Mrs. Kostyra’s Christmas Stollen is a lovely soft yeast Christmas bread to enjoy on Christmas morning. Filled with dried fruits and with a lovely powdered sugar glaze, it’s a family favorite!It’s Martha Stewart’s beloved mother’s recipe and we enjoy it every year.
Originally posted December 3, 2012 and updated December 11, 2022.
A Christmas Stollen, also known as Christstollen in Germany, is a soft yeast bread that is baked and made with dried fruits. It is typically dusted with powdered sugar, however, this recipe is coated with a sweet glaze.
I’ve been dreaming of making this Christmas stollen since I saw it in Martha Stewart Living magazine in 2009. It’s Martha’s mother’s recipe and it looked like it was a good one.
Mrs. Kostyra’s Christmas Stollen
What stopped me from making it year after year? Was it the mace? Was it the braids? I’m thinking it simply had to do with my not taking the time to see what mace is and how it could be substituted. It also was because I didn’t want to try to tackle making pretty braids.
This year I had no qualms about braiding the loaves and I also had no issues with completely omitting the elusive mace. I still have not come across it any of my spice shopping ventures.
Why do we eat stollen at Christmas?
The simple answer is because it tastes good. But the more complicated answer has to do with history and tradition.
Stollen is a traditional German fruitcake that dates back to the 14th century. It was originally made with just flour, water and salt, but over time, bakers began adding in other ingredients like fruit, nuts and spices.
The cake became especially popular during the Christmas season, and it was often given as a gift to friends and family. Today, stollen is still a popular holiday treat in Germany, and it can be found in bakeries all over the world.
When do you use the spice mace?
Mace is often preferred in light dishes for the bright orange, saffron-like hue it impart. Mace’s strong aroma is similar to a combination of pepper and cinnamon.
What can you use instead of mace?
Grated nutmeg would be the closest substitute. Ground all spice could also work but is much stronger.
“Chock-full of dried fruit, almonds, and spices, the German stollen is a dense bread that is traditionally oblong, symbolizing a swaddled infant. The history of stollen dates to 15th-century Dresden, where the first German Christmas market was held (a festival still honors it each year). The bread has evolved since then, gradually becoming richer and sweeter. In this version, a recipe from Martha’s mother, Martha Kostyra, pieces of the dough are braided, letting drizzles of the icing pool in the baked loaf ‘s twists and turns.”
Martha Stewart Living, December 2009
December boozy theme was a fun one for me. I had quite a few ideas in mind and they were all Christmas related. I knew it was time to finally try Martha’s Stewart’s mother’s Christmas stollen. I’d been wanting to make it since I saw it in the 2009 December issue. This was year was the year to bake this beautiful Christmas bread.
I’ve already shown you two stollens here since I started my blog: the first one and the second one. The one I made last year had a funny story with it because I swayed from a recipe I was comfortable with to try a Cooking Light recipe and it just did not turn out well for me. I didn’t give up and tried again with the first recipe that was successful for me the year before and had much better results.
Is stollen the same as fruitcake?
While stollen and fruitcake share some similarities, they are actually two different cakes. Stollen is made with a yeasted dough, which gives it a light and fluffy texture. Fruitcake, on the other hand, is denser and more cake-like in consistency.
What ingredients are needed to make Mrs. Kostyra’s Christmas Stollen?
Here is what you need to make this festive bread:
- all-purpose flour
- granulated sugar
- ground mace (I used cinnamon instead)
- freshly grated nutmeg
- whole milk, you could sub almond milk if making this dairy-free
- unsalted butter (sub vegan butter sticks if making this dairy-free…like Earth Balance)
- active dry yeast
- golden raisins
- dried currants
- Cognac, replace with orange juice if you prefer
- blanched almonds
- candied citron
- candied orange peel
- dried apricots
- grated zest lemon
- Vegetable oil, for bowl
For the glaze:
- confectioners’ sugar
- whole milk, dairy-free milk is fine to use
How do you make this Christmas bread?
