Stollen is a classic German Christmas bread well-loved by many people throughout the world. There’s good reason why it’s so popular! It’s chock full of dried fruit, mixed peel, and marzipan. These fantastic festive ingredients that come together to make a lovely Christmas loaf.
I’ve heard about stollen for about a year, but have never made it until this August. It took me a little while to find an authentic German recipe, but finally I found one on A Sausage Has Two, a blog about German produce and cuisine. This recipe’s method for making the dough is quite different from the usual way I make bread, so I preserved many of those techniques in my recipe below. For example, the butter is added after the dough has already been proving for 40 minutes! Since I’m not German, nor a professional baker, I wanted to make sure I was doing things true to tradition.
An interesting historical tidbit is that the loaf of stollen represents baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes. The folded-over shape of the loaf reminds me of the folds of fabric, and the crust of butter and sugar on the outside of the bread covers it like swaddling clothes would.
I encourage you to make this delicious holiday bread sometime during the Christmas season. What a special bread to remind us of Jesus’ love for us!
A classic German Christmas bread, stollen is a delicious loaf packed with dried fruit, mixed peel, marzipan, and orange zest.
For the Dough
- 6 cups bread flour (600g)
- 4 tsp fast-action yeast (12g)
- 1/4 tsp. fine salt
- 1/4 cup caster sugar (50g)
- Zest of 1 large orange
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- about 1 1/2 cup milk, warmed to 110-115 F (375 ml)
- 14 Tbsp unsalted butter (200g)
- 2/3 cup raisins (100g)
- 1/2 cup dried currants (85g)
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds (50g)
- 2/3 cup mixed peel, chopped (75g)
- 3 Tbsp orange juice
- 12 ounces marzipan (350g)
For the Decoration
- 7 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted (100g)
- 3/4 cup icing sugar (100g)
Preparing the Fruit & Peel
- Combine the raisins, dried currants, chopped peel, and sliced almonds in a medium bowl. Stir in the orange juice until well mixed.
- Leave to soak while you make the bread dough.
Making the Dough
- Pour the flour into a large bowl, adding the yeast and salt on opposite sides of the bowl. Stir in each one with your finger. Add the sugar, and stir the whole mix with your hand.
- Dump in the warmed milk, orange zest, vanilla, and egg, and bring the mix together with your hand. The dough will be very dry at this stage. Do not be tempted to add any additional liquid to it.
- Rest #1: Let the dough rest for 40 minutes covered with plastic wrap.
- Over a saucepan over low heat, melt the unsalted butter, making sure its temperature doesn’t exceed 115 F.
- Gradually add the melted butter to the dough, squeezing and crushing the dough with your hand to incorporate. Once all of the butter is added, knead until all the butter is evenly distributed. The dough will not be smooth, but don’t worry.
- Rest #2: Let the dough rest for 30 minutes covered with plastic wrap.
- Turn your dough out onto a clean surface. You will find the dough to be more smooth now. Knead in the soaked dried fruit a little at a time, and continue kneading until it is evenly mixed.
- Rest #3: Let the dough rest for 30 minutes covered with plastic wrap.
Shaping the Loaf
- Turn out your risen dough onto a lightly floured surface. Punch it down all over to knock out any large air pockets.
- Roll out the dough into an oval about 12 inches long and 6-8 inches wide. Don’t roll out the dough thinly, though.
- On a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar, roll out the marzipan to an oval slightly smaller than the bread dough. Lay it on top of the bread.
- Fold the long side of the oval not quite half way over. The folded-over dough should not quite reach the edge of the bottom of the dough. Transfer the stollen to a large baking stone and cover with plastic wrap.
- Rest #4: Let the stollen prove for 30 minutes, or until well risen. The dough should spring back when gently pressed.
Baking the Stollen
- Towards the end of the final prove, preheat your oven to 400 F.
- Bake the stollen in the middle of the oven for about 15 minutes at 400 F. Without opening the oven door, lower the temperature to 375 F and bake until golden brown and the loaf has an internal temperature of about 190 F, about 45-60 minutes. If the loaf gets too dark in the oven, cover it with aluminum foil.
- Let the stollen cool for 10 minutes on the baking stone, then transfer to wire racks to cool just a little.
Decorating the Stollen
- Melt the 7 Tbsp. of unsalted butter. Measure the icing sugar into a bowl and set aside.
- While the loaf is still hot, brush on a generous coating of melted butter. Sift on a thick coating of icing sugar on top. Repeat until you have used all of the butter and sugar. This helps seal the loaf and prevent it from drying out as quickly.
- Let the loaf cool completely, then slice and serve with soft butter.