Dec 19
2008

Stollen Expectations—German Christmas Stollen with Marzipan

in Bread, Dessert, German, Recipes By Region, Recipes by Type

This week for One Good Loaf I cheated.
I made stollen instead of bread. I know, I know, it’s more of a cake not bread, but my doctor has restricted my activities and so I have to carefully pick and choose what I’m going to do during the week, and this week there was just no way around it–I wanted stollen. And hey, it uses yeast and flour, so really it is bread, right? I love stollen, especially stollen with a ribbon of marzipan running down the center.
Stollen is a traditional German Christmas loaf-shaped cake filled with things like fruit, nuts, and spices. Stollen is thought to have originated in Dresden, Germany sometime in the 1400s. However it started as a particularly tasteless confection since at the time the use of butter was forbade during Advent by the Catholic Church (as part of the fasting rules in preparation for Christmas). But then some Dresden foodies came to the rescue! The ban was finally lifted in 1650 (but only in Dresden) when Prince Ernst von Sachsen successfully petitioned (at the request of Dresden bakers–go foodies!) Pope Urban VIII to lift the restriction. The bread reportedly possesses religious connotations. The oblong shape with tapered ends and dusting of confectioners’ sugar is said to symbolize the Christ child dressed in swaddling clothing. Today in Dresden, the city holds the Dresden Stollen Festival each December, where a 3 to 4 ton stollen is carried through town by a horse-drawn wagon, accompanied by a procession of the bakers and chefs who helped to create it. The procession’s final destination is the Christmas fair where the “Royal Master Baker” and “Stollen Maiden” cut and serve the loaf to the spectators. I’ve been in Germany at Christmastime, and it’s absolutely wonderful, but someday I would love to actually be in Dresden to see and taste that massive stollen loaf!
My aunts and uncle remember my Oma making stollen every year, but none of their memories are very fond ones, as they all report that her stollen was exceptionally dry. I do know, however, that my uncle and I share a love for stollen with marzipan in it. When December rolls around, I start craving it. When Mr. Fuji and I lived in Memphis I had a wonderful source for marzipan stollen, but haven’t found a place yet near us that sells as good of a loaf. (If anybody has a source please tell me!) So I started doing some research and looked at a bunch of recipes, and finally used a modified version of this one from allrecipes.com.

First I gathered my ingredients . . . don’t they just scream Christmas to you? Such wonderful color!
Then I whipped up the dough and threw in all of the yummy extras.
Here’s where I ran into problems. The day that I made my stollen it was pouring rain outside. My yeast was fresh and I had no problems proofing it at the beginning, but once it came time for the first rise, my dough just didn’t want to budge much.
Stollen can take a long time to rise (up to 3 hours), but mine just wasn’t convinced that it wanted to rise much at all. However, I pushed forward, patted out my dough, added a layer of marzipan,
then shaped them, and into the oven they went. They cooked beautifully, and when they came out I brushed them with a healthy dose of melted butter and then doused them in a shower of confectioners’ sugar and let the loaves cool.
The results were good, but not as good as I had hoped. Due to the insufficient amount of rising the loaves were a bit more dense than I would have liked, and the bottom crust was a bit thick. But the flavor was wonderful and it definitely wasn’t dry (sorry Oma!). In the future I am definitely going to try this again, but on a dry day. I think the dough was just a bit too fickle for a rainy day!

Stollen

1 Tbsp. active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm milk (110 degrees Fahrenheit/45 degrees Celsius)
1 large egg
1/3 c. white sugar
1/2 Tbsp. salt
1/3 c. butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
a few drops of almond extract
a pinch of ground nutmeg
a pinch of ground cloves
3 c. bread flour
1/3 c. currants
1/3 c. sultana raisins (golden raisins)
1/3 c. red candied cherries, quartered
1/3 c. candied lemon peel
1/3 c. candied orange peel
7 oz. marzipan
extra butter, melted (to brush on loaves after baking)
confectioners’ sugar (to dust on top of loaves after baking)

1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

2. In a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture with the egg, white sugar, salt, butter, vanilla and almond extracts, nutmeg, cloves, and 2 cups bread flour; beat well. Add the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the dough has begun to pull together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead in the currants, raisins, dried cherries, and lemon and orange peel. Continue kneading until smooth, about 8 minutes. (Dough will be quite sticky.)

3. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume. (This can take up to 3 hours.)

4. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 2 equal pieces and pat each piece out into a lightly rounded rectangle. Roll out the marzipan into 2 rounded rectangles that are slightly smaller than the dough rectangles and place on top of the dough. Fold the dough over to cover it; pinch the seems together to seal. Place the loaf, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in volume, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius).

5. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (150 degrees Celsius), and bake for an additional 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown.

6. While still hot, brush generously with melted butter and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Allow loaves to cool on a wire rack. When cool, wrap in foil or place in an airtight container and keep cool.

* Can be baked in advance, as it will keep for about 2 weeks, and time just improves the flavor!


