Sweet cakes and breads studded with candied fruits and nuts are hallmarks of Christmas baking in many areas of the world. Examples include fruitcake which is traditional throughout the English speaking nations, panettone in Italy, keks in Poland, julekake in Norway, bolo-rei in Portugal and birnenbrot in Switzerland. But perhaps none are revered as highly throughout the world as German Stollen.
A cake so special truly deserves the name Christmas Stollen, for this traditional treat is as rich and festive as the holiday season.
Baked fresh with white and dark raisins and candied fruits soaked in rum, it’s kneaded by hand into a buttery dough, basted with pure creamery butter, baked, and then basted again. The result is an almost unbelievably rich loaf that will delight your guests or anyone on your gift list.
As a traditional German fruitcake with a profound history, it’s no wonder that there are as many variations of stollen as there are people who make it. This version includes a rich filling of almond paste (or marzipan), which adds to the decadence of the bread-like cake.
Stollen’s dense butter and sugar coating makes it an excellent candidate for preparing ahead of the busy holiday season, wrapping, and giving to friends and family up to 2 weeks later.
Recipe of Stollen
3 cups (454g) Fruitcake Fruit Blend
1/3 cup (74g) orange juice or rum
1 tablespoon instant yeast
3/4 cup (170g) warm water
1 large egg
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons, 113g) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup (35g) Baker’s Special Dry Milk
3 1/2 cups (418g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/2 cup (71g) chopped toasted almonds
3/4 cup (191g) almond paste or marzipan
2 tablespoons (28g) melted butter
confectioners’ sugar or non-melting white sugar
To prepare the fruit: Combine the fruits and orange juice or rum, cover, and set aside at room temperature for up to 12 hours.
To prepare the dough: Using a stand mixer, mix and knead together all of the dough ingredients (except the almonds) to make a smooth, soft dough.
Cover the dough and let it rise until puffy, about 60 to 90 minutes.
To make the filling: Divide the marzipan into three pieces and shape each into a flattened 7″ log.
To assemble the stollen: Knead the fruit and almonds into the dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased surface, divide it into three pieces, and shape each piece into an 8″ x 6″ oval.
Place one piece of almond paste or marzipan down the longer center of each oval, and fold dough over it lengthwise, leaving the top edge of the dough just shy of the bottom edge.
Press the top edge firmly to seal it to the dough below.
Place the loaves on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover them, and let them rise for 45 to 60 minutes, until puffy.
While the stollen are rising, preheat the oven to 350°F, with a rack in the upper third.
Bake the stollen for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown and its internal temperature reads 190°F on a digital thermometer.
Remove the stollen from the oven, and brush them with melted butter. After 5 minutes, dust with Baker’s Special (superfine) sugar and/or confectioners’ or non-melting sugar.
Transfer to a rack to cool completely. Wrap airtight and store at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. Freeze for longer storage.
Tips from our Bakers
Substitute almond paste for the marzipan, if desired.
If you’ve frozen the stollen, you may need to dust them with sugar again, once they’re thawed.
If you do not have the time or inclination to make – Gift a readymade Christmas Stollen to someone special at the holidays.