Christmas Stollen

In doing my research for Christmas-y breads, I came across German Christmas Stollen.  I had heard the name before but really didn't know much about it so I set myself to learning it's beginnings.  Also known as Christollen, this tasty holiday fruit bread is said to have originated either in 1329 in the city of Naumburg (as per German Food Guide) or around 1400 A.D. in the city of Dresden (as per What's Cooking America)  depending upon the source and at that time was made without butter or milk due to the restrictions on diet during Advent.  It wasn't until many years later and a petition to the Pope that this ban on butter and milk was finally lifted and the richer tasting Christmas Stollen of modern times was developed and expanded upon.  The shape of the loaf traditionally represents the figure of the Christ Child in the manger and the powdered sugar His swaddling clothes or diaper.  The colored fruits and nuts depict the gifts of the Magi.

Traditional German Christmas Stollen may cover several competing recipe styles each of which has it's own strict guidelines of the basic ingredients.   More information regarding those styles may be found here at German Food Guide.

Although there are many types of German Christmas Stollen the recipe I have chosen today is a rather loose interpretation.  I have kept it simple with dried fruits and almonds and braided it into one extra large loaf suitable for a gathering.  The initial knead is accomplished in the bread machine but the balance of the recipe is completed using more traditional bread making methods.  This recipe may be divided into two or more smaller loaves as desired and the fruit may be soaked in rum or brandy also prior to kneading into the dough.  Any way you bake it, once you try Christmas Stollen it will be a family favorite!

What is your family's holiday baking tradition?  Breads?  Cakes?  Cookies?  If it's Christmas Stollen shout out your "must have" ingredients in the comments below.

Christmas Stollen Bread
Christmas Stollen
BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list
Print Recipe
This fruity Christmas Stollen recipe gets its start in the bread machine for ease and finishes with a traditional rise and bake in the oven.
Servings Prep Time
1 extra large loaf 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
25-30 minutes 2 1/2-4 1/2 hours
Servings Prep Time
1 extra large loaf 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
25-30 minutes 2 1/2-4 1/2 hours
Christmas Stollen Bread
Christmas Stollen
BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list
Print Recipe
This fruity Christmas Stollen recipe gets its start in the bread machine for ease and finishes with a traditional rise and bake in the oven.
Servings Prep Time
1 extra large loaf 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
25-30 minutes 2 1/2-4 1/2 hours
Servings Prep Time
1 extra large loaf 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
25-30 minutes 2 1/2-4 1/2 hours
Ingredients
Servings: extra large loaf
Instructions
  1. In the pan of your bread machine place the water, milk, vanilla and almond extracts, eggs, flour, salt, butter and yeast in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select the Dough setting and press start. Do not select Dough plus Rise. Check that the dough is forming an elastic ball. If it seems too wet, add flour a Tablespoon at a time. If too dry, add warm water, also a Tablespoon at a time.
  2. While the dough is kneading place the fruits, nuts and lemon peel in a bowl and toss together. Set aside.
  3. When the dough cycle has finished (approximately 30 minutes, check your machine's instruction book) turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead the fruit and nut mixture into the dough until well distributed throughout.
    Kneading the fruit into the dough
  4. Lightly oil an extra large bowl and place the dough within, turning once to coat with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, approximately 1-2 hours.
    Christmas Stollen dough doubled in size
  5. When the dough has doubled in size, punch down and turn out onto a floured surface. Divide the dough into three equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and braid together. Transfer the braided stollen onto a large parchment covered baking sheet.
    Dough braided and ready for the second rise
  6. Cover with plastic wrap that has been coated with vegetable spray and allow to rise until double in size approximately 1-2 hours.
    Stollen dough raised double
  7. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Bake the stollen 25-30 minutes. The loaf should sound hollow when tapped. Transfer to a cooling rack.
    Stollen fresh out of the oven
  8. Allow loaf to cool 10 minutes then brush with melted butter and sift powdered sugar liberally over the top. Decorate with additional fruit and nuts if desired.
    Brush with butter and sprinkle with powdered sugar
Recipe Notes

Scald milk by heating until bubbles appear on the edge but not until a full boil.

Other dried fruits may be used or substituted including pineapple, apricots, cherries, blueberries or even regular candied fruit. Cut larger pieces into smaller ones approximately the size of raisins. Next time I make this recipe I plan to up the quantities of fruit and nuts by another half cup each.

Stollen bread makes great French Toast!

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