Christmas Stollen Bread (Christollen)

One of the most popular sweet breads enjoyed during Christmas is the Stollen, referred to as Christollen in Germany. This humble, traditional yeast bread studded with candied citrus peels, dried fruits and aromatic spices conveys the warmth of the holiday season. Homemade candied citrus peels elevate this beautiful bread to a whole new level.

Stollen was baked for the very first time at the Council of Trent in 1545 and since butter was not allowed during advent season, the bread was made from flour, yeast and oil. Butter was eventually allowed by Pope Innocent VIII (yes the Pope!) through the "Butter-Letter" sent to Prince-Elector. 

Stollenfest is traditionally celebrated in Dresden every year and the place is packed with tourists who visit the Christmas market each year.

Baking Christmas Stollen (Christollen) as a tradition has survived since the 15th century and it's obvious - this bread is one for the ages! 

German stollen bread
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Ingredients

For dough

  • Milk - 1 cup, lukewarm

  • Yeast - 3 teaspoon, active dry

  • Granulated sugar - 1/2 cup

  • All purpose flour - 4 cups (the amount will vary depending on the dough)

  • Eggs - 1 large and 2 egg yolks

  • Unsalted butter - 6 tablespoons, at room temperature

  • Vanilla extract - 2 teaspoons

  • Lemon zest - from one large lemon

  • Salt - 1/2 teaspoon

  • Ground cardamon - 1/2 teaspoon

  • Ground cinnamon - 1/4 teaspoon

  • Grated nutmeg - 1/4 teaspoon (optional)

Fruits and Nuts

  • Raisins - 1 cup

  • Candied lemon peel - 1/4 cup, diced 

  • Candied orange peel - 1/4 cup, diced

  • Slivered almonds - 1/4 cup

  • Dark rum or brandy - 1/3 cup

*Homemade candied peel highly recommended if time permits. You can always use store bought peels in a pinch.​

For the coating

  • Unsalted butter - as needed [1/2 cup] melted

  • Powdered sugar - as needed for dusting [1/2 cup]

Preparation

  1. Prepare the homemade candied citrus - I highly recommend making it from scratch as it tastes phenomenal and avoids any chemicals that come from store bought one. If using store bought, skip this step. Recipe for home made candied peel - here.

  2. Soak the candied citrus peels and raisins in rum/ brandy and set aside. Let the fruit mixture soak in the rum for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight. Add slivered almonds to the mixture when starting to prepare the dough. 

  3. Dough: ​Stir the yeast and 2 tablespoons of the sugar into the lukewarm milk and let sit in a warm place for 10-15 minutes until very frothy.

  4. Place the flour, remaining sugar, egg, egg yolks, butter, vanilla extract, lemon zest, salt, cardamom and cinnamon in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.  Combine them on low speed for a minute. 

  5. Add the yeast-milk mixture. Knead the dough (start low speed and increase to medium after a minute) till the dough starts to pull away from the bowl. It usually takes about 6-7 minutes. 

  6. Remove the dough ball, lightly wipe the bowl with a couple of drops of oil, return the dough ball, cover loosely with plastic wrap and place it in a warm place to rise until nearly doubled in size (takes about an hour). If you have instant pot, you can also proof the dough in it. 

  7. Once doubled in size, punch down the dough and add the soaked fruit/nut mixture to the dough. Discard any excess, remaining liquid from the raisin mixture. 

  8. Using the dough hook, knead the fruit/nut mixture into the dough until combined. Add a little bit of flour as needed (if the dough is too wet) until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  

  9. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and cut it in two equal halves.  Roll and press the dough into shape to resemble the characteristic hump of the stollen. 

  10. Carefully place the stollen on a lined baking sheet.  Cover the stollen loosely with plastic wrap and let them rest in a warm place 45 -60 minutes till they are puffy.

  11. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the stollen for 30-40 minutes or till they turn golden. Remove from pan from the oven and let them sit on the pan for 5 minutes. 

  12. Poke the bread with a toothpick all over and brush melted butter over it. Dust the bread with powdered sugar according to your tate. The traditional version uses a generous amount of sugar, my bread has a very light coating as you can see.

  13. Let the bread cool down and if desired, add some more powdered sugar (optional). 

  14. The stollen can be sliced and eaten immediately or wrapped tightly (wrap in plastic wrap then foil) and left to "ripen" in a cool place for 2 weeks. The flavor is so much better after a day as the liquid from the dried fruits will intensify the flavor. 

Tips

  • The traditional stollen has a heavy dusting of powdered sugar. I find it best to avoid confectioners sugar as it contains corn starch. Use pure powdered sugar if possible. 

  • Serving tip: Warm up the slices for 10 seconds in the microwave before enjoying them.

Enjoy! 

Products used in this recipe

Silicone baking mat

All purpose flour

Raisins

Did you bake this bread? I'd LOVE to see it! 

Snap a picture and hashtag #tessiefoodculture or tag me @tessiefoodculture on Instagram!

 

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