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I’ve made stollen almost every Christmas of my married life since I can remember.
Sometimes, feeling lazy, I have skipped a year, only to be greeted by whimpering, pathetic expressions of disappointment from Man of the House. Little man of the house was always too busy opening presents to notice the absence of this rich, buttery bread packed with almonds, candied orange peel, raisins, and other dried fruit.
MAKING MY OWN FAMILY TRADITION
I’d like to say I grew up with this tradition, but my mom, who hated to cook, let alone bake, was too busy managing four kids to take a stab at it. So, I have created my own tradition for our little family.
We always open one present each on Christmas Eve accompanied by a glass of champagne for the grownups, and a slice of stollen. Christmas morning presents cannot start without coffee and a plate of sliced stollen, either. At some point, I started making smaller stollen to give to special friends, too.
MAKE-AHEAD STOLLEN IS THE BEST STOLLEN
The dough for this stollen is like soft, buttery bread dough, and though you fill it with dried fruits and almonds, it is not as dense or leaden as a fruitcake.
If you plan to make stollen for Christmas, be sure to allow time for it to rest and mellow for a few days (or up to two weeks) before digging in or giving it as a gift. The fruit takes some time to infuse its flavor into the bread and adds important moisture during the mellowing period.
It’s a wonderful food gift, and a great way to get into the holiday spirit before the actual crush begins.
I hope you enjoy this recipe for four small breads. (Don’t worry—they are baked on a sheet pan, so you don’t need to have a cupboard full of loaf pans to make them.) Perhaps you will start a tradition of your own.
WHAT IS STOLLEN?
Stollen is a German Christmas bread chock full of dried fruit, candied peel, and almonds. Its tradition dates back several centuries, the most famous loaf coming from Dresden.
It is made with a sweet, buttery yeast dough and sweet spices such as nutmeg, mace, cloves, and ginger. The oval shape, formed by folding the dough so one side slightly leaves a gap on top of the loaf is, sometimes, said to signify baby Jesus in swaddling clothes.
It’s baked on a baking sheet, so you don’t need any special equipment to make stollen.
Before serving, the loaf is showered with a thick blanket of powdered sugar, making it look wonderfully festive and Christmas-y to the max.
DRIED FRUIT FOR STOLLEN
Dried fruit and candied peel are the hallmarks of stollen. Not only are they delicious, but they keep the bread from drying out as it mellows with time (usually up to two weeks).
Typical fruits include candied orange and lemon peel, currants, and dark and golden raisins. However, there are many options to choose from to personalize your stollen. For this recipe, you will need 2 1/3 cups mixed dried fruit and citrus peel. The fruits below are a good guideline, but feel free to substitute your own preferred fruits if you can’t find them.
I happen to love candied peel, but unless I make it myself (which I gave up on years ago) or can find a good quality brand, I substitute diced dried apricots, which are also tart and add color.
To ensure the fruits impart moisture to the stollen, the fruits are plumped by an overnight soak in rum (Myer’s Dark Rum is my favorite) or brandy. You can soak them overnight, or if you forget (that would me) you can take the shortcut of heating the fruit and liquid in the microwave and letting them soak while the sponge rises.
YEAST AND THE SPONGE METHOD
I am a big fan of the SAF Gold Instant Yeast because it can be mixed directly into the flour without proofing (dissolving in liquid before using).
However, if you do not bake bread often, you can use either packets of instant yeast (also known as rapid rise) or you can hydrate a packet of active dry yeast in liquid before mixing it with the dry ingredients, though many say you don’t need to hydrate active dry yeast anymore. Instant yeast and active dry yeast are interchangeable in terms of amount needed for this recipe.
If you think your yeast might be old, it would still be a good idea to proof it in warm water with a bit of sugar. For more on that, read this article on King Arthur Flour.
As a precursor to mixing the dough, this recipe calls for a sponge or ‘pre-ferment,’ which is a mixture of all the liquid, the yeast, and some of the flour to make a batter-like consistency that is left to rise before being mixed into the final dough. The purpose of the sponge is to add a more complex flavor to the finished bread and also to activate enzymes needed to help the dough rise.
DON’T KILL YOUR YEAST
When making bread, the yeast is normally blended with warm milk or water to give it a boost to activate it. The liquid should be warm (100º to 110ºF, slightly warmer than body temperature), but not hot. Yeast begins to die if liquid reaches 120ºF or higher.
HOW TO MAKE A PROOF BOX
That warm place for bread? It doesn’t exist in my kitchen! For anyone living in a cold climate, getting yeasted breads to rise in your chilly kitchen in winter can take a lonnggg time.
One solution is to place a pan of warm water (like a loaf pan) in the bottom of the oven. Heat the oven to its lowest setting and then turn it off and let it cool to about 80 degrees (it should just feel warm, not hot, when you place your hand in it). Place the dough bowl in the oven until it rises.
