Fruitcake has a bad rep as the holiday dessert that no one really likes. But that’s probably because most people have yet to sink their teeth into a German Christmas stollen, a sweet, dense bread that’s filled with brandy-soaked raisins, ginger, marzipan and nuts and coated with a nice layer of powdered sugar.
Originating over 700 years ago, the most famous type of stollen is the Dresdner Christstollen, the shape of which (some say) symbolizes baby Jesus asleep in the manger. With its Christmas spices, hints of boozy deliciousness and versatility, it’s the perfect bread for the holidays, both for gifting and sharing with loved ones.
Though making any bread is a commitment on behalf of the baker, this treat can be made weeks in advance and still be perfectly soft to serve come the holidays. That said, it’s a little on the complicated side.
However, King Arthur Flour has a Christmas stollen recipe that is as straightforward as they come. You’ll want to start soaking the fruit in rum or orange juice the day before, but after that, the recipe calls for combining the dough ingredients, then shaping the marzipan while you’re waiting for the dough’s first rise. Next, you’ll assemble the stollens, bake them and, finally, dust them with that snow-like sugar coating:
Here’s another option: Darling Gourmet grew up in southern Germany and uses an authentic recipe for her stollen, which includes dried fruits, candied lemon peel, nuts and marzipan. Though she advises making your own candied citrus peel, you can also opt for the store bought variety if you’re short on time.
This recipe doesn’t cut corners and shows you step-by-step how to bake stollen like a pro. Though the recipe requires a lot of patience, once the stollen’s made, it can be stored for two to three weeks before eating. She also offers some advice on reheating it, and it looks amazing:
If you’re not so big on marzipan flavor, check out 12 Tomatoes’ stollen recipe, which omits the paste. This version calls for orange liqueur in addition to orange zest, dried fruits and nuts, so you know you’re going to come away with a buttery bread packed with rum-soaked goodies and layers of flavor with a bit of orange zing. She suggests letting the bread sit at least a day for maximum flavor. So plan on spending at least a couple of days on this baking project, though most of the time is simply waiting for the dough to rise.