It finally snowed here in Toronto the other night. We took a walk in it down to the waterfront by where we live.
I will admit, it was so pretty. But so windy!! So I was a tad of a baby, and we didn’t stay out as long as Jim wanted. But we did get a good snowball fight in, much to the amusement of the dog walkers who passed by.
What a lovely feeling it was- that cold snow sticking to eyelashes and hair, the sting in the cheeks from the bitter wind. I am hoping for many more snowfalls before the season is over. Sorry to all you winter haters. But we can’t send winter back, so we might as well embrace it!
Along with finally pulling out the winter gear (still can’t find my favourite gloves) I’m finally pulling out my favourite winter baking recipes. Not that I wouldn’t bake these recipes year round. But it is true, there is something so luxurious about braving the cold to be rewarded with cozy scones, tarts, cookies, muffins etc. The cold nose and rosy cheeks have earned some sweets, and perhaps a finger or two of single malt! And I look at it this way: you expend more calories trying to keep warm (maintaining body temperature is work!!) so really, we’re only just breaking even if we indulge in that hot chocolate or pastry.
But really, why don’t we bake cinnamon rolls, gingerbread, panettone more often? I know, I sound like a broken record.
Growing up, it was always a treat to visit the German deli with my mom. And during this season, the goodies were extra special- the chocolate covered heart shaped gingerbread cookies, the candied walnuts in cellophane, and Stollen. This is one of those amazing specialty sweet breads (like Italian Panettone) that is only around for a little while. Unlike British Fruitcake, it is a yeast bread, buts it is also filled with candied fruit, nuts, and marzipan. I go gaga for marzipan. I can just eat it all by itself. I still treat myself to a bit when we visit our local Euro deli, The Cheese Boutique.
Stollen was one of my mom’s favourite treats. My sister can bake an amazing one. Light, easy to slice, and perfect with a cup of espresso. I’m not a huge yeast baker. Maybe it’s that I don’t have the patience to wait. Maybe it’s because I’m still overcoming my issue with old yeast and ruined recipes. It’s all in my head. And I will conquer it. In the meantime, I’m always happy to find versions of my favourite recipes that work without yeast (see my Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls with Walnuts and Coffee)
These scones are easy to whip up. The longest step is soaking the dried sultanas, golden raisins, currants (or variation thereof) and candied orange peel in the rum! I actually put everything in as small bowl and warm it up in the toaster oven at 325 until the rum is just simmering. Let them sit and cool down while preparing the rest of the recipe.
I found the recipe at the She Who Eats website. I really didn’t adjust her recipe too much at all. She does suggest that if you can’t find marzipan that ground almonds are a worthy substitute. However, I do think it’s worth the leg work to find actual baking marzipan. It adds a lovely smooth texture and creaminess to the final scone, that it really can’t compare to just ground almonds. Trust me. Along with the toaster oven (or microwave oven) tip above, instead of cubing the butter and marzipan and chilling them until ready to use, I keep the butter in the freezer and pull it out a few minutes before I need it (I just leave the marzipan in the fridge) I crumble in the marzipan with my fingers. Then I grate the butter into the dough.
This scone actually tastes better if you let it cool to room temperature. It is also a perfect breakfast scone. Or you could totally serve them with coffee for a midday break. They would also go perfectly with a London Fog Latte! Hmmm, must make one soon!
Here’s to snowy days, and cozy homes!
Snowy Stollen Scones
All the flavours of the classic German Stollen sweet yeast bread, captured in a cheery scone.
- 1/2 cup (60 g; 2 oz) combination of sultanas, raisins, golden raisins etc
- 1 oz (30 g) candied orange peel chopped
- 1 tbsp rum
- 1/3 cup (30 g; 1 oz) walnuts toasted and chopped small
- 1/3 cup (30 g; 1 oz) sliced almonds lightly toasted
- 1 2/3 cup (210 g; 8 oz) AP flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 3 tbsp (25 g; 1 oz) soft brown sugar
- 4 tbsp (1/2 stick; 56 g;2 oz) unsalted butter chilled and diced, or left whole for grating
- 2-3 oz (60-90 g) German marzipan crumbled (or left whole for grating) I used all 3 oz (90 g)
- 2/3- 1 cup (60-90 g; 2-3 oz) ground almonds (almond meal)
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) milk chilled
- 1 large egg beaten
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- zest of half a lemon
- 2 tbsp (28 g; 1 oz) unsalted butter melted
- confectioners sugar for dusting
To prepare the dried fruit, combine the raisins and chopped candied orange peel with the rum in a small bowl, and toss well. Cover and leave at least for a few hours or preferably overnight.
Preheat the oven to 400F (200 C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl combine the all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and brown sugar, and mix well.
Grate the butter and marzipan into the flour mixture OR rub in the cold butter until the mixture is the consistency of fine meal.
Rub or grate the cubed marzipan in until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs, OR stir in ground almonds and mix well.
Combine about 100 ml of the milk with the beaten egg, vanilla extract, and zest of lemon.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredient mixture and pour in the liquid ingredients.
Using a rubber spatula, stir the mixture a few times.
Add the soaked fruits and toasted nuts, and mix until just combined. The dough will be soft and a little sticky - if it is too dry, add the remaining 20 ml of the milk; if it is too sticky, add a little more flour. Do not overmix.
Divide the dough in half and shape them into balls. Pat each to form a round disk of about 2.5cm / 1 inch thickness.
Cut each disk into six wedges and place onto the prepared baking sheet. You may need to use a spatula or bench scraper to move the wedges if the dough is too sticky.
Bake in the preheated oven for 13-18 minutes or until the scones are golden brown.
To finish the scones, melt the butter for topping while the scones are baking.
When they are done, remove the scones from oven, and immediately spoon the melted butter over them, about 1/2 tsp. per scone.
Dust thickly with confectioner's sugar, and leave to cool completely.
Serve the scones at room temperature, with a thin dusting of some more confectioner's sugar.
Instead of leaving the dried fruit to soak in the rum overnight, I place the ingredients in a small oven safe bowl and heat in a toaster oven at 325F until the rum is just simmering and the fruit is softening. Let sit to continue soaking and cool until needed. Start everything else, and then they will be ready to add in. If doing this method, add about 30 minutes to the prep time.
If you can't find marzipan anywhere (often in the baking section of specialty stores) then as stated above, ground almonds will work fine. But the texture will be a bit more dry. The marzipan melts in a beautiful way, adding to the moistness of the final scone.