HOW TO GIFT WRAP STOLLEN
On the day you are giving the gift:
- Dust the stollen very generously with powdered sugar and enclose it first in plastic wrap and then in clear cellophane. Don’t do this too far ahead, since the sugar tends to melt into the butter and doesn’t look as pretty.
- Seal with clear packing tape on the bottom and tie up with wide ribbon. Or wrap in plastic and then parchment or brown paper tied with baker’s twine.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH STOLLEN?
Stollen is really an all-purpose holiday treat. You could pull it out after a meal for a festive punctuation to supper when you don’t want something too sweet. Or serve it with a glass of bubbly for a Christmas Eve toast.
It’s also good with tea or coffee just about anytime you want a snack, and of course, you can serve it like we do in our house, with coffee on Christmas morning. Butter and jam, optional!
STORING AND FREEZING STOLLEN
When the stollen comes out of the oven, brush it while warm with melted butter and a coating of spiced-infused granulated sugar.
Once it is completely cool, wrap it well in plastic wrap and then in foil and let it cure for at least two days. If you are going to store it longer (up to two weeks), place the wrapped loaf in a tin or a plastic container. As the bread sits, the moisture from the fruit permeates the bread. Before serving, dust it generously with powdered sugar and slice it.
To freeze stollen, wrap in plastic, and then in foil, and freeze for up to three months. Defrost overnight on the countertop. Dust with confectioner’s sugar just before serving.
MORE GREAT HOLIDAY TREATS
- St. Lucia Saffron Buns
- Cranberry Orange Nut Bread
- Swedish Coffee Bread (Tea Ring)
- Cranberry Upside-Down Cake
- Our Favorite Holiday Fruitcake
Julia Gartland for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Michelle Gatton.
- ⅔ cup black raisins
- ⅔ cup golden raisins
- ½ cup dried cherries
- ⅓ cup dark rum
- 1 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
- 1 package active dry yeast (1/4 ounce)
- ½ cup milk, at room temperature
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 ¾ teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
- ½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped and reserved
- 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 large egg yolk
- ½ cup chopped candied ginger
- ½ cup mixed candied citrus peel (optional, see note)
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Nutritional analysis per serving (26 servings)
- The night before baking, mix raisins, cherries and rum in a small container. Mix almonds with 1/4 cup water in another container. Cover both and let sit overnight at room temperature.
- The next day, in an electric mixer with paddle, set on low speed, mix yeast with milk until dissolved. Add 1 cup flour and mix until a soft, sticky dough forms, about 2 minutes. This is the “starter.” Transfer starter to a lightly greased bowl, cover with greased plastic, and let rest for 40 minutes at room temperature.
- In an electric mixer with paddle and set on low speed, mix remaining 3 cups of flour, 3 tablespoons of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, lemon zest and vanilla seeds. With motor running, pour in 1 cup melted butter. Mix on slow for 1 minute, then add egg yolk. Mix until liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute more.
- Divide starter dough into 3 pieces. Add starter to mixture in bowl, 1 piece at a time, mixing on slow until each addition is thoroughly combined, 2 to 3 minutes after each addition. After starter is absorbed, mix dough on a medium speed until glossy, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add almonds, candied ginger and citrus peel if using, and mix on slow until combined, 2 to 3 minutes. Add raisins, cherries, and rum and mix on slow until combined, 2 to 3 minutes more.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until fruit and nuts are inside dough rather than stuck on surface, and dough is smooth and glossy, about 5 minutes. Place dough in a medium bowl and cover with plastic. Rest for 1 hour to let rise slightly. Then knead it once or twice, cover with plastic and let rest for another hour.
- Divide into 2 equal pieces and shape each into an oval loaf about 8 inches long. Stack 2 rimmed baking sheets on top of each other, lining top pan with parchment. Place loaves on doubled pans and cover with plastic. Allow loaves to rest 1 more hour at room temperature.
- About 20 minutes before this rise is completed, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove plastic covering loaves and bake for about 1 hour. Loaves should look uniformly dark golden brown and internal temperature taken from middle of each loaf should be 190 degrees.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the remaining 3/4 cup sugar and 2 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger. When stollen is done, transfer top pan holding loaves to a wire rack (leave stollen on pan). While still hot, brush stollen with remaining 1 cup of melted butter, letting butter soak into loaves. Sprinkle ginger sugar on tops and sides of loaves. When loaves are completely cool, cover loosely with waxed or parchment paper or foil and let sit at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight.
- The next day, sift 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar over loaves, rolling to coat bottom and sides evenly with sugar. Wrap each loaf in plastic and let sit at room temperature for at least 2 days before sifting remaining 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar over loaves and serving.
