A Recipe for perfectly-spiced Gluten Free Stollen – Scattered with rum-soaked fruit, brushed with rum butter and with a generous helping of almond marzipan packed within… It’s the perfect Christmassy treat.
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Gluten Free Stollen – a labour of love
Today I share with you my Gluten Free Stollen. To say it’s been a labour of love is an understatement… This recipe has been through somewhere in the region of 25+ versions to get to this point. And yes… We’ve had to eat them all. While the texture and quality has varied from Stollen to Stollen, I’ve finally reached a point where it’s good enough to ‘put out there’. I wouldn’t say it’s by any means perfect, but it’s as far as I can take it (for this year at least…).
And with that, I hope you love what I’ve achieved. The flavour is (according to my pre-gluten free memory) exactly where it should be. The texture is perhaps not quite as ‘doughy-dense’ as I would have liked. But nonetheless, it’s a great bake that ticks most of the Stollen boxes. And despite being gluten free, it stays soft for about 3 days (without having to ‘refresh’)… It’s mighty moreish and delicious (even after 25 loaves worth).
What is Stollen?
Christmas Stollen is a yeasted, sweet Christmas bread that originates in Germany. Known as Christstollen, it is lightly sweetened, delightfully spiced and speckled with booze-soaked dried fruit and nuts. Although not compulsory, many Stollen have a generous helping of marzipan running through the middle, which not only tastes incredible, but helps to keep the bread moist and delicious.
Although optional, I honestly wouldn’t make a Stollen (gluten free or otherwise) without the marzipan… It’s one of the absolute joys of eating it.
Once they have been baked, Stollen are traditionally coated with a generous helping of melted butter (often of the boozy variety) and a liberal dusting of icing sugar (powdered sugar)… A perfect tasty snow scene for seasonal temptation.
A brief history of German Christmas Stollen…
While gluten free Stollen is a very recent thing, the wheat-based original Dresdner Christstollen dates back to 14th Century Germany. As with many bakes, it has changed in texture and ingredients over the centuries to become what it is today. Indeed Stollen started life as a dull and butterless hard pastry (due to a Catholic butter ban). But when the ban was finally lifted by papal decree in 1650, the recipe started to morph into something altogether more edible and delicious and a fitting honour to royalty and dignitaries.
In 1730, King August II commissioned the bakers of Dresden to create a giant Stollen to celebrate the strength of the Saxon army. The Stollen weighed some 1.8 tons, measured over 8 meters in length and was 5½ meters wide… baked in a specially created oven for the purpose. So big was it, that it needed to be transported to the king’s table by a fleet of 8 horses, before being cut with a giant knife.
The tradition of oversized Stollen remains. And still, every year at the Christmas Dresdner Stollenfest, German bakers parade giant Christstollen through the streets by horse-drawn carriage. The Stollen is then cut into thousands of pieces and sold for charity.
Developing a Gluten Free Stollen
In creating my gluten free Stollen, I have tried as hard as I can to work with the taste and ingredients found in traditional Stollen. While the spicing, marzipan and flavours have been relatively straightforward, the texture has been more of a challenge. The particular density and ‘squidge’ of Stollen is quite unique and (it would appear) rather elusive without gluten.
Traditional Stollen is typically tightly wrapped for 2 to 3 weeks to ‘mature’ before eating (to develop moistness). However, the nature of gluten free flours is such that this particular tradition had to be side-lined to ensure a bake that remained edible.
Nonetheless, I have done what I can to work a little magic using ingredients that not only support texture, but also provide a reasonable shelf-life. Plus it’s safe for Coeliacs (Celiacs) too. I hope you love it. x
Ingredients for Gluten Free Stollen
To be clear at the outset, the list of ingredients required for making gluten free Stollen is lengthy. I make no apology. If you want a bake that comes anywhere near, you have to be prepared to use something other than a ‘bag of Doves’, butter and eggs.
Having said this… The actual process of making my gluten free Stollen is well within the reach of any would-be baker. So don’t be put off by ‘the list’… It is absolutely NO reflection of baking complexity.
