Sourdough Stollen Recipe

 

The traditional German Christmas bread called Stollen is a rich, sweet fruit bread made with butter, milk, spices and rum-soaked dried fruit and nuts. Here I present my very own version of Xmas Stollen – my sourdough Stollen recipe for all you adventurous bakers out there.

To provide some background: I’ve always wanted to be a Xmas Stollen lover. However, it usually contains a few ingredients I’m not really a huge fan of such as candied orange & citrus peel and marzipan. Heaps of butter and sugar are normally used to preserve the bread for weeks (the typical proportions for traditional German Christmas Stollen according to the Dresdner Stollen Association are a minimum of 50% butter and 65% golden raisins when compared to flour weight).

So, I decided to piece together my own Stollen recipe with #thebreadshebakes rules, a sourdough version with a little bit of added yeast 🙂

Stollen Slices
Freshly Baked Christmas Stollen Slices

Why this is the best Christmas Stollen recipe for me

This is what I set out to achieve:

  • No candied orange, citrus peel or glacé cherries
  • Only high-quality organic dried fruit (yet not too much of it)
  • No marzipan roll in the middle of the Stollen – instead; homemade almond and pistachio paste mixed into the dough
  • Reduced fat and sugar content. A thick layer of butter and icing sugar is usually applied as topping but I’m opting for egg wash and almond flakes instead.
  • It’s a sweet treat and I don’t mind it being a little “merrier” than usual 🙂
Stollen Slices
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Sourdough Stollen Recipe

Note that all the ingredients in this recipe should be at room temperature, so warm the milk slightly if it’s just out of the fridge. This recipe will give you approx. 20 slices of delicious Stollen. Use Austrian Stroh rum for a deliciously authentic rum-flavour. I've added a little bit of yeast into the recipe to lift the rather heavy dough.

Ingredients

Stollen ingredients

    FOR THE FRUIT & NUT SOAKER

    • 100 g organic sultanas
    • 100 g dried organic cranberries
    • 100 g blanched almonds roughly chopped
    • 50 g Stroh rum
    • Seeds from a vanilla pod

    FOR THE SOURDOUGH

    • 25 g wheat sourdough starter
    • 100 g plain flour
    • 100 g water

    FOR THE ALMOND & PISTACHIO PASTE

    • 25 g ground almonds
    • 25 g ground pistachios
    • 25 g caster sugar
    • 25 g icing sugar
    • 50 g water
    • ½ lemon grated zest and juice

    FOR THE DOUGH

    • 475 g plain organic flour German type 550
    • 100 g caster sugar
    • 8 g dried yeast
    • 80 g butter softened
    • 1 egg beaten
    • 200 ml milk
    • ¼ tsp salt
    • ½ lemon grated zest
    • 1 pinch each of ground nutmeg ground cloves, ground cinnamon, ground allspice
    • 3 cardamom pods

    FOR THE TOPPING

    • 1 egg
    • A handful of almond flakes

    Instructions

    How to make German Christmas Stollen

      ON THE EVENING BEFORE BAKING

      1. Mix the dried fruit and chopped almonds with the rum, cover with cling film and leave overnight. This hydrates everything slightly and ensures that the fruit and nuts do not soak up too much liquid from the dough.
      2. It’s really important to use good quality ingredients here as the flavours will really unfold in the baked Christmas Stollen and there is a remarkable difference in the taste.
      3. I’ve used organic dried fruit (organic medium currants and organic dried cranberries) and almonds from Real Foods which are just perfect. The currants add lovely bursts of intense flavour and are high in antioxidants and vitamins while the cranberries give the dough a delicious sweetness while being a great source of vitamin C and dietary fibre.
      4. Prepare the sourdough by mixing the above ingredients together and covering the bowl with cling film.
      5. Prepare the almond and pistachio paste, cover with cling film and keep in the fridge overnight. The paste should be nice and smooth, not too wet or dry.

      ON THE DAY OF BAKING

      1. Crack the shell of the cardamom pods with a knife handle and remove the seeds. Give the seeds a quick grind with a pestle and mortar. Don’t use ground cardamom as it just doesn't have the same fragrant, fresh flavour.
      2. I’ve used organic cardamom pods from Real Foods which are super aromatic and perfect for Stollen.
      3. Mix together the following ingredients to form a dough:
      4. Flour, 150g sourdough, caster sugar, yeast, milk, butter, egg, 120g homemade almond & pistachio paste
      5. Knead for 10 mins to develop a smooth and satiny dough. It’ll be a little sticky but that’s fine.
      6. Then work in the fruits, nuts, lemon zest and spices, distributing them as evenly as possible.
      7. Now leave the dough in a warm place, covered with a kitchen towel or cling film, until it has doubled in size (the time this takes can vary depending on the room temperature; approx. 1.5 hours, but this could take longer!).
      8. Knock the air out of the risen dough and knead for another minute or two.
      9. Shape the dough into an oval loaf (I’m not too bothered with the traditional fold).
      10. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper and cover with a moist kitchen towel.
      11. Leave in a draught-free place for its second proof. Depending on the temperature in your kitchen, this could be done in one hour, but for me this lasted almost three.
      12. Use your finger to make a small dent in the dough. If the dent remains, the bread is ready to bake. If it disappears, the dough needs some more time.
      13. Preheat the oven to 190°C (gas mark 5).
      14. Prepare some egg wash (combine an egg and a table spoon of water and whisk together).
      15. When the dough is ready, brush the Stollen with the egg wash and sprinkle with almond flakes.
      16. Bake in the oven on the lowest shelf for 1 hour 15 mins. If it browns too quickly, protect the bread by covering the top with tin foil. I do this after 25 mins initial baking time.
      17. Use a cocktail stick or skewer to check if the dough has fully baked through as you would with a cake. The internal temperature of the loaf should be 94°C, my Thermapen is proving invaluable once more!
      18. Allow it to cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before lifting it onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

