Cranberry stollen

I've tried baking my own stollen for the last couple of years, and it's never come close to the bought stuff. I don't necessarily mean this in a bad way - the recipe I use is more of a bread than a cake, a bit like a giant hot cross bun with marzipan in the middle (which, as I'm sure you'll agree, is no bad thing). It's nice toasted once it's gone a bit stale, and it's not as sickly as some bought versions. My mum actually prefers it to the version made by Betty's of Harrogate, which is quite an accolade. However, in an attempt to get mine closer to the delicious cakeyness of some versions (in particular, the one made by a German chef I used to work for), I decided to try a new recipe. Clearly there is no one better to turn to than my favourite baker, Dan Lepard, and I have a feeling he may have proved himself yet again.

The added bonus of this recipe is that it requires no kneading, proving or rising. Normally when I make stollen it takes an entire day of various bread-tending activities; it needs supervising like a naughty child and often disappoints you like one, rising strangely and never looking as neat as it did when you rolled it up into a lovely tidy shape on the baking tray. This recipe involves stirring some things together in a bowl, rolling the dough out, adding the marzipan and baking. Done in under an hour - excellent. I used dried cranberries instead of the sour cherries Lepard suggests, for a more festive touch.

An even better part of this recipe is it involves brushing the stollen, while warm, with copious amounts of rum and melted butter before "dredging" it in icing sugar. Surely this can only be an improvement - alcohol, saturated fat, and sugar? It's practically Christmas in cake form. I'm pretty pleased with the way it looks, too - it's less sprawling than my normal bread-dough stollen. Lepard suggests I wrap it up tightly and let it mature for a week. No chance - I'm going to leave it until Christmas Eve Eve, and then my willpower, I can quite clearly predict, will shatter. 

In fact, I've already nibbled a bit off the end. I could argue that this was for aesthetic purposes, so that my photos show a glimpse of the delicious, fruit-flecked interior with its gorgeous marzipan artery...but in fact, I was just eager to sample my hard work. It does indeed have a denser, more cakey texture, and the cardamom comes through quite strongly. I can't wait to eat it once it has "matured".