Christmas 2022: Chef Avin Thaliath On Stollen's Saga And Recipe
Image Credit: Chef Avin Thaliath

With the baking season at its peak, having Christmas and the upcoming year, Dr Avin Thaliath Pastry Chef, is the happiest soul. This period is all for his passion for baking, and this festival has a special sentiment. And among all, his heart goes for Stollen. In his words:

"Christmas is all about - family time. My dad told us that on the 25th of December, wherever you are in this world, you should come home for Christmas lunch. It's a tradition we have been following for years, and Christmas means family time to me." 

The largest food processing sector in India is the bakery industry.  One such name that all pastry chefs and chocolatiers are aware of is Chef Avin. He is currently the co-founder and academic director of Lavonne Academy of Baking Science and Pastry Arts in India. When this academy was born, his dream of opening a specialist baking school in India came true. The Science in the Art of Baking, a book on which Avin has been working for the past ten years. It will soon be released. The book is a repository with years of expertise, research, and study for each component. Every enthusiast who wishes to work in the field of baking will learn the specifics from this book.

He also has several tips, suggestions and smart hacks for the festival. 

Chef Avin working on baked sweet treats

Christmas Do's and Don'ts

The list of dos includes spreading the joy of Christmas by cooking and inviting your loved one, playing Christmas songs, visiting Christmas bazaars and helping the needy, and giving yourself a break. Likewise, don'ts would be not to overeat and remember to spend some quality time with your loved ones. 

Christmas dinner spread tips!

Try to prepare the festive spread with Cherry and wine soda, pumpkin fudge, roasted butternut squash, dinner rolls, roast duck with orange and cashew stuffing, mushroom potstickers, pomelo and turmeric pilaff, Stollen, Plum pudding and Cherry pie. 

Chef's secret tricks and hacks

A few simple arrangements can go a long way. Organise your refrigerator, plan the meals in advance, and stick to a foolproof recipe you have tried and tested. Most importantly, be yourself, don't try something you are not confident in, and keep it safe and straightforward. 

Ornate baked treat

What are your most recommended holiday season snuggle bites 

I would vouch for three of them- Hot chocolate, Sourdough toast with butter and orange marmalade and Chocolate nuts.  

Any dish you identify as a Christmas signature?

It is Germany's Stollen or Christollen custom that dates back to the 14th century. Stollen loaves were made in Germany during Christmas to sell at fairs and festivals and honour princes and church members. Because the Catholic church forbade the use of milk or butter during advent, early stollen loaves were baked without these elements. 

Stollen Christmas signature baked treat

A papal decree in the middle of the 17th century permitted bakers of stollen to include milk and butter, leading to a recipe that is close to the one we use today.

The hump of the stollen represented the hump of the camel that carried the gifts to the Christ child on the first Christmas. The candied fruits.

Stollen's Recipe

Stollen is a cake-like yeast bread that usually has candied fruit, currants, orange and lemon zest, spice and cardamom spices for flavouring. 


  • Flour Type 400 – 720 g 
  • Flour Type 720 – 720 g 
  • Dry Yeast – 24 g 
  • Castor Sugar – 530 g 
  • Milk – 510g 
  • Butter – 1040 g 
  • Eggs - 8 nos 
  • Eggs yolks - 4 nos
  • Marzipan – 400 g 
  • Cardamom – 10 g 
  • Cinnamon Powder – 40 g 
  • Sliced Almonds – 150 g 
  • Raisins – 200g 
  • Sultana – 200 g 
  • Candied Orange – 100 g 
  • Lemon Peels – 100 g 
  • Rum – 144 g 
  • Icing Sugar – 500 g 
  • Fresh Lemon – 2 nos. 
  • Vanilla Bean – 1 no. 
  • Grand Marnier