Can I make stollen out of sourdough? Of course you can!

Baking sourdough stollen

Teaching baking at The Clink restaurant in High Down Prison is always a blast.  There are new things to see, do, and try every time.  We did a lot of Italian Baking this year.  We had the world premiere of the sourdough hot cross bun.  This month, we prepared (in addition to sourdough cinnamon buns, sourdough olive and sun-dried tomato bread, sourdough feta and parsley bread) sourdough stollen!  Why do we bake with sourdough at The Clink?  The answer is because yeast is a banned substance in prisons (tendency to abscond with it and make booze).  However, we have all come to an even greater appreciation of sourdough than we had before.

At The Clink the chefs don’t know anything other than sourdough so the refreshing, long rise, and patient stretching and folding that is required to make good sourdough bread is simply second nature.  Further, because we make everything out of sourdough we know we can make anything out of sourdough. And, as regular readers will know, we at Virtuous Bread have no patience for the silly mystique that surrounds sourdough, given that we have been baking with it from the beginning of baking.  Yeast was only “made visible” in the 1850s.  Before that, everything has risen with natural yeast.  Think about it.  We know we have been making leavened bread for 5000 years.  We made yeast visible (and therefore were able to manufacture it commercially to add to dough) in the 1850s.  What were we doing for the previous 4850 years?  You got it in one:  baking with natural yeast trapped in a paste of flour and water – ie sourdough.  Sourdough is the kitchen slave of bread, not the king of bread.  Besides which, it’s unlikely that the king ever got near the dough.

Remonstrations with “cult of sourdough personalities” over, let’s move on to the sourdough stollen.  Stollen is made with dough that is enriched with butter, milk, spices, and plenty of rum-soaked fruit and nuts.  To make it well, even with yeast, requires a pre-ferment (pre-dough/flying ferment) in order to get as much activity in as much of the flour as possible before all the enriching items are added.  Yeast (natural or commercial) does not like the enriching items and they slow down the rise of the dough.  Making the pre-dough gives your dough the best possible chance of reaching a reasonable rise before you have to bake it.  To see a recipe for regular stollen (and remember, this is just one of zillions), click here.  Below, please find what we did to make our sourdough stollen.  I cannot tell you how it tastes because it is wrapped up in many layers of greaseproof paper to mature for six weeks (aluminium foil is another banned substance in prison:  drugs) so I will let you know when I go back shortly before Christmas how it was.  It looked good and the dough tasted good so let’s hope for the best.  I cannot show photos (no cameras in prison) so you have to use your imagination.  Without further ado, the recipe for sourdough stollen.

Coming Soon

Sourdough Stollen

 We had the world premiere of the sourdough hot cross bun.  This month, we prepared (in addition to sourdough cinnamon buns, sourdough olive and sun-dried tomato bread, sourdough feta and parsley bread) sourdough stollen!  Why do we bake with sourdough at The Clink?  The answer is because yeast is a banned substance in prisons (tendency to abscond with it and make booze).  However, we have all come to an even greater appreciation of sourdough than we had before.
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Italian
Servings 2 Sourdough Stollen


  • 800 g Raisins
  • 100 g Candied citrus peel
  • 250 g Slivered almonds
  • 250 ml Rum
  • 1 kg Plain white wheat flour
  • 500 g Refreshed white wheat sourdough see below for exactly what we use
  • 150 g Sugar
  • 250 g Full fat milk Warmed and then cooled again to blood temperature
  • 150 g Butter At room temperature
  • 75 g Lard  Or use butter if you are lard phobic
  • 1 tsb Salt
  • Grated  peel of One lemon
  • 2 teaspoons of Vanilla sugar
  • 125 g Melted butter
  • Icing  Sugar to dust


  • The morning before you want to make the stollen you need to do two things:
  •  Soak the fruit and nuts in the alcohol.  Cover and leave until the next day.
  • Refresh a white wheat sourdough starter so that you have 500 grams to use for the stollen.  The 1857 sourdough starter (which the Clink also uses) is equal volumes of flour and water.  Yours may be equal weights or slightly different but just adjust the amount of flour in your final dough so that the final dough is soft but manageable.  A typical bun dough.

The evening before you want to make the stollen you need to do one thing:

  • Take 500 g of your refreshed white wheat sourdough and add 250 ml of warm milk (see above), 500 g flour and 1 tablespoon of sugar.  You really need to work this with your hands to get it together.  It will be dry and hard to incorporate the flour.  Try hard and don’t worry.  Cover it and leave it at least 12 hours if not 16.

