German Christmas Bread

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German Christmas bread is a sweet bread machine recipe to bake for the holidays. It takes just 5 minutes to dump all the ingredients into the bread maker and you'll have a sweet and citrusy bread for brunch or a special holiday side dish in no time.

A finished loaf of Bavarian Christmas bread from the bread machine. The loaf has a drizzle of white glaze in a criss cross pattern over the top and a red and white striped towel sits next to it.

When I think about Christmas breads, I can't help but think of the delicious German stollen my mom always had on the counter during the Christmas season.

Dried fruits and nuts in a glazed bread just makes me feel festive.

This easy German Christmas bread recipe has all the same flavors of my mom's favorite Christmas stollen but is perfect for beginner bakers to make in just minutes.

Sweet raisins, crunchy hazelnuts, a splash of cherry brandy/Kirsch, and warm spices make this bread perfect for a holiday brunch or sweet afternoon snack.

My kids begged me to make a little more of the powdered sugar glaze for slathering on the cut slices of bread, so for an extra-sweet treat, consider doubling the glaze recipe and serving it with a spreading knife at the table.

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Why This is the Best Recipe

The holidays are a crazy busy time. When you can take an old world recipe like Christmas stollen and actually bake something fresh and homemade in just minutes, I call that a win.

Even if you've never made a homemade bread before, you'll be amazed to discover just how easy it is using a bread machine recipe.

Dump everything you need into the bread maker and turn out a warm, fresh bread in no time.

Ingredients

To make this homemade Christmas bread, you only need to start with a few basic ingredients:

  • Milk
  • Butter
  • Bread Flour
  • Sugar
  • Active Dry Yeast
  • Salt
  • Powdered Sugar & Vanilla for the glaze
Chopped hazelnuts, raisins, kirsch, and spices sit in front of a bread maker.

Substitutions

It is the spices and dried fruit and nuts that make the bread unique, but there are a few handy substitutions you may need:

Dried Raisins

This recipe calls for simple raisins you likely already have in your pantry.

However, during the holiday season, you'll find all kinds of fun dried fruits in the baking section of your grocery store.

You can easily substitute dried cranberries, cherries, or a mix of fruits as long as you don't exceed the 2/3 cup of raisins the recipe calls for.

Chopped Hazelnuts

Chopped hazelnuts are easy to find this time of year in the baking section as well. However, they can be a little pricey.

If you prefer, you can also substitute chopped pecans or chopped walnuts as long as you don't exceed the 1/2 cup called for in the recipe.

Pie Spice

I keep a blend in my pantry simply called "pie spice" and it features a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger.

You could substitute your favorite blend like apple pie spice, pumpkin pie spice, or any baking spice blend that features cinnamon.

Kirsch, German Cherry Brandy

Kirsch, a German cherry brandy, was the hardest ingredient for me to find.

I had to go to a specialty liquor store to find it. The cherry flavor it brings to the Bavarian bread is fairly essential for this recipe to taste as festive as it does.

Substitution for Kirsch

If you can't find Kirsch or prefer to not use liquor in your bread, one of these will work in this bread recipe:

  • Cherry juice
  • Cherry preserves
  • Framboise (a raspberry brandy)

NOTE: If you worry about having a one-use ingredient in your pantry, you'll find that Kirsch is frequently called for in many cheese fondue recipes. Might be just the excuse you need to plan a fun dinner one weekend with the family!

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Tools You Need

This is a bread machine recipe, so you will need a bread maker in order to bake it.

New to bread machines? Don't miss my guide on the best bread machine for beginners.

If you're buying a new machine, you'll want to pick up a copy of The Ultimate Bread Machine to go with it. This Christmas recipe isn't in the book, but you'll find 50 other amazing treats to make with your new bread maker.

How to Make the Bread

As with all bread machine recipes, how you load up the bread pan makes all the difference.

Simply follow the recipe and add the ingredients in the order they are listed in the recipe card.

Add the Wet Ingredients First

First, add the milk and water to the bread machine pan. Be sure you have the bread paddle fitted into place. It is really hard to add it later.

Cut the softened butter into smaller pieces and scatter them over the milk. This helps them blend in easier.

Add the kirsh or cherry brandy or the substitution of your choice.

Add the Dry Ingredients Second

Add the dry ingredients right on top of the wet.

Add the bread flour directly on top of the milk. Then scatter the sugar and salt around the perimeter of the pan.

Add the spice of your choice.

Dig a small well with the back of your spoon in the center of the flour. Add the yeast here.

When to Add the Dried Fruit & Nuts

Save the dried fruit and nuts for the kneading stage your machine recommends.

If you add the fruit and nuts too soon, your bread dough won't mix together properly.

Several bread machine models will beep when it is time to add the mix-ins.

If your machine doesn't beep, usually you add the dried fruit and nuts after the second knead cycle. You'll just have to keep an eye on the machine as it works.

Bake the Bread

The fresh baked bread is still sitting in the bread machine pan.

For this recipe, use the 2-pound, Basic White setting to bake the bread. 

When the bread is finished, remove it from the pan and let it cool on a wire rack while you make the glaze.

