Lisa's Letters Home: Stollen - Sweet Potato Chronicles - Sweet Potato Chronicles

Lisa's Letters Home: Stollen

Any­one who knows me well knows that I hate raisins. They’re such a let down. Have you ever looked long­ingly at a huge cookie, brim­ming with glis­ten­ing choco­late chips, only to bite into it and get a mouth­ful of chewy, shriv­eled up grapes? Exactly.

In fact, I’m not a fan of any dried fruit, which is why I usu­ally run a mile from fruit­cake at Christ­mas­time. Stollen, how­ever, is an excep­tion. It’s a bread rather than a cake, sim­i­lar to an Ital­ian panet­tone with marzi­pan streaked through­out. I’m not sure why, but I will hap­pily tol­er­ate raisins, sul­tanas, and can­died peel in stolen (it might have some­thing to do with the fruit being soaked in rum, come to think of it.)

Stollen is one of those things that looks impres­sive, and the fol­low­ing recipe does look a lit­tle scary, but it’s really not. What you do need to do is put aside a Stollen Day on which to make it and employ small chil­dren to do some of the work. Most of the has­sle of stollen is hang­ing around wait­ing for it to do stuff: mix, wait, add some stuff and mix again, wait, roll, form, wait, bake, wait, dust with sugar, eat. The actual steps are pretty sim­ple though, and this can be made up to a month in advance then frozen. In fact, I think this gets bet­ter with age as the rum-soaked fruits mel­low and add flavour to the bread.

Some peo­ple make their own marzi­pan for this recipe and it isn’t that dif­fi­cult – it mostly involves blitz­ing almonds with sugar and eggs to cre­ate a paste. I pre­fer to buy it to save a bit of time, and if you are going to do the same, make sure you get “nat­ural” marzi­pan. That is, marzi­pan that isn’t a lurid shade of yel­low and doesn’t con­tain arti­fi­cial ingre­di­ents. It just tastes a lot nicer.

I found this recipe last year on a food blog that no longer exists, sadly. The author claimed that this is the Vil­lage Bakery’s recipe, which explains why weight is used as mea­sure­ment for all ingre­di­ents, includ­ing liq­uids. I think it is worth invest­ing in a kitchen scale, because it’s far more accu­rate than mea­sur­ing some ingre­di­ents with cups such as but­ter and even flour. A cup of flour that’s “loose” might have less weight than a cup that’s been packed a lit­tle, depend­ing on how you put the flour in the mea­sur­ing cup. For most things, some lee­way isn’t the end of the world but for oth­ers, a few grams can make a big difference.

If you are going to freeze the stollen, don’t dust them with icing sugar before­hand. Let them defrost, then dust with sugar before wrap­ping or eat­ing. I love stollen as is, but it’s also very lovely warmed a lit­tle in a toaster.

I made this recipe for my sister-in-law Gabi, who is an actual real life Ger­man lady and approved! Can’t ask for a bet­ter endorse­ment than that, really. These make excel­lent gifts, if you don’t gob­ble them all up before you give them away.


(Makes 4 small loaves.)

For the ferment:

220g (1 cup) warm milk
10g fresh yeast or 1 sachet of dry yeast
10g (1 Tbsp) sugar
80g (2÷3 cup) plain flour

Mix all the ingre­di­ents and allow to stand until it col­lapses. This took me about 1 ½ hours in the air­ing cupboard.

For the stollen:

All the fer­ment
446g (3 ½ cups) plain flour
4g (1÷2 tsp) salt
40g (1÷3 cup) brown sugar
200g unsalted but­ter
100g (2 large) eggs – save any excess for your egg wash
20g (3 Tbsp) dark rum
200g (1 ½ cups) sultanas/golden raisins
160g (1 cup) raisins
140g (1 cup) mixed peel
200g of marzi­pan, either home­made or store bought


Add the flour, salt, sugar, and but­ter in a food proces­sor or in a stand mixer and pulse until the but­ter is incor­po­rated. Add the fer­ment, eggs, rum, and fruit and mix briefly until combined.

Let rise for 1 ½ hours.

Divide the dough and marzi­pan into four parts. Flour your sur­face and roll the dough and marzi­pan into roughly the same sized rec­tan­gles, about twice as long as wide. Place the marzi­pan on top of the dough and roll it up like a jel­ly­roll. Tuck in the ends and place on a cookie sheet, then brush with egg wash. Repeat until all four loaves are made.

Let rise for about ¾ hour.

Pre­heat the oven to 190C and bake the stollen for ¾ hour. When the loaves have cooled, dust with icing sugar (omit this step if you’re freez­ing them.)



  1. […] friend Lisa Durbin, posted some pic­tures of the stollen she was mak­ing and she passed on her recipe. And yes­ter­day, really quite late in the day, I decided to give it a […]

  2. Just to say I tried these and they are DELICIOUS. And so easy. Thanks for the lovely recipe Lisa. x

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