A traditional Christmas Stollen has a very long history. They date back hundreds of years, to the mid-15th century. Packed with dried and candies fruits and nuts and then rolled in sugar after they come out of the oven, these treats are made year round. At Christmas, they’re called Christollen for obvious reasons.
If you’ll notice, a stollen is made in a particular, understated shape. Most celebration breads sport multi-strand braids. In contrast, a traditional Christmas stollen seems a bit wall flower-ish. The shape, which is a bit reminiscent of a very large Parker House roll, is an oval of dough folded over a log of filling–most traditionally marzipan, or in the case of my version made with Idaho potatoes, potato candy. The shape and filling are meant to represent the swaddled newborn Jesus. I’d like to see a braided loaf do that.
Another holiday treat you might enjoy are my Christmas pecan angel slices.
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It’s always a delicious honor to work with my friends at the Idaho Potato Commission. Thanks for sponsoring this post, and thank you for supporting my brand partners. You’re gonna love this Traditional Christmas Stollen with Idaho® Potatoes!
A traditional Christmas Stollen has a very long history. They date back hundreds of years, to the mid-15th century. Packed with dried and candies fruits and nuts and then rolled in sugar after they come out of the oven, these treats are made year round. At Christmas, they’re called Christollen for obvious reasons.If you’ll notice, a stollen is made in a particular, understated shape. Most celebration breads sport multi-strand braids. In contrast, a traditional Christmas stollen seems a bit wall flower-ish. The shape, which is a bit reminiscent of a very large Parker House roll, is an oval of dough folded over a log of filling–most traditionally marzipan, or in the case of my version made with Idaho potatoes, potato candy. The shape and filling are meant to represent the swaddled newborn Jesus. I’d like to see a braided loaf do that.
Using Idaho® Potatoes in Baking Bread
Not only does adding some mashed russet potatoes to your bread dough lend a bit of a nutrition boost, which is never a bad thing, adding potatoes yields a softer bread that stays soft and fresh for days.
How does it work? As far as I’m concerned, adding all the gelatinized starches in a cooked potato to a bread dough is sort of a short cut Tangzhong method. Not only does all that starch hold onto moisture, but it replaces some of the flour. And that means less gluten, which means a softer bread. Pretty sweet, huh?
As pleased as I am with the dough and fruit combination, I am maybe most excited about the filling. I mean, when working with the Idaho Potato Commission, what better filling than potato candy?! I will say that, since it is mainly made of powdered sugar, some to quite-a-bit might leak out of your stollens, even if you seal them as well as you possibly can. Fear not, though. Even if some leaks out, enough will stay safely inside your dough that you’ll see it when you slice it.
The texture of the potato candy does change in the oven–it becomes slightly crunchy. Not in a bad way, but I thought you should know.
Still, in the spirit of baking with Idaho® potatoes, I went all in, even flavoring the candy with almond extract as a reference to marzipan. Feel free to leave it out entirely or use the more traditional marzipan or maybe even a cheesecake-type filling of sweetened cream cheese and an egg.
And now, before we get on with the business of making our traditional Christmas Stollen, let me answer some of your pre-baking questions.
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How Long Will It Take To Make This Guy?
Well, first of all, this recipe makes two, and once you taste it, you will thank me for that. The Beloved and I have plowed through an entire one in 2 days. The second, I wrapped up tightly and shoved in the freezer. I’ll pull out for Christmas. Unless I get a hankering next Tuesday, in which case all bets are off.
You can absolutely split the recipe in half, but it’s so great for breakfast or with coffee or just standing next to the stove, you will probably want to go ahead and make the full recipe.
It’ll take you about 15 minutes to chop the fruit and let that simmer. Then it goes in the fridge until you need it. To make and knead the dough (do use a stand mixer for this since the dough is fairly soft). Once it’s kneaded, about 10-15 minutes) it goes in the fridge overnight.
Potato candy takes about 5-10 minutes to make. Or you could be super traditional and buy (or make) marzipan.
The Day Of Baking, you’re probably looking at 2 1/2 hours, most of which is sitting around waiting for the dough to rise two times.
Is This Traditional Christmas Stollen Hard To Make?
Honestly, it’s not that hard to make. The hardest parts are getting the fruit evenly distributed in the cold dough and making sure it’s done. Since it bakes in a relatively hot oven (400F), the crust will get fairly dark. I never had to cover mine with foil, but you might.
To make sure it’s done, check the internal temperature with an accurate instant read thermometer. Make sure you take the temperature away from any filling as that will likely give you a false reading. You’re shooting for about 195F.
Once the stollen come out of the oven, you need to slather it with melted butter and then dust it with a very liberal amount of powdered sugar. After a few hours, regular powdered sugar will start to dissolve into the bread and it will start to look a bit sad. You can prevent this by either eating it all within the first few hours after baking or use non-melting powdered sugar (sucre neige). Made mostly of dextrose rather than sucrose, it tastes slightly less sweet than regular powdered sugar and will not melt. Magic!
What Can My Husband Do To Help Make This?
Oh, and you’ll need a rolling pin to make this bread, so put this one on your gift list. It’s gorgeous, and it’s dishwasher safe!