If you can’t find (or do not like) candied citrus peel, substitute an extra 1/2 cup candied ginger.
- 3 packages active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water (100 degrees to 110 degrees)
- 11 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground mace
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 cups milk, warmed
- 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) plus 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for bowl
- 6 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 1/4 cups currants
- 1/2 cup Cognac
- 2 1/2 cups golden raisins
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- Peel of 4 oranges, diced
- Grated zest of 2 lemons
- 1/2 pound citron, diced
- 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
- 2 1/2 cups blanched almonds, chopped
- Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
In a small bowl, combine yeast and 1/2 cup warm water, and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Stir in milk and 1 1/4 cups melted butter. Add dissolved yeast and eggs. Turn dough out onto a floured surface, and knead until fairly smooth.
In two separate bowls, soak currants in cognac, and raisins in orange juice. Let each stand for 10 minutes.
In a medium-size bowl, mix together currants and raisins with their soaking liquids, the orange peel, lemon zest, citron, apricots, and almonds. Work mixture into dough. Continue kneading for about 10 minutes. If dough is sticky, knead in more flour, but be careful not to overwork.
Place dough in a large buttered bowl. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel, and let dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1 to 2 hours.
Punch down the dough, and cut in quarters. Roll each piece into a 12-by-8-inch rectangle. Brush with melted butter, then fold one long side to the center. Fold other long side over first side, overlapping it by 1 inch. Turn dough over, taper the ends, and place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat for remaining 3 loaves, using a second parchment-lined baking sheet for the third and fourth loaves. Cover loaves with plastic wrap let rise again in a warm place, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Heat oven to 350 degrees, with two racks centered. Bake stollen until golden brown, about 35 minutes, rotating the sheets between the racks halfway through baking. Cool on wire rack dust with confectioners' sugar, and serve.
In our home we have a few holiday classics and this traditional Christmas Stollen is something we bake every year.
You may have seen them show up in supermarkets or specialty stores. Stollen is similar to Italian panettone, just a bit denser.
If you have never tried them, you are in for a treat!
Best of all, with this recipe you can make traditional Christmas Stollen quickly and effortlessly.
Aside from flour, sugar, a pinch of salt, milk, eggs, and butter you will need a few more classic holiday ingredients.
In order to get the authentic taste, you want to add cinnamon powder and ground nutmeg to your Stollen. For the best flavor, I like to grind the latter fresh just when I am ready to bake.
Raisins are good in this recipe. However, if you want to bake a more authentic Stollen, you will want to soak your raisins in rum over night. During baking the alcohol will evaporate but still retain their rum aroma.
Chopped almonds will give this stollen bite and crunch. You could blanch, peel, and chop your own or buy them already chopped.
Candied lemon peel is an essential ingredient in this traditional Christmas Stollen recipe. While you can buy it ready-made, I prefer to make my own. They are simple to make and won’t contain questionable ingredients.
How to make the traditional Christmas Stollen:
To the bowl of a standmixer, add 3 ½ cups of flour, ½ cup of warm milk, 1 tsp dried yeast, ¼ cup of sugar, 2 tsp vanilla sugar , 1 pinch of salt, ¼ tsp of freshly ground nutmeg, 1 tsp of ground cinnamon, ¾ cup soft butter. Mix until all the ingredients are well combined.
Cover with a towel or beeswax wrap and let it sit in a warm place until the dough has visibly risen.
Now add 4 oz of candied lemon peel, 4 oz chopped almonds, and 1 cup of raisins (preferably soaked in ½ cup rum over night).
You may want to put the dough on your kitchen counter and use your hands to mix all the ingredients together.
Shaping the Stollen
Using your hands or a rolling pin, roll your Stollen into a square. You can use the rolling pin or your hands to press down the middle of your Stollen.
Optional: You can add marzipan to your Stollen. It will taste great without but we always love to add 4 oz of marzipan. If you choose to do that, roll your marzipan the same length as your Stollen and press it in the indentation.
Now fold over the Stollen about 2/3 of the way. At this point, I like to pick any raisins that are sticking out or sitting on top and press them deeply into the dough. Otherwise, they like to become black and scorched when you bake your Stollen.
Transfer the Stollen to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Cover with a tea towel and let it sit in a warm place for 30 – 60 minutes or until visibly risen.
Baking the Traditional Christmas Stollen:
Once your Stollen has risen, bake it at 320˚F for about 50 minutes.
Brushing with butter and dusting with powdered sugar:
This is another essential step in Stollen-baking. Melt about ¼ -½ cup of butter and generously brush it all over the still warm Stollen.
After that, dust your Stollen generously with powdered sugar. I like to place the powdered sugar in a small sieve and moving it around with a teaspoon, dust the Stollen.
