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Traditional German Christmas Stollen

German Christmas Stollen is always a real treat during the holiday season. Made from an enriched yeast dough, loaded with rum-soaked fruit and candied peel, Stollen is delicious served with a cup of coffee or a warming mug of Glühwein.

Christmas in Germany is all about delicious baked goods, as far as I’m concerned. Perfect Christmas cookies, marzipan, truffles and, of course, German Christmas Stollen.

In recent years, Stollen has become famous all over the world. This delicious Christmas treat is simple to bake at home and makes a fabulous Christmas gift.

Sliced German Stollen on a cutting board with a knife and dried fruit.

What is Stollen?

Stollen is an enriched yeast bread with dried fruit and often marzipan. This baked treat from Germany is rich and moist, a little like a cross between a traditional Christmas cake and a fruit bread.

Stollen is always served at Christmas time, and baking a loaf has become a favourite holiday tradition in my home.

Sometimes known as Christstollen (Christ Stollen) or Weihnachtstollen (Christmas Stollen), has been baked in Dresden and Saxony since at least 1474.

Fun fact: At the annual Stollen festival, the bakers of Dresden bake a giant Stollen weighing over three tonnes!

Ingredients

Stollen was originally a much plainer bread, but now it is made with lots of fillings. To bake my easy homemade Stollen, you’ll need the following main ingredients:

  • Dried Fruit: Stollen dough is not particularly sweet, so most of the sweetness comes from a rum-soaked dried fruit mixture. Traditionally, raisins, currants, candied orange peel (Orangeat) and candied lemon peel (Zitronat) are used. In addition, I like to include dried apricots for extra flavour. If you don’t like candied citrus peel, replace it with other dried fruit.
  • Flour and sugar: Plain or all-purpose flour and white sugar are best in this recipe.
  • Yeast: In Germany, we often use fresh yeast for baking, but dried yeast will work just as well. If you are using fresh yeast, you’ll need 21g or half a cube for this recipe.
  • Spices: Like many breads and sweets from Medieval times, Stollen has plenty of spices. Common spices used are cloves, cardamom, nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon. You can mix and match to suit what you have on hand.
  • Almonds: Sliced or slivered almonds add a lovely crunch to the finished product.
  • Marzipan: Marzipan adds richness and moistness to Stollen, which can sometimes be a little dry without it. 
  • Powdered Sugar: Stollen is always coated in a thick layer of powdered sugar or icing sugar before slicing and serving.

How to make Stollen

Making Stollen is much more straightforward than you may think. There is only a little hands-on time, as most of the cooking time is spent waiting for the dough to rise.

  • First, soak your chosen fruit in rum or brandy. For a non-alcoholic version, soak the fruit in orange or apple juice.
  • Next, make a simple enriched dough. It’s easiest to use a stand mixer with the dough hook attached for this as the dough is very wet and soft. If you don’t have a stand mixer, roll up your sleeves and use a large mixing bowl and a wooden spoon to stir the dough instead. Free workout!
  • After allowing the dough an hour or so to rise (all that butter makes the yeast *very* sleepy), roll the dough out to a large oval. Top it with marzipan and fold the dough into the classic Stollen shape.
  • When the dough has been shaped, it needs to rise for another half an hour, then baked until golden brown. After baking, brush the Stollen generously with melted butter, sprinkle over plenty of sugar and allow to cool.
  • While Stollen can be eaten within a day or two, like Christmas cake, it is best if left to mature for a week or two before eating.
Freshly baked Stollen on a baking tray.

How to store Stollen

Stollen should be wrapped in foil and then stored in an airtight container in a cool place until you are ready to serve it.

How to serve Stollen

Before serving, dust Stollen generously with a thick coating of powdered or icing sugar. Use a sharp knife to cut slices and serve with a cup of coffee or a mug of warming Glühwein.

Christmas Stollen sliced and on a cutting board.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Is it normal for Stollen dough to not rise very much?

