Sourdough Stollen Recipe – The best German Christmas treat

It’s the month of Christmas and it’s cold and dark outside. You sit inside in your cozy, warm house with the lights on and the candles lit. The kettle is on for your favorite cup of tea or a nice fragrant cup of coffee. You cut a piece of stollen and life is good. This is my recipe for sourdough stollen.

Stollen is a German Christmas treat also known as Christstollen or Weihnachtsstollen. It’s gained popularity outside of the German speaking countries over the last 30 years, especially in the United Kingdom.

Most people just buy their stollen, but stollen is not difficult to make. It may be a bit more dense than the factory created bread, but they are also loaded with flavor.

Sourdough stollen on a wooden board

I’ve made recipes for other German baked goods since my father lived in Germany from around 1980 to his death, so I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Germany and have fond memories of this cuisine.


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The history of stollen

Stollen has been made for many hundreds of years.

Some historians believe that the first stollen came by as a result of a contest held by the Bishop of Nauruburg in 1329.

This stollen was very different from what we make today. The main ingredients were flour, oats and water and was probably a lot coarser and tougher than a modern stollen.

Closeup of a Christstollen

The butter letter

In the 15th century Prince Elector Ernst and his brother Duke Albrech decided that it would be better to use butter instead of oil, since oil was a precious commodity and expensive to make.

They wrote the current Pope Nicholas V who did see it their way, so 5 popes and 40 years later they finally got the okay to use butter which was sent to them as a letter, nicknamed the butter letter.

The letter only granted the Prince Elector and his household to do this free of church taxes. Everybody else was going to have to pay an ⅛ of a Gulden per year to do so.

When Saxony converted to protestantism the stollen finally became free.

Over the years the stollen has changed from a simple bread to an sweeter and enriched bread with all sorts of sweet goodies.

The stollen formula of this sourdough stollen recipe

Vitals

Total weight1760 grams
Prefermented flour60%
Hydration48.3%
Yield1 stollen

The Levain

To mitigate the problem of getting an enriched dough to rise this bread has a whopping 100% inoculation, so the levain is quite large.

A bit of sugar is added to sweeten the sourness and it is also very important that you use the levain near its peak and not let the acidity grow before using it.

The hydration of this starter is around 62.3% which means that you need to knead it instead of mixing it, which you are probably used to with your 100% hydration starter.

WeightIngredientBaker's Percentage
250gall-purpose flour100.0%
10gsugar4.0%
250gsourdough starter (100% hydration)100.0%
120gskim milk (0.5%)48.0%
Slices of sourdough stollen with rum-soaked dried fruit and a roll of marzipan on a wooden board

The dough

The dough for the bread in this sourdough stollen recipe is enriched using milk and butter. Both will help soften the crust and the crumb of the bread.

Furthermore the flour of choice for this recipe is all-purpose flour (also known as plain flour) to also help get a softer crust and crumb.

WeightIngredientBaker's Percentage
40gsugar16.0%
10gtable salt4.0%
250gall-purpose flour100.0%
50gskim milk (0.5%)20.0%
150gbutter, salted60.0%
250gmarzipan100.0%
360gdried fruit144.0%
8glemon zest3.2%
12gorange zest4.8%

Traditionally candied orange and lemon peel is added to the dough, but in my version of stollen I use regular zest, which gives a wonderful zing and a good opposing taste to all the sweet fruit.

I soak the dried fruits in wonderful spiced Caribbean rum, but you can also use brandy or another spirit. If you don’t want a stollen with alcohol you can soak the fruits in water to make sure the are plump.

A German weihnachtsstollen on a wooden board

When it comes to marzipan, it’s not a stollen without marzipan. Make sure you buy a good quality marzipan made with real almonds as the other stuff is really no good.

If you want to change the formula around or change quantity, you can do so here in my Bread Calculator.

The conclusion of this sourdough stollen recipe

A stollen is supposed to be flat, drenched in confectioner’s sugar, have a good amount of marzipan and delicious rum-soaked dried fruits in every bite.

This stollen lives up to everyone of those statements. On top the zing of the zest is a very welcome fresh breath of air in an otherwise very rich and sweet environment.

The wonderful crumb of sourdough stollen with dried fruits and a roll of marzipan

For a sourdough endeavor it is relatively easy to make. Although it doesn’t rise as quickly as a yeasted version, the actual bread has a nice and well-developed flavor without any residual acidity.

For me it’s not Christmas without stollen, and this is my absolute go to recipe for delicious stollen.

Please share this recipe for sourdough stollen on social media

This is my recipe for sourdough stollen. If you like the recipe please consider sharing it with like-minded bread lovers on social media.

If you make it and post it on Instagram, please tag me as @foodgeek.dk so I can see it. That would make me very happy.

