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World's best Dresdner Stollen (naturally fermented with sourdough)

Hendrik Kleinwächter

Dec 17, 2021

The Stollen is a traditional German recipe typically served for special occasions such as christmas. Unfortunately over the years yeast has replaced traditional sourdough based recipes. That's why I decided to go back in time and put together a traditional recipe like our German ancestors have probably made it. The result is totally mind blowing Stollen that is unbeatable in terms of flavour.

The process

This is just a small flowchart with example timings to visualize the whole process from start to finish. Sorry - we engineers love flowcharts.

Preparing your starter

You will want to have a mild sourdough starter that does not produce that much acidity. For that I recommend that you make a stiff sourdough starter. It’s basically a starter that has a hydration of 50%. Meaning for 100g of flour it has 50g of water. In Italy this would be known as a Lievito Madre. However, traditionally they are made with fruit water, which you definitely don’t have to do. Instead take your regular sourdough starter and then feed it with 10g of your existing starter, 50g of flour and 25g of water. Repeat this process for at least 2 times and your microorganisms start to adapt. You will have a starter that has much more yeast activity and less bacterial activity. If your sourdough starter is very acetic and smells like vinegar initially, consider converting it to a liquid starter in advance. This will change your microorganisms as well to produce more dairy notes. It’s mindblowing if you ask me how just changing the water % can completely change your sourdough starter.

In case you were wondering, it’s stiff, because it holds together. If you flip your jar over like this it just stays in the jar! Magic.

Recipe for 2 Stollen

You will need to use 1000g of bread flour to make 2 Stollen. I am providing baker’s math percentages, this way you can scale up or down your production. If you want to make 10 Stollen, just use 5kg of flour then recalculate with the percentages.

Drunken fruits

We will be making a drunken fruit mixture by letting fruits soak in rum for some time. If you don’t like raisins, you can skip them. Every fruit that you like will work. I like to prepare this mixture in the morning.

Integral part of the mixture is candied orange and candied lemon peel. In more ancient times citrus fruits were rare in Germany. To make them durable they were candied. The sugar creates a lot of osmotic pressure, making it almost impossible for micro-organisms to enter. That’s also why Jam for instance stays good for a very long time.

And this is the candied orange peel:

Use a really nice dark rum for this. This will help to enhance the flavour of your final Stollen. I like something that has been stored in wooden barrels for some time, inducing nice tannins into your dough.

Ingredient Weight in grams Baker's math Comment
Raisins 350 grams 35.00%
Candied lemon peel 100 grams 10.00%
Candied orange peel 100 grams 10.00%
Almonds 100 grams 10.00%
Lemon zest 1 grams 0.10%

Let the mixture soak until evening (at least 8 hours). Ideally you have also fed your sourdough starter one last time in the morning. This means we can proceed with making the actual dough in the evening.

Preparing the Stollen Dough

Now it’s time to make the actual dough for your Stollen. This is what you will need:

Ingredient Weight in grams Baker's math Comment
Bread flour 1000 grams 100.00% It can also be cake and/or all purpose flour. Bread flour is easier to work with when using sourdough. Don’t worry about the consistency
Milk 175 grams 17.50% Add slowly to see consistency of dough. Dough should be like playdough
Stiff sourdough starter 200 grams 20.00%
Unsalted butter 250 grams 25.00%
Eggs size m 120 grams 12.00%
Sugar 100 grams 10.00%
Vanilla extract 2 grams 0.20%
Salt 10 grams 1.00%
Cinnamon 2 grams 0.20%
Cardamon 1 grams 0.10%
Nutmeg 1 grams 0.10%

After the bake you will need a few more ingredients, just adding them here already:

Ingredients for the Stollen glaze after the bake:

Ingredient Weight in grams Baker's math Comment
Unsalted butter 100 grams 10.00%
Powdered Sugar 100 grams 10.00%

Incorporate all ingredients and knead by hand for 15 minutes, or in your machine on medium speed for 10 minutes. The goal is to incorporate the ingredients properly. If you knead by hand, knead 5 minutes, take a 5 minute break, knead again 5 minutes, take a 5 minute break, knead again 5 minutes.

