Friday, November 08, 2013

Guest post: Donna Alward

I'm delighted to host Donna Alward today - she's been a friend for years and years, and has inspired me hugely on the Kate Unlardy project (ahem, with the exception of what she's posting here, LOL!). Anyway, over to Donna...

In Search of a Recipe  - Donna Alward

Every single time I write a book there’s food in it. New foods, favourite foods, comfort foods, foods with history that resonate with the characters (and me!).

Writing a Christmas book? Take that and triple it. At least. Because don’t we all have favourite recipes and foods that we make only at the holidays?

In A CADENCE CREEK CHRISTMAS, my heroine, Taylor Shepard, takes a morning to shop the stores of the small western town. She’s suddenly keen on having a big, traditional family Christmas. So it goes to follow that there will be turkey, and homemade cranberry sauce. Cranberry sauce, by the way, is dead easy. One bag of cranberries, one cup of water and one cup of sugar. Boil the crap out of it (but don’t let it burn!) and cool. That’s it.

Taylor’s last stop is the bakery, where she’s hoping to get a sweet treat and something for the family when they arrive for the holiday. She picks up a Christmas Stollen, and also a Steamed Pudding and sauce, with instructions for adding the brandy. And then she settles down for a cup of caramel hot chocolate and a piece of cherry strudel.

Hungry yet? Maybe if I tell you her friend Angela arrives and gets Carrot Cake topped with thick Cream Cheese icing?

Anyway, here’s the thing. I love Christmas Stollen (bread! Fruit! Marzipan! What’s not to love?) but I’ve never made one. Does anyone out there know of a good recipe for it? I’d love to try it on my own this year (since it’s freaking expensive to purchase it at the specialty shops or markets!). You can post the link in the comments if your recipe is somewhere online, or e-mail it to me

And just so I don’t leave you without any recipes to try – here’s one I love for entertaining.

Chocolate Chip Toffee Cheese Ball
8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened (no substitutes)
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 TB brown sugar
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup toffee bits (like Skor)
3/4 cup pecans, finely chopped
Cookies, like graham crackers or chocolate or vanilla wafers

Beat together cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. Add in sugars. Fold in chocolate chips and toffee bits.

Form into as much of a ball as possible, and put on a plate. Cut a piece of waxed paper and put it over top of the mound of yumminess. J With the waxed paper, use your hands to form it into a ball. Leave the waxed paper on it and put it in the fridge for a couple of hours.

When it’s fairly firm, roll it in the chopped pecans. Put in the center of a pretty plate and surround it with assorted cookies. It disappears in a HURRY and you’ll be very popular.


Nancy Robards Thompson said...

Hi Donna,

Your book sounds delicious! My sweet step-mother was first generation German/American. I have her family recipe for Christmas Stollen. It's the one her mother (my Oma, who was born and raised in Germany) used to make every Christmas. The recipe has been passed down through the generations. I was honored when she passed it on to me. I intend to teach my daughter how to make it (if I can ever corral her in the kitchen). Her recipe was very simple. I've played around with it a bit to incorporate various fillings. I've included the recipe for the basic Stollen. I've also noted how to change the recipe to add a buttery cinnamon filling or almond paste/marzipan center.

Enjoy (and please let me know what you think of it).


1) Set the yeast with milk and stir in one cup of flour. Let rise. (on top of, or near, low heat)

2) Cream butter with sugar, add eggs, one at a time and beat well

Add lemon rinds and combine the two mixtures.- after first mixture has risen.

3) Add the rest of the flour, a little nutmeg and knead until smooth and elastic.

Sprinkle flour over the dried fruit – mix and add to the dough with nuts and rum.

First rise: Let rise until double its bulk – toss on floured board.- Divide into 3 or 4 loaves.

***If you want a filled Stollen, please skip to the notes below and start where it says
*MY ADDITIONS/VARIATIONS; if you want traditional, carry on with the recipe below.

Roll out slightly – spread top with melted butter – press down the center and fold over double. Brush melted butter over the top – let rise until doubles.

Bake in moderate oven- 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. When cool dust with powdered sugar.


This makes a DOUBLE RECIPE – so take half of everything if you want to experiment first.

4 lbs flour (16 cups)
2 pints of milk
2 tsp salt + ½ tsp. nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon
2 ounces (4 cakes) yeast
2 cups of sugar
8 whole eggs
2 lbs. butter – softened
½ cup raisins
½ cup rum
1 cup of slivered almonds
1grated lemon (rinds)
1 cup mixed dried fruit


For the Filling:

6 tablespoons butter, melted
6 teaspoons ground cinnamon
8 tablespoons granulated sugar

Shape and Fill: Roll the divided dough into 9 by 13-inch ovals. Brush the melted butter over the top of the oval(s). Combine the cinnamon and granulated sugar and sprinkle over one lengthwise half of the oval(s). Fold the dough in half lengthwise and carefully lift the bread(s) onto a parchment-lined or well-greased baking sheet. Press lightly on the folded side to help the loaf keep its shape during rising and baking.

Variation: Place three ounces of almond paste or marzipan between two pieces of waxed paper. Roll into the lengthwise shape of half the oval. Omit the butter and cinnamon-sugar filling. Place the marzipan on half of the oval and fold the dough in half. Let rise and bake as directed below.

Second rise: Cover and let rise for 45 minutes.

Preheat oven: About 10 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Bake and cool: Bake in moderate oven- 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. until the internal temperature of the bread reaches 190 degrees F. Immediately remove from the baking sheet and place on a rack to cool.

To serve: Sprinkle heavily with confectioners' sugar just before serving.

Donna Alward said...

Ooooh! Am copying and pasting! Thanks!