Every Christmas season in Germany, the local bakeries produce the most magnificent bread that I eat dozens of loaves of. This Weihnachtsstollen (Christmas Bread) dates back to the 1500’s in Germany when it was first made with oil because during the Advent season butter was prohibited. This oil based dough was hard and tough and not as good as when made with butter. Over time, the people were allowed to use butter in the Stollen and it evolved into a sweeter, fruit-filled dough versus the flavorless dough of the 1500’s.
Today, the most popular and historic Stollen comes from Dresden and is baked and sold at the Dresden Christmas Market. This tradition has been taking place since the 1500’s and draws thousands of people to the market every Advent.
The traditional Stollen is baked in a long bell-shaped pan, but bakers all across Germany also bake it free form in an oval-shaped loaf like I made here.
Typically, I am not a fan of making yeasted dough, but I really wanted to learn to make my favorite German bread before I left Germany. This dough begins by mixing the flour and yeast together then adding warmed butter and milk. The technique works perfectly for me because I always seem to ruin the dough when I have to mix the yeast with sugar and warm milk first. This method of adding everything at once to the mixer makes it practically impossible to mess up.
This recipe comes from a baking Facebook group that I’m a part of. An older gentleman that’s in the group has been making hundreds of loaves of this German Christmas Stollen for decades and was kind enough to share his family recipe.
I tried his recipe exactly as he wrote it and I ended up burning the bottoms of the bread. It still tasted amazing, just a little too brown on the underside with an aftertaste that was less than to be desired.
So, I tried the recipe again making a few adjustments. I added more rum, raisins and candied orange to the dough as well as doubling up on the baking sheet, lowering the temperature and raising the rack in the oven. All of these changes helped to make the perfect Weihnachtsstollen you see here!
I love how beautiful the Stollen looks on the platter with my Christmas decorations on my dining table. Serve the Stollen with butter and a hot cup of coffee and you’ve got the perfect treat for friends and family.
I even got out my beautiful Bavarian porcelain and antique gold silverware to enjoy a cup of coffee and Stollen when my German friend Mariele came for a visit. We sipped on coffee and ate as our children played. It was perfect.
Do you have a favorite Christmas bread? Have you ever made this Weihnachtsstollen before? I’d love to hear about it!
Merry Christmas and Happy Baking!
- 3 cups raisins
- 250g (one heaping cup) candied oranges
- 3/4 cup white rum
- 9 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 4 packages active dry yeast
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 1 grated & dried peels of an orange
- 1 grated & dried peels of a lemon
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 2-3 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- Oven size/large heavy/thick baking sheet (I used two large dark non-stick jelly-roll pans stacked on top of each other)
- Parchment paper
- Oven thermometer
- Kitchen scale
- In a large bowl, combine the raisins, candied orange and rum. Soak for several hours or overnight.
- Grate the orange & lemon. Place the grated peels on a baking sheet and dry in at 225F oven for 5 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together 3 cups of the flour and the yeast.
- In a medium saucepan, heat the milk, butter, sugar and salt the butter has melted and the mixture is warm stirring constantly to melt the butter. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Once cooled, but still warm, add this mixture to the flour & yeast and mix on low until combined.
- Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the beaten eggs, almond extract, and grated peels and mix on medium speed for 30 seconds.
- Scrape the sides again and mix on high for 3 minutes.
- By hand, stir in the raisins and oranges soaked in rum.
- Replace the paddle with the dough hook on the mixer. Add 5 cups of flour and turn the mixer on medium for 3-4 minutes.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a counter covered in 1 cup of flour. Knead the flour into the dough for 4 minutes. Pat the dough into a large ball.
- Oil a large bowl and place the dough ball into the bowl, turning to coat the outside in the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm, moist place for 90 minutes or until doubled in size.
- Punch down dough 3-4 times.
- Remove the dough from the bowl divide into 8 even pieces. I weighed the dough in grams then divided by 8. I weighed each dough ball to the same size to ensure consistency among my loaves.
- Cover with a towel and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Form each piece of weighed dough into an oval shaped loaf the place on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.
- Once all the dough is on the baking sheet, cover with a cloth and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375F degrees if using a light baking sheet. Preheat oven to 350F degrees if using a non-stick/dark baking sheet.
- Bake the dough for 30 minutes on the top rack in your oven. Rotate the pan 180 degrees then bake 5 more minutes. Check the bottom of the loaves to ensure they are not burning. Bake 5 more minutes if necessary but do not over bake! The loaves will be perfect when the bottoms are golden and the tops are firm and a light brown.
- Remove the baked loaves from the sheet and allow them to cool on racks until completely cool.
- Place the 2-3 cups of sugar into a rectangle baking dish.
- Brush melted butter over the entire top surface of each loaf the place in the baking dish with the sugar. Scoop the sugar over the entire loaf so it's covered completely. Tap off any extra and then place back on the cooling rack. Repeat with all the loaves.
- Dust a generous amount of powdered sugar over the top of each loaf.
- Wrap in plastic wrap or place in a gift bag for storage. Do not place in a plastic box, the sugar will melt into the bread.
- The Stollen will stay fresh for 2-3 days but after that will begin to dry out. It's best if enjoyed immediately!
Check out these other German recipes I have made since living here!