Soaked Dried Fruit
I’ve tested various ratios and mixes of fruit and have settled on a combination of sultanas, glacé cherries, candied peel and slivered almonds for best flavour. While they can be soaked in any booze of choice, I have used dark rum which offers perfect flavour enhancement.
The gluten free flour blend
My final Gluten Free Stollen recipe uses a combination of potato and tapioca starches, mochiko (also known as Asian/sweet/sticky rice flour), sorghum and oat flours, ground almonds, ground psyllium husk, milled flax and milk powder.
Each component has been chosen for the balance of starch, protein and structure as well as to support texture, moisture levels and shelf life.
I wouldn’t advise switching out the starches (potato; tapioca; mochiko) unless you have to. And the psyllium, flax and almonds are essential. However, the oats and sorghum can be varied for a combination of other alternative protein flours as available to you. I would advise buckwheat and millet as possible alternative options. Check out my page on Gluten Free Flours and Flour Blending for more information about gluten free flour.
Using chia in place of eggs is NOT an option for making gluten free Stollen (the resulting bake was way too dense). However, using a little chia supports both the texture and shelf-life of the loaf. As with standard ‘chia eggs’, the ground seed is prepared by mixing with a little water and leaving it to hydrate into a gel, before adding to the mix.
Spices and flavouring for gluten free Stollen
My gluten free Stollen contains a balanced mix of spices to bring it in line with the flavours of traditional Stollen… The dry spice comprises nutmeg, cinnamon, all spice, mixed spice and a little salt. Then there’s a little vanilla alongside lemon zest and lemon juice in the wet mix. The lemon and cinnamon have a dual function of both adding flavour and supporting texture and shelf-life.
This recipe uses a combination of both caster sugar and honey for sweetness. Specifically, the honey is important not just for the gorgeous natural sweetness it offers, but because it has natural antiseptic properties which enhance shelf life too.
I did test gluten free Stollen with both one or the other, but the results were not as successful.
Gluten Free Stollen is made with Dried Active Yeast… This is the type of yeast that needs to be activated before adding to the mix. It is then proofed twice to allow time for appropriate hydration as well as to rise. I use Allinson’s Active Dried Yeast
To activate the yeast, I used a combination of water and a drop of honey.
Glycerine has been added specifically to support shelf life.
Re liquid… In addition to the water for yeast activation, this recipe also needs milk, butter, and egg. It’s better (if possible) to use full-fat milk as the higher fat content supports shelf life as well as texture.
The egg used is UK large size. Because eggs are not sized equally around the world, head over to my International Egg Size and Weight Comparison Chart to work out where yours sit. I have also given the egg liquid weight used for the recipe on the recipe card, which may help with consistency.
The marzipan used in my Gluten Free Stollen
Lastly, my gluten free Stollen contains a generous portion of marzipan. While you can buy marzipan in supermarkets, I NEVER do. Why? Because it’s ridiculously easy to make (in under 10 minutes) and tastes way better than anything you’ll find in a packet.
So… Make sure you check out my 4 Ingredient Marzipan Recipe before heading to the shops. It’s not only brilliant for Stollen, but is exactly what you need for Christmas Cake Decorating, Battenberg Cake, Christmas Scones and Gluten Free Simnel Cake. It can even be used to make the most divine Chocolate Covered Marzipan Christmas Stars.
Tips for successful Gluten Free Stollen
As mentioned above, making my Gluten Free Stollen is not difficult and is within the reach of any baker. Here are my best tips for making it a success…
- Weigh ALL the ingredients as stated in the recipe. Accuracy is key in gluten free bread baking and this is a recipe that has been developed down to the final gram. Thus I would advise using a digital scale and preferably one which has the capacity for micro-measures as well as larger quantities. I use these Heston Blumenthal (Salter) Dual Platform Scales.
- Follow the recipe. The most likely reason for a recipe failing is because it hasn’t been followed or the ingredients have been changed. The recipe contains all the wisdom gained from the development of the bake…
Preparing the ingredients
- Soak the fruit well. It needs to absorb the rum and this takes time. If the liquid has not been fully absorbed by the fruit, it will alter the texture of the dough, which will then be less able to hold its shape. For best results, leave the fruit to soak overnight.
