STOLLEN, all the spice of a Nordic Christmas

STOLLEN is a delicious German or Nordic heavily spiced loaf, brushed with melted butter, rum and dusted generously with icing sugar.

It is filled with fruit, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and a twist of marzipan running through it. It is traditionally made with yeast but this quick recipe of mine is easy and has none of the rising elements in it. Stollen improves with age so  make it this weekend and it will be perfect for Christmas Eve.

The history of stollen dates back to the 15th century when bakers were told by law that during Christmas the use of butter was not allowed, only oil, but this made the cake hard and tasteless. Prince Elector Ernst of Brandenburg and his brother Duke Albrecht wrote to the Pope in Rome in 1450 asking for the use of butter. Oil was also expensive and hard to come by. Pope Nicholas V denied their request. Five popes later, Pope Innocent VIII, in 1490 sent a letter known as the Butter-Letter to the prince which granted the use of butter without having to pay a fine, but only for the Prince Elector and his family and household. The ban on butter was completely removed when Saxony became Protestant in the 16th century.


Merry cherry berry Christmas stollen.

  • 100g butter
  • 125g golden caster sugar
  • Zest of one orange
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom, cinnamon and cloves
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 free range egg
  • 150g natural fromage frais
  • 325g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 150g cherry/berry mix – available from any supermarket
  • 150g marzipan
  • Splash of rum, melted butter and plenty of icing sugar

– Beat the butter, sugar, zest, spices and salt until a smooth paste and then beat in the egg and fromage frais. Sieve in the flour, baking powder, ground almonds and berries and mix to form a soft, slightly sticky dough.

– On a floured surface pat out to an oblong shape about 20cm/10cm. Roll the marzipan into a thick sausage shape with your hands and lay it in the middle of the dough. Roll the dough over the marzipan and stick the edges together with a little water. Place on a non stick baking tray and bake in a pre heated oven at 170C for about 40 minutes.

– Push a skewer into the loaf and remove from the oven if the skewer comes out clean. The stollen should be golden brown and slightly cracked on the top. Remove from the oven and immediately brush with rum and then lashings of melted butter, the cake drinks these in easily. I find it very pleasing!

– When the Stollen is cool brush again with melted butter and dust heavily with icing sugar. It now looks very much like a German or Nordic cake. Wrap it in greaseproof paper and tin foil for three to four days. Place it on a wooden board, lightly dust again with fresh icing sugar and garnish with a sprig of holly.

Eat it with a cup of tea or spiced mulled warm wine. It’s the perfect start to the festive few days.