Take out your dough and place it on the kitchen counter. Make the dough flat add your rum fruit mixture. Fold your dough until your mixture is nicely incorporated. If the dough is too wet add a bit more flour. You want to have a similar consistency as me. It shouldn’t be a too wet dough.

Take a 5 minute rest leaving your dough on the counter. Proceed and round up the dough to then place it in a large pot with a lid, or another container that can hold the dough.

Bulk Fermentation

We are fermenting all our Stollen doughs together in bulk. Your dough should increase by 50-100% in size, then you are ready to proceed. Because you added a lot of butter to the dough and the rum, the fermentation is slow. In my case I made the dough at around 8pm and then my dough was ready the next day at around 3pm. I recommend to start preparing the dough on a friday or saturday evening. It will take around 10-20 hours depending on your sourdough starter’s activity and the ambient temperature. A good sign is to also look for bubbles on the side of your dough. If you have a glas container that is very easy to do.

Let’s say your dough is ready late in the evening, then just proceed and store your dough in the fridge over night. You can resume the next morning, nothing to worry!

Dividing and preshaping

Split your dough into equally sized chunks. Don’t press the dough dough too much, make rectangles out of your dough. Gently rounden the edges. Let your doughs sit for 5 minutes.

Shaping

Place some flour on your surface. With a dough scraper loosen the dough from the surface. Take the dough and place it on your floured surface. Imagine your dough is divided into 4 equally sized imaginary lines with the first line on the edge. Lift the dough and carefully fold it over onto the second line. This is what your dough should look like then:

Proofing

Cover your dough with a wetted towel and let your dough sit for another 30 minutes. In the meantime preheat your oven to 180°C. Don’t use the fan of your oven. You don’t want to fan out the steam. We want to steam the Stollen as much as possible.

Baking

Take your Stollen and place it on tray that has parchment paper. Spray your Stollen generously with water. We don’t want the Stollen to dry out too quickly in the oven. Place another tray on top of your Stollen. This simulates a dutch oven and makes sure that we have a very steamy environment. This really is a game changer for everything you are baking in your home oven.

Your Stollen is ready the moment the core temperature reaches around 92°C. This is best measured with a thermometer. In my case that was happening after around 60 minutes.

Now the problem is that after 30 minutes or so most of the steam has escaped the oven anyway. That’s why we will be wrapping our Stollen in some Aluminium foil. This makes sure the crust doesn’t form and it stays nice and moist. If your Stollen is a bit darker now, don’t worry, this adds extra flavour too.

I was doing a collaboration with Ooni on the Stollen and also made a Stollen successfully in the oven. This is a picture of the wrapped Stollen, it was also the key step make sure it doesn’t dry out too much when making it in a specialized pizza oven.

Post-Bake

Heat the butter for the glaze and directly generously rub the Stollen with butter.

Place your Stollen on a cooling rack. Once the Stollen has cooled (60 minutes later). Generously rub your Stollen again with butter. Then proceed and cover your Stollen in powdered sugar. Make sure to not miss any spots. This is very important! I like to use a large bowl where I toss the Stollen and the sugar inside. Makes things easier.

The layer of sugar prevents pathogens from entering your Stollen, almost like a high sugar jam. It’s better to use more than too little powdered sugar here.

Wrap your Stollen in Aluminum foil and then store it in a Ziploc bag, ideally something that’s airtight. This way humidity builds up which makes the Stollen stay nice and wet. It won’t mold because of the powdered sugar and the slight acidity coming from the sourdough starter. The Alu-foil helps to deflect UV radiation. So in combination with the sugar you have the perfect storage engine.

Let the Stollen sit at least for 1 day before tasting it. This allows the fruits to release more Aroma into the dough. It’s popular in Germany to leave one Stollen until Eastern. This would be an “Osterstollen”. It can stay good for a very long time! Most Germans store it for at least a week before tasting it. But seriously, the next day it already tastes much better than most Stollen you can find. I was so amazed and so happy this could be made to work with Sourdough.

The below picture shows the perfect consistency of the Stollen. Slightly fluffy, but not too much.

Over time the dried fruits will release more Aroma into the Stollen. That’s why it should mature.

Storage

Ideally store the Stollen in a place where it’s a bit colder (5-15°C). This way your Stollen can mature without turning bad. Some people store it for several months like this.

Thank you, your rating will be displayed shortly. May the gluten be strong with you.

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