Sourdough Christmas Stollen

LeadDog's picture

I heard about Stollen recently and how good it is so I decided that I wanted to make some.  The only problem is I have never eaten or seen Stollen.  I looked in my books and on the internet for recipes for sourdough Stollen and decided to improvise and make my own.  The paragraph from Peter Reinharts's "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" is very nice and I think worthy of quoting here.

Dresden is considered the spiritual home of this traditional Christmas bread.  The bread symbolizes the blanket of the baby Jesus, and the colored fruits represent the gifts of the Magi.  As in nearly every festival bread, the story aspect of this loaf is culturally important, for it is a way parents teach their children about their heritage.

This is a bread that is soft with lots of different flavors bursting onto your taste buds with every bite.  There are exotic spices, dried fruit, nuts, and a little bit of Brandy in the bread.  The outside of the bread is painted with melted butter then covered with powdered sugar.  This really is a special bread for a festival.

The Dough

Ingredient Metric Imperial Baker's Percentage
Flour, Bread 349 grams 12.32 oz 89.95%
Flour, Whole Wheat 39 grams 1.38 oz 10.05%
Salt 8 grams 0.28 oz 2.06%
Preferment 368 grams 12.99 oz 94.85%
Whole Milk 232 grams 8.19 oz 59.79%
Unsalted Butter 46 grams 1.62 oz 11.86%
Sugar 2 grams 0.07 oz 0.52%
Cinnamon 1 grams 0.04 oz 0.26%
Dried Pineapple 40 grams 1.41 oz 10.31%
Dried Papaya 40 grams 1.41 oz 10.31%
Dried Cranberries 40 grams 1.41 oz 10.31%
Slivered Almonds 35 grams 1.24 oz 9.02%
Brandy 120 grams 4.24 oz 30.93%
Nutmeg and Cardamon 50/50 1 grams 0.04 oz 0.26%
Orange Zest 13 grams 0.46 oz 3.35%
Lemon Zest 12 grams 0.42 oz 3.09%
Almond Extract 2 grams 0.07 oz 0.52%
Total Flour Weight:
388 grams

Percentages are relative to flour weight (flour equals 100%) and every other ingredient is a percentage of this. Flour from the starter is not counted. This recipe was originally in grams and has been automatically converted to other measures.


Sourdough Christmas Stollen

Here is the bread hot out of the oven.

The night before I wanted to make this bread I soaked the dried fruit in 120 grams of Brandy.  I just pour Brandy over the fruit until it covered it over.  The next day I pour the Brandy off and discarded it down my throat, it was very good.

I used 100% hydration preferment for this bread.  I mixed it into the whole milk which I had warmed up.  Then I added my bread flour, whole wheat flour, and unsalted butter.  I mixed this all up until I had the flour all hydrated.  I let the dough sit for 30 minutes while I made the lemon and orange zest.  I then added everything that was left to the dough but the cinnamon and mixed it up.  The cinnamon I left out until latter because I heard it inhibited the yeast.  I put the the dough into an oiled bowl and let it ferment for three hours.

The dough is then turned out on to a floured counter and patted out flat about an inch or inch and a half thick.  Then I used a rolling pin to flatten out the middle leaving the far and near edge thick.  Now I sprinkled the dough with cinnamon until it was well covered.  Next the dough was folded over so the upper layer stopped right were the bottom layer gets thick again.  The fold is rolled down a little bit to hold the bread together this is the opposite side of the thick parts of the dough.  The dough was then bent to give it a crescent shape.  Here is a YouTube video that I got some tips from.

While I was shaping the dough the oven was preheating to 360°F.  I placed the bread on a cookie sheet and placed it into the oven for 40 minutes. (Second loaf was cooked for 45 minutes which I think is just right.)  When the bread comes out of the oven I brushed it down with melted butter and then dusted it with powdered sugar.  The bread then was put back into the oven for three minutes to set the coating.

Here is a picture of the bread after being coated.  The sun was coming into the kitchen just right to highlight the white sugar coating.

Sourdough Christmas Stollen coated with sugar.

The neighbors came over and tested it out.  We had multiple slices of the bread so I would say it is a real winner.  I just can't get over the multiple explosion of different flavors this bread has and it is so nice and soft.  Time for another slice.

284 users have voted.


rossnroller 2009 December 20

Very different from the SD stollen I made, by the sound of it. I used Ed Wood's recipe, and ended up with a whacking great loaf that was a bit on the dry side. Not a bad flavour, but we ended up toasting most of it. I'll have to try another recipe, and from your description, yours looks like a good place to start. Thanks for your post!

Mine varied not only in flavour and crumb texture, but also in appearance - as the pic below will show. I liked the look of it...very Christmasy (if you live in the northern hemisphere!). But for the eating part, the crust was a bit dark.


PS: Can't get the image to embed - I'm obviously using the wrong URL, or something. If you happen by, Maedi, would you mind addressing my incompetence?

