Gluten-Free Holiday Stollen: a cherished tradition, updated

Have you seen any stollen in your favorite supermarket yet?

What’s stollen, you ask? Well, it’s a German Christmas cake/bread, filled with nuts and fruit, and coated – heavily – in butter and confectioners’ sugar.

Sounds almost like fruitcake, doesn’t it? The difference, though, is stark: fruitcake is dense and moist, often soaked in liquor or syrup. Stollen, while dense, is also rather hard, dry, and crumbly.

Now, it’s not unpleasantly dry; think crunchy vs. chewy chocolate chip cookie. But there are those who eschew this classic holiday pastry due to its signature texture.

Not me; I enjoy a good stollen. And the other day, when thinking about making one, I had one of those light bulb moments. Or, as my fifth-grade teacher, Miss Kellam, used to exclaim when one of us FINALLY understood the intricacies of long division or sentence diagramming:

“Light dawns on Marblehead!”

Dry. Crumbly. This is often what people complain about when sampling not-quite-successful gluten-free baked goods, which do, in fact, tend toward the dry and crumbly if you’re a novice GF baker.

But with stollen, dry/crumbly is pretty much the goal. How about taking my favorite stollen recipe, and making it gluten-free?

Bingo! A couple of changes – substituting gluten-free flour for all-purpose, adding an egg and xanthan gum for structure – and I had two loaves of absolutely yummy Gluten-Free Holiday Stollen.

Sometimes my gluten-free conversions are flops; sometimes they take some work, and sometimes – like with this stollen – they’re a step-up-to-the-plate-and-belt-it homerun.

Which is good, since it’s December and we’re all gathering our favorite holiday recipes, right? If you have any friends or family eating gluten-free, add this to your list. I guarantee they’ll thank you for this dry-ish, somewhat crumbly, and absolutely delicious holiday bread.

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First, get your ingredients together. The recipe calls for Buttery Sweet Dough Flavor, a professional-style emulsion; vanilla extract; and Fiori di Sicilia or lemon oil (or grated lemon rind).

Can you make it without all of these? Sure. It’ll just lose some of its depth, flavor-wise, but will still be good.

Preheat your oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line it with parchment.

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Whisk together the following:

2 1/4 cups (12 3/8 ounces) King Arthur Gluten-Free Flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

Cut 8 tablespoons (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter into small chunks, then blend it into the flour mixture to form uneven crumbs.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the following:

3/4 cup ricotta cheese, part-skim milk type
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons Buttery Sweet Dough Flavor, optional but good
the grated rind of 1 small lemon; or 1/4 teaspoon lemon oil, or 1/4 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia

Set this liquid mixture aside.

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Stir the following into the flour mixture:

1 cup Fruitcake Fruit Blend; or 1/2 cup golden raisins + 1/2 cup of your favorite dried fruits, chopped to 1/2″ pieces if necessary
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted and cooled

Combine the wet and dry ingredients, mixing until most of the flour is moistened.

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Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface or piece of parchment, and knead it two or three times, until it holds together. Make sure the surface is floured with gluten-free flour!

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Divide the dough in half. Pat each piece of dough into an 8″ x 7″ oval about 1/2″ thick. Fold each piece of dough roughly in half, leaving the edge of the top half about 1/2″ short of the edge of the bottom half.

Should you fold the long way, or the short way? The long way will give you a longer, narrower stollen, with shorter slices; folding the short way will give you a wider, fatter stollen, with longer slices. I’ve chosen to fold the long way.

Use the edge of your hand to press the dough to seal about 1″ in back of the open edge; this will make the traditional stollen shape. It’s also the familiar Parker House roll shape, if you’ve ever made them. The dough will probably crack; that’s OK, just smooth it out as best you can.

Carefully place the shaped stollen on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake the stollen until they’re very lightly browned around the edges and on top, about 40 minutes. A cake tester inserted into the center should come out clean.