       

      Dried organic cranberries
      Organic dried cranberries
      Roughly Chopped Blanched Almonds
      Roughly Chopped Blanched Almonds
      Almond and pistachio paste
      Almond and pistachio paste

      Cardamom pods and seeds

      Tipsy Christmas Stollen
      The Best Ever Homemade Christmas Stollen

      Serve in relatively thick slices with strong coffee or tea and good quality butter. Lightly toast if you would like to heat it through.

      Stollen Slice Close Up
      Stollen Slice with a nice crunchy crust!

      Where to buy Christmas Stollen in the UK

      Over the last few years, I’ve started to bake Christmas Stollen to order as it keeps and ships well. If you’re interested in a homemade Stollen delivery, please just get in touch via the contact form here to order your special Christmas treat online.

      Walnut bread recipe in four variations

       

      Having been home in Austria for Christmas, I brought back a big pack of shelled walnuts from the trees in my parents’ garden. A good time to experiment with walnut bread! Try my walnut bread recipe below – a sourdough walnut loaf using white wheat and wholegrain rye flour.

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      My walnut bread is a slightly sweet bread and as such makes a great accompaniment to cheese boards with grapes, apricots or figs.

      Walnut Bread Recipe – In Four Variations

      Walnuts are super versatile and can be incorporated into bread in various different ways. Although the main walnut bread recipe remains the same, have a look through the walnut preparation options below to pick your favourite before starting.

      Walnut bread
      Walnut bread

      Ingredients

      Sourdough

      • 50g rye sourdough starter
      • 100g wholegrain rye flour
      • 100g water

      Main dough

      • 350g strong white flour
      • 50g wholegrain rye flour
      • 8g salt
      • 190g water, lukewarm, if using the walnut paste (described below) OR
        260g water, lukewarm, for the other variations (as below)
      • 1 tbsp walnut oil (optional)
      • 200g walnuts in either of the below variations (e.g. 100g lightly crushed walnuts, 100g walnut paste or 200g caramelised walnuts). Lightly crushing your walnut halves with a rolling pin makes it easier for the oils to be released into the dough.

      Four different ways of preparing the walnuts –

      Caramelised walnuts
      Finely chop fresh rosemary leaves, you need 1 tbsp. Dry-roast 200g walnuts in a frying pan (i.e. without any oil). Add the finely chopped rosemary and 2 tbsp of honey and caramelise the walnuts. Be careful not to burn them. Let them cool on a plate.

      Mixed nuts with rum
      From the book Rustikale Brote aus deutschen Landen by Gerhard Kellner.
      For this recipe, you need 100g of walnut halves, lightly crushed, as well as 100g hazelnuts.
      Dry-roast the hazelnuts in a frying pan (no oil). Pour over 35ml of lukewarm water once finished roasting. In a separate pan, dry-roast the walnuts and cover with 3 tbsp of rum.
      Leave to soak overnight and drain any excess liquid.

      Walnuts soaked in milk
      Heat some milk until boiling – you’ll need enough to cover 200g walnuts in a small bowl. Cover the walnuts with boiling milk and leave to cool.
      Once cooled, drain any excess liquid.

      Walnut paste
      As per Dan Lepard’s book ‘The Handmade Loaf’.
      Make 100g walnut paste and also add 100g of halved or crushed walnuts into your final dough.
      For the paste, you need 50g of walnuts, 50g of water, 2 tbsp of honey, 20g melted butter (lightly browned) and a pinch of salt.
      Place all ingredients into the bowl of your hand blender and blend until you have a soft, smooth paste.

      How to make walnut bread

      Day 1

      1. Combine the sourdough ingredients in a medium bowl, cover and leave to rest at room temperature for 16 to 24 hours.

      Day 2

        1. Combine 200g of sourdough (the rest goes back into the fridge for your next bake) with the main dough ingredients and walnut paste if using, but don’t add the whole walnuts at this point.
        2. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes. 
        3. Shape into a ball, place in a lightly floured bowl, cover and keep at room temperature for an hour or so. The dough should have visibly expanded during this time.
        4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface.
        5. Use your fingers to flatten the dough and sprinkle the (lightly crushed, caramelised or soaked) walnuts over the surface.
        6. Work the dough to distribute the nuts evenly.
        7. Shape the dough into a round and place into a pre-floured proofing basket.
        8. Leave to rise for several hours at room temperature until fully proofed.
        9. Preheat the oven to 200°C and preheat your La Cloche baking dome at the same time (from cold) if using.

      Transfer the bread from proofing basket to the La Cloche plate or onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.

      1. With a sharp knife, make a few criss-cross cuts into the loaves just before baking.
      2. Bake for about 50 minutes. Take the La Cloche lid off for the last 10 minutes if using.
      3. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.

      I love baking with walnuts. If you’d like to try a different walnut bread recipe, take a look at these posts also: