Christmas bread with dried fruit



Christbrot is very similar to a Weihnachtsstollen, but lighter in texture, and is best eaten freshly baked without needing time to mature. This is one of the reasons why a Christbrot is more popular to bake at home than a Stollen each year. It isn’t hard to make Christbrot but the method involves a triple rise, so you’ll need to set a morning or afternoon aside if you choose to make it.




75g (2½oz) mixed peel

50g (1¾oz) raisins

50g (1¾oz) currants

1 tbsp dark rum

300g (2¼ cups) plain

(all-purpose) flour,

plus extra for dusting

40g (3½ tbsp) caster

(superfine) sugar

½ tsp fine sea salt

Finely grated zest of

½ lemon

Finely grated zest of

½ orange

50g (3½ tbsp) unsalted

butter, melted

1 egg

18g (²⁄oz) fresh yeast,

or 9g (¹⁄oz) dried

70ml (¹⁄ cup minus

2 tsp) tepid whole milk

50g (1¾oz) flaked

(slivered) almonds


to coat

50g (3½ tbsp) unsalted

butter, melted

40g (3½ tbsp) vanilla

sugar (see page 12)

40g (4½ tbsp) icing

(confectioners’) sugar


Put the mixed peel, raisins and currants into a bowl, pour over the rum and set aside to infuse while you prepare the dough.

Put the flour, sugar, salt and citrus zests into a large bowl and mix together with a wooden spoon, then add the melted butter and egg.

Crumble the yeast (or sprinkle if using dried) into the tepid milk and stir to dissolve. Pour the yeasted milk into the flour mixture and, using your hands, bring the ingredients together into a rough dough. Tip the dough onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until it becomes more elastic. Form it into a ball and nestle it into the bottom of the bowl. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and set aside in a warm spot to rise for 1–3 hours until almost doubled in size. (Alternatively put the flour, sugar, salt and citrus zests into the bowl of a free-standing electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the butter and egg. Pour in the yeasted milk and knead for 5 minutes until the dough is elastic. Cover the bowl and set aside, as above.)

Knock the dough back with your fist and add the almonds and boozy dried fruit (along with any liquid). Knead the fruit and nuts through for a few minutes until evenly incorporated. Form the dough into a ball and return it to the bowl. Cover with the tea towel and set aside in a warm spot for about 20 minutes for a short second rise.

Form the dough into a round loaf shape and place it on a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking parchment. Cover with a tea towel and leave somewhere warm to rise for a final 30 minutes. 

Heat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/375°F. Bake in the oven for 35–40 minutes until brown all over and cooked through, checking after 25 minutes; if it is getting too brown cover it with a piece of foil for the remainder of the baking time.

Transfer to a wire rack and brush with the melted butter repeatedly until all the butter is used up. Sprinkle with the vanilla sugar, then sift over the icing sugar.

This is best eaten within a couple of hours after it’s baked. Or you can wrap it in foil and store in an airtight tin; it will keep for up to 3 days, after which it is still fine to toast for a further 2 days.


Cinnamon stars



For me, and I believe many Germans would agree, Zimtsterne belong to the classic trio of biscuits that best sum up Adventsgebäck – Lebkuchen and Vanillekipferl being the other two. Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without Zimtsterne and they are baked at least once a week without fail in our house throughout the month of December. If the boys had it their way we would, in an ideal world, bake them every day.




2 egg whites

180g (1¼ cups) icing

(confectioners’) sugar,

plus extra for dusting

4 tsp ground cinnamon

300g (1²⁄ cups)

ground almonds

(almond flour)

for the icing

1 egg white

100g (scant ¾ cup)

icing (confectioners’)

sugar, sifted


Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F and line two baking sheets with nonstick baking parchment. Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks using a hand-held electric whisk or in the bowl of a free-standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the icing sugar one tablespoon at a time, whisking all the while. Add the cinnamon and give it a final few seconds of whisking before folding in the ground almonds with a spatula, bringing all the ingredients together into a sticky dough.

Dust the work surface with icing sugar and roll the dough out to a 5mm/1/8in thickness. Cut star shapes out of the dough with your cookie cutter (see pages 258–9) and gently transfer them over to the baking sheet with 1cm/3/8in between each to allow for a little spreading. Re-roll all the dough offcuts into more biscuits.

Bake in the oven for 10–12 minutes until just golden on top and firm to the touch – they should still be soft inside. Allow to cool on the sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the icing, whisk the egg white to stiff peaks using a hand-held electric whisk or an oldfashioned double whisk with a cranking handle (my preferred choice; one egg white is too small an amount to whisk in a free-standing kitchen machine). Fold the icing sugar into the stiff egg white until a thick, glossy icing is formed. 

Spoon small amounts of icing onto each cooled biscuit and, using the tip of a knife, drag the icing out to the pointed ends of the star, ensuring the entire top of the cookie is covered. Leave out to air dry for 8 hours (overnight is ideal).

Stored in an airtight container, these will keep well for a month or more.


Material taken from ADVENT: Festive German Bakes to Celebrate the Coming of Christmas by Anja Dunk (Quadrille, £25) with thanks to Hardie Grant publishing.