Yes! This is a very rich dough, meaning the yeast has to work hard to make it rise. The finished product should be dense and a little more fruit cake-like than anything else, so don’t worry too much if it isn’t light and fluffy.

Can Stollen be frozen?

Yes, though it can make it a little dry. As long as the baked loaf is wrapped and stored in a cool place, you should have several weeks of shelf life.

Can I make Stollen without marzipan?

Yes. However, it adds moisture to the bread, so I recommend making it with marzipan.

More German Christmas recipes

Try some of my other favourite German Christmas recipes like Spitzbuben Cookies or Vanillekipferl!

Close up of sliced German Christmas Stollen.

German Stollen Recipe

Sliced German Stollen on a cutting board with a knife and dried fruit.

Traditional German Christmas Stollen

Yield: 1 large loaf
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Rising Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes

German Christmas Stollen is always a real treat during the holiday season. Made from an enriched yeast dough, loaded with rum-soaked fruit and candied peel, Stollen is delicious served with a cup of coffee or a warming mug of Glühwein.

Ingredients

for the fruit:

  • 125g (4.5 oz.) raisins or sultanas
  • 50g (1.75 oz.) currants
  • 50g (1.75 oz.) candied peel, diced
  • 50g (1.75 oz.) dried apricots, diced
  • 50ml (3-4 Tbsp) rum

for the Stollen dough:

  • 300g (2 ½ cups) plain or all-purpose flour
  • 50g (1/4 cup) sugar
  • 7g (1 sachet) active dry yeast
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) milk, lukewarm
  • 125g (1 stick + 1 Tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 50g (1.75 oz.) sliced almonds
  • 150g (5.25 oz.) marzipan

after baking:

  • 30g (2 Tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp white sugar
  • 100g (¾ cup) powdered or icing sugar

Instructions

  1. SOAK THE FRUIT: Up to 2 days and at least 1 hour before baking, stir together the fruit and rum in a small container. Cover and keep in the fridge until needed.
  2. MAKE THE DOUGH: In the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment fitted, combine the flour, sugar, yeast, salt and spices. Add the milk, butter, egg yolk, vanilla and lemon zest and knead for 5 minutes until you have a smooth dough. (See notes)
  3. ADD THE FRUIT: Drain the fruit of any liquid and add the bowl along with the almonds. Mix until combined, then use lightly floured hands to knead into a smooth ball. Cover and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1-1.5 hours.
  4. SHAPE THE DOUGH: When the dough has risen, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to a long oval. Shape the marzipan into a long sausage shape, and lay it along one side of the dough. Fold the dough over the top, pressing down with the side of your hand to seal the join. Transfer dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with clingfilm and allow to rise for 30 minutes.
  5. HEAT THE OVEN: While the Stollen rises for the second time, heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas 4.
  6. BAKE: When the dough has risen, bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes until dark golden brown. You can test the dough with a wooden skewer to ensure it is cooked through.
  7. BRUSH WITH BUTTER: Immediately after taking the Stollen out of the oven, brush all over with the melted butter, then sprinkle over the white sugar. Allow to cool completely.
  8. WRAP: While Stollen can be consumed immediately, like Christmas cake, it is best if left to mature for at least 1 week. Wrap well in foil and plastic wrap or freezer bags and store in a cool place. Before serving, dust generously with powdered sugar.

Notes

Stollen dough is quite wet and sticky. If it is very liquid, add flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it comes away from the sides of the bowl.

Storage and keeping: Well wrapped and in a cool place, Stollen should keep for 2-3 weeks.

Imperial and cup measurements are approximate. For best and most accurate results I use and recommend a digital kitchen scale like the one below.

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Jay Wadams
Jay Wadams

Jay Wadams is a cookbook author and food photographer. Current Flipboard Food Writer in Residence and Gastronomy and Nutrition student at Le Cordon Bleu London. Based in Italy 🇮🇹 Germany 🇩🇪 and Australia 🇦🇺.

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