EDITED by Maedi "Fixed! No worries :)"

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2009 December 20

 This loaf has a hydration of about 72% that is all the flour in relationship to the water in the preferment, milk and butter.  I almost thought that I would need to toast the bread but you don't.  Maybe next time I'll cook it a little bit longer.  Most likely I'll make another one soon.  This one is already half way gone and there will not be any left after tomorrow.  Here is the crumb shot.

Stollen Crumb

rossnroller 2009 December 20

I can't recall the hydration of the Ed Wood version I made, but I'm sure it was a lot less than your 72%. I recall wondering whether I should increase the hydration as I kneaded it, but had never made a stollen so went with the recipe. Anyway, the higher hydration explains some of the differences between my stollen and yours. Must say, your crumb looks more delectable than mine as I recall it (didn't take crumb shots, which usually indicates I was less than impressed with my final product).

The only reason I resorted to toasting mine, incidentally, was that due to the dryness it tasted better that way, moistened with a bit of butter - the loaf was so large that it lasted days, and was drying out more every day. I guess, really, it was a choice or toast or toss in the end. Obviously, this was not the case with yours!

Adam T's picture
Adam T 2009 December 21

I brushed it down with melted butter and then dusted it with powdered sugar.  The bread then was put back into the oven for three minutes to set the coating.

When I read this, everything became clear to me. The previous head baker always made this when no one was around, and I could never figure out how he got the sugar to stick to the butter afterwards. 

I always clarified the butter, then brushed it onto the loaves, and packed on the sugar. Most of it would fall off right away and then start to turn yellow after a few days in the packaging.


LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2009 December 21

 Ross I think I picked up the hydration of the Stollen from BBA.  I'm thinking for what I did it is right on, for someone else it would be a good starting point.  I did keep reading from different sources that some people like to let their Stollen dry out.  I don't know why and after eating mine, letting it dry out is something that I wouldn't do.

Adam there was only one source on the internet that instructed people to make Stollen that way.  It was one of the first pages on how to make Stollen that I read so it stuck with me.  Now that I see your comment I see that it might be a very important step in making Stollen.  This does work just in case any one wonders, the sugar sticks to the bread and hardly any falls off.

rossnroller 2009 December 21

1. Maedi, thanks yet again for coming to my rescue! File me under technical cretin!

2. Yes, LeadDog, I agree with you entirely - I don't get why anyone would like a dried-out stollen? Will go with your recipe next time, for sure.

3. Adam, like LeadDog, I brushed melted butter over my stollen when it had cooled a bit, then shook icing sugar over. No problem sticking, as you can see, and it's a nice look. I think maybe it is standard practice with stollen. Wasn't my idea. I was just following the recipe.

Cheers all

hans krijnen's picture
hans krijnen 2009 December 28

Hello Everybody,


Being Dutch and a bakers son I made plenty of them.

I must say that living for the last half of my life in the USA does not make it easier to find recipes for the stollen

Here is my version the night before i have the dried fruit for 1 hour is body temp water, drain and put the fruit on a towel to dry.


350 Grams bread flour

5 grams salt

25 grams sugar

11 gr  yeast

1 egg

13/4 dl milk

75 grams of butter


equals the weight of the dough so the dough weight 500 grams i have the night before soaked 500 gr dried fruit, did not weight the fruit after.As you can see on the photo i added some almond too.

make a straight dough and after about 7-8 minutes i took the dough put it on the table and added the fruit into it by hand so  the fruit don't break and the accid kills the yeast

let the dough rest for about 1 hour and shape it like a Batard and coverd and rest for about 20 minutes.

you take a dowl or a rolling pin and start in the middle gently push the rolling pin up and down so you have a flat piece of dough in the middle. Then in the middle (bakkers in Holland ) put some almond paste in it i did 150 grams fold the top piece on top of the bottom piece let rise for 1 hour ( cold kitchen)

and bake at 400 F for 10 minutes and turn down to 350F. let the bread cool down a little bit and brush with melted butter, then when the bread is cold sprinkle with Powder sugar or icing sugar.  

Dutch baker Hans

rossnroller 2009 December 27

But I'm curious that your recipe doesn't contain any spices. Is this your tweak, or is it customary for the Dutch version of stollen not to include spices?

Come to think about it, I'm assuming traditional German stollens have spices only because Ed Wood's recipe did - interested in some clarification on this (err wait...I have The Bread Baker's Apprentice and haven't even looked at Reinhart's recipe - duh! Must do so now).

Adam T's picture
Adam T 2009 December 27

I really like your Stollen Hans. They are all wonderful. Look at my album for what I make.

I too am curious about why no spices?

We use; Cardamon,Cinnamon, Nutmeg

hans krijnen's picture
hans krijnen 2009 December 28

Thanks you for your comments,


As i just looked through my dutch baking books there is not one that add Spices to there stollen.

I shall email some bakkers in holland and see what they have to say. I let you know later on.


LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2009 December 28

I made Stollen again for Christmas Day with the same formula.


This didn't vanish in nothing flat and I had a slice that is now three days old and it is unbelievable good.  I would have to say twice as good compared to when it is fresh.  I got the hang of how to get the sugar on the bread this time too and baked it for 5 minutes longer.