While the stollen are baking, melt 6 tablespoons butter, and put 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar into a sieve or sifter.

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Remove the stollen from the oven, and transfer them to a rack.

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Brush each stollen with 2 tablespoons melted butter.

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Sprinkle heavily with confectioners’ sugar.

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Allow the stollen to cool, then brush with butter again, and sprinkle with sugar again.

Wrap in plastic wrap until ready to serve; for best texture, serve within a week.

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If desired, sprinkle with additional sugar just before serving.

Have I convinced you to try this?

I hope so; if you’re a fan of European holiday breads, I think you’ll enjoy it.

And, if you’re not baking gluten-free, try our marzipan-filled Christmas Stollen; our classic yeasted Stollen; or my favorite, Our Easiest Stollen (or its pumpkin-flavored counterpart, Golden Stollen), both of which rely on baking powder for leavening.

Please bake, rate, and review our recipe for Gluten-Free Holiday Stollen.

Print just the recipe.

 

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Jean Brown

    I grew up on German Stollen at Christmas time. My Mom translated the German recipe into English for me. When I went gluten-free 12 years ago, I would make stollens for my family but I would make mine with a mix of g.f. flours and it never tasted quite the same. I am so excited about trying the King Arthur recipe. It is pretty much the same one I grew up with. Maybe I won’t even wait until Christmas!!! Thank you so much!

    Reply
  2. KRISTA

    If I wanted to add yeast to this recipe how much should I add and how would that alter the directions. For example how long would I let it rise and would the baking time or temp change?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Krista, traditional stollen recipes that use yeast are a different beast all together, so we wouldn’t recommend attempting to convert this recipe to be a yeasted one. In our testing, we found this baking powder version to be the best option for gluten-free baking, but you may be able to find another version designed for yeast out there in the broader baking universe. Best of luck and happy baking! Mollie@KAF

  3. Helen Flesner

    On the recipe for Gluten Free holiday stollen, is it possible to substitude sour cream and milk for the recatta cheese? Thanks for the info.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Helen, ’tis the season for stollen! We think you could make a 1:1 substitute of sour cream in place of the ricotta in this recipe. The moisture content of ricotta and sour cream can both vary drastically by brand, so be prepared to adjust the dough with additional flour or milk as necessary until you make a soft, shape-able dough. Kye@KAF

  4. Sharon E Kay

    Also allergic to almonds (all tree nuts and peanuts)…..what can be used as a replacement and retain the texture?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sharon, you can use sunflower seeds or pepitas in place of the almonds. They’ll add a pleasant crunch to your stollen. Enjoy! Kye@KAF

  5. Alma

    is it possible to make this recipe into muffins? for me it would be easier to freeze and store muffins. it is just the two of us and i’m sure we would eat the whole thing if it is in front of us. thanks

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You sure can bake this recipe as muffins and freeze any extras for enjoying at a later time. Prepare the recipe as described, but divide into 12 each pieces and place into muffin cups to help the stollen keep its shape as it rises. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  6. Tom Potts

    I made this for my fiber arts guild Christmas meeting and potluck. Brought home zero slices and had multiple requests for the recipe. Thank you, KAF!

    Reply
  7. Lynn

    My Mother has been making German Christmas Stollen for almost 60 years. She is now 87 years young and this year we baked 7 batches to give away to Family & Friends. I recently was diagnosed with a gluten intolerance sensitivity so I’m looking forward to trying this new recipe. Would love to add a photo of this year’s tableful of her masterpieces. I love the aroma of the kitchen during our baking marathons. Last Christmas we baked over 160 dozen cookies along with the Stollen and her Famous Chocolate Cake, called “Woodchip’s Special”, named after the the resturant/motel my grandarents and parents owned back in the 60’s in Wareham, Ma. called “Woodchips”

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Wow! We would love to see the table full of your mother’s masterpieces. Please do share a photo when you can. It is nice to know you are baking right along side her so the tradition will not be lost! Have a safe and happy holiday season! Elisabeth@KAF

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