Make the Glaze

The fresh glazed bread sits on a cutting board with a red striped towel next to it.

In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, powdered sugar, and vanilla to make the easy glaze that gets drizzled over the top.

I made our glaze extra thick and then placed it inside a plastic baggie.

I snipped the corner of the bag so that I could pipe the pretty drizzle pattern over the top. This works best with a mostly cooled bread so that the glaze doesn't melt.

You can also choose to spread the glaze over the bread while it is still warm if you prefer a more totally frosted look. The glaze will melt and coat the bread and drizzle down the sides.

Alternatively, you can double the glaze recipe and simply serve it along side the bread with a small knife for people to "frost" their slices as a special treat.

Serving Suggestions

The Christmas bread has been cut with a serrated knife.

This German Christmas bread would be a delicious item to add to your holiday brunch.

Serve it with a savory egg casserole and peppered bacon. My easy cherry freezer jam would be a delicious condiment to spread over the top of each slice.

If you prefer to serve this as part of a Christmas dinner, why not plan an entire German dinner menu?

My easy German sauerbraten can be made in the oven or slowcooker. Serve it with the easy red cabbage and slices of this Christmas bread as a special treat.

More Christmas Bread Machine Breads

If you love baking for Christmas, you won't want to miss these other delicious Christmas breads!

My easy cinnamon pull apart bread starts in the bread maker but is finished in the oven.

Same with the not-too-sweet bread machine orange rolls. We love those on Christmas morning!

The bread machine crescent dinner rolls are perfect for Christmas dinner, and the rum raisin bread is a fun nod to old fashioned Christmas flavors.

๐Ÿ“– Recipe

A finished loaf of Bavarian Christmas bread from the bread machine. The loaf has a drizzle of white glaze in a criss cross pattern over the top and a red and white striped towel sits next to it.

German Christmas Bread

4.99 from 51 votes
This festive holiday bread is similar to the sweets sold in the Christmas markets of southern Germany. Studded with dried fruit and hazelnuts, this easy bread machine recipe tastes great with coffee or mulled wine.
TOTAL TIME 3 hours 10 minutes
PREP TIME 10 minutes
COOK TIME 3 hours
YIELD 1 2-pound loaf

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3 tbsp butter softened
  • 2 tbsp kirsch cherry brandy
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp pie spice apple pie spice, pumpkin pie spice, or your favorite baking spice blend that features cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts

For the Glaze:

  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2-3 tsp milk

Instructions

  • Bread machines each have their own instructions, be sure to follow the method from your machine's manual for adding the ingredients.
  • Typically, a bread machine will suggest you add the wet ingredients to the bread bowl first, followed by the dry ingredients. Layer the ingredients into the bowl in order of the list from milk through the pie spice. Make a small well in the top of the flour to place the dry yeast. Reserve the raisins and nuts for the moment.
  • Select the 2-pound loaf size and the basic white bread cycle on your machine and press START.
  • MIXING IN THE RAISINS AND NUTS: Add the reserved raisins and nuts during the mix-in portion of the cycle on your machine. If your bread machine doesn't have a bell to alert you to the mix-in step, wait until the dough has formed a solid ball and the machine is kneading the bread dough. This should happen before the first rise.
  • NOTE: To ensure the fruit & nuts are evenly distributed throughout the bread, you may want to remove the dough ball and knead them even farther into the dough by hand for a few minutes. Then, return the dough to the machine to finish the baking process.
  • The machine we tested this recipe on baked the bread in 3 hours, timing may vary by your machine.

TO MAKE THE GLAZE:

  • Add the powdered sugar and vanilla to a small bowl. Add just 2 teaspoons of milk to the bowl and begin to mix it together with a fork.
  • For a decorative thick glaze: If you want to pipe pretty patterns on top of the bread, leave the glaze extra-thick. Transfer the thick glaze to a pastry bag with a frosting tip to decorate the top of the cooled bread loaf.
  • For an all-over glaze: Add the third teaspoon of milk if you want an all-over glaze. Spread it over the top of the loaf while it is still slightly warm and it will drizzle down the sides.

Recipe Notes

Substitutions for Kirsch

If you can't find kirsch, a cherry brandy, or prefer not to use it, you can substitute with cherry juice, cherry preserves, or Framboise--a raspberry brandy.
COURSEBread Machine
CUISINEGerman

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The photo collage shows the German christmas bread sliced so you can see the dried fruits and nuts next to a photo of it in the bread maker pan and a photo of the icing drizzled on top.

4 Comments

  1. Do I have to make in a bread machine? Got rid of that years ago. Prefer using my mixer. Will this recipe work up good on stand up mixer?

    1. Hi Debbie, I'm sure you could make the dough with a stand mixer and bake it in the oven. You'd just have to follow the instructions for baking another similar bread. I haven't tested it that way myself, let us know how it works for you if you give it a go.

  2. This recipe is what I am looking for. Some popular holiday breads are too fussy for the bread machine but this one looks easy. I will probably use cherry preserves and dried cherries and hope it looks as pretty as yours.

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