Authentic Dresden style German Christmas stollen from an old family recipe made by my great grandmother, enhanced with the fruity flavors of Paradise Fruit company Old English fruit and peel mix.
This post is sponsored by Paradise Fruit Company who generously donated the Paradise fruit ingredients for this stollen recipe.
There is nothing better for the holidays than a special treat of home baked German Christmas stollen.
When I was young, I remember my great-grandmother Gealow and her daughter, (my Grandma Boyle), making this stollen. This was probably in the middle of October or early November. And they didn’t make just a measly 2 loaves. They made 4 loaves per day, every day for about a week, as some of these were given to friends and relatives as Christmas gifts. This was before people had stand mixers to do the heavy work too. Kneading all this dough by hand then letting it rise. Then forming the dough into loaves and baking. They probably baked 4 loaves at a time but I don’t remember. I wasn’t allowed in the kitchen to get in the way.
I was allowed to get an occasional drink of water though, from the kitchen sink, the only water coming into the house. The cold and rich tasting well water came from under fertile, Illinois farmland soil. And the drinking glass was one tin cup shared by everyone used for drinking. No running water either. There was a pump affixed to the sink and water was pumped from the well.
After the loaves were baked and allowed to cool, my grandma wrapped them in waxed paper and then newspaper or old kitchen towels and stored them in the cool root cellar until it was time to either eat them or give them away. I don’t think the stollen was first eaten until after Thanksgiving. That’s a good 4 to 6 weeks after it was made. It was probably early February when the last of the loaves was brought out to enjoy. (Aging does improve the flavor, but 1 or 2 weeks is plenty of time).
I always got to eat the stollen with fresh brewed coffee, loaded with milk and sugar. We always buttered the slices and dunked them into the hot coffee. My great-grandma Gealow would always say it was a waste of butter, since the loaves contain lots of butter anyway. She was probably right but when you are 6 or 7 years old, what’s a little more butter.
German Christmas Stollen
The Paradise Old English fruit blend is perfect for the stollen. Normally, the stollen is made with golden raisins, currants and candied citron. The candied citron was always Paradise brand, even years ago. The Old English blend has the citron along with orange and lemon peel, cherries and pineapple. The additional fruit gives the stollen a particularly nice festive flavor. The fruits are soaked in a couple ounces of spiced rum for an hour or up to overnight. The rum flavor is not noticeable in the finished product, but it seems kind of sexy to use. If you don’t want to use rum, apple juice is a substitute.
A yeast starter, called a sponge, is the first thing to make. It contains warm water, milk, flour and yeast. The milk should be scalded before use by bringing it up to 180° for a minute or two, otherwise the milk proteins weaken the wheat gluten. Cool the milk to under 110° before use, to keep it from killing the yeast. An instant read thermometer or an infrared thermometer should be used to test this.
Mix up the sponge, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rise for about 30 minutes. This gives the yeast a good head start before being mixed with the rest of the ingredients.
Making the Dough
Next, use the paddle attachment of a stand mixer and add the sponge, remaining flour, softened butter, egg yolk, almond and vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and the salt. Mix these together on low speed until the flour is incorporated, which takes about 5 minutes. You may have to use a spatula to coax the ingredients together. It will look like the picture above.
Switch to the dough hook and mix for another 5 minutes and the dough will start to come together as the gluten strings are formed. Then add the fruits and the liquid along with the almond slices. Mix on low until they are all well incorporated. The dough should look like the above photo. You may have to add bit more flour if the dough seems to be too sticky. Go slow adding a couple teaspoons at a time. You will definitely have to use your spatula to help get all the fruits into the dough.
The dough needs to rise next and about double in size. You can spray the sides of the mixing bowl with some cooking spray and cover it and let it rise in the bowl. I have a plastic container that I spray then add the dough. The rubber band lets me know where the starting point is and is a guide to how much it has risen. With all the butter in the recipe, it takes a good 2 hours for the dough to double in size.
The above photo is exactly after two hours of rising. I called this close enough.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and prepare the loaves. Separate the dough into two equal halves and form into loaves. These are about 10 inches long and 8 inches wide and folded over and crimped well along the seam. This is the way my grandma did it, but for some reason, hers always looked better. Maybe it has to do with more practice. Alternatively, you could just make them into a loaf shape or even use a greased loaf pan. Cover these with waxed paper and let the loaves rise again for 1 hour.
Bake the loaves until the internal temperature is at least 190°. This takes about 40 minutes. If the loaves seem to be getting too brown, tent them with foil. I tented these after about 30 minutes and baked for a total of 40 minutes.
Once the loaves are done. place them on a cooling rack. Brush them with melted butter and sprinkle generously with granulated sugar. I love the way that the sugar melts into the hot butter and creates a nice sugary glaze. Let the stollen cool before slicing. Although you can eat it right away, the flavor really improves after 1 or 2 weeks. Let them cool completely and then put them in an airtight plastic bag or wrap. Store at room temperature.
Your family will love this traditional German Christmas stollen. If you are unable to find the Old English fruit and peel mix in your store, go to the Paradise Fruit Company website and order direct.
Here is the printable recipe.
Dresden-style German Christmas stollen
- 8 oz. Paradise brand Old English fruit mix, 1 cup cherries diced
- 1/3 cup golden raisins
- 1/3 cup zante currants
- 1/4 cup spiced rum like Captain Morgan
- 1 pkg active dry yeast, 2 1/4 tsp.
- 1/4 cup lukewarm water
- 1/2 cup scalded whole milk, cooled to under 110°
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 6 tbsp softened butter
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds
- 2 tbsp melted butter to brush onto baked stollen
- 3 to 4 tbsp granulated sugar to sprinkle onto stollen
- Place the fruit into a bowl or jar and add the rum. stir to coat. Soak fruit for 1 hour or up to overnight in the refrigerator.
- Place the water and yeast in a small bowl and stir with a fork to dissolve the yeast, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the milk and flour and whisk to incorporate. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 20 to 30 minutes.
- Place the sponge and all additional dough ingredient, (minus the fruit and almonds), into the stand mixer bowl. Beat with the paddle attachment until all the flour is mostly incorporated. 5 mins.
- Switch to a dough hook and knead the dough on low speed, (KitchenAid 2), until it forms a ball. 5 mins.
- Add the fruit and its liquid along with the almonds and mix on low until the fruit is well distributed in the dough. You can use a spatula to help push the ingredients together. If the dough is sticking to the bowl, add more flour, 1 to 2 tsp. at a time until the dough releases from the bowl.
- Coat the sides of the bowl with cooking spray to prevent sticking and cover with a dish towel and move to a warm place. Let the dough rise until the volume doubles, 2 hours.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Take the dough and separate into 2 equal size balls. Form the loaves by pressing the dough into a rectangle approx 10" by 8". Fold one of the 10" sides over to make a loaf approx. 10" by 5". Crimp the joined dough well with your fingers.
- Place the loaves on the parchment, cover again, and let rise for 1 hour
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Place the stollen into the oven until the internal temperature is at least 190°, around 40 minutes. If the loaves seem to be getting too brown, tent them with foil.
- When the loaves are done, place them on cooling rack and immediately brush with melted butter and generously sprinkle with granulated sugar. (Powdered sugar can be used also, but I prefer granulated sugar).
- Once cooled to room temperature, place the loaves into plastic bags or fully enclose in plastic wrap. Store at room temperature until ready to eat. The flavor improves with aging 1 to 2 weeks. Store in a cool place for longer storage times.