As the world becomes a smaller place and everywhere becomes a melting pot of everywhere else, it's harder and harder to know what regional specialties people will know about as part of their own experience, and which will elicit a questioning glance.
Stollen, a sort of fruit cakey bread with dried fruit and marzipan covered in powdered sugar and usually associated with Christmas, is traditionally German. Recently, Vietnamese and Chinese have surpassed German, but it used to be the third most spoken language in Texas, and there is still a dialect (hanging on by a thread) known as Texas German which emerged from the immigrant population of the mid-19th century.
All this is to say that something German has a better chance of being recognized around here than something that is, say, Swedish. Unless it came from IKEA. Similarly, stollen are sold in places like World Market and even Central Market in the holiday season. A few people recognized these as part of their own Christmas smorgasbord, while others could only surmise that it didn't have anything to do with Stalin, right?
Thankfully, when I explained what it was, no one shied away from this treat's connection to fruit cake. Poor old fruit cake, so mis-baked and maligned. What is it that makes this baked good go so bad for so many? I don't know, but I've never been unhappy to receive a stollen. And I've certainly never been unhappy with anything in a cupcake wrapper, so I decided that the only way to make this wonderfully rich bread even better would be to turn it into mini bread pudding muffins.
I don't know if this will make anyone rethink their stance on fruit cake, but they certainly enjoyed this interpretation. One small step towards rehabilitating a baked good's reputation, and widening the horizons of global cuisine for a few people too.
Mini Stollen Bread Pudding
(adapted from Joy of Kosher)
- 7 cups of stollen, cubed*
- 2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter (or butter substitute**), melted and cooled
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 Tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- a dash of ground cinnamon
- several pinches of dried orange zest
**I used 4 Tablespoons of Brummel and Brown and 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fill mini-muffin/cupcake pan(s) with paper liners.
- Put the cubed bread in a large bowl and pour in the almond milk. Let stand for five minutes.
- Stir in eggs, sugar, extracts, and butter. If desired, you can move directly to the next step, or you can let this sit and absorb. I placed it in the fridge for a few hours. I've read that some do this as long as overnight, it's up to you.
- Combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and zest in a separate bowl. Stir this mixture into the bread cube mixture.
- Spoon the mixture into the tins. For the regular cupcake size, I used about two Tablespoons; for the minis, I used just one Tablespoon. You can fill a little more if you like (and thus have fewer servings), just make sure you are filling evenly.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the pudding is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Allow to cool on a wire rack. Can be kept in a container in the fridge until ready to serve, particularly yummy when rewarmed in that case.