This traditional German stollen bread is the perfect treat for the holidays! It’s a delicious sweet bread filled with cranberries, raisins, candied citrus, and a luscious almond filling.
I love German food and trying to recreate it at home! A few more recipes you’ll have to try out: pork schnitzel, German oven pancakes, and this German potato salad! (It’s one of my favorite sides!)
German Christmas Fruit Loaf (Christstollen)
This holiday season, swap out your traditional fruit cake for this tasty German version! Translated, “stollen” means fruit loaf. These are eaten all year round, but in December they’re called Christstollen. Stollen bread is soft with the perfect chew. Similar to a fruit cake, it’s also loaded with cranberries, raisins, and candied citrus for delicious fruity flavor!
What really makes stollen good, though, is its tasty almond filling. I use almond paste in this recipe, but it’s also commonly made with marzipan! Stollen is the perfect combination of flavors and textures. It’s sweet, nutty, and fruity! You’ve got to give this delicious German pastry a try for Christmas. It may just become a new family tradition!
What You’ll Need to Make Stollen
I’ve broken this list of ingredients up into a few different parts so it’s easier to organize. If you can’t find almond paste at your local grocery store, check out my tips section below on how to make it at home.
Fruit and Nut Mixture
- Dried Fruits: In my stollen bread I used dried cranberries and golden raisins for the perfect combination of tart and sweet.
- Candied Citrus: I used both candied orange and lemon peel. If you can’t find these in-store, use my recipe here to make them from scratch!
- Slivered Almonds: Adds a little extra nuttiness to the stollen.
- Dark Rum: Added for extra flavor.
- Milk: I always like to use whole milk for bread because the fat content makes it soft and tender. Be sure to use milk that’s warm to help activate the yeast!
- Yeast: I used active dry yeast.
- Sugar: Just regular granulated sugar works great to sweeten up the dough.
- Bread Flour: Bread flour has a higher protein content than all-purpose flour, so it produces more gluten and gives your stollen more chew.
- Large Egg: Binds all of the ingredients together!
- Softened Butter: I used unsalted butter because we add salt separately.
- Vanilla: Vanilla and sweet breads go hand-in-hand! Add some in for an extra pop of flavor.
- Lemon Zest: I add lemon zest for a touch of zesty flavor.
- Salt: Keeps your stollen from tasting bland.
- Spices: No Christmas bread is complete without spice! I used cardamom, nutmeg, and cinnamon for the perfect holiday flavor.
- Almond Paste: For the filling of the stollen. You can also use marzipan instead. If you can’t find either at the store, you can make it from scratch using my instructions below.
- Melted Butter: Nothing compares to a little melted butter brushed on top of homemade bread!
- Powdered Sugar: Stollen is traditionally made with powdered sugar dusted on top, but you can omit this if you want your bread to be less sweet.
How to Make Almond Paste
If you can’t find almond paste or marzipan at the store, don’t worry! It’s really easy to make at home. All you need are a few simple ingredients and a food processor. Add 1 1/2 cups whole almonds, 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, one egg white, and blend until you reach a paste-like consistency.
How to Make Stollen Bread
I know all the instructions may be intimidating, but making stollen is actually pretty simple! It just takes a little time and patience to get your dough right.
Preparing the Fruit and Nut Mixture
- Combine Ingredients: Prepare the fruit and nut mixture by combining dried cranberries, raisins, candied fruit peels, almonds, and rum.
- Soak in Rum: Allow the mixture to soak, stirring occasionally until you are ready to use it.
Making the Dough
- Activate Yeast: In the bowl of a stand mixer combine your milk, yeast, and sugar. Let the mixture rest for about 5 minutes, it should become bubbly as the yeast activates.
- Combine: Add to the bowl 3 cups of your bread flour, egg, butter, vanilla, lemon zest, salt, cardamom, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
- Mix: Using the dough hook attachment mix the dough on low speed to incorporate all the ingredients and bring the dough together. Once dough has come together, if it is too sticky and wet, add more bread flour ¼ cup at a time. Then allow it to mix for a few more minutes on low speed. Increase speed to medium high and mix for about 3-5 minutes, this will develop the gluten.
- Proof: Remove dough from mixer and place in a lightly greased bowl and cover to proof until it has doubled in size, about 45 minutes to an hour.
- Create Bread Forms: While the dough is resting, create two rectangular forms with tin foil and place them on a sheet of parchment paper, these will help the stollen bread to keep it’s shape while baking. If you have stollen bread forms you can use those.
- Shape and Fold: When dough has doubled in size, dump out onto a lightly floured surface and pound to degas. Fold in your fruit and nut mixture, straining out any excess juice beforehand. Then work the dough until the fruit and nut mixture is evenly distributed throughout the dough. Allow the dough to rest, covered in the bowl for another 10 minutes.
Adding Filling and Baking
- Add Almond Filling: Dump the dough back onto a lightly floured surface and cut it into two equal halves. Stretch each half into a rectangle and set aside. Take your almond paste and roll into a rectangle between two sheets of parchment paper. Cut the almond paste rectangle in half and place one on each rectangle of dough, slightly off to one side.
- Shape and Proof: Stretch the dough over the almond paste and secure your seam on the side of the loaf. The seam is baked on the side of the loaf to create the classic stollen bread form. Be sure to secure it tight. Place the formed loaves onto your prepared forms on the sheet pan and cover, allow the loaves to proof until just under double in size. Do a touch test to see if the loaves are ready to bake by lightly poking down each loaf about 5 times. The pokes should slightly spring back but still be visible. If they spring back and the dough is still tough they need more time, if the loaf starts to deflate when you perform the test your dough is over-proofed.
- Bake: Once the loaves are ready, bake them at 350° Fahrenheit for 40-50 minutes. I like to rotate the pan around after about 30 minutes to ensure an even bake. You also may want to cover the loaves with foil after 30 minutes if they are browning too quickly. The loaves are ready when they are a light golden brown and temp out to 190° Fahrenheit.
- Add Topping: Remove the loaves from the oven and brush with melted butter, once the loaves have cooled a bit, dust each one generously with powdered sugar.
Tips for Making the Best Stollen
Here are a few of my tips and tricks for making stollen! It’s really easy to customize. You’re going to love making it for the holidays!
- Use Orange Juice in Place of Rum: The alcohol in the rum you soak the fruit and nuts in will bake out, but if you are not comfortable using rum you can use orange juice as a substitute.
- Swapping Out Almond Paste for Marzipan: You can use marzipan instead of almond paste, I just prefer the almond paste personally.
- How to Make Candied Citrus: If you need to make your own candied orange and lemon peel like I did follow these steps: chop up ½ cup lemon peel and ½ cup orange peel and put into a large saucepan with 1 ½ cup sugar and ½ cup water, bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the temperature to low and allow the mixture to simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature before using in your bread recipe.
How Long Does Stollen Last?
This loaf is best made the night before you intend to serve it so it has plenty of time to cool down. Enjoy within a few days. It can be stored covered at room temperature for up to a week, and in the freezer for 3 months, although I recommend eating it fresh!
- At Room Temperature: Store stollen in an airtight container. It will stay fresh for up to 1 week!
- In the Freezer: Store stollen in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.