Coming Sunday: Potato Nengajo

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrea December 19, 2008 at 12:20 pm

Well I think it looks beautiful! I had no idea humidity could make such a difference, although I suppose I’ve read about it before. Yum yum!

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Joy the Baker December 19, 2008 at 12:21 pm

Gorgeous! Your stollen doesn’t look dry at all! It looks perfect with a nice hot cup of tea.

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The Food Librarian December 19, 2008 at 1:23 pm

Looks perfect. My grandma couldn’t cook, but I think that give us more memories! :) Happy Holidays to you!

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bird's eye view December 19, 2008 at 4:47 pm

One of my christmas faves, yours looks absolutely delectable!

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Daily Spud December 19, 2008 at 6:18 pm

I love stollen with marzipan (well, ok, I love anything with marzipan). We were introduced to it years ago by a German friend of my mothers, who would bring us some at Christmas time. I think your recipe might just persuade me to have a go at making some for myself!

As for a 3 to 4 ton stollen, now *that* I would love to see…

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Big Davy December 19, 2008 at 6:47 pm

Very nice, Fuji! I would love to be there to sample it! I’m sure it would have been a wonderful “walk down memory lane.” I do manage to find some via mail order each Christmas, so I’m not totally deprived…
Uncle Dave

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Aggie December 19, 2008 at 7:19 pm

Looks delish and very festive!

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Javajem December 19, 2008 at 10:19 pm

Oh wow! I grew up eating Stollen! I will definitely have to try this recipe. It’s my dad’s favorite!

Thanks for sharing!

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LollyChops December 20, 2008 at 8:11 am

My moms makes one every year and it’s Ron’s favorite! She delivered it to us last weekend he had it gobbled up within a day (it’s amazing that he’s 6 feet 4 inches and skinny as a tooth pick..wait amazing is not the word for it.. it’s not fair is what it is!).

And this is totally bread… def not cake. hehehe ;)

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Katrin December 20, 2008 at 1:47 pm

Hello :-) Your stollen looks wonderful. Really like we make it at home. A less healthy but incredible improvement that we do traditionally is to top it not with one layer of butter and sugar, but with several.
One layer of butter, then sugar, let it dry, next layer added carefully … until its nearly a centimeter of butter and sugar on top. A real guilty pleasure :-)

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Bob December 20, 2008 at 3:07 pm

I don’t think I’ve ever had Stollen. It looks good though, I’ll have to try it.

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Lorraine E December 20, 2008 at 3:24 pm

It looks so delicious and moist! And go the foodies of yesteryear :P

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K and S December 21, 2008 at 6:07 pm

I was bummed to find that our neighborhood German cake shop sold out on their stollen :( Yours look delicious!

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Fuji Mama December 24, 2008 at 8:24 am

Katrin–Oh that sounds wickedly good! I’ll definitely have to try that next time I make it!

K and S–That would totally bum me out too! :-(

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Eric D December 24, 2008 at 8:24 pm

That brings back some serious childhood memories of when I was a kid living in Germany back in the 1960s. I can smell and taste even now.

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Wendy January 1, 2009 at 12:38 pm

Maybe try scalding the milk next time… that seems to make a difference in the rising.

Mmmm, I love stollen.

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Penelope January 3, 2009 at 5:58 am

I would try adding a teaspoon of sugar to the warm milk so that the yeast has a good chance of being activated. If you use bread flour instead of cake flour it might be lighter also.

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heidileon January 6, 2009 at 9:47 pm

This is a very good Stollen recipe, shame I found it so late, but sure I’ll make it on Christmas 2009 ;-)

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rfowler January 4, 2010 at 5:42 pm

I have bought stollen at Aldi’s foods during Nov. and Dec. it is shipped from Germany.

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Fuji Mama (Rachael) January 5, 2010 at 8:46 am

Yes! Aldi’s stollen is delicious! We lived in Memphis for several years and so had several Aldis close by and I bought their stollen every year. Unfortunately we don’t have Aldi here in Southern California. :(

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Kath (My Funny Little Life) January 14, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Your stollen looks perfect! :D My mom makes marzipan stollen for Christmas every year, but she uses a rather untraditional recipe that doesn’t need yeast and much fat. I love how colorful the dried fruit are! :D

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Kira January 27, 2012 at 2:39 pm

This looks wonderful! I have only just discovered your blog, but it is already bookmarked for countless recipes to try! I am so impressed with your cooking and baking skills, as well as your incredibly diverse tastes- I can’t wait to keep following you!

Anyway, I am writing because I live in Memphis, and I’m intrigued- where did you go to buy the wonderful marzipan stollen?

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Fuji Mama (Rachael) January 29, 2012 at 8:37 am

@Kira, Kira, thank you so much for your sweet comment! I bought my marzipan stollen ever year at Aldi (we used to live right up the road from the one on Winchester, across the street from Walmart)! I’ve also seen it in recent years at World Market, though I have yet to try their version.

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Ingrid July 4, 2013 at 10:21 pm

Hi, there is a very simple reason while your stollen didn’t rise as much as you wanted. The fruit is added after the first rise and not at the beginning. Cheers, Ingrid

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