This light, sweet bread dotted with candied fruit and nuts is a tasty Christmas tradition from Germany that our family has enjoyed for years, and I’m sure yours will, too!
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It’s less than a week until Christmas. Almost all my shopping is done, and I’m excited to set aside all the “have to”s in favor of doing a little more holiday baking just for fun. Hooray for good food.
In our family, Christmas was filled with traditions from our German ancestry. I remember watching the blades slowly spin on our traditional German pyramid nativity, lighting a candle each Sunday evening on our advent wreath, and opening one gift on Christmas Eve after acting out the nativity story.
This bread (pronouced “SHTOLL-en”, like stolen, but with a “sh”) is another one of those traditions. I can picture my Oma’s wrinkled hands kneading the dough and methodically sifting powered sugar over the top of the baked loaves.
I never got the chance to learn her exact method, but she taught my sister, and last year I asked my sister to teach me. She came over one afternoon during Christmas break, and we spent nap time that day remembering Oma and honoring our heritage…all through a simple loaf of bread. I love how food is able to connect us to our past in that way.
Now, I’m sharing it with you. Whether you have German ancestry or not, I hope you’ll enjoy the recipe. Even more, I hope you’ll take the time to explore your own heritage and discover (or rediscover) an old family recipe that can become a tradition for your own family.
P.S. – Despite the use of candied fruit, this is in NO way like fruit cake. I promise. Don’t offend the bread by making that comparison. 🙂
- 1 1/2 cups mixed candied fruit (candied orange & lemon rinds, pineapple, & cherries)
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 6 Tablespoons water mixed with 1 teaspoon rum flavoring
- 1 cup slivered almonds, coarsely chopped
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, plus 1/4 cup very soft butter, plus 1/2 cup melted butter, divided
- 1/3 cup plus 1/2 teaspoon sugar, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 2 1/2 Tablespoons (3 packages) active dry yeast
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 4 1/2 cups flour, divided
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- grated zest of 2 lemons
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- In a shallow dish, soak the candied fruit and raisins in the flavored water, covering the dish but stirring occasionally. Soak at least 30 minutes, or overnight.
- Toast the almond pieces in a pan over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until they begin to color and become fragrant, about 7 minutes. Remove to a separate (cool) dish and set aside.
- Heat 3/4 cup milk, one stick butter, 1/3 cup sugar, and the salt in a small saucepan, stirring just until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Pour into a large bowl and set aside to cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, put the warm water in a cup, sprinkle with the yeast, and and stir in 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Wait 5 minutes, until the yeast is foaming actively, then stir the yeast mixture into the warm milk mixture.
- Add eggs and 3 cups flour, and stir well. Add vanilla, lemon zest, and 1/4 cup softened butter (cut into several pieces), the fruit/nut mixture, and the remaining 1 1/2 cups flour. Mix together to form dough.
- Turn dough on to a floured board and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Form into a ball, lightly oil the outside, and place in a covered bowl to rise for an hour (or until doubled).
- Grease two baking sheets. Divide dough in two and–working one at a time–roll or pat each half into an oval. Roll out to about 2.5 cm/1 inch thick. Brush liberally with butter and fold in half length-wise so the bottom edge of the dough extends beyond the top and press down. Pinch around the edge to seal. Brush with butter again, cover loosely, and let rise until doubled again, about another hour.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake loaves for 35-45 minutes, until the loaves are golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
- Brush with butter (again) and set aside to cool, brushing with butter several more times. Sift powdered sugar over the loaves after each layer of butter. Stollen keeps well and can also be sliced and toasted. It makes an awesome breakfast paired with some hot cider and fresh fruit.
Source: My wonderful Oma