Here’s our German Stollen Recipe for the Holiday Season!
Looking for the perfect festive treat to enjoy this Christmas? Stollen – sometimes also called German Christmas Bread – is one of the most classic German Christmas recipes around!
This moist, yeasty bread is packed with rum-soaked fruit, nuts, and zesty candied lemon and orange peels. It’s also sometimes referred to as Christstollen (because Stollen is eaten at Christmas).
Topped off with a coating of melted butter and plenty of powdered sugar, this Stollen bread recipe also features that signature top fold.
Not only will this Stollen look great on the holiday dessert table, but it tickles the senses with its holiday spices and aromas!
If you are looking for an easy Stollen recipe, our recipe is fairly straightforward. You have to know going into making authentic Stollen that it’ll take some time.
Furthermore, we’d recommend letting the Stollen sit after it’s baked and glazed for a number of days. So, keep that in mind if you are planning to make it for a specific date.
Another consideration for making a classic Christmas Stollen is that there are a few ingredients that you might need to buy in advance.
You can also make a few of the ingredients yourself – but we’ll cover which ones you can do at home below.
There are also a number of Stollen recipe variations. We don’t include marzipan in our Stollen but you certainly can. We have an easy marzipan recipe for those interested!
The History of German Stollen
This yeasty Christmas bread has a long history dating back to medieval times. Also known as Striezel, Stollen was more of a tasteless bread made from simple ingredients during times of holiday fasting.
In fact, for a number of decades back then, bakers couldn’t use butter during Advent so they had to use oil.
But since oil was expensive and hard to get/make in Saxony, some Dukes wrote to the Pope in Rome to get this law changed!
Eventually, bakers in Saxony (where Dresden, Germany is located) were permitted to use butter in their Stollen without being fined! The butter made the Stollen taste that much better… because it’s butter.
The Stollen that is mainstream today is the version filled with fruit and/or nuts (among other things). This version was first popularized in Dresden at the famous Dresden Christmas Market – it was first mentioned in writing in 1474.
Fun Fact: There are only a few dozen bakers in Dresden, Germany who can make the “original” version of Stollen! Each year at the Striezelmarkt – as the annual Dresden Christmas Market is called – bakers make a 3000 to 4000-kilogram Stollen and cut it with a giant knife.
Now, Stollen Christmas bread is popular around many parts of Europe and North America around Christmas time.
There are also variations of Stollen in Sweden and the Netherlands. Some versions include marzipan in the dough while others are shaped into a ring.
How to Make German Stollen – Step by Step
If you want to make a Stollen for this holiday season, you’d better start early! For exact measurements and ingredients, you can follow the Stollen recipe card at the bottom of this post.
In case you are more of a visual learner, you can follow the process photos with the instructions below. As we said, Stollen is a recipe with many steps but it’s not that difficult once you break them down one by one!
Sometimes we make the candied lemon and orange peel for the Stollen ourselves. In our opinion, it just tastes better homemade and in some cases (depending on where you live), it can be a little difficult to find in stores.
But sometimes we just don’t have the time to make it ourselves. In those instances, we buy candied peel at our local bulk store. For those living in Canada, you can often find candied citrus peel at Bulk Barn.
If your orange and lemon peels aren’t cut yet, cut them into small cubes using a knife.
We like doing it manually and prefer not to use a food processor or similar since that can cut the peel into pieces that are too small.
You should still be able to see the peel in the baked Christmas bread and not just taste them.
In a medium-sized bowl, mix your raisins, candied orange and lemon peel, ground almonds, and rum together until everything is coated with the rum.
Once everything is well mixed, either cover the bowl with cling film or refill the mixture into a container with a lid and let it sit for around an hour.
If you want a more intense flavor, you can also prepare the fruit-nut-mixture a few hours earlier or even the night before.
When the fruit-rum-mixture has been sitting for around 45 minutes, continue with the next step. Heat the milk in a small pot on the stove or in the microwave until it reaches approximately 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Make sure that it is actually only warm and not too hot or even boiling – adding yeast into milk that is too hot might hurt the yeast bacteria and prevent your dough from rising later.
Then add the yeast and one tablespoon of granulated sugar. Whisk until the yeast and sugar have dissolved. Then set it aside.
To a large mixing bowl, add the flour, egg at room temperature, butter at room temperature, granulated sugar, zest from one organic lemon, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom.
Mix everything together using the spiral dough hooks of your electric mixer.
Then slowly add the milk and keep mixing until the dough forms a ball that doesn’t stick to the side of the bowl anymore.
Next, add the rum-soaked fruit-nut-mixture into the bowl. If there is excess liquid in the fruit-rum-mixture, drain it first.
Keep mixing using your spiral dough hooks or your hands until the candied peel and raisins are somewhat evenly distributed.
If the dough feels overly sticky, add a little bit more flour.
Once you’re happy with the consistency, rub a little bit of flour on the outsides of the ball of dough. Then place it back into the bowl and add a dishtowel to cover the bowl.
Place the bowl into a warm spot in your house without a draft and let it sit for around 1.5 hours to allow the dough to rise.
Once the dough has risen and noticeably increased in size, sprinkle some flour onto your countertop and briefly need the dough with your hands.
Then use your rolling pin to give your dough a bread-like shape.