Okay, you guys ready? Let’s make this guy.
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Traditional Christmas Stollen with Idaho® Potatoes
This stollen might even be better than a super traditional, potato-less Christmas stollen. The potatoes keep it soft and moist, and rather than using candied fruit, I used a variety of dried fruits that I plumped up in apple cider. Feel free to plump them up in rum if you’d rather.
For the Fruit:
- 2 oz chopped dried apricots
- 2 oz currants
- 2 oz dried tart cherries
- 1 oz crystallized ginger, minced
- 1 oz dried cranberries
- ⅓ cup apple juice or apple cider
For the Dough:
- 6 ounces mashed Idaho® russet potato, potatoes cooked in lightly salted water, no milk or butter
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 3 ounces unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2.3 ounces ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 4 oz ½ cup whole milk
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 14.5 oz all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons dried yeast
For the Potato Candy Filling (optional):
- ¼ cup cold mashed potatoes
- Heavy pinch salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons half and half of milk
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon almond extract
- 4 cups 1 pound powdered sugar, plus more for kneading
To Finish After Baking:
- 1 ounce 2 Tablespoons melted butter
- Powdered sugar
For the Fruit:
- Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan.
- Heat over medium heat, and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and let the fruit cook for 10 minutes.
- Cool to room temperature. Drain off any extra juice that may be left after cooking.
- Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the Dough:
- Place the potatoes (cold or warm) in the bowl of your stand mixer.
- Add the salt, butter, and sugar.
- Fit your mixer with the paddle attachment and mix on medium low speed until the potato mixture is smooth.
- Add the milk, egg, egg yolk, spices, flour, and yeast in that order.
- Fit your mixer with the dough hook, and mix on low speed until the flour is evenly moistened and the dough is starting to come together, about 2 minutes..
- Knead on medium speed for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth, shiny, stretchy and clears the sides of the mixer bowl. The dough is fairly soft, but if it sticks in the bowl at all, it should only be on the bottom.
- Scrape the dough into a rough ball in the mixer bowl, spray with a bit of oil or pan spray, cover and refrigerate for 8-12 hours.
- Remove the dough and fruit from the refrigerator, and, using your fists, work the fruit into the dough. This could take a few minutes, but keep at it. Get the fruit as evenly distributed as you can.
- Form the fruity dough into a ball, spray with pan spray, cover and let rest for about 30 minutes.
- Divide the dough into two equal parts.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll each half into an oval roughly 12” x 9”.
- Place one of the logs of potato candy, if using, slightly off-center running longways down the dough.
- Fold over one half of the dough over the filling (or just fold it over), coming not quite to the other edge. Seal tightly by pressing down firmly all around to encase the filling. (See Notes)
For the Optional Potato Candy Filling
- In a large bowl, mix the cold Idaho® potatoes, salt, milk or half and half, and extracts together until smooth.
- Add half the sugar and mix by hand until you have almost a thick, smooth batter.
- Add the rest of the sugar and mix by hand until you have a shaggy dough.
- Lightly dust a clean work surface with powdered sugar, and turn out the dough onto the surface. Sprinkle the dough with a bit more powdered sugar.
- Knead with the heels of your hands a few times until the dough is smooth and barely sticky.
- Divide dough in half and roll each into a smooth log 9-10” long. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.
To Finish and Bake:
- Heat oven to 400F, place the shaped loaves on a parchment lined baking sheet (both should fit on one, even if you have to angle them a bit), and let rise in a warm place for about 40 minutes while the oven gets nice and hot.
- Bake in the center of the oven for 25-30 minutes, rotating halfway through baking, until the top is a deep burnished golden brown. The internal temperature, taken away from the side with the filling, should be about 195F.
- Remove the loaves to racks to cool.
- Generously brush the tops of the loaves with the melted butter and let stand for 2 minutes.
- Sift on a thick blanket of powdered sugar. Let stand until cool. Sugar will have formed a sandy shell over the stollen.
- Serve at room temperature or warm in a toaster oven or oven to serve.
- Stollen will remain beautifully soft for at least 4 days. Wrap well and freeze for longer storage.
The traditional filling is logs of marzipan, and you could certainly substitute that. Note that potato candy will melt in the oven, so it’s important to seal your loaves as well as possible. Even so, some (or a lot) of candy will bubble out of your loaves and onto your parchment-lined sheet. Worry not, all will be well. Once you pull your loaves from the oven, use a spatula to scrape up the overflow and discard. There will still be plenty of candy left inside. Also note the texture of baked potato candy is almost crunchy--certainly more firm that unbaked potato candy.
Note that prep time does not include refrigerator time or rising time.
If this recipe for traditional Christmas stollen seems daunting to you, take heart. It’s really not very hard to make, and if you have any questions, you are welcome to give me a shout.
Enjoy this lovely Traditional Christmas Stollen, and don’t forget to thank the lovelies at the Idaho® Potato Commission for growing such an Excellent tuber that can make our baked goods stay soft and fresh for days!
Thanks so very much for spending some time with me today. Take care, and have a lovely day.
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