Add a twist to a traditional recipe and make a beautiful Christmas Stollen shaped like a tree complete with garlands festooning from branch to branch. It’s delicious and festive!
This recipe was given to me by Sister Maria Cordes SSND, a teacher my kids had in grade school. The recipe was part of a newspaper article featuring a home economist who was visiting from the Wheat Flour Institute in Chicago, and she was giving her twist on an old Christmas favorite.
A Stollen is a traditional German fruit bread that’s usually covered with powdered sugar or icing. The bread is made with chopped candied fruit, nuts and spices. Stollens date back to the 15th century and were made during the Advent and Christmas seasons. The dough is heavier than a traditional loaf of bread, and my favorite way to eat it is dunking in coffee.
Because a stollen is a cake-like bread, the dough begins by scalding the milk. Scalding milk helps with the rise time and gives a heavier sponge-like texture to the dough. You are going to love working with it because of its weight and it’s easy to roll into shape.
After the dough has risen, it is rolled out into a rectangle just like you were going to make rolls. A little piece of dough is saved to form the trunk. The dough is spread with melted butter and then sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon and then topped with a mixture of diced fruit and nuts. For this post, I used green and red candied cherries and pecans. The edges are then brought to the center and sealed by pinching tightly with your fingers. The piece of dough is then placed sealed side down on a cookie sheet. Place the saved piece of dough in position for the trunk. In the picture below, you can see how a made a slight marking to representing the center. The sides of the tree (dough) are cut to within an inch of the center and then turned and laid flat exposing the fruit and nut filling. You can add additional filling if needed. I did for this post.
After the stollen has risen to double in size, it is baked. Be prepared to cover your stollen with aluminum foil during the bake time just in case it begins to brown too quickly.
The stollen is decorated after it has cooled. I placed the icing in a baggie to pipe a garland in a crisscross fashion and then added additional cherries to the tips of the limbs.
I think my Christmas Stollen has a bit of a loblolly pine look, don’t you? Don’t be afraid to work with this dough when you are pulling and twisting. The dough is very forgiving. Have fun with it!
Do you have a traditional bread or stollen that you make every year during the holidays? Please consider leaving a comment below.
Thanks for stopping by, Rose
- 1 cup milk
- ¼ cup shortening
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 cups sifted enriched flour. (very important to sift)
- 2 eggs
- 2 packages of yeast dissolved in ¼ cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
- Cinnamon and sugar mixture (see below)
- Fruit and nut mixture (see below)
- Scald the milk in a heavy saucepan.
- Add shortening to the hot milk and stir until shortening is melted.
- Stir in sugar and salt and when this mixture has cooled to lukewarm, add part of the flour to make a batter.
- Beat in eggs, yeast, lemon rind and the remaining flour.
- Turn the dough on to a floured surface and knead.
- Place dough in a large greased bowl covered with a lid or towel and let rise for 1½ hours.
- Punch down the dough and roll into a rectangle approximately 12 X 18 inches.
- Reserving a piece of dough for the tree trunk.
- Lightly brush the rolled dough with melted butter and sprinkle with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon (1/2 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon) and then top with nut and fruit mixture.
- The nut and fruit mixture is a combination of nuts, cherries, pineapple, citron (fruitcake mix may be used) to make one cup. I used pecans and red and green candied cherries.
- The edges are brought together in the center and pinched tightly with your fingers.
- The filled piece is turned sealed side down on a greased baking sheet with the trunk arranged in place. For the trunk, I roll the dough into two pieces and twist.
- Make cuts within an inch of the center then turn the dough and lay flat exposing the fruit and nuts forming scallops.
- Additional fruit may be added to fill in if necessary.
- After the stollen has risen to double in size, it's baked in a 350-degree oven for about 30 minutes. It the dough gets dark quickly, cover lightly with aluminum foil.
- Icing and any decorations are added after it's cooled.
- To make the icing, mix one cup powdered sugar, one to two teaspoons water, milk or cream and one-half teaspoon of vanilla or lemon juice.
- Drizzle or pipe the icing in crisscrossed festoons and outlines.