- Before you start mixing the main ingredients together, combine the chia and water to make a geland also set the yeast to activate. Both need 10 to 15 minutes to be readied for the mix.
- Check the yeast is alive. Once the yeast has been activated, it should appear frothy or bubbly (it helps to set the bowl over a mug of steaming water if the kitchen is cold). If it is not active, the yeast may be dead (either the water was too hot or the yeast too old). In this case, throw the mix away and start activation again.
- Weigh and mix together the dry ingredients (listed on the recipe card as ‘dry mix’) BEFORE adding to the bowl. This ensures they combine evenly and avoids any risk of either the psyllium husk or flax ‘clumping’.
Mixing the Gluten Free Stollen dough
- Use a dough hook to mix the ingredients into a dough. I always use a hand mixer with a dough hook attachment (my KitchenAid hand mixer is fabulous). But a stand mixer with a dough hook is good too.
- Beat the wet ingredients together with the chia gel BEFORE adding the dry mix. This ensures the chia is mixed evenly into the dough.
- Allow the flours to hydrate in the mix. When first added, the ‘dough’ will appear as a runny batter… Allowing it to sit for 10 minutes before mixing again ensures the flours start to hydrate (at which point the ‘dough’ will have the appearance of thick porridge… Then after the first proof, the flours should be fully hydrated and the dough will appear more like dough!
- Hold back the softened butter and add it with the fruit AFTER the first proof. That way, the butter doesn’t simply melt during the first proof.
Shaping, proofing and baking your Gluten Free Stollen
Once your gluten free Stollen dough has been through ‘first proof’ and has had the fruit and softened butter added, it is ready to shape, rise and bake…
- Shape and roll the dough using lightly oiled hands (I wear oiled food-safe gloves, to remove any risk of stickiness). Do NOT add more flour as this will impact the moisture levels in the dough and dry the final Stollen.
- Shape gluten free Stollen on baking paper so that it can easily be transferred (with the paper) onto a baking sheet. You can also use the paper to help fold the sides of the dough over the Stollen top when shaping.
- Use the side of a lightly oiled hand to make the Stollen ‘crease’. The crease is traditional in Stollen and is thought to represent Jesus being wrapped in a swaddling cloth.
- Brush the Stollen with a little melted butter before the second proof… For enrichment, softness and to protect.
- Do not overproof. The second proof is not a long job… About 30 to 40 minutes is good and best (for the first 20 to 25 minutes) in a gently pre-warmed oven (50 to 60 C) that has been turned off before proofing… And with a bowl of steaming water at the bottom to maintain moisture throughout.
- Bake with steam! The main bake is when the Stollen will have its best rise and this needs to be supported by steam… This is both to boost the rise early in the bake (known as ‘oven spring’) and to ensure the bread stays moist.
- If at all possible, use a digital probe kitchen thermometer to check the stollen is done. The thermometer should read between 95 and 97 C (203 to 206 F). I have a Thermapen Food Thermometer.
Coating and cooling Gluten Free Stollen
As soon as the Stollen comes out of the oven it will need to be coated in melted (optional rum) butter and icing sugar (powdered sugar)…
- Have the melted butter ready when the Stollen comes out of the oven.
- Be generous with the rum. It truly enhances flavour and makes your Stollen extra special.
- Poke LOTS of holes into the top of the Stollen using a cocktail stick. This will enable the melted butter to seep into the interior, keeping it moist and delicious.
- As soon as the butter has been brushed, GENEROUSLY dust it with icing sugar. Then rub the icing sugar into the butter with the back of a spoon so that it forms a buttery sugar crust. This provides a protective layer to the Stollen.
- Cool gluten free Stollen covered in foil to maintain moisture. Shape the foil snuggly around the sides of the bake on the pan.
Can Gluten Free Stollen be made dairy free?