Eating or keeping the Stollen:
I understand if you want to eat your traditional Christmas Stollen right away. We often do. It looks and smells so good, it’s hard to resist.
However, I encourage you to tightly wrap your Stollen in foil and keep it in a cool place for about 3 weeks. The flavors will develop more making your Stollen even more delicious.
Alternatively, you can double this recipe, eat one Stollen right away and keep the other one for later. Ideally, you’ll want to bake this some weeks before the holiday season so that you can can impress both your family and friends with this authentic German Christmas Stollen.
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- ⅔ cup warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
- 1 large egg
- ⅓ cup white sugar
- ½ tablespoon salt
- ⅓ cup butter, softened
- 2 ½ cups bread flour
- ⅓ cup currants
- ⅓ cup sultana raisins
- ⅓ cup red candied cherries, quartered
- ⅔ cup diced candied citron
- 6 ounces marzipan
- 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture with the egg, white sugar, salt, butter, and 2 cups bread flour beat well. Add the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the dough has begun to pull together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead in the currants, raisins, dried cherries, and citrus peel. Continue kneading until smooth, about 8 minutes.
Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the marzipan into a rope and place it in the center of the dough. Fold the dough over to cover it pinch the seams together to seal. Place the loaf, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C), and bake for a further 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow loaf to cool on a wire rack. Dust the cooled loaf with confectioners' sugar, and sprinkle with the cinnamon.
Stollen is a traditional German bread containing candied fruit and cardamom, and sometimes almonds & marzipan. This recipe, which is made in a bread machine, is very light and soft. If you are looking for a thick dense fruit cake recipe, this isn't it.
6 Tbsp butter
Microwave until butter is melted (about 1 1/2 minutes).
Pour into a bread machine pan.
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cardamom
2 3/4 c flour
2 1/4 tsp yeast (1 pckg)
When dough is done, turn onto a floured surface.
1/4 c raisins*
1/2 c candied fruit (fruit cake mix)*
Divide dough into two balls.
Shape on a cookie sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or on a greased cookie sheet.
Put a small oven proof dish of water in oven.
Bake @ 350, for 25-30 minutes.
When cool, cover with confectioner sugar.
* This amount of fruit is what was used in the photos. There will be just a few pieces of fruit per slice. If you want each slice full of fruit, add more.
- 8 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 ounces compressed fresh yeast
- 1 pinch white sugar
- 1 tablespoon lukewarm milk
- 1 ½ cups milk
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ¾ cups chopped blanched almonds
- 1 ¼ cups raisins
- 6 tablespoons candied lemon peel
- 6 tablespoons chopped candied orange peel
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
Place flour in a large bowl, make a well in the center, and crumble fresh yeast into it. Sprinkle in sugar and add 1 tablespoon milk. Cover and let rise at a warm place for 15 minutes.
Heat 1 1/2 cups milk and 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a saucepan over low heat until butter is melted.
Pour milk-butter mixture over yeast mixture and add 1 cup sugar, egg yolks, and salt. Knead until a soft dough forms. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Mix almonds, raisins, candied lemon peel, and candied orange peel together and fold into the dough. Shape dough into a loaf and place on the prepared baking sheet. Cover and let rest until the loaf has risen again slightly, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Bake in the preheated oven until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, 45 to 60 minutes. Remove from oven. Brush hot stollen immediately with 2 tablespoons melted butter and dust with confectioners' sugar.
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Baking Instructions Original Dresdner Stollen
– Place flour into a baking bowl and make mold in the middle
– Add the crumbled yeast with 2 tbsp sugar and some milk into the mold
– With some flour whisk it so you get a “starter dough”
– Cover with a clean kitchen cloth and keep at a warm place for 40-50 minutes.
– Mix flour and Starter dough with remaining milk and sugar, warm butter, lemon zest, spices and salt.
– Mix really good until the dough peels away from the inside bowl walls.
– Boil water and scald raisins, dry them on kitchen cloth or paper.
– Add raisins, currants, candied orange and lemon peel and almonds to the dough.
– Knead everything thoroughly and form a ball.
– Cover again, let sit for 30-40 minutes, dough needs to rise significantly.
– Again knead the dough very thoroughly, let rise covered for another 30-40 minutes, then form it into a Stollen.
– Preheat oven to 190-200 degrees C (375-400 F).
– Grease a baking tray with butter, place Stollen on it.
– Bake for 70-90 minutes until the surface is golden brown. If the Stollen gets brown early cover it with aluminum foil or a sheet of greased parchment paper.
– When Stollen is done brush butter onto its surface.
– Sprinkle first with coarse sugar than with a mix of vanilla sugar and powdered sugar.
Below is a video of a German bakery – the Bäckerei Ermer – where they make the Dresdner Stollen. This is in German but they don’t talk – just watch them making the most traditional Christmas cake of Germany. It’s very interesting.