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Stollen (German Christmas Bread)

This German Stollen recipe makes a rich, fruit-studded loaf that is a festive and tasty German Christmas bread, perfect for celebrating with family or bringing to a holiday party! 

This recipe for rich, fruit-studded Stollen makes a festive and tasty Christmas bread, perfect for celebrating with family or bringing to a holiday party! | www.curiouscuisiniere.com

German Stollen: An age old Christmas Bread

Stollen (pronounced SH-tohl-in) traces its history back to the 1400’s in Dresden, Germany.  However, at that time, people of the Catholic Church did not eat butter during Advent (the four weeks preceding Christmas) as a part of their fasting preparation for the special celebration of Christ’s birth. With the abstinence from butter and rich foods, early Christmas breads were made from only flour, yeast, oil, and water. A far cry from the rich, fruited bread we know today, for years Stollen was a very dry and dull bread.

Towards the end of the 1400’s, Lord Ernst of Saxony petitioned Pope Innocent VII to lift the Advent fast from butter, so that it could be used in their Christmas bread. An allowance was made, but for only Dresden, and they began the process of changing their traditional Christmas bread into the Stollen that we know today. Since the 1500’s, Stollen has been sold at the Dresden Christmas market, which is the oldest known Christmas market in Europe.

German Christmas Bread today

Today, this German Christmas bread is colorfully studded with nuts, raisins, and candied orange and lemon rind. The traditional shape and white, powdered sugar topping symbolize the Christ Child wrapped in swaddling clothes.  Another legend holds that the traditional ridge down the top of the loaves represents the humps on the backs of the camels that the Wise Men rode, carrying their gifts to the Christ Child. The candied fruits represent the precious jewels that adorned these Wise Men.

Stollen: An interesting name

Miners thought the shape of the bread looked like the tunnels of their mines, which is where the bread actually gets its name. “Stollen” literally means “tunnel.” But, as the bread gained popularity, that name stuck, becoming the common term for this fruited Christmas bread.

This recipe for rich, fruit-studded Stollen makes a festive and tasty Christmas bread, perfect for celebrating with family or bringing to a holiday party! | www.curiouscuisiniere.comOur German Stollen Recipe

Our Stollen recipe creates a rich and dense, pound cake-like bread. It is sweet and eggy, with hints of rum and a nice citrus flavor. The bursts of sweetness from the raisins and the occasional crunch of almond nuttiness give a fun mix of textures as you eat a slice and make it perfect for serving with a warm cup of coffee or spiced wine.

Making your own Candied Citrus Peel

You could use store bought candied orange and lemon peel in the bread, but we find that sometimes these can be hard to track down. And, when we do, they are inevitably highly dyed, pumped with artificial flavoring, and full of high fructose corn syrup.

It is so easy to make your own candied citrus peel at home, and there’s really no comparison to the flavor of real citrus. If you’d like to make your own, you can check our our Candied Lemon and Orange Peel Recipe. We suggest making your peel the day before you start the bread to give it a chance to dry out and cool properly.

This recipe for rich, fruit-studded Stollen makes a festive and tasty Christmas bread, perfect for celebrating with family or bringing to a holiday party! | www.curiouscuisiniere.com
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4.5 from 6 votes

Stollen (German Christmas Bread)

Yield: 1 (14-15 inch) loaf
Prep Time3 hrs 30 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time4 hrs 10 mins
Course: Bread
Cuisine: German
Servings: 10 -12 people
Author: Sarah | Curious Cuisiniere

Ingredients

For the Soaked Fruit

For the Dough

  • 2 Tbsp - ¼ c milk, warmed to 80F
  • ¼ c sugar
  • 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 3 ½ c unbleached all purpose flour
  • ½ c butter, unsalted, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ½ c almonds, chopped

Topping

  • ¼ c powdered sugar

Instructions

Day 1

  • Mix raisins, lemon peel, orange peel, lemon zest, rum, and water. Let stand overnight.