Sourdough Stollen

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: German
Keyword: Chrisstollen, Christmas stollen, German christmas, Sourdough stollen, Stollen
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Levain and proofing: 20 hours
Total: 21 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 2 stollen
Calories: 3187kcal
Author: Sune Trudslev
Nutrition Facts
Sourdough Stollen
Amount Per Serving (1 stollen)
Calories 3187 Calories from Fat 1107
% Daily Value*
Fat 123g189%
Saturated Fat 52g325%
Cholesterol 202mg67%
Sodium 756mg33%
Potassium 2351mg67%
Carbohydrates 470g157%
Fiber 28g117%
Sugar 159g177%
Protein 56g112%
Vitamin A 4414IU88%
Vitamin C 45mg55%
Calcium 393mg39%
Iron 19mg106%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
The original German Christmas bread but leavened with sourdough starter instead of commercial yeast. A delicious bread filled with rum-infused dried fruits and a marzipan log. This will make the worst Scrooge into a Christmas lover.
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Ingredients

Levain

  • 250 g all-purpose flour
  • 10 g sugar
  • 250 g sourdough starter
  • 120 g milk

Dried Fruit Soaker

  • 100 g sultanas
  • 100 g raisins
  • 100 g dried apricots
  • 60 g dried cranberries
  • 100 g spiced rum

Dough

  • 40 g sugar
  • 10 g table salt
  • 250 g all-purpose flour
  • 50 g milk
  • 150 g butter
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • zest of 3 oranges
  • 40 g almonds
  • 250 g marzipan

Topping

  • 50 g butter
  • 50 g confectioner's sugar

Instructions

Prepare levain and soaked fruit (the night before)

  • To a small bowl add: 250g/1¾ cups all-purpose flour, 10g/2 tbsp granulated sugar, 250g/1 cup stirred down starter and 120g/½ cup milk.
  • Mix it until it comes together, then dump it out on the counter and knead it until everything is completely combined.
  • Then put the levain in a jar and let it grow to about twice the size.
  • It took about 12 hours for my levain at around 21°Celsius/70°F.

Soak fruit

  • To a small bowl add: 100g/3½ oz sultanas, 100g/3½ oz raisins, 100g/3½ oz finely chopped apricots, and 60g/2 oz dried sweet cranberries.
  • Pour over 100g/½ cup spiced rum. If you don’t want the bread to be alcoholic just use water instead.
  • Mix them up, cover them and leave them until you need them.

Mix the bread (the next morning)

  • To a bowl add: the entire levain, 40g/⅕ cup granulated sugar, 10g/1½ tsp table salt, 250g/1¾ cup all-purpose flour, and 50g/⅕ cup milk.
  • Mix it until it comes together.
  • Then dump it out of the counter and knead it until all the flour has been hydrated. The dough will seem very dry here.
  • Put it in a bowl, cover it and let it rest for one hour.
  • Then take 150g/ butter out of the fridge and cube it.

Knead in the butter

  • When the hour is up, knead the butter into the dough.
  • Let the dough rest on the counter for about 15 minutes.
  • While the dough is resting sieve the dried fruit and pad it dry with kitchen paper.
  • Also zest 3 oranges and 2 lemons and put it into a bowl.
  • And chop 40g/ounces of blanched and deskinned almonds finely.

Add inclusions

  • When the dough has rested press the dough out into a rectangle.
  • Add a third of the zest, a third of the almonds, and a third of the fruits.
  • Roll up the dough and knead it until the fruits are kneaded in properly.
  • Continue two mores times until you have a nice dough with both fruit, almonds and zest inside.
  • Put the dough into a proofing container and let it rise until almost doubled.
  • It took about 6 hours for me at 21°C/70°F.

Divide and shape

  • When the dough is ready, divide the 250g/9 ounces marzipan into two and roll them out into cylinders of about 25 centimeters/10 inches length.
  • Then grab the dough and divide it into two equally sized pieces and tease one of them into a roundish rectangle of about 30 cm*20 cm/12"*8".
  • Using a rolling pin, make an indentation the long way in the middle of the dough.
  • Add the marzipan roll and seal up the dough with the palm of your hand.
  • Add the dough to a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  • Shape the other piece of dough the same way and add it to the cookie sheet.

Final proof

  • Cover them with plastic wrap and let it proof somewhere warm for an hour.

Heat oven

  • After the hour is up, remove the doughs and heat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius/340 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • If you have fan assist, use it, if not you probably have to turn the cookie sheet around half way during the bake.

Bake

  • When the oven is warm add it to the oven and bake for 45 minutes. If during the bake the bread is starting to get too brown, cover it with aluminum foil.
  • About 5 minutes before it’s baked, melt 50g/ tablespoons of butter.
  • When the stollen is baked, grab it from the oven and put it on a wire rack and brush them both with melted butter.
  • Leave them to soak for about 5 minutes and then dust them with confectioner’s sugar.
  • Now leave it to cool and it’s ready to eat.

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  1. Per Sascha Zech Reply

    Thank you, Sune. Was oogeling to bake a sourdough stollen for a few weeks, didn’t find a convincing recepie though. Now guess what I’ll #be doing next weekend! You rock, man!

  2. Magnus Tveten Reply

    I found one problem with your awesome recipie…. in the written instructions the butter amount (and almond) do not change when you scale the recipie….
    So my stollen had twice the butter!! Lol added more flour in til it was worakable..but yeah umm wonder how it will go once I bake it.

  3. CLARISSA BECKER Reply

    Should the butter be at room temperature or cold?

    • Room temperature. The recipe says to take out the butter and cube it while the dough is resting for an hour 🙂

  4. CLARISSA BECKER Reply

    Thank you, just wanted to be sure!