Stollen: A Beautiful German Holiday Bread

There’s a chill in the air – that perfect, fall air!

Vertical image of text in the center on a dark red background with slices of bread.

As I walked out of work yesterday, I breathed in the fresh, crisp breeze, and caught the smell of something baking – Doughnuts? Bread?

And as I drove home, even on the trafficked expressway, I still had that lingering smell of baked dough following me.

Vertical image of a whole loaf of bread generously dusted with powdered sugar on a slate board.

While cars inched forward, my windows just a little down and my radio playing, I started dreaming about something warm and comforting from the oven.

And by the time I pulled into my driveway, I knew I wanted fresh bread.

Vertical image of thin slices of stollen on a slate dusted lightly with flour.

If you haven’t made fresh bread before, I bet I can guess why: it takes time. And kneading. And more time. And more kneading.

All this work can seem pretty pointless when you can just get an acceptable, albeit flavorless, loaf of pre-sliced bread at your closest supermarket.

But can I suggest something?

Vertical image of stacked slices of fruit and nut bread in front of a whole loaf dusted with powdered sugar.

Just as there are times when one should grab that grocery bread, there are times when one should spend an evening in the kitchen baking something beautiful.

You just can’t beat the feel of elastic dough in your hands, its texture changing beneath your fingers as you fold and push, fold and push again.

Vertical image of two whole loaves of stollen bread dusted in powdered sugar next to a small sifter with more powdered sugar.

I don’t get the urge to bake bread often, believe me! But when I do, it’s insatiable.

Last night, I wanted a sweet bread. Badly.

I chose stollen, a traditional German Christmas bread. It’s a sweet and yeasty creation filled with a festive and colorful array of assorted dried fruits, nuts, and candies.

Vertical close-up image of a bowl of assorted fruits and nuts.

This recipe makes two loaves, and the slices will only be as sweet as you want them to be.

The add-ins are really up to you. I used golden raisins, dried apricots, dried cranberries, and sliced almonds, but you may want crushed fruit gummy candies or extra raisins, or you may want to forgo on nuts altogether if you have an allergy.

Vertical image of whole and sliced stollen on a slate scattered with powdered sugar.

Traditionally, a thin roll of marzipan, which is a thick and sweet almond paste, is placed in the center of the dough. It adds an extra layer of sweetness and keeps the bread moist. You have the option in this recipe to add this tasty ingredient.

It’s a delightful breakfast bread, a yummy snack, and the perfect celebration of the fall (and then the soon-to-be winter holiday!) season.

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Horizontal image of two slices of stollen.

Stollen: A Beautiful German Holiday Bread


  • Author: Shanna Mallon
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 18-20 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours, 40 minutes
  • Yield: 2 large loaves
  • Category: Enriched Dough
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Bread

Description

Make stollen this winter, a German Christmas bread. Dusted with powdered sugar to resemble snow, it is perfect for the holidays.


Ingredients

  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots
  • 3/4 cup slivered or sliced almonds
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 cup marzipan (optional)
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine 2 cups of the flour, the yeast, and the cardamom.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat and stir the milk, butter, granulated sugar, and salt until the butter has melted.
  3. Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture, along with the egg. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Scrape the bowl, and then beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Slowly add 2 more cups of the flour. Stir in the cranberries, raisins, apricots, almonds, and lemon zest.
  4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface using some of the remaining 1/2 cup of flour. Knead for a few minutes, adding any additional flour if the dough is sticky. The dough should be soft and pliable.
  5. Shape into a ball. Place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to lightly coat the dough. Cover with a towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  6. Punch dough down. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and divide in half. Cover, and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, line 2 baking sheet pans with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  7. Roll one dough portion into a 10×6-inch oval. If using, roll out 1/2 cup of the marzipan to the length of the bread and place in the center of the dough. Without stretching, fold a long side over to within one inch of the opposite side. Press lightly to seal. Place on one of the baking sheets. Repeat with the other dough portion. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about another hour.
  8. Bake loaves in an oven preheated to 375°F for 18 to 20 minutes, until lightly golden. Let cool slightly on the baking sheet before removing and placing them on a cooling rack to cool completely.
  9. Before serving, heavily dust the tops of both breads with powdered sugar. Slice and serve!

Keywords: stollen, Christmas, holiday, bread, enriched dough, dried fruit, nuts

Cooking by the Numbers…

Step 1 – Gather and Prep

Horizontal image of a white bowl with assorted dried fruits and nuts on top of a white towel.

Measure out and combine 2 cups of the all-purpose flour, instant yeast, and ground cardamom in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Set aside the other 2 1/2 cups of flour.

Measure out and combine the milk, granulated sugar, butter, and salt in a small saucepan.

Measure out the dried fruits and nuts. Place in a separate bowl.

