Having visited my great grandmother, Omi, in Germany multiple times growing up, I’ve always had a special connection to German baked goods. While I have yet to find the perfect German pretzel in the U.S. or a recipe that yields a decent replica, I have discovered that stollen — a traditional German Christmas bread — is relatively easy to recreate in my own kitchen.
Pronounced “sh-toll-uhn,” stollen is a fruit and nut bread that is baked in a log-shape and coated in powdered sugar. The bread is traditionally left to sit out at room temperature — covered in powdered sugar and plastic wrap or foil — for two weeks before enjoying to allow the flavors to continue to develop. I am often so excited for the stollen that the longest I let it sit after baking is just long enough for the bread to cool. Stollen pairs beautifully with a warm cup of coffee or tea and is the perfect breakfast or afternoon snack.
The most popular variety of stollen originates from Dresden, Germany. While stollen is available in some grocery stores such as Trader Joe’s and Lidl, the store-bought stollen simply does not compare to homemade let alone authentic German-bakery-made stollen. This recipe is an adaptation from Binging with Babish’s recipe, with technique notes taken from My German Recipes YouTube video.
Prep time: 4 hours
Bake time: 45 minutes
Yields: 2 large loaves
- 2 oranges, peeled and sliced
- 4 lemons, peeled and sliced
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup raisins
- 1 cup slivered almonds
- 100ml dark rum or orange juice
- 1 cup lukewarm milk
- 2½ cups granulated sugar plus extra for candied peel
- 3 teaspoons instant yeast
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1½ sticks softened unsalted butter
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 large egg plus 2 large egg yolks
- 1 stick melted butter
- powdered sugar
- Make candied peels by boiling orange and lemon peels in water once for 15 minutes, draining then boiling again for 15 minutes or until translucent. Dissolve 2 cups granulated sugar in 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Add drained twice-boiled peels and allow to simmer for 45 minutes. Immediately toss peels in a bowl of granulated sugar to fully coat then allow to cool on a wire rack for at least 24 hours.
- In a resealable container, combine the raisins, slivered almonds, diced candied peel and dark rum or orange juice. Toss to evenly coat the mix-ins and allow to rest overnight.
- Combine 1 cup of lukewarm milk with ⅛ cup granulated sugar and 3 teaspoon instant yeast. Whisk together and allow to sit at room temperature until foaming, about 10 minutes.
- In a large bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together flour, 1⅞ cups granulated sugar, kosher salt, cinnamon and cardamom.
- Add the yeast mixture, vanilla extract, softened butter, lemon zest, an egg and egg yolks to the dry ingredients. Mix together using a dough hook on medium speed for 5-8 minutes. Remove dough from the stand mixer and place into a lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic film and let rest at room temperature for 90 minutes.
- Place dough back into the bowl of the stand mixer and add drained soaked fruit and nut mixture. With the dough hook attachment, knead until combined. If the dough is slightly too moist, add flour one tablespoon at a time until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
- Onto a heavily floured surface, divide the dough into two equal portions. Lightly flour the halves and roll into 14” long ovals.
- Fold one of the long sides of the oval not fully over the other side. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for another 90 minutes.
- Place loaves into a 350°F oven for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown and gently puffed up.
- Place stollens on a wire rack and poke holes across the top of the loaf with a toothpick. Generously spoon melted butter over the loaves while still warm. Sprinkle with plenty of powdered sugar and let cool completely.
- Enjoy stollen right away or wrap tightly in plastic film then foil, with additional powdered sugar, and allow to rest at room temperature for 2 weeks before consuming.
Stollen is a dense, enriched bread with savory notes from the raisin and almond mix-ins balanced well with a thick coating of powdered sugar over the entire loaf. Somewhat crumbly in texture, a sturdy slice of stollen layered with a smooth pat of salted butter makes for a delightful and cozy winter breakfast.
This stollen recipe is very forgiving and is perfect for bakers interested in trying out a more advanced recipe to take their baking to the next level. Finished stollens are sophisticated and impressive and often successful on the first try, which makes a fan of the Great British Baking Show like myself feel rather accomplished in my own kitchen.
This year I doubled the recipe and made mini stollens to give to friends and neighbors. Since stollens are baked as loaves and coated in as much powdered sugar as possible, presentation is simple as they look great in boxes or cellophane bags tied with a ribbon.
Baking stollen for my family is my favorite holiday tradition. Its unique texture and flavor combination is unparalleled by any other seasonal treats, and its nostalgic qualities make stollen all the more special. I highly encourage bakers of all skill levels to give baking stollen a try — you will not be disappointed, and this just might become your new favorite holiday bake.