Although I haven’t specifically tested a dairy free version, the dairy ingredients (butter, milk and milk powder) can be easily subbed for dairy free alternatives. I would advise using a block dairy free ‘butter’ (such as Flora or Stork baking blocks). And if possible, finding a dairy free milk with a higher fat content.
Storing Gluten Free Stollen
I have tested my gluten free Stollen stored in a variety of ways and to see how long it lasts. The recipe shared should stay soft and tasty for about 3 days, without the need to ‘refresh’ (although if overbaked, this may be shorter). It needs to be stored tightly wrapped in foil to maintain moisture levels. And kept at room temperature.
If the Stollen has reached a point of tasting a little dry, pop it in the microwave for a few seconds to pep it up. It will also taste amazing with thick cream or custard.
Will you make my Gluten Free Stollen recipe?
I hope that this recipe brings a little Gluten Free Stollen joy to those of you who have missed it… If you should venture to make it, do let me know how you get on… Leave a comment at the bottom, email me, or message me on social media.
For loads more gluten free Christmas inspiration, head over to our Gluten Free Christmas Index… And for everything else, our main Gluten Free Recipe Index awaits. It’s your one-stop FREE online gluten free recipe book.
Shared with my love
Other traditional Christmas bakes from around the world…
Gluten Free Stollen (German Christmas Bread)
- sharp vegetable knife
- oven-proof dish
- Accurate digital cooking thermometer (preferable)
- kitchen foil
- 60 g sultanas
- 40 g glacé cherries cut into sixths
- 50 g candied peel
- 15 g slivered blanched almonds
- 40 g dark rum
- 25 g hand-warm water (38 to 39 C /100 to 102 F)
- 4 g Active Dried yeast
- 6 g runny honey = 1 tsp
Softened Butter (to hold back until adding the fruit)
- 50 g unsalted butter (or dairy free block alternative) softened
- 2 tsp ground chia seed = 5g
- 2 tbsp warmed water = 30g
Dry Mix (flours etc)
- 60 g potato starch
- 50 g tapioca starch
- 15 g Mochiko flour (also known as Asian/sweet/sticky rice flour)
- 25 g sorghum flour
- 25 g oat flour
- 16 g ground almonds (almond meal)
- 12 g ground psyllium husk
- 6 g milled flax seed
- 10 g milk powder (or DF alternative)
- ¼ tsp fine sea salt = 1.8g
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp allspice
- ½ tsp mixed spice
- 20 g runny honey
- 25 g caster sugar (superfine sugar)
- 60 g full fat milk gently warmed
- 30 g unsalted butter (or dairy free alternative) melted
- 1 large egg liquid weight 60 to 62g – At room temperature – UK large (Canadian ‘Extra Large’; Australian ‘Jumbo’; and US ‘Extra or Very Large’)
- zest of one lemon finely grated
- 1 tbsp lemon juice = 15g
- 1½ tsp glycerine
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 160 g marzipan see NOTES
Pre-Bake Butter Coating
- 20 g unsalted butter melted
Rum Butter Coating and Icing Sugar
- 25 g unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp dark rum
- 1 to 2 tbsp icing sugar (powdered sugar)
- In a small bowl, mix together the dried fruit, nuts and rum and stir well. Cover the bowl and set aside to hydrate (preferably overnight).
- In a small bowl, mix the yeast with the warm water and honey and stir well. Set aside to activate in a warm place (if the kitchen is cold, set the bowl over a mug of steaming water).
- After a couple of minutes, stir again to re-mix the now dissolved yeast and leave for 10 to 15 minutes until frothy and active. If the yeast doesn't become frothy and active, it is likely to be dead… In which case throw away and start again.
Softened Butter (to hold back until adding the fruit)
- Weigh out this portion of butter and set aside to soften. Place near the fruit so that it doesn't get forgotten.
- In a very small bowl, mix the chia with the correct amount of water, stir and set aside to hydrate into a gel.
Dry Mix (flours etc)
- Weigh and thoroughly mix together all of the ingredients listed under 'dry ingredients' and set aside. TIP: weigh into an airtight container and shake vigorously.
- Weigh ALL the ingredients listed under 'wet ingredients' into a large mixing bowl.
