisted)/350F/gas mark 4 and bake for 30 minutes, until puffed and golden on top. Leave in the tin to cool, then, while still warm, brush generously with melted butter and leave until cold before wrapping well.

To serve, peel off the foil, dredge heavily with icing sugar and slice into bite sized squares. It will keep for up to a fortnight if well wrapped.

   stollen4

Delicious and less fussy than the unleavened stollen (also a Dan Lepard recipe) I made a couple of years ago.  We had some with our Christmas Eve breakfast-in-bed coffee this morning.

stollen3

Christmas Eve breakfast tray

Have a sweet and yummy Christmas everyone!

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