I’ve been struggling for days now with what to write about this Bavarian Walnut Spelt Stollen. It started out all happy and joyful until I realized that what I was writing was not in alignment with how I felt. To be honest, the past few weeks have been rough.
Between the ups and down of home and work life, the absolute insanity that has been going on in our world has taken quite the toll. I’ve swung back and forth through despair and emptiness to hope and love so many times I’ve lost count. I continue to hold high hopes for our world and in the meantime I’m allowing myself to feel the despair and the sadness and I let it move through me as a squish my fingers deep into dough.
Never before have I realized with such acuteness that baking has become my solace. Baking gives me the space to process and heal. When I’m checking and mixing ingredients, folding dough and watching the transformation take place in my oven, it’s just me and the recipe, me and the dough. There are no worries or to-do lists running through my head. It’s just me and my hands, infusing love into everything I bake.
“In a dark hour may all our ovens be lit with a light of mercy and peace.” – Tara Jensen
Side note: I have a total girl crush on Tara and wish I could whisk myself away to North Carolina for all her workshops.
Traditionally speaking this Bavarian Walnut Spelt Stollen is baked at Christmastime and it’s one that my Mom has made for many years. However, it didn’t end up in my baking roster last year amongst the plethora of spelt Christmas cookies I made.
As most of you will already know, I’m one heck of a traditionalist so making this stollen in January felt a little strange to me, but my Mom requested it for her birthday so to heck with tradition! 😀
Something about braided sweet breads always makes me feel deserving of an afternoon kaffeeklatsch with a good cup of coffee, cute dishes and someone special to share it with… or a couple slices for breakfast on a lazy weekend morning!
Bavarian Walnut Spelt Stollen
- 4 ½ cups organic all purpose, unbleached spelt flour (also called white spelt flour)
- 1 ½ tsp sea salt
- 4 tbsp organic sugar
- 1/8 tsp anise seeds
- 1 ½ tsp instant yeast
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 2 eggs whole
- 2 eggs yolks and whites separated
- Rind of 2 lemons
- ½ cup butter melted and cooled
- 1 cup milk
- 2 egg whites from separated eggs above
- 2 eggs yolks and whites separated
- 2/3 cup organic sugar
- 1 ½ cups finely ground walnuts
- 2 cups coarsely ground walnuts
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 egg yolks from separated eggs above
- 2 tbsp milk
To Make the Dough
In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, sugar, anise seeds, yeast and raisins. Stir to combine and set aside. In a medium bowl, mix the eggs, egg yolks, lemon rind, butter and milk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until completely combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight to rise slowly.
To Make the Filling
In a large saucepan, mix the 4 egg whites, sugar, nuts and cinnamon together over medium-low heat until the sugar melts and the nuts are completely coated. Remove from the heat, cover and let sit at room temperature until ready to use.
To Assemble the Stollen
Remove the dough from the fridge, allow to come to room temperature and rise until doubled. In a small bowl, mix the egg yolks and milk together for the egg wash and refrigerate until needed. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Line the countertop with a flexible pastry mat or a little water and large sheet of tin foil (the water will keep the tin foil from moving around). Generously flour your work surface and then gently empty the dough onto it. Flatten the dough slightly with your hands and generously flour the top. Roll the dough out to approximately 2ft x 1.5ft. Use as much flour as you need to keep the roller from sticking to the dough. Drop spoonfuls of the filling evenly on top of the dough then use a large spatula to spread the filling evenly, leaving a 1 inch gap of dough around the edges.
Using the pastry mat or tin foil to help you, roll one long edge of the dough towards the other long edge to form a log, unsticking the dough from the mat or tin foil with a spatula as you go. Generously flour the work surface that the log will be rolled onto. Just before you get to the end, brush a little egg wash along the exposed long edge of dough before rolling closed.
Cut the log in half using a sharp knife and transfer each half to the baking sheet leaving ample space between each log. Working with one log at a time, tuck the uncut edge underneath itself to seal. Using a sharp knife cut the log in half, leaving 1 inch uncut where you tucked the edge under. Gently lift and gently tug each half to lengthen the dough and set each half back down on the baking sheet. Lift each cut half, turn them so the nut filling is facing up and twist together (see detailed photos). When you get to the end, twist the ends under so the nut filling is facing down. Repeat with the other log. Cover with a clean tea towel and let rise until 50% larger (approximately 30 minutes).
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. When the dough has finished rising, place in the oven and turn the heat down to 375 degrees F. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove and brush generously with the egg wash. Bake for another 10 minutes, remove and brush with egg wash again. Bake for 5 more minutes or until dark golden brown on top. Remove and let cool for at least 1 hour before serving.