Stollen is a German Christmas tradition dating back to the 14th century. My research found that Germans baked these loaves at Christmas to honor princes and church dignitaries. They also sold them at fairs and holiday festivals. The Catholic Church did not allow butter and milk ingredients during advent so they were originally made without those. It wasn't until the 17th century that bakers were allowed to add milk and butter. I cannot imagine how dry the dough must have been without milk! The lump on the loaves represented the humps of camels that carried the gifts to the Christ Child on the very first Christmas.
Check out My Kitchen My World to see what other bakers in this group chose as a traditional Christmas treat from around the world.
2 + 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) cold butter
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup candied chopped fruit
1/2 cup almonds (I used walnuts instead)
6 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
- Preheat your oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet or line with parchment.
- In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
- Cut the cold butter into small chunks, then blend it into the flour with a pastry blender or two knives used scissor fashion to form uneven crumbs.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the cheese, egg, vanilla, almond, and zest. Toss the fruit and almonds with the flour mixture until evenly distributed. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, mixing until most of the flour is moistened.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead it two or three times until it holds together. Divide in half. Roll each piece of dough into an 8 x 7 oval about 1/2-inch thick.
- Fold each piece of dough in half lengthwise, leaving the edge of the top half about 1/2-inch short of the edge of the bottom half.
- Use the edge of your hand to press the dough to seal about 1-inch in back of the open edge; this will make the traditional stollen shape.
- Place the shaped stollen on the prepared baking sheet and bake until light brown around edges about 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from center.
- Remove the stollen from the oven, and transfer to a rack. Brush each one with 2 to 3 tablespoons melted butter. Sprinkle heavily with confectioners’ sugar.
- Once the stollen are cool, brush with butter again and sprinkle with sugar. Wrap in plastic wrap until ready to serve. Plastic-wrapped stollen will keep well for 2 weeks or so at room temperature.