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Stollen Wreath Bread with Mrs. Kostyra

At a traditional German Christmas table, stollen is likely to appear as a beloved part of breakfast or as a conclusion to the holiday meal. A stollen begins as a sweet, rich yeast dough, which is then accented with dried fruits and nuts, and baked until golden brown. This version, brought to us by Martha's mother, is served every year at the Kostyra family Christmas.

  • yield: Makes 1 large wreath

Ingredients

  • 1 cup currants
  • 1/4 cup cognac
  • 1 1/4 cups golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 3 tablespoons, melted
  • 1/4 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
  • 2 packages active dry yeast (5 teaspoons)
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Grated zest of 2 oranges
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 3/4 cup chopped citron
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1 1/4 cups blanched almonds, coarsely chopped
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Directions

  1. Step 1

    In two separate bowls, soak currants in cognac and golden raisins in orange juice; set aside. In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, salt, mace, and nutmeg; set aside. In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup milk and 10 tablespoons butter over medium-low heat until butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes.

  2. Step 2

    Pour 1/4 cup warm water into a small bowl; sprinkle with yeast, and let stand 2 to 3 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely. Add the dissolved yeast, warm milk mixture, and eggs to the flour mixture. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface, and knead until fairly smooth. Transfer dough to a large bowl.

  3. Step 3

    Add currants and raisins in their liquid, orange zest, lemon zest, citron, apricots, and almonds, and then work them into the dough with your hands. Transfer dough to work surface, and knead for about 10 minutes. If the dough is sticky, knead in more flour, but be careful not to overwork.

  4. Step 4

    Butter a large bowl with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Place the dough in the bowl, turning to coat. Cover with a kitchen towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours.

  5. Step 5

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 by 24 inches and 1/4 inch thick. Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder. Carefully transfer dough to a Silpat- or parchment-lined baking sheet; join ends together, pinching with fingers if necessary to make it stick, forming a large circle.

  6. Step 6

    Using sharp kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough. Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape with all the segments overlapping.

  7. Step 7

    Cover dough with a clean kitchen towel; set aside to rise for 30 minutes. Dough will rise only a little bit. Brush dough with remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter. Bake until golden brown and crusty, about 45 minutes, rotating halfway through. Place baking sheet on a wire rack to cool. Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.

Reviews (17)

  • 16 Dec, 2012

    I make this every year. I divide the dough in half to make two stollens and I hide a rolled strip of marzipan in the dough after the second rise before they go in the oven. Remember to Also use warm water for the yeast NOT hot.
    I made that mistake last year and it burned the yeast so it did not rise.

  • 2 Sep, 2008

    I'll always remember her every time I do this recipe. Good for you Martha for honoring your Mom this way.

  • 18 Jan, 2008

    This is the Stollen I remember from my early days in Chicago's richly ethnic West side ( Berwyn/Cicero Area). I have been searching for a recipe like this one for 25 plus years since moving to Idaho. Does anyone have a really good authentic recipe for Kolachcy?

  • 6 Jan, 2008

    I've made babka's in the past but this was my first stollen. Instead of the wreath I made two traditional-shaped stollens from the recipe. I gave one to a friend who said it was the best stollen she ever tasted. We enjoyed ours as well. My husband said it reminded him of the stollen his parent's friends would bring each year at holiday time when he was a child. Praise indeed!

  • 6 Jan, 2008

    I've made babka's in the past but this was my first stollen. Instead of the wreath I made two traditional-shaped stollens from the recipe. I gave one to a friend who said it was the best stollen she ever tasted. We enjoyed ours as well. My husband said it reminded him of the stollen his parent's friends would bring each year at holiday time when he was a child. Praise indeed!

  • 6 Jan, 2008

    I've made babka's in the past but this was my first stollen. Instead of the wreath I made two traditional-shaped stollens from the recipe. I gave one to a friend who said it was the best stollen she ever tasted. We enjoyed ours as well. My husband said it reminded him of the stollen his parent's friends would bring each year at holiday time when he was a child. Praise indeed!

  • 25 Dec, 2007

    When my husband saw the show on how to make stollen, he was reminded of making holidays breads with his mother years ago. We made this recipe for his father and for my parents. It was fun to reminsce on old traditions while enjoying your recipe. I'm happy to say I'll add this one to my traditions. Best Holiday Wishes!

  • 17 Dec, 2007

    I've made "Big Martha's" stollen almost every year since seeing you both make it on TV. Reminded me of cooking with my own mother! My sympathies at your loss. This year, I made "stollen kisses," baking small amounts of the buttered, folded-over dough in paper-lined muffin cups and adding a vanilla glaze before serving. They disappeared! Island Ranger, Norwood, MA

  • 13 Dec, 2007

    Dear Martha, I was very sad and impressed to learn about your mother`s passing away. Receive my deepest condolences. I know what if feels to loose your mother, but only God will help you go through this loss. Sincerely,
    Margarita Colon from Guatemala.

  • 12 Dec, 2007

    I always loved these segements with Big Martha and have them all on tape! Made this and her stollen a few times! Mom and I would laugh making all that dough! I willl cherish these recipes and please publish a book of your Mom's recipes or a DVD Martha!

  • 11 Dec, 2007

    I just love this segment. Big Martha was my favorite of all the family and guests that were on the show.
    i remember seeing the segment the 1st time it was aired.
    i would love for Martha S. to publish a dvd with Big Martha"s episodes from the show or at least a Big Martha cook book. wouldn't that be fabulous?

  • 11 Dec, 2007

    I've always made Big Martha's Christmas Stollen from the time I saw her showing us how to make it for friends

  • 11 Dec, 2007

    I've always made Big Martha's Christmas Stollen from the time I saw her showing us how to make it for friends

  • 11 Dec, 2007

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe. I loved watching you and "Big Martha" make recipes together. She was so great in the kitchen! The way she would knead the dough. It reminds us that we don't always need to use our nice big stand mixers. Some things are better made by hand. Thanks again.

  • 11 Dec, 2007

    I have always taped any show that had your mother there to learn from her as well as you, Martha. I will be making this Stollen tonight for my family in honor of your Mother. Thank-you for allowing us to get to know such a wonderful woman as your Mother and it was heart-warming to watch the Love on your face when she was around you...your Mother was a gift to all of us. Her recipes and tips will go down in history in my recipe books - and thats the truth.

    moe4life

  • 24 Nov, 2007

    When I watched your touching tribute to your momI was hoping you would post all her recipes in one place for us. Thank you.

    What a telented mom you had! II plan to make this stollen wreath first, then work my way through her other recipes.

  • 17 Nov, 2007

    I always loved it when Big Martha was on the show to make this bread. This year I am making it in her honor and will be thinking of both Marthas.