For as long as I can remember, my mom made what she called Stollen every year at Christmas. Traditionalists would not recognize our family’s rendition since Stollen is similar to fruitcake. Ours would be described best as a pastry with tender sweet roll dough cradling fresh or canned fruit, nuts, spices and sweet glaze topping.
1/2 Recipe Sweet Roll Dough (see below)
1 can Wilderness More Fruit Cherry Pie Filling
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/4 teaspoon almond extract – or – 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Put pie filling in a colander with fairly large holes. Shake colander from side to side to remove as much filling as you can so that mainly the fruit remains. Lightly chop cherries to make a very chunky paste.
Roll 1/2 Sweet Roll Dough into rectangle, 15×9 inches, on a lightly floured surface. Spread cherries over dough, sprinkle with cinnamon and dot with butter, leaving 1 inch clear of edge of dough. Roll up tightly, beginning at 15-inch side. Pinch edge of dough to seal well. Gently stretch roll to make even.
Shape into a ring on a parchment lined baking sheet, seam side down (if not using parchment paper, butter baking sheet). Pinch ends together to seal ring. With scissors, make cuts 2/3 of the way through the ring at 1 inch intervals. Gently separate the sections just a little. Let rise until double, about 40 minutes.
Heat oven to 375° (if using sliced almonds, this is a good time to toast them while waiting for pastry to rise). Optional egg wash: Just before baking, whisk 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of cream together (milk or water can also be used). Using a pastry brush, gently brush the stollen with the egg wash to give the finished pastry a shiny, golden appearance.
Bake stollen until golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Check after 15 minutes of baking; if ring browns too quickly, cover loosely with foil while it finishes baking.
GLAZE: Mix 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon milk and 1/4 almond extract until glaze is smooth. Place in a Ziploc® bag and press down toward a bottom corner. Snip the corner when you are ready to glaze and simply squeeze desired amount of glaze onto ring.
Store in loosely wrapped aluminum foil or in a storage container with the lid slightly askew so the dough doesn’t become too moist.
Sweet Roll Dough
1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup lukewarm milk (scalded then cooled)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened but not melted
1 teaspoon salt
1 whole egg
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
Dissolve yeast in warm water in large bowl. Stir in milk, sugar, butter, salt, egg and 2 cups of the flour. Mix until smooth. Mix in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.
Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place in greased bowl; turn greased side up. Cover; let rise in warm place until double, about 1 1/2 hours.
Punch down dough. Shape, let rise and bake as directed.
Do-ahead Tip: After kneading, dough can be covered and refrigerated in greased bowl no longer than 4 days.
Note: For wheat dough, substitute half of the flour with King Arthur White Whole Wheat flour.