Orchard Hill Bread Works in East Alstead, NH makes a Stollen for the holidays that is not like anything else you have ever had. It is not a sweet cake like the Stollen you buy from abroad, nor chock full of fruit and nuts like one you might make at home. Rather, it is BREAD!
Orchard Hill Bread Works Stollen ingredients: organic bread flour, organic milk, organic raisins (soaked in rum), butter, eggs, sugar, dried cranberries (soaked in orange juice), almonds, golden raisins, spices, salt, yeast.
It is BREAD, redolent in flavors of the holiday. I smell and then taste cinnamon. There is the crunch of almonds. The sudden sweetness of pure almond paste. Not to be toasted in a toaster, this is a bread that deserves to be gently warmed in the oven, then showered with powdered sugar before slicing and serving with sweet butter.
Have you ever seen bread look like this? Inspired. I am on my way to the kitchen after this post. I have already had it toasted with butter. Now I am going to soak it a little in an egg bath to make French toast for breakfast. Maybe a slurry of maple syrup drizzle on top. Maybe a flurry of cinnamon and powdered sugar.
I think this would be a great holiday gift to send to friends, and there is still time to order it for Noah to bake you some and send them out. Who is Noah??? This is the best part. He is an artisanal bread baker living on a farm tucked into the green rolling hills of Western New Hampshire. He makes his loaves with only the best organic ingredients, crafting them by hand, one by one, and baking them in his amazing oven.
Here is Noah. It's always nice, in today's anonymous world, to see who is making your food.
I met him when I fell in love with his bread and asked New Hampshire magazine if I could do a feature on him (which you can read here). I only eat his bread now. After seeing his bakery and talking to him and watching his lovely daughter make cookies for sale in his little shop on the farm and tasting each and every one of his heavenly loaves—I am a firm and perhaps cool-aid kind of follower, supporter, and foodie groupie.
If you make the pilgrimage in person, enter the barn and find his newly baked rustic loaves stacked and ready for sale. My favorites, although all of them warm my heart and have a place of honor on my table, are the Kalamata Olive and Rosemary Bread, the 4 Seed Sunny Flax, and the ever changing roster of specialty breads linked to the seasons or holidays. Now it is his inspired Holiday Stollen. During Thanksgiving week it was his Onion Cracked Pepper & Parmesan bread. And I love the hearty goodness of his Whole Spelt bread and Current Rye.
I thought I would never find bread again as good as the bread baked by my village baker in the south of France. Although it was slightly too long and slightly blackened from a very hot wood fire, it was almost eaten by the time I would walk back to my house with it. It was divine. Now I have found another form of divinity baked by my New Hampshire baker down the road. A baker that suppports his neighboring farms, embodies the ideals of a local family food business of the highest quality, a baker who delights at watching and guiding his daughter while she hand fashions cookies to sell in their shop, a baker who is setting the bar incredibly high for anyone following in his footsteps.
So in this holiday season, when I so yearn to celebrate the homey real values of the connection between family, friends and food, I bring you Orchard Hill Breadworks. I know I am sharing with you something special. Because that is what people who love food do.
BREAD: Holiday Stollen - To order your Stollen from Orchard Hill Breadworks, you can call Noah at: 603-835-7845. Or you can email him at: http://www.orchardhillbreadworks.com