Next, place your rolling pin in the middle of the Stollen so it aligns with the long sides of the bread (see photo above) and press down slightly so it creates a valley.
Now take one end of the bread, and fold it towards the middle. Then gently press down using your hands.
If you want, you can also add a long roll of marzipan in the middle of the Stollen running lengthwise before folding up one side over the marzipan.
Place the dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place a clean dishtowel on top of it. Let the dough rise for another 45 minutes in a warm spot.
Once the time is almost up, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bake the Christmas bread on the middle rack for around 50 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Pay close attention to the Stollen around the 30-minute mark and cover it with aluminum foil for the rest of the baking time if the top of the Stollen gets too dark.
When the Stollen is done baking, remove it from the oven and brush it with melted butter right away.
You can be quite generous here since the bread will soak up quite a bit of it.
Right after brushing the Stollen with butter, coat it with a good amount of powdered sugar.
When you are done with the powdered sugar, let your Christmas Stollen sit until it has fully cooled.
Once the bread is fully cooled, wrap it up in aluminum foil and store it in a cool and dry place (for example your garage, basement, or a colder bedroom).
You can certainly enjoy the Stollen right away, but we’d recommend letting it sit to “ripen” for at least a few days up to two or three weeks. How long exactly is a personal preference really.
If you liked this classic German Stollen recipe, here are a bunch more Christmas recipes that are sure to please!
Stollen (German Christmas Bread)
The Fruit Filling
- 1 cup raisins, more or less to taste
- 2/3 cup candied orange peel, see notes
- 1/3 cup candied lemon peel, see notes
- 1/2 cup ground almonds
- 1/4 cup rum
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast, instant or active dry
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, approximately; might need slightly more or slightly less
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- zest from 1 organic lemon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom, optional
- 1/4 cup butter
- powdered sugar
- If your candied orange and lemon peels are quite big, chop them into smaller pieces with a knife.
- In a small bowl, combine raisins, candied orange peel, candied lemon peel, ground almonds, and the rum. Stir until everything is well mixed. Cover the bowl with cling film or place the mixture into a container with a lid and let it sit for one hour. You can also let it sit for longer or overnight if you want more intense flavors.
- Once the mixture has been sitting for around 45 minutes, continue with the next step. In a small pot or microwave-safe container, heat the milk until it reaches a temperature of 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Then add the dry yeast and one tablespoon of sugar. Whisk until the yeast and the sugar have dissolved. It's important that your milk is only warm and not hot as this might harm the yeast bacteria.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, egg, butter, sugar, lemon zest, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. Mix everything together with the spiral dough hooks of your electric mixer.
- Slowly add the milk with the dissolved yeast into the bowl and keep mixing for around 5 minutes until the dough forms a ball that no longer sticks to the side of the bowl.
- Now add your rum-soaked fruit/nut mix and mix for another few minutes until the fruit is evenly distributed. Instead of your mixer, you can also use your hands if preferred. If your dough gets overly sticky again, add a little more flour.
- Set your mixer aside and form the dough into a nice ball using your hands. Rub a little bit of flour onto the outside of the dough ball and put it back into the bowl. Cover the bowl with a dishtowel. Now place the bowl in a warm spot without draft for 1.5 hours to let the dough rise.
- Once the time is up and the dough has increased in size, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Sprinkle some flour onto your countertop and briefly knead the dough with your hand. Then use a rolling pin to roll out the dough slightly into a bread shape. Now place your rolling pin in the middle of the Stollen so it is aligned with the long sides of the Stollen and slightly press down to create a valley with the rolling pin. Then fold one side of the Stollen up towards the middle of the loaf and press it down lightly.
- Place the dough onto the baking sheet with parchment paper and cover it with a dishtowel. Let it sit in a warm spot for another 45 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake the Stollen on the middle rack for around 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Start watching your Stollen at around 30 minutes and cover it with aluminum foil for the rest of the baking time if the top gets too brown.
- When the Stollen is done, remove it from the oven. Melt the butter and brush it generously onto the Stollen with a brush. Right after, coat the whole Stollen in powdered sugar. Then let the Christmas bread cool.
- While you can eat the Stollen right away, it tastes best after it has had time to sit and "ripen" for a while. For that, tightly wrap the bread in aluminum foil and store it in a cool, dry place (e.g. your garage, basement, or colder bedroom) for a few days up to three weeks (depending on personal preference) before consuming. Enjoy!
- This recipe is for 1 large loaf of Stollen.
- Make sure that the egg and butter for the dough are at room temperature since you are working with yeast. Otherwise your dough might not rise as desired. Also make sure that your yeast hasn’t expired – if it doesn’t activate when mixed into the milk, the milk might have been too warm or it might have expired.
- If you want, you can also add some marzipan which is a popular Stollen addition. When rolling out the dough, simply add a long, thin “sausage” of marzipan that runs lengthwise on top of the dough and then fold up one side around the marzipan as explained above. When cutting it later, each slice will have a small piece of marzipan in the middle. It’s actually quite easy to make your own marzipan with our recipe.
- You can buy candied orange and lemon peels but it’s also easy to make yourself. To do that, you can follow our recipe for candied orange peel and candied lemon peel.
This nutritional information has been estimated by an online nutrition calculator. It should only be seen as a rough calculation and not a replacement for professional dietary advice.