Karniecoops's picture
Karniecoops 2009 December 31

I've never made Stollen before (although fully intended to do so this year, but ran out of time), however I've eaten plenty of if!  I would agree with Hans as I don't think I recall eating a Stollen that tasted at all spicy (the Stollen's I've eaten are all German).  I even buy the German ones here in NZ and they aren't spicy either.

Love all the fabulous looking Stollen's though guys, they're stunning, and really make me hanker for a piece with my cup of tea right now :o)

Happy New Year!

rossnroller 2009 December 31

I was prompted to do some research on this topic as a result of this thread. I had assumed that any traditional stollen contained spices of some sort, because my Ed Wood version did, and also I now hazily recall my German ex-gf made one for Christmas - hers had spicy undertones (I forget which spices, though). I do recollect it also contained marzipan (which I don't like much...hence my clarity in recollection on this point!).

She was from Munich, but my googling has revealed that Dresden is where stollens originated, and although the bread has changed a lot over the centuries, a traditional Dresden stollen does include spices. They may include cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, mace and/or cloves. 

As with most traditional foods, there are multiple variations of stollen...and that no doubt accounts for the differences in recipes and perceptions that are evident in this thread.

Of course, it doesn't matter - if you like 'em with spices, that's fine, and if you don't that's your choice, and an equally valid one! I tend to be a traditionalist with food, mostly interested in regional specialities and always in search of the "Authentic" (I use those inverted comas advisedly), so that's what informs my perspective.

cat_8 2009 December 31

 i am a German and lived there more then 30 years. i never had any stollen with spices. only thing we add , is orange , lemon ( both sugary dried) , rasin in rum and maybe marzipan

rossnroller 2009 December 31

I can only go by my own experience in Germany, by my recipes, and by my research. Here are a few links I plucked out at random after entering 'traditional stollen recipe' into Google. All links have recipes with spices. So does Reinhart's recipe in BBA (cinnamon). As I stated earlier, though, there are clearly variations - as with most traditional recipes - and this obviously accounts for the different views expressed in this thread. Sometimes there are no 'rights' and 'wrongs'...

hans krijnen's picture
hans krijnen 2010 January 1

Hallo You all bakers,

First i would like to Wish everybody a Happy, Healthy, and Save New Year

I have to agree with the last post that in bread baking or cooking there are so many ways, so yes there is NO right or wrong



LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2010 January 1

 I looked around at Stollen formulas when I made mine and saw lots with spices.  The really interesting part about Stollen's history is many hundreds of years ago it was forbidden to make Stollen with butter.  You can see how time has changed many things about Stollen.

Karniecoops's picture
Karniecoops 2010 December 21

Well I actually managed to get around to making one of these this year - even though I almost left my run a bit late.  In fact it nearly didn't happen, as the silly season has gotten ridiculously busy! 

Fed my starter Sunday morning, but then got way-laid and didn't get to make the dough Sunday night, so fridged my very happy looking starter until this morning (Tues).  Made the dough more or less like you described above LD, but had stupidly forgot to buy any peel or decent dried fruit or brandy (yes it is sounding like a disaster!), so used raisins and currants and soaked them in hot water this morning.  Ad-libbed a bit by added cointreau to the milk (in lieu of orange or lemon essence) and then left the dough to ferment in the fridge whilst at work today. 

Surprisingly, even though my starter was made Sunday and not used till Tues, I got a good rise in the fridge during the day today!

Most disapointing aspect of all the aforementioned is I didn't get to do the "brandy discarding down the throat" part!

Gave the dough one fold tonight after letting it sit at RT for about an hour.  Kind of followed Reinhart's plan B instructions for shaping (from BBA) and threw some dried cranberries and slivered almonds in the middle.   I only made one loaf ........... and it's MASSIVE!  This might turn out to be a mistake, but we'll have to wait till tomorrow morning to find that out.  So she's back in the fridge overnight proofing, and I'll bake before work.

Here is the loaf after 2hrs proofing in the fridge:


LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2010 December 22

 Oh that looks god already.  I might make some stollen later this year but for now it is panettone and persimmon pie.

Karniecoops's picture
Karniecoops 2010 December 22

Well I think I should have made 2 loaves, because this puppy is ENORMOUS!!!  I baked for a total of 60mins at 180C, and it had turned a nice walnut colour.  Brushed with butter, sprinkled with icing sugar and voila!  A big snow covered loaf!

After first dust with icing (powdered) sugar:

And then the 2nd dust:

And because it's breakfast time, and it was just sitting there looking delicious, I had to slice it open even though it had barely had a chance to cool:

and boy did it taste good with my cup of tea!! 

Sorry, out of focus phone camera photos!

Will have to send some pics to my German friends, I think they might even be impressed!  Great recipe thanks LD and merry Christmas :o)

Happiness is indeed making bread!


Shylo 2020 August 2

I mentioned to my German friend that I wanted to try making some Christollen for Christmas this year - she said it is traditionally made in advance and allowed to sit and age for a couple of weeks - did anyone else find this in their research 

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