Day 2

  • Drain the raisins, reserving the soaking liquid. Place the soaking liquid in a liquid measuring cup and add milk to reach ½ c + 2 Tbsp of liquid.
  • In the bowl of a large stand mixer, fitted with a dough hook, mix together milk and fruit soaking liquid mixture, sugar, yeast, flour, softened butter, eggs, salt, and vanilla. Mix with the dough hook 7-10 minutes, until a smooth dough forms.
  • Add the drained fruit and chopped almonds. Knead on low speed until the fruit and almonds have been incorporated, 5-7 minutes. (If necessary, add a tablespoon or two of flour to help the dough come back together in a smooth ball.)
  • Take the dough hook off of the mixer and cover the dough in the bowl with a damp tea towel. Let it rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled, 2 hours.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape it by rolling it into a 12 x 8 inch rectangle (roughly ½ inch thick). Fold the two long sides towards the middle, going 1/3 of the way, so that the middle 1/3 of the bread is now slightly higher (with 3 layers of dough). Place the shaped dough onto a greased baking sheet and press the long edges slightly to accentuate the bump down the center. Cover it loosely with your damp towel and let rise one final time, until doubled, roughly 1 hour.
  • Near the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Once risen, brush the top of the dough with melted butter and bake for 40-45 minutes, until golden and hollow-sounding when tapped.
  • Once partially cooled, dust with powdered sugar. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Dust again with powdered sugar before serving.
Recipe Rating




Jenny

Monday 30th of September 2019

Cannot wait to try

Corrin

Monday 30th of December 2019

Do I activate the yeast in water or am I just pouring it in from the pack ?

Sarah Ozimek

Tuesday 1st of October 2019

Hope you enjoy the stollen!

Louisa

Friday 21st of December 2018

Am from the West Indies I use to work with in Venezuela with a German lady she uses to make it every Christmas it was the best I love it so so good

Sarah Ozimek

Saturday 22nd of December 2018

Thanks for sharing your memories Louisa! We hope you get a chance to try our recipe!

K Dawn Patten

Tuesday 11th of December 2018

Do you have Irish recipes? My husband is Irish and German and we would love some Irish recipes. Love the vast German recipes you have! I've made German Chocolate Cake for over 30 years! I started baking it for my Daddy's birthday and have continued for others birthdays.

Sarah Ozimek

Wednesday 12th of December 2018

Hi K. We do have Irish recipes! (Authentic Irish and Irish-American, in fact.) You can find the authentic Irish Recipes here: https://www.curiouscuisiniere.com/around-the-world/irish/

Darlene M. Schaperkoette

Monday 13th of August 2018

I am going to give your stollen recipe a try! Your stollen looks yummy!

Sarah Ozimek

Wednesday 15th of August 2018

Thanks Darlene. We hope you enjoy it!

Robert Stabile

Thursday 7th of December 2017

My Mother just sent me this link. I believe I will try it. Love the story behind it too. Thanks Ma! You always have submerged me in culture(s) I am 48 and still learning new things from you. Couldn't ask for a more intelligent and knowledgeable person to call Ma. I love you.

I love the IDEA of giving something like this as a gift with a little card attached with the brief story told above. The only problem I have with gifting something like this is I see the love and labor time and money that goes into giving such a wonderful gift and it is in most cases under or not at all appreciated.

This year for a select for my wife will go through the time of making 4 bowl size loaves of cracked wheat bread (another recipe from my Mom thanks Ma) and will be making her vegetable beef stew. Then add 4 jars of this homemade delight for each bread bowl and give them to the few people we know will appreciate the time and effort that will go into each basket. Maybe after I show her this recipe she may add it to the basket.

Anyway Merry Christmas one and all, and thank you Ma for being so AWESOME!

Sarah Ozimek

Monday 11th of December 2017

These loaves would make a great gift! Putting the time into a gift basket like that is such a wonderful way to show you care! Merry Christmas!