German stollen (Christmas bread) has been a fixture of the Jolly Tomato family’s Christmas for as long as any of us can remember. In fact, it’s so deeply embedded in our Christmas traditions that it kind of hadn’t occurred to us to post the recipe before now. (Doesn’t everyone make stollen at Christmastime?)
Our mom makes at least ten German stollen every Christmas season. Each one goes as a gift to someone she knows or loves. (True story: Our brother used to complain because our mom made him give one to the bus driver every year. He was embarrassed, but she – the German bus driver – loved it.)
Some people make German stollen with all kinds of heavy candied fruits. We prefer it with just a few dried fruits and not too heavy on the sugar. It’s best when it’s fresh baked. In fact, we usually slice it up first thing in the morning for Christmas breakfast. And – just personal opinion here, but still – it’s amazing with a few pats of butter.
Creating a Stollen
The general idea is that you’re going to make a basic yeast dough. (Don’t fear the yeast dough – it’s easy! All you have to do is make it and let it rise.) Once you’ve gone through the first rise of the dough, you’re going to form it into an oval that’s approximately 12 inches by 7 inches.
Then you’re going to fold half of it over.
Then you’re going to put your loaves on a greased baking pan, let them rise, and bake them.
When they’re all baked, you can frost them:
… And decorate them!
Then slice them up and eat them. See why the bus driver loved getting them so much?
OK, here’s the full recipe:
German Stollen Recipe
Authentic German Stollen
An easy and delicious authentic German stollen - a sweet bread traditionally served at Christmas.
- 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 packets active dry yeast (1 tbsp plus 1/2 tsp)
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 2/3 cup margarine
- 3 eggs at room temperature
- 3/4 cup dried fruit (chopped dried apricots, dried cranberries, etc.)
- 1/2 cup seedless raisins
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 tbsp milk or water
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
- Dried cranberries
- Mint leaves
In the large bowl of a mixer, thoroughly mix 2 cups flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine the milk, water, and margarine. Heat until the liquid is warm and the margarine begins to melt. (The mixture should not be hot.) Add the mixture to the dry ingredients and beat for two minutes at the medium speed of the mixer. Add the eggs and 1/2 cup flour, and beat again. Stir in enough additional flour to make a soft dough.
Move the dough from the mixing bowl to a lightly floured board and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover it with a towel, and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about one hour.
Remove the dough from the bowl, punch it down, and knead in the fruit and raisins. Divide the dough into three equal parts. Roll each part into an approximately 12 x 7 inch oval. Fold the ovals in half lengthwise. Place the ovals on greased baking sheets. Cover again with a towel and let them rise until doubled in bulk, about one hour.
Remove the towel and bake the loaves at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. The loaf should be a pretty golden brown. Cool the loaf, and then frost it and decorate it.
Whisk together the powdered sugar, water or milk, and vanilla. Drizzle it over the stollen, spreading it around with a spatula where needed.
Just one thing to add because we know this is going to be a question. Margarine? Really? Yes, margarine. We hate to have to do it, but we promised this was going to be authentic. We tried this recipe with butter several times and it just doesn’t quite have the right texture.
That said, we know you’re going to love, love, love this authentic German stollen. And if you really like it, pin it!
P.S. Looking for other holiday favorites? Try these Letter to Santa cookies.