Saturday, January 7, 2012

Cream Cheese Stollen

You probably didn't think this was possible. Gluten- and dairy-free cream cheese stollen. But, friends. It is.

My mom has made this (well, a glutenful version) every Hannukah for as long as I can remember. And up until 4 years ago, I joined the rest of my family in stuffing myself to the point of immobility with it the night of our Hannukah party. There was certainly enough of it to be had - I remember one year, she made something like 16 of them. In one day. And that was the same morning that she made about a dozen loaves of challah bread. The woman is a machine.

This year, I was lucky enough to be home for our Hannukah party (I've missed it a few times over the last several years because I was either out of the country or at least out of St. Louis when Hannukah fell). The house smelled heavenly. It smelled heavenly because of a bunch of food I couldn't eat. It was torturous to watch everyone slather jam or butter onto thick slices of soft challah, and to watch everyone wander into the kitchen to cut themselves piece after piece of cream cheese stollen. I never, ever cheat and eat gluten. But I have to be honest -- my mom's challah and cream cheese stollen are two of the things that tempt me the most.

The funny thing is, my mom is gluten-free, too - although she isn't quite as sensitive as I am to it. Yet she still makes these treats for the Hannukah party the way she always has, with wheat flour. I asked her at the party if she had ever tried to make a gluten-free version of the cream cheese stollen. She said she hadn't. And I vowed in that moment that someday very soon, a gluten-free version would exist.

And now it does, and it rocks. I'm actually a little surprised myself at how well this turned out. Even the chef has doubts sometimes - I mean, it is dairy-free cream cheese and gluten-free dough that I couldn't knead like the original recipe calls for. How close could it really get to the original? But it turned out beautifully - the dough wasn't difficult to work with at all, and it all baked up into a wonderfully soft and flaky-on-top pastry. The smooth cream cheese filling is the complement to the slightly sweet and yeasty bread, and the end product is a delightful dessert that is sweet (but not too sweet) and melts in your mouth.

Granted, it's been many years since I tasted my mom's cream cheese stollen. But this is seriously delicious. I brought it to work, and my co-workers proclaimed it to be "out-of-this-world good." And I'd have to agree.

Cream Cheese Stollen
Makes 1 Stollen
*You can double this recipe very easily. 

For the dough:
1/4 cup margarine or butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. vanilla coconut milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 egg
1/4 cup warm water
2 tsp. yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup brown rice flour (plus another 1/4 - 1/2 cup for when you roll it out later)
1/2 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup potato or arrowroot starch
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/3 tsp. xanthan gum

For the cream cheese filling:
12 oz. gluten-free and vegan cream cheese
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 egg
2 tsp. vanilla
dash salt

For the glaze:
1.5 tsp. boiling water
3/4 - 1 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 - 1 tsp. lemon juice

Melt margarine or butter.  Add sugar, salt and coconut milk.  Continue heating until lukewarm. 

In a separate bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar in warm water until foamy.  Stir in milk mixture, egg and half of the flour, beat until smooth.  Stir in remaining batter to make a stiff batter. Stir well, put into an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise in warm place for about a half an hour or until roughly doubled in size. 

In the meantime, make the cream cheese filling by beating together all of the ingredients until it is very smooth. Set aside.

Punch down dough, then turn out onto a greased piece of parchment paper (make it easy on yourself and do this step on the surface you're actually going to bake the stollen on - it's hard to transfer to a new surface without breaking it once it's formed!). Sprinkle liberally with brown rice flour, and then use your hands to form the dough into a rectangular shape (about 9” by 13”).  Brush with beaten egg, spread on the cream cheese filling, and roll in from each side, meeting in the center. (Tip: take a thin cutting board and use it to roll each side in - it will help keep it from falling apart.). If you didn't do this on a grease baking sheet, transfer it now to one, or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Then cut diagonal slits along the sides, brush with egg, and let rise for another half an hour.  

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, or until browned. If you have the instant read thermometer, you can again test it for doneness, by poking it into a non cheesy section to see if the temperature is anywhere between 190 degrees and 210 degrees.

Allow the stollen to cool slightly on a cooling rack, and then spoon on the glaze.  After glaze has set and stollen is completely cool, you can wrap tightly in saran wrap. If you store in the fridge, be sure to warm it up for 10 - 15 seconds in the microwave before serving.

To make glaze: Add boiling water and lemon juice slowly to confectioner’s sugar and mix thoroughly.  If you don’t use this mixture pretty quickly, it will thicken too much, so use within 5 minutes of making it.


Kate said...

Have you made one of these with the traditional maripan and candied fruits? Do you think it would work in this recipe as well?

Claire Berman said...

Hi Kate, I haven't tried it with either of those fillings but imagine that it would work just fine! Especially if you had the marzipan and candied fruits together, I think it would work great.