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* * UPDATED on 01 December 2022 * *
This is my favourite breakfast on Christmas morning. Nothing beats a slice of buttered gluten-free Stollen bread. Stollen is a sweet bread that is deliciously rich, fragrant and bursting with fruit, nuts and spices, studded with marzipan nuggets and dusted with a thick coat of icing sugar.
Austrians and Germans have been baking Stollen for 700 years, calling it Christstollen as the stollen shape and appearance were reminiscent of the wrapped baby Jesus in swaddling clothes. Nowadays, Stollens are sold all over Europe just before Christmas at most bakeries. The fillings may vary, but the shape stays consistently like a snowy log, adding to that Christmas theme.
Ingredients you will need:
There are quite a few ingredients that go into making a stollen, similar to Christmas fruit cakes. Each ingredient plays its own unique role in delivering spiciness, sweetness, aroma, texture and structure.
I love the subtle sweetness of the marzipan which reminds me of so many confectionary cakes and desserts from Austria and Germany, especially during the Christmas season. Traditionally, the marzipan is added as one whole, long piece, but I like to add them in small pieces so that each slice has several studded marzipan pieces. If you can’t find ready-made marzipan in your country, I have added a recipe for homemade marzipan.
Almonds and bitter almond extract/regular almond extract
Please try to use the best almonds you can get, together with either almond extract, bitter almond extract or rose water extract to make the most authentic and amazing marzipan. Bitter almond extract is the most authentic extract used typically in Germany and Austria. If you can’t find it in your store, try online. Otherwise, using regular almond extract is s a good substitute. Rosewater gives a more floral note to the stollen.
My gluten-free recipe uses baking powder instead of yeast which helps lighten the dough slightly. In my opinion, when yeast is added, it can overpower the sweet ingredients. It still tastes like a loaf of sweet bread, despite the lack of yeast. The result is just as good and frankly, less work and faster to bake. There is also no kneading involved – straight from the bowl to the baking tray after some resting time.
Stollen spice mix
The stollen spice mix is a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, aniseed, cloves and allspice. I have also included a gluten-free homemade stollen spice mix to give the stollen that very authentic spice taste.
Besides flour, eggs, butter and sugar, you will also need:
- Walnuts or Pecans
- Pistachio nuts
- Candied lemon pieces
- An orange
- Rum or Cointreau or Orange Syrup/Cordial (if you prefer not to use alcohol)
- Sour Cream
- Baking powder (please note most baking powders are gluten-free but double-check the packet to be sure)
- Xanthan gum – crucial to binding the flour with the ingredients and keeping the stollen from falling apart. If xanthan gum is unavailable, substitute double quantities of psyllium husk powder.
Homemade Stollen Spice Mix
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- ½ tsp nutmeg powder
- ½ tsp allspice
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground aniseed
- 325 g store-bought or homemade gluten-free plain flour
- 3 tsp gluten-free baking powder
- 1 tsp xanthan gum
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 6 tbsp butter melted and slightly cooled
- 250 ml sour cream
- 75 ml buttermilk
- 100 g white/caster sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp bitter or regular almond extract
- 70 g pistachios, whole
- 70 g pecans or walnuts, halved
- 1 washed orange, grated zest only
- 200 g store-bought or homemade marzipan, chopped into small pieces
- 100 g raisins
- 3 tbsp rum or Cointreau
- 2 tbsp candied lemon pieces
- 2¾ tbsp homemade stollen spice mix
- Tapioca flour, for dusting hands
- Icing sugar, for dusting the baked stollen
- 250 g whole almonds, peeled
- 135 g icing sugar, sieved
- 2 tsp rose water extract
- ½ tsp almond extract or bitter almond extract
Homemade Stollen Spice Mix
- In a small bowl, whisk all the spices thoroughly. Set aside.
Prepare in advance:
- Soak the raisins in the rum or Cointreau for 20 mins.
- If you prefer to make homemade marzipan, follow the recipe for this below the instructions for the stollen.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder and xanthan gum together in a medium bowl.
- Add the eggs, half of the melted butter, sour cream, buttermilk and sugar. Mix well.
- Add the vanilla & almond extracts, nuts, orange zest, store-bought or homemade marzipan, drained raisins (leave the rum or Cointreau out), candied lemon pieces and homemade stollen spice mix. Mix well.
- With dusted-tapioca-floured hands, transfer the stollen dough to a lined baking tray, moulding it into a long oblong loaf approximately 35 by 15 cm or larger if doubling the recipe.
- Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F.
- Bake for 40 minutes on the middle shelf. The stollen should appear golden towards the end of baking.
- Cover the stollen with some foil to prevent it from over-browning and lower the oven to 150°C/ 300°F. Bake for a further 15 minutes.
- Remove the foil and insert a toothpick or long wooden skewer stick into the centre and if it comes out clean, it is fully baked.
Icing the Stollen
- Rest the baking tray on a wire mesh and Immediately brush the stollen with the remaining melted butter.
- Dust generously with the icing sugar. This step will give the stollen that typical sugary coating.
- Allow to cool completely before slicing. Wrap in some plastic or foil and store in an airtight container at room temperature.
- Dry the almonds in the oven for 20 minutes at 100°C/ 210°F. Flip over halfway through.
- Allow to cool completely.
- Pulse the almonds into a fine mixture in a food processor. Scrape down the sides and repeat.
- Put the fine almond mixture into a mixing bowl and add the sugar and extracts, mixing well until it takes shape into a marzipan mass.
- Mould the marzipan dough into a rectangular shape.
- Wrap in plastic wrap, store in a sealed container and keep chilled.
- Just before serving and slicing the stollen, sprinkle one more coating of icing sugar over the stollen as this may have absorbed slightly while cooling down or during storage.
- Only slice the amount needed to serve and spread with room-temperature butter.
Homemade Stollen Spice Mix
- If making a large batch, the spice mix keeps for 6 months in a sealed container or glass jar at room temperature away from direct sunlight.
- Keeps for 5 days at room temperature covered in plastic film or foil in a sealed container.
- Suitable to freeze, preferably in slices for easy storage.
- Freezing in slices is convenient to remove only a few slices at a time when needed.
- Thawing the slices covered in foil directly in a preheated moderate oven will take 20 mins or so.
- Keeps for 6 weeks in plastic wrap, chilled in a sealed container.
Stollen can be made well- ahead before Christmas as it freezes extremely well for 3 months. Simply, slice the stollen and separate each slice with baking paper before freezing. Reheat straight from frozen in a low oven 170°C/325°F for 10-15 minutes covered in foil. Perfect for Christmas morning!