I have many favourite foods from childhood, but one that reminds me of my mom the most always stands out on top. That would be her Quark Stollen. Most people might only make this during the Christmas holidays, but I make this all year round any time I feel like it. We eat it as a snack or even for breakfast in place of toast and jam. Our kids love it and it never lasts very long. I am hoping it will leave them with the same memories I have whenever I make this.
Step 1: The Recipe
The ingredients are as follows:
- 500g flour
- 5 tsp baking powder
- 200g sugar
- 1/8 tsp grated nutmeg (I grate it with a Microplane)
- 1 tsp salt
- 125g raisins
- 125g dried red currants
- 1 tbsp rum (can use extract as well)
- 90g candied fruit
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 drops almond extract
- 50g orange zest
- 50g lemon zest
- 125g sliced almonds
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 250g quark (make or buy)
- 175g softened butter
- Some extra butter (50g or so) to brush on the baked loaf at the end
There is a mix of metric and imperial measurements. We often prefer to weigh out most ingredients and that is likely in part due to my mom’s recipes as well. A teaspoon (tsp) is about 5 ml and a tablespoon is 3 tsp for those needing to adjust. The photo of ingredients shows a double recipe measurement, since a single loaf doesn’t last very long in this house. Making a double recipe allows me to split it into 3 loaves which bake in a little bit less time as well.
When I do not have dried currants, I use either two different types of raisins (dark and light), or simply just more raisins. Similarly, when I am low on lemon zest, I use some candied lemon peel. We often have these in the house since they are used for some other recipes as well. These particular ingredients can be varied to taste.
Quark is not always easy to find. Recently the grocery stores where I live stopped carrying it altogether, so I started to make my own. It is in fact fairly easy to do and that is in the next step.
Step 2: Making the Quark Cheese
It may seem like making quark cheese is difficult, but I found it to be one of the easiest things I have ever tried. In the past a friend told me that they make their own and I didn't think too much of it at the time. Later, needing to make the Stollen I did a quick search and I came across this web page that describes the process very well. Here is a quick summary:
- Preheat oven to 175F (about 80C)
- Pour 2 litres of buttermilk in an ovenproof dish (3 litre size or larger for comfort)
- Place it in the oven for 2 hrs. After 2 hrs, turn the oven off and leave it over night.
- Drain the quark curd in a cheese cloth or jelly strainer (what I use mostly)
- Check once in a while that it is draining well.
- Scoop out the quark cheese into containers and done.
I used to use 3 layers of cheese cloth, but now use a jelly strainer as it is more convenient. I use this one. I am sure there are other equally effective methods.
The draining process can take quite a while depending on the strainer you use and likely humidity, etc as well. I make double batches and it can take several hours to drain properly. It is no extra work though, since it just sits there on its own. I weigh the quark cheese near the end and expect to get about 500-600g per 2 litres of buttermilk. All in all, I spent no more than 30 min of my time, including washing up the dishes used.
Step 3: Making the Stollen
The night before, place the raisins (and currants if used) in a bowl (that has a lid) and add vanilla, rum and almond extract, mix well and cover/seal the bowl. This will give a nice flavour to the raisins in the Stollen.
On to the next day. The oven will need to be preheated to 350F (175C). Mix all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and nutmeg) in a large bowl; large enough to hold all the liquid ingredients at some point as well. That large bowl I used is also from my mom. Ensure the dry ingredients are well blended; I like use a pastry blender for this. You can sift them together if you wish, but I have not found it necessary so far.
Add the candied fruit, the zests and sliced almonds to the rum-soaked raisins, mix well and have them ready. To the dry mixture add the butter and quark, mix it well and knead it to form a soft and, likely, sticky dough. Add a little flour if it is too sticky to work with and roll it out on the counter. Place the raisin mixture on top and knead it together to make it as uniform as possible. Add flour as required to it isn’t too sticky. Don’t add so much flour as to dry it out.
This dough will make a single 15-18” (38-45cm) long loaf. If it is a double recipe, like mine, it will make 3 roughly 12“ (30cm) long loaves. Place it (or them) on parchment paper baking sheets (or a non-stick sheet) and bake for about 1 hr and 15 minutes for a single loaf or about 1 hr for 3 loaves. Turn them half way and check for doneness with a (bamboo) skewer or toothpick. Once out of the oven brush each loaf on top with a little melted butter to give more flavour to the crust and soften it a little.
Step 4: Eating It!
The Stollen tastes great warm and as I mentioned, does not last long here. The first loaf was gone in less than 24 hrs. The only reason the other two survived is that I froze them!
A quark Stollen tends to be fairly moist. However, if it does dry out a bit, one can butter a cold/room temperature slice much like buttering toasted bread. Salted butter is especially good for this. Enjoy!