Crack one egg into a small bowl, and zest one lemon.

Step 2 – Heat the Liquid Ingredients

Horizontal image of a melted butter and liquid mixture in a small saucepan.

Heat the saucepan with the unsalted butter and milk mixture over low heat. Stir occasionally until the butter is completely melted.

To melt the butter more quickly, chop it into small cubes.

Step 3 – Combine Ingredients Together

Horizontal image of freshly made dough in a metal mixing bowl.

Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture, along with the cracked egg. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Scrape the bowl, and then beat on high speed for 3 minutes.

Slowly add in 2 more cups of the flour. Mix until a thick and slightly sticky dough forms.

Stir in the dried fruit and mixture, as well as the lemon zest.

Step 4 – Knead

Horizontal image of a mound of dough with dried fruit on a marble cutting board dusted with flour.

After mixing, place the dough on a lightly floured surface using some of the remaining 1/2 cup of flour. Knead for a few minutes, adding any additional flour if the dough is still sticky.

The dough should be thick and soft. You are developing the gluten in this step, so it should also feel elastic and pliable after kneading for a few minutes.

Step 5 – Rise

Horizontal image of risen dough in a metal bowl.

Shape into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to lightly coat the dough. The bowl should be at least 2 times the size of the dough to support the size as it rises.

Cover with a towel or cellophane wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Step 6 – Divide

Horizontal image of two mounds of equally sized fruit and nut dough on a marble board.

Punch the dough down once, and place on a lightly floured surface. Using a knife or bench scraper, divide the dough equally in half.

Cover, and let rest for 10 minutes as you line 2 baking sheet pans with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Step 7 – Shape

Horizontal image of a rolled dough studded with fruit and nuts on a marble board next to a rolling pin.

Using a rolling pin lightly dusted with flour, roll one dough portion into a large oval shape, about 10×6-inches. Fold a long side over to within one inch of the opposite side, and press the edges lightly to seal.

Horizontal image of a thin dough folded in half on a marble board.

Place on one of the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with the other dough portion.

You have the option to add a roll of marzipan before folding the dough over. Give it a try for even more sweet, nutty flavor!

Step 8 – Proof

Horizontal image of a folded oval of dough on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat.

Cover and let rise slightly until about doubled in size, about another hour.

While the bread is proofing, preheat your oven to 375°F.

Step 9 – Bake

Horizontal image of a cooling rack with two loaves of bread studded with dried fruit.

Bake the two loaves for 18 to 20 minutes, until lightly golden in color.

Remove from the oven, and let cool slightly on the baking sheet before removing and placing them on a cooling rack to cool completely.

Step 10 – Garnish and Serve

Horizontal image of two whole loaves of stollen dusted heavily with powdered sugar.

After they have cooled, generously dust each loaf with a hefty amount of powdered sugar, just like the first snowfall of winter.

Horizontal image of three slices of fruit and nut bread.

Cut each loaf into 8 slices with a bread knife and large, sturdy cutting board. Serve and enjoy!

A Wintry Bread for the Holidays

This yeasty creation, filled with assorted dried fruits and nuts and beautifully dusted with powdered sugar, commemorates the winter season in the sweetest of ways.

Horizontal image of two slices of stollen.

Make it now and share amongst family and friends, just in time for the holidays!

If you want to learn how to be a bread-baking expert this season, read all about enriched dough. From breads like this stolen to brioche to Kulich, you’ll have so much fun baking warm, fluffy loaves throughout the chillier months.

You might as well read our article on gluten, bread’s essential backbone.

Have you ever made stollen? What assortment of dried fruits and nuts will you be using? Let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to rate this tasty recipe!

And for some more tasty holiday sweet baked goods you’re sure to love, check out these tasty recipes:

Photos by Nikki Cervone, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on September 5, 2008. Last updated: November 12, 2018 at 12:25 pm. With additional writing and editing by Nikki Cervone.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Shanna Mallon

Shanna holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her mantra? Restoring order and celebrating beauty through creative content, photography, and food. Shanna's work has been featured in Bon Appetit, The Kitchn, MSN.com, Everyday Health, Better Homes & Gardens, Houzz.com, Food News Journal, Food52, Zeit Magazine, Chew the World, Mom.me, Babble, Delish.com, Parade, Foodista, Entrepreneur and Ragan PR.

3 thoughts on “Stollen: A Beautiful German Holiday Bread”

  1. Mmmmm this sounds beautiful and amazing. I love fresh bread, even though I’m generally not quite ambitious enought to make my own. You may have just inspired me to give it a try.

  2. Thanks for visiting, Meri! I hope you do try baking bread—there’s really nothing like it, a great way to get your frustrations out and taste some homebaked goodness, too. 🙂

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