- Add the chia gel and activated yeast and blend the ingredients together using a mixer with a dough hook until the chia is visibly evenly distributed with no clumps.
Mixing the dough
- Add the dry ingredients and blend all together using the dough hook until the batter is even in appearance. Scrape down the bowl after a minute or so to ensure all the dry ingredients are incorporated.
- The batter will look loose and runny. Set aside for 10 minutes to start the hydration process.
- After 10 minutes, beat the (now thickened) mix again with the dough hook for about 5 minutes to allow best activation and hydration.
- Set the dough aside (covered) in a warm place to proof for 50 to 60 minutes. It will rise a little and will feel more 'airy' when mixed again, but the change won't be dramatic.
Adding the final ingredients
- After first proof, re-mix the dough using the dough hook to 'knock it back'.
- Add the soaked fruit and the softened butter to the bowl and mix again until the butter has completely amalgamated with the dough and the fruit is evenly distributed.
Shaping the Stollen and adding the Marzipan
- The dough can be made into one large or two smaller stollen. Lay down one or two sheets of baking paper (to fit the baking trays) and smear a light coating of olive oil across the central surface.
- Cut the dough in half if making two stollen.
- Transfer the dough onto the baking paper and with lightly oiled hands, knead gently to bring together evenly into a ball/balls.
- For two stollen, press the mixture using hands into a rough square about 8 inches by 8 inches (20 x 20 cm). For one stollen, make a larger square about 10 inches by 10 inches (25 x 25 cm) – making sure it will fit the baking sheet(s).
- Take the marzipan (split in half for two Stollen) and roll each into a log shape, almost the length of the squares.
- Press the marzipan log into the dough, slightly off centre to the right.
- Fold the right side of the dough snuggly over the marzipan (using the baking paper to help if needed).
- Then fold the left side of the dough snuggly over the top (again, using the baking paper to help if needed).
- Pinch the ends of the dough together to seal.
- Using the outside edge of a lightly oiled hand, press down along the length of the right side of the dough (just off centre) to create a deep dent and then gently push together from both sides so that the dip accentuates as an open fold.
- Transfer the dough Stollen on the baking paper to a baking tray.
- Brush the surface with melted butter.
Second Proof and Bake
- Proof the Stollen in a warm place for about 30-40 minutes (it will only rise slightly). If the kitchen is cold, pre-warm the oven to 50 to 60 C, then place a bowl of boiling water in the bottom, turn off the oven and place the stollen inside (on a thick cloth) to proof.
- If the Stollen has been proofed in the oven, remove at about 25 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/340 F/Gas 4 (or 170 C FAN).
- While the oven is pre-heating place a heat-proof dish in the bottom and boil a kettle.
- Just before placing the Stollen to bake, pour boiling water into the bowl so that it adds steam to the oven.
- Bake the Stollen for about 30 to 35 minutes for smaller Stollen (45 to 50 minutes a large Stollen) until risen and golden. If worried the Stollen is browning too much, cover with foil.
- Test the internal temperature to be sure it is baked (The thermometer should read between 95 and 97 C (203 to 206 F)). Remove from the oven.
Rum Butter Coating and Icing Sugar
- Melt the last portion of butter and mix with the rum.
- While the Stollen is still hot, prick all over the surface with a cocktail stick (lots of prick holes).
- Immediately brush generously with the melted rum butter allowing it to soak in through the prick holes.
- Liberally sprinkle the buttered Stollen with icing sugar (powdered sugar) and rub it into the butter with the back of a spoon (being sure to get into the crease and down the sides).
- Cover the Stollen with foil (still on the tray), moulding the foil tightly round the bread and set aside to cool.
- Once cool, remove the foil and dust again with icing sugar (powdered sugar) to look like snow.
- Once cold, any leftover Stollen should be wrapped tightly in foil and kept at room temperature.
© 2019-2023 Kate Dowse All Rights Reserved – Do not copy or re-publish this recipe or any part of this recipe on any other blog, on social media or in a publication without the express permission of Gluten Free Alchemist