Many of the young coworkers who live in our community come here from abroad. As such, we have exposure to many different languages and customs throughout the year, and these include culinary influences. Years ago, our friend Astrid—a confident baker—showed us how she makes a traditional German stolen bread when she lived in Capella House. Astrid is now a nurse in New York City, but we love it when she visits. We are so glad to share Astrid’s lovely recipe for Christmas Stolen once again.
Christollen, or Christmas stollen, is a popular German yuletide bread that you can tailor to your liking with citrus zest, dried fruits, and marzipan. Astrid Soltau in Capella House says the sweet bread is popular in her native Germany. The word “stollen” means a sort of tunnel or cave, and in this case likely refers to the hollow layers formed during the curing process. The bread should be made about two weeks ahead of time to allow for all the flaky layers to form.
∙ 1kg flour
∙ 750g butter
∙ 170ml milk
∙ 400g vanilla sugar or regular sugar (Astrid uses sugar that has been sitting with vanilla beans in a jar.)
∙ 2 packets yeast
∙ Pinch of salt
∙ 500g raisins
∙ fresh lemon zest
∙ 70g candied lemon
∙ 70g candied orange
∙ peeled almonds cut in stripes (you can either leave them in room temperature water overnight to make them easy to peel, or dip them briefly in boiling water and rinse in cool water)
∙ 120ml good quality dark rum ∙ additional melted butter
∙ powdered sugar for dusting ∙ marzipan (if you like)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees when ready.
The day before, soak almonds, raisins, candied orange and lemon plus lemon zest in rum. Keep the bowl of soaking fruit and all other ingredients except the milk over night in the same room so they all reach the same room temperature.
On the next day, warm up the milk to lukewarm (not above 85 degrees Fahrenheit). Pour some of the milk in a small dish and add the yeast, allowing it to bloom.
On a clean dry surface, spread out the flour, and cut butter into the flour.
Add yeast mixture. With constant kneading, slowly add the lukewarm milk.
Knead the dough at least 20 minutes until it is smooth and no longer sticks to the countertop. Place dough in a bowl and cover with a tea towel in a warm, draft-free space. Let rise for about an hour.
To add the fruit mixture:
Stretch the dough to a flat pie on a lightly flowered surface to about an inch thick. Make impressions all over with your thumb in a grid pattern (so they’re easy to cut later) and fill each with about a tablespoon of the fruit. Then cut lengthwise and crosswise so each fruit-filled impression becomes independent. Then wrap each one like a little fruit-filled dumpling and heap them all together into a pile, being careful not to expose the fruit to the external part of the bread. The point of this process is to maintain a uniform distribution.
Again place dough into a bowl and let rise about 30 minutes.
Now split the dough to form two stollen. To form it, form dough into a thick flat pie again. If adding marzipan, make a long finger-thick role, and place it across the dough pie and flap one side of the pie over the other. It should look oval now.
Form the dough into the desired shape. It will flatten during baking, so making a high bread-like form is desired (some choose to make a round shape). Now take the time to use the handle of a small spoon to push every single raisin that is on the surface into the dough and close every single hole. This prevents the raisins from burning, preventing the stollen from becoming bitter.
Place both stollen onto a baking sheet that is lined with tin foil and parchment paper. Make the foil big enough that it can cover the stollen completely.
Place the Stollen UNCOVERED into the preheated oven. Bake for about 60 minutes in total. Check frequently to prevent burning. As soon as Stollen turns golden brown, cover with tin foil and keep baking until 60 minutes baking time is achieved.
Take stollen out of the oven, uncover, and immediately brush with liquid butter.
Now let cool completely and brush again with liquid butter. Don’t skimp on the butter. This process will seal the surface of the stollen and preserve it.
Now cover the whole stollen first in the vanilla sugar and then thick with powdered sugar.
Wrap tightly in tin foil and let sit in a dark and cool spot for at least two weeks or longer before cutting and eating. The longer it rests the better the taste.