Saturday, 7 December 2013

Quark stollen bites, a faster approach to a wonderful treat

Moving from a country to another means that I have to find the right products I can cook/bake with, Sometimes, I just look for the brands I'm familiar with, but there are things we just can't find, so we look for alternatives. It gets awkward when we think we found what we need but then the name or labelling may not necessarily mean the same from country A to country B, or sometimes it could be the same thing but then of a different quality, or texture, or taste, or.....

The types of flours comes in the first place on this list: every country attributes different names and labels. While I know why they do that, I still have to work on my recipes to adjust them based on the new level of absorption my new flour will have..

I discovered Quark in Germany. Actually I discovered the word as well as the humongous list of things where this cheese could be used.


In Germany, quark is somewhere between a Lebanese labneh dip and a thick Greek yoghurt. It's the main ingredient in käsekuchen which falls under the baked cheesecake category and which is very dear to the Germans (at least where I lived).
I recently bought the British quark from Sainsbury's which has 2 similar things with it's cousin in the land of Hansel & Gretel: the colour and the name. However the textures are completely different. I think it's more of a cottage cheese with lumps in it as big as a small pea.

Having used it earlier in a gratin, I knew this thing will never melt and those lumps will stay there, staring at me, quite defiant!


So I learned my lesson, a British quark has to go through a sieve before being used, maybe twice for better results..You don't want to see white lumps of the size of a chickpea staring at you while you're cutting your cake or your stollen do you?

This version of stollen is easy to make: it does not need kneading, it's made using baking powder which means it does not need proofing. However I still advise that you keep it for at least 5 days before serving it because you want those spices and citrus peel to do their job..

You could add some grated marzipan to the mix so It saves you the trip to go to Lidl and buy those marzipan stollen bites with a list of crazy ingredients your body does not really need ...

Ingredients
Makes 8 to 16 parts depending on the size
Prep: 10 min - baking: 15-25 min depending on the size
  • 70g of sultanas, raisins
  • 50 g of currants
  • 50g – 80g of chopped almond (blanched, peeled and dried)
  • 80 g of orange and lemon peels (I make my own, it tastes better)
  • 4 tbsp of orange juice or apple juice to soak the fruits (originally, Rum is used)
  • 75g of fine caster sugar
  • 100g of butter at room temperature
  • 150g of quark (or cottage cheese)
  • 300g of flour (all purpose)
  • Zest of 1 orange (if you are using store-bought citrus peels)
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 good pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp of cardamom powder
  • 1 tsp of ground ginger
  • ½ tsp of grated nutmeg
To finish
  • 60g of clarified butter (melted butter, at room temperature)
  • Icing sugar for dusting


Preparation

Place 2 layers of cheesecloth or kitchen paper inside a sieve. Let the quark drain any excess of water for about 45 min. then weigh the required amount.

Leave a half-hour room temperature butter accept.

Mix the fruits and the peels with the juice and place them the microwave for a couple of minutes or add slightly more juice and cook them for 10 min. But If you have time you may just let them soak overnight in liquid (skipping the microwave or the cooking step, but I promised it will be a quick quark stollen).

Preheat oven to 180 ° C convection preheat (Petra 15 minutes, 200 ° C)

You can make the stollen by hand or use a food processor.

Cream butter with sugar, add the zest of using it, the salt, the vanilla. Mix in cottage cheese at medium speed.

Fold in the other dry ingredients by batches, then in goes the fruits, the almond and the peels.

Transfer the dough on a floured surface and shape into a rectangle just about less than 2 cm thick. 


Cut squares or rectangles anywhere between 2 cm to 6 cm wide depending how many you want.

Place the stollen bites in a baking sheet lined with baking paper and bake in preheated oven for 15 to 25 min depending on their width and thickness.

In the meantime, sift the icing sugar (In case it’s lumpy) and melt butter then get rid of the milk in it. Set aside.

One the stollen bites are baked to perfection. Transfer them onto a wire rack and brush them generously with butter (or just dip them in) while. 


Dust them with icing sugar (I did it once when they were warm and another one when they were cool).

Ideally, you should wait a few days before having your first bite! Trust me it’s worth the waiting time especially if you have used home-made citrus peels.



How to make citrus peels

With a chef’s knife, remove the outer skin without the white part as much as you can, blanch it twice for 2 min each in hot water and then cover them with a solution made of 1 part sugar and 1 part water just about enough to have the peels soaked).

Let simmer for 15 min on medium hear.

Drain off any excess of liquid. Store in the freezer until needed…
 

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