First thing after gathering all your ingredients, you whisk together flour, granulated sugar, salt, mace, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Stir in milk and melted butter. Add dissolved yeast and the eggs. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth.
Next step is to drain raisins and currants. Add raisins, currants, almonds, citron, orange peel, apricots, and lemon zest to dough, and continue kneading until incorporated, about 10 minutes. If dough is sticky, knead in more flour.
Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, 1 to 2 hours.
Punch down dough, divide into 6 even pieces, and roll each piece into a 15-inch-long log. Braid 3 logs together, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining 3 logs.
Cover with plastic, and let rise until doubled in volume, about 2 hours more.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake stollen until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Beat together confectioners’ sugar and milk. Drizzle stollen with icing just before serving.
What can you substitute the Cognac with?
If you don’t have Cognac on hand you can substitute it with even brandy. I used a plum brandy the second time I made it.
Can you bake it without alcohol?
Yes! If you aren’t into baking with alcohol, you can just soak the raisins in orange juice and it will still be absolutely wonderful.
What is Mrs. Kostyra’s Christmas Stollen bread recipe like?
The bread was soft and smelled incredible while it was baking. The dough with this recipe was very easy to work with. The glaze gave it a little extra sweetness and it was not overpowering.
My dad told me today that he’s ready for me to bake another one and I told him I would work on it this week. The kids loved it…I loved it. I’d still like to get my hands on some mace and try this recipe again. 😉 This is a recipe that will be made here every year for Christmas.
How do you serve Christmas stollen?
There are many ways to enjoy stollen, but one of the most popular is to slice it and serve it with a dollop of butter or cream cheese. This rich and decadent treat is the perfect way to celebrate the holiday season! It is typically powdered with sugar or covered in a glaze, and sometimes decorated with candied fruit.
What does Christmas stollen taste like?
Christmas stollen is typically made with dried fruits like raisins and cherries, as well as nuts and spices. This combination of ingredients gives the cake a sweet and slightly savory flavor that is simply irresistible.
Some other holiday breads to enjoy:
Source: Martha Stewart
Slightly updated October 2022
Mrs. Kostyra’s Christmas Stollen
- for the dough
- 5 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour plus more for surface and more if needed
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground mace I used cinnamon instead
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 cup whole milk* warmed, could use dairy-free milk like unsweetened almond mikl
- 5 ounces 1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, melted could use vegan butter sticks to keep dairy-free
- 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast from two 1/4-ounce envelopes, dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water
- 3 large eggs lightly beaten
- 7 1/2 ounces golden raisins 1 1/2 cups, soaked in 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
- 5 ounces dried currants* 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons ( soaked in Cognac), could soak in orange juice to keep alcohol free
- 1/4 cup Cognac could soak in orange juice to keep alcohol free
- 5 ounces blanched almonds 1 cup, coarsely chopped
- 4 ounces diced candied citron* 2/3 cup
- 2 ounces diced candied orange peel* 1/3 cup
- 2 ounces diced dried apricots 1/3 cup
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- Vegetable oil for bowl
- for the glaze
- 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 5 tablespoons whole milk
- Whisk together flour, granulated sugar, salt, mace, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Stir in milk and melted butter. Add dissolved yeast and the eggs. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth.
- Drain raisins and currants. Add raisins, currants, almonds, citron, orange peel, apricots, and lemon zest to dough, and continue kneading until incorporated, about 10 minutes. If dough is sticky, knead in more flour.
- Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, 1 to 2 hours.
- Punch down dough, divide into 6 even pieces, and roll each piece into a 15-inch-long log. Braid 3 logs together, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining 3 logs.
- Cover with plastic, and let rise until doubled in volume, about 2 hours more.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake stollen until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Beat together confectioners’ sugar and milk. Drizzle stollen with icing just before serving.