Christmas Stollen

German Stollen, also called “Christstollen” has been around for nearly 700 years and is considered one of the most famous Christmas treats. Sweet bread and cakes flavored with candied fruits and nuts are perhaps the hallmarks of the Christmas baking season in many countries around the world.  Examples of this include; fruitcakes which are traditional throughout the English-speaking nations, panettone in Italy, keks in Poland, julekake in Norway, bolo-rei in Portugal, and birnenbrot in Switzerland.  But perhaps the most famous throughout the world is the German Stollen.


What Is Stollen?

Stollen is a yeast bread that is baked with dried fruits, candied citrus peel, nuts, and spices. A traditional Stollen is always dusted with a thick coating of powdered sugar, which is said to represent the snowy German landscape, and baked with spices conveying the warmth of the Christmas season. Despite my German heritage, I had never made a stollen, so developing this stollen recipe was a fun experiment for me.

How Stollen Got Its Name

The word “Stollen” was a word for a post or boundary stone for a city. “Striezel” is a word for loaf, and the shape of the bread along with being dusted with powdered sugar was a symbolic shape of the baby Jesus in swaddling clothes so it was also called Christstollen.


The History of Stollen

There are several different versions of stollen: Mandelstollen (almond), Mohnstollen (poppy seed), Quarkstollen (quark), Nuss-Stollen (nuts), Butterstollen (high butter content), Dresdner Stollen (raisin) and Marzipanstollen (marzipan). The first and most famous variety of stollen is by far the Dresdner Christstollen.  Some historians date its origin to the early 1300s and over the centuries the stollen was refined to become what it is today.

Stollen And The Butter Ban

But stollen was not always as delicious as it is today.  Original stollen recipes were often bland and made of hard pastry mainly because the Catholic Church forbade the use of butter and milk during Lent).  It was in this year that Prince Ernst von Sachsen, at the request of the bakers of Dresden, petitioned the pope to lift the butter ban.  The request was denied and then, five popes later, the ban was finally lifted in 1490 via the pope’s famous Butterbrief, “butter letter.”

From that point on, stollen gradually developed into a delicious sweet bread with added ingredients and it soon became an important symbol of the region.  Germany’s first Christmas market was held in Dresden in 1434.  This market, the Dresdner Striezelmarkt, is still held every year.


Are Stollen And Fruitcake The Same?

Whatever you do, don’t ask someone who is German this question. Fruitcake is typically made with chopped candied and dried fruit (cherries, dates, pineapple, etc.) and although Stollen is made much the same ingredients, it is a lot less dense cake-like and more bread-like. And unlike fruitcake, Stollen is always covered in powdered sugar.

How To Serve Stollen

Stolen is best sliced using a serrated knife. Stollen is a Christmas bread that is typically served by the slice throughout the holiday season. Typically, it is warmed in the oven or toaster and is served with a generous helping of jam, honey, or butter.

What To Drink With Stollen

  • Coffee
  • Mulled wine
  • Schnapps
  • Riesling
  • Rum
  • Cognac
  • Amaretto

If you’ve never tried your hand at making homemade Stollen, trust me, it’s a worthy endeavor. In the recipe, I skip the marzipan and use a mixture of raisins, apricots, cherries, and orange peel to make a moist, flavorful, and unforgettable Christmas bread you just may crave year-round.


About the Author

Andrea Potischman

I am a professionally trained NYC chef turned CA mom and food blogger. I post about real food, with doable ingredient lists that are family friendly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comment Policy

Simmer + Sauce reserves the right to remove or restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the topic conversation, contain profanity or offensive language, personal attacks, or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Any post found to be in violation of any of these guidelines will be modified or removed without warning. When making a comment on my blog, you grant Simmer + Sauce permission to reproduce your content to our discretion, an example being for a possible endorsement or media kit purposes. If you don’t want your comment to be used for such purposes, please explicitly state this within the body of your comment. If you find evidence of copyright infringement in the comments of, contact me and I will remove that in question promptly.