Christmas Stollen

Filled with dried fruit, almonds, and almond paste, fresh-baked stollen makes a delicious gift and an even better Christmas-morning treat.

By Amy Traverso

Dec 03 2021


This fruit-filled stollen makes a delicious gift and an even better Christmas morning treat.

Photo Credit : Amy Traverso

All Christmas fruitcakes and puddings have their roots in medieval times, when expensive spices and dried fruits were the preferred holiday foods of the ruling class (who could afford them). But the German stollen, a sweet yeasted bread made with dried fruit and almond paste or marzipan, is most closely associated with Dresden, Germany. There, during the annual Stollenfest, a horse-drawn wagon still parades a three-ton stollen through the city center each year, where it is cut into thousands of servings for hungry celebrants.

I’m quite happy with stollen on a much smaller scale, and this recipe is a pleasure to make (and simple, too). You marinate some dried fruit in rum, brandy, or fruit juice for several hours, then make a simple enriched dough and do the standard loaf-shaping, double rise, and bake — and voilà! Three beautiful loaves to give away or enjoy yourself. The recipe requires a good amount of rising time but not a lot of hands-on time.

Though you can use marzipan, I prefer almond paste, which is more intense and less sugary; both are readily available in supermarkets during the holiday season. Another tip? The best way to prevent overbaking is to check the temperature of the loaf with a digital thermometer (190° is your sweet spot). Finally, I’m not a huge fan of raisins, glacé cherries, or candied citrus peel, so I don’t use them. But if you love those flavors, go for it! Just don’t make the mistake of thinking that you don’t like fruitcakes or holiday breads. You just have to find the right one.

Note: You can use any dried fruit in this stollen as long as you cut it into pieces smaller than 1/2 inch and preferably closer to 1/4 inch. I like a mix of dried apricot, currants, and cranberries, though dried mango, cherries, prunes, and apple are also delicious.


2 cups chopped dried fruit (see note)
3/4 cup semisweet or dark chocolate chips
1/3 cup rum, brandy, orange juice, or apple cider
3/4 cup milk
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
2 teaspoons plus 1/4 cup granulated sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
About 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup toasted sliced almonds, plus more for garnish
1 package (7 to 8 ounces) almond paste
3 tablespoons melted salted butter
Powdered sugar, for dusting


At least 4 hours beforehand, put the dried fruit into a small bowl or baking dish, pour the rum or fruit juice over it, and stir. Let sit, stirring once or twice, for at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, heat the milk until warm but not steaming. In a small bowl, stir together the milk, yeast, and 2 teaspoons sugar. Let this sit for 15 minutes to activate the yeast. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, butter, egg, flour, salt, cardamom, nutmeg, and lemon zest. Whisk until evenly combined. Add the milk mixture and use the kneading hook or a wooden spoon to mix your dough. Continue kneading, by hand or by mixer, until the dough is smooth, soft, and no longer sticky, 8 to 10 minutes. If the dough seems too wet, add a few tablespoons of flour. Cover the dough with plastic wrap, set it in a warm spot, and let it rise until just about doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Press it flat; sprinkle with the dried fruit, chocolate chips, and almonds; and knead to combine evenly. Now, shape the dough: Divide it into three equal portions, then press each portion out into an oval shape about 8 inches long and 6 inches wide. Arrange the ovals vertically in front of you.

Take your almond paste and divide it into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece out into a 7-inch-long log, then press the logs into flat rectangles. Set a rectangle vertically into the center of each loaf.

Now fold the dough over the almond paste filling. Do this by picking up the left half of the oval and bringing it up and over the filling to the right side, as if folding a turnover or empanada. However, rather than making the edges meet, press the top edge down about 1/2 inch shy of the bottom edge, so there’s a border or “lip” at the edge. This gives the stollen its distinctive shape (which, by tradition, is supposed to resemble the baby Jesus in his swaddling). Press the edge firmly to seal.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the three loaves on the sheet. Cover, set in a warm place, and let them rise until they’ve puffed up once more, 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours.

About 25 minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 350° and set a rack to just above the middle position. When the bread has risen, top with the extra sliced almonds, pressing very gently to make them stick. Bake until the top is golden brown and the loaves are cooked through, 30 to 35 minutes.

Remove the loaves from the oven and gently brush with the melted butter. Let them sit for 10 minutes before dusting with the powdered sugar. Set the loaves on a wire rack to cool.

Serve immediately or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.