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. Let's jump in and learn how to make a perfect loaf!
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What is stollen?
It is a sweet yeast bread enriched with dried fruit and nuts and traditionally filled with marzipan. The crust is coated in butter and sugar to preserve its freshness. The loaf is served in slices, and is enjoyed at Christmastime.
What does it taste like?
It tastes similar to a light fruitcake, since it contains lots of dried fruit, nuts, and marzipan, like fruitcake. However, it definitely tastes like bread. Since this is a European dessert, it's not as sweet as American desserts.
Is stollen the same as fruitcake?
No. Despite the fact that they contain many of the same ingredients, they are actually very different. Stollen is a sweet yeast bread, while fruitcake is a dense cake. Also, the marzipan is inside of stollen, while it's on the outside of a fruitcake.
Why is it called stollen?
Stollen is a word referring to a guidepost or stone marking the boundaries of a city. This bread may have gotten its name because it resembled these stones.
How to Pronounce Stollen
The name is pronounced differently, depending upon the country. The traditional German way to say it is SHTALL-in. In the US, it's pronounced STOLE-in, and in the UK it's STALL-in. Listen to the US and UK pronunciations.
When is it traditionally eaten in Germany?
It is served around Christmas in Germany. It has been served at Christmas since the 1300s.
Does it have marzipan?
Traditional stollen does contain marzipan. Don't use almond paste, as it is not the same as marzipan. Make your own marzipan with just a few simple ingredients; it's cheaper than buying it ready made.
What do you eat it with?
Stollen is traditionally enjoyed at breakfast, often with a cup of coffee. It can be toasted or served warm as well. Feel free to spread some butter or jam on top if you like.
How long can you keep homemade stollen?
It can keep for up to 2 weeks at room temperature, as long as it is well wrapped in plastic wrap. Do not refrigerate it, as it will make the bread go stale. For longer storage, follow the freezing instructions below.
Can you freeze it?
Yes, it freezes very well. For ease, pre-slice it, then seal it inside of a zip-top plastic freezer bag. Freeze for up to 1 month, then defrost at room temperature or in the microwave. Alternatively, you can toast it.
How to Make
Gather the ingredients. You'll need bread flour, yeast, salt, sugar, egg, butter, milk, vanilla, lemon zest, and orange juice. You'll also need raisins, currants, mixed peel, sliced almonds, and marzipan.
Mix together the dried fruit and nuts with the orange juice until well mixed. Set it aside until later.
Pour the flour into a bowl and mix in the salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bowl. You don't want the salt to touch the yeast, as it can kill the yeast.
Mix in the sugar, then add the warm milk, egg, orange zest, and vanilla.
Mix until the dough is smooth and slightly sticky, making sure that all the flour is picked up from the bowl.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it prove for 40 minutes. It should noticeably increase in size.
Melt the butter and gradually add it to the dough, mixing well between each addition. The dough should be smooth when all the butter is added.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap, then let it prove until at least doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Knead the fruit mixture into the dough using a stand mixer.
Cover the dough again and let it prove for 30 minutes.
Punch down the dough and roll it out into a rectangle about 12 inches long and 8 inches wide. Place the bread dough on a cookie sheet.
Roll out the marzipan to a small rectangle.
Place the marzipan on the dough and fold the dough in half to cover the marzipan.
Cover the loaf with plastic wrap and let it prove until the dough is springy to the touch, about 30 minutes.
Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes, then bake at 375 F for 40 minutes. Cover the bread with foil if it's getting too dark.
Generously brush the bread with melted butter.
Liberally dust the stollen with powdered sugar to coat. This coating helps keep the bread moist and fresh.
Let the stollen cool completely, then slice and serve.
- Use a kitchen scale to quickly and accurately measure the ingredients. It will also save you from dirtying more dishes.
- Always use bread flour. All-purpose flour lacks the protein content needed to create the right texture.
- Want smaller loaves? Divide the dough and marzipan into two or three equal pieces.
- Use a thermometer to see if it is cooked. It should have an internal temperature of 190 F.
- Brush the stollen with real butter, then dust generously with powdered sugar. This is an important step, as it keeps the stollen fresh for longer.
- Let the bread cool completely before slicing and serving. It needs time to finish cooking through.
- Freeze leftovers. Never refrigerate it, as that will make it go stale and dry.
- Digital Kitchen Scale: a scale is the fastest and most accurate way to measure ingredients.
- Digital Thermometer: you'll always be able to see if your bread is cooked with this thermometer.
- Wilton Cookie Sheets: these sturdy cookie sheets are my favorite! They bake evenly.
- Wire Cooling Racks: these metal cooling racks keep the bread from getting soggy as it cools.
Other Christmas Breads
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German Christmas Stollen Recipe
For the Dough
- ⅔ cup raisins
- ½ cup dried currants
- ¼ cup sliced almonds
- ⅔ cup mixed peel, finely diced
- 3 tablespoons orange juice
- 5 cups bread flour
- 4 teaspoons fast-action yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup caster sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- ⅔ cup unsalted butter, melted
- 12 ounces marzipan
For the Decoration
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- ¼ cup icing sugar
Making the Dough (45 min + 2 hrs 10 min proving)
- Stir together the raisins, dried currants, chopped peel, sliced almonds, and orange juice until well mixed. Leave to soak while you make the bread 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. Mix in the sugar.
- Dump in the warmed milk, orange zest, vanilla, and egg, and bring the mix together with your hand. The dough may be dry at this stage, but don't add any additional liquid to it.
- Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it prove at room temperature for 40 minutes.
- Put the butter in a saucepan set over low heat until melted.
- 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.
- Cover the dough with plastic wrap again and let it prove for 1 hour.
- Place the dough in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the soaked fruit mixture and mix on medium-low speed until evenly mixed. If you don't have a stand mixer, you can do this step by hand.
- Let the dough rest for 30 minutes covered with plastic wrap.
Shaping the Stollen (10 min + 30 min proving)
- Turn out the 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 8 inches wide. Place the bread dough on an 11x17-inch cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
- 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 over the long side of the oval so the dough is folded in half lengthwise. The marzipan should be covered by the dough.
- Cover the stollen with a piece of plastic wrap and let it prove until the dough springs back when gently pressed, about 30 minutes.
Baking the Stollen (1 hr)
- Towards the end of the final prove, preheat your oven to 400 F.
- Cook 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 the loaf until it's golden brown and has an internal temperature of about 190 F, about 40 minutes. Once the bread is nicely browned, cover it with aluminum foil.
- Let the stollen cool for 10 minutes on the tray, then transfer it to a wire rack to cool.
Decorating the Stollen (10 min)
- While the loaf is still hot, brush on a generous coating of melted butter and sift a thick coating of icing sugar on top. This coating looks pretty and seals the loaf, preventing it from drying out too quickly.
- Let the loaf cool completely, then slice and serve with soft butter.
- Measure ingredients quickly and accurately with a kitchen scale.
- Use bread flour and not all-purpose flour for the best rise and texture.
- Want smaller loaves? Divide the dough and marzipan into two or three equal pieces.
- Don't skip the butter and sugar coating on the outside of the stollen. This helps keep it fresh.
- Leftovers freeze well for up to 1 month and taste great toasted.
This recipe was originally published on August 24, 2017.