The morning you want to bake the stollen:

  • To the (now extremely bubbly pre dough) add 500 g flour, 150 g sugar, 150 g butter, 75 g lard, 1 tsp salt, grated lemon zest.  Knead this for a good 10-15 minutes.  You may need to adjust the flour or the fat content.  If the dough is too slack add a bit of flour.  If it is too stiff add more butter/lard.  The dough must be soft almost like a brioche dough.  Let the kneaded dough rest in the bowl for 1 hour and then fold in the soaked fruit gently.  Put the dough back in a bowl, cover, and let rest for 2 hours.
  • Take the dough out and divide into two pieces.  Press each piece into a rectangle and then fold one side into the middle and the other side over the top.  If you would like to use a sausage of marzipan (we prefer our stollen commando), lay the sausage of marzipan in the middle of the dough and fold the dough around the marzipan – wrapping it up completely and sealing it in bu pinching the edges together.
  • Place the loaves on a baking tray on baking parchment and cover this and let it rest for two hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 250 C.  Place the stollen in and turn the heat down to 180 C.  Bake for 50 minutes.
  • When done, remove from the oven and brush them with 75 g melted butter.  Sprinkle with vanilla sugar and dust with icing sugar.  Let cool completely and then dribble 75 g more melted butter on them and then dust with more icing sugar.  Let cool, wrap well in baking parchment/greaseproof paper and let mature for 4-6 weeks.  Slice, butter, and have with tea!  That’s what we will be doing at The Clink in mid December.  You are welcome to join us.

13 thoughts on “Can I make stollen out of sourdough? Of course you can!”

  1. First time making a Stollen and decided to have a crack at this. Brilliant result, gorgeous flavour and everyone loved it. Highly recommend this easy to follow recipe.

  2. Thank you for your inspirational recipe. This is our second year baking your sourdough stollen and even my mother, whose family is from Dresden, approves! (I don’t have the heart to tell her I don’t use egg)

    One slight variation was 100g more milk in the second batch this year. Those loaves had a little more rise and oven spring at the end but still yielded stollen-typical firm crumb. I’ve found your recipe yields four nice sized stollen, perfect for gifts, and bake the smaller ones for about 35-40 minutes.

    All in all delicious!

    1. Dear Chris

      what a lovely message! And wow – incredible that your mother approves. Dresden is the standard…..but no, don’t tell her about the lack of egg!

      I find that I vary the milk too depending on the flour – some absorbs more and some less. The liquid is always the variable ingredient!

      Thanks again and Froeliche Weinachten to your mother and you. Jane

  3. I tried this recipe this year as my German husband said “You should bring some stollen to my mother’s house for Christmas!” I made my own candied citrus peel and made half of this recipe. Very happy to report that my German mother-in-law pronounced it “very good.” From her, this is high praise! My started is kept at 100% hydration, so I used 250g and added in another 40 g of water (for the half recipe) and it had a very nice lovely consistency. This makes a HUGE loaf! Thank you for a fine recipe!

  4. I made this recipe today for my first ‘advent’ celebration and it went down very well on the same day that I baked it. I decided to mix things up a bit and instead of having just raisins I did a mixture of dried cranberries, cherries and currants as well as raisins. I split the dough into four and have wrapped the other three loaves to mature for the next few weeks. Thanks for the great recipte!

    1. That is brilliant! Thank you so much for letting us know. Happy Christmas – and your stollen will last for months!

  5. Hi

    I made this yesterday and am looking forward to eating it in December! ??
    I am making more next week to give as Christmas gifts.

    The fruit on the outside of the loaves I made yesterday is quite burnt so I was wondering about trying to cook the others in a clay pot. 

    Do you think this is a good idea? Should I change the oven temperature and how much longer should I extend the cooking time for you think?

    If the 2nd loaf has to wait longer than the final 2 hour prove (whole waiting to use the clay pot) can I put it in the fridge bringing it out 2 hours before going into the oven?

    Many thanks!

    1. Dear Victoria, thanks for your question. I have never made stollen in a clay pot so it would be an interesting experinence. Certainly letting half the dough hang out while the first half bakes is not a problem at all. This is not a dough that will over proove quickly. It does not have to be in the fridge. You can leave it in blob form and then shape and let it rest while the first half is baking. As re the burned raisins, every oven is different. You can cover up your loaves after the first 20-30 minutes if you like. Just keep checking the dough. once it’s covered it will not go materially darker but that is not a problem because it’s dredged in sugar anyway! So, you can bake it all at once, just cover it earlier. Jane

  6. I have only ever bought stollen at the local Dutch store, but this year, I would like to make my own with my sourdough starter. Can you please clarify…the baked bread is wrapped and stored at room temperature to mature, not the freezer? Thank you.

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