Stollen, a traditional German Christmas bread with a storied history, is a sweet yeast bread studded with dried or candied fruit and marzipan and is far more elegant than the traditional dense loaves of fruitcake. And far lovelier to receive.
Few things would be lovelier to receive as a gift at Christmas than a loaf of this traditional German sweet bread known as stollen. And by “few,” we mean damn few things. Perhaps you oughta consider wrapping this bread with a bow. And maybe even gifting a loaf to yourself.–Renee Schettler Rossi
For the crème d’amande
- 2 sticks plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/3 cups ground almonds
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons rum
For the stollen
- 7 1/2 cups white bread flour plus more for the work surface
- 2/3 ounce (about 4 level teaspoons) fresh yeast
- 2 1/2 cups milk, preferably whole, at warm room temperature
- 14 tablespoons unsalted butter use the wrapper for greasing
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 level teaspoons salt
- 8 ounces (shelled weight) eggs roughly equivalent to 4 large
- 1 batch Crème d’Amande
- 1 1/4 cups natural (uncolored) marzipan cut into small pieces
For the filling
- 1 1/3 cups golden raisins
- 3/4 cup glacé cherries
- 1 1/2 cups candied peel
- 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
- 4 tablespoons rum
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the glaze
- 7 tablespoons salted or unsalted butter
- 2 capfuls rum
- Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Make the crème d’amande
- In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the ground almonds and mix again. Add the flour and continue to mix. Finally, add the eggs, 1 at a time, along with the rum, mixing well between each addition, until the cream is light in consistency, about 8 minutes. (The crème d’amande can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week. Let it warm to room temperature before using.)
Make the stollen
- Place the flour in a large bowl and crumble in the yeast with your fingers. Slowly, a little at a time, mix in the milk. Then add the butter, sugar, salt, and eggs, using a spoon or a plastic scraper to combine everything together. When the mixture starts to come together into a dough, turn it out onto an unfloured work surface.
- Gently knead the dough by sliding your fingers under the dough, then with your thumbs parallel to your index fingertips, lift it lightly, swing it upwards, slap it back down, away from you, onto your work surface. Stretch the dough forwards and sideways and tuck it in around the edges. Keep repeating this sequence, using your scraper to help you lift the dough from the work surface, until the dough is fairly smooth.
- Lightly flour your work surface, and then form the stollen dough into a ball. Put it back in the lightly floured bowl, cover with a clean towel, and let it rest at room temperature for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. It may not rise much. That’s okay.
- Again, lightly flour your work surface. Turn out the dough with the help of your scraper and use your fingertips to flatten it into a rough square shape approximately 12 inches on each side. Let it rest at room temperature while you make the filling.
Make the filling
- In a small bowl, mix together all the ingredients.
To assemble the stollen
- Spread the filling over the dough (you may not want to use all of it if you like a higher bread-to-filling ratio). Gently fold the dough over itself a few times to fully incorporate the filling. Form the dough into a ball and place it back in the lightly floured bowl to rest for another 30 minutes.
- Lightly flour the work surface and turn out the dough. Cut the dough into 3 equal pieces. Put each piece of stollen dough, smooth side down, on your lightly floured surface and flatten out with your fingertips into a rectangle roughly 8 by 6 inches.
- Spread the top of the dough generously with at least half and up to all of the Crème d’Amande and then scatter with some or all of the pieces of the marzipan. (Again, depending on the bread-to-filling ratio you prefer and just how intense an almond experience you like, you can use less than the full amount of Crème d’Amande and marzipan, beginning with half, to create a stollen with more bread and less add-ins, if desired.) Working with 1 stollen at a time, fold 1 of the long sides into the center (over the cream and marzipan filling), then fold the other side over the top and press down all around the edges to seal. Butter 2 or 3 baking sheets.
- Place the filled stollens, seam side down, on your buttered baking sheets, spacing them quite a distance from one another as they will rise considerably. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise until just under double in volume, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (170°C).
- Uncover the stollen and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly golden.
Make the glaze
- Just before the stollen come out of the oven, melt the butter in a small pan and stir in the rum. Remove from the heat.
Glaze the stollen
- Take the stollen out of the oven and, while still hot, brush the loaves quite heavily with the glaze. Immediately dust it thickly with confectioners sugar. Cool on a wire rack.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This stollen makes a delicious holiday bread. The bread portion is easy to make and the filling amounts were appropriate. The filling can easily be adapted to individual tastes. This stollen is versatile and can be enjoyed in the morning, as a midday snack, or after dinner.
There was a lot of filling! It was good in the finished bread. It took about 4 minutes of kneading to fully incorporate it. I substituted instant yeast for fresh. It is difficult for me to find fresh yeast and I always have instant. If I made this again, I would add chopped crystalized ginger to the dough, and also mix granulated sugar with ground ginger and coat the finished loaves with it. (I like ginger!)
This is a fairly time-consuming recipe overall, but much of the time is inactive. The recipe makes 3 large stollen loaves and could also be adapted to make more smaller loaves to be used as gifts. Each large loaf yields about 12 generous slices.
This recipe was quite complicated and took quite a long time to make but it was very delicious. I took the liberty of substituting maraschino cherries for the candied cherries and dried mango for the citron, as I really don’t like candied fruit and wanted these stollen to turn out to be good so they would get eaten and enjoyed in our household. (I think many people don’t really care for candied fruit, though I know it’s more the traditional way of making stollen.)
The glaze was delicious, too. I’d never seen a method of glazing like that, but it worked nicely. The whole thing turned out wonderfully.
I worked the dough for 8 minutes. I also added more yeast to the dough after the first 1 1/2 hours of letting the dough rest. It hadn’t risen much at all, and I was concerned that the fresh yeast I’d used wasn’t so fresh after all, and wasn’t going to work. As a result, the 3 stollen rolls only took about 25 minutes to rise to a little less than double. I baked them for 40 minutes as they seemed like they needed that extra 5 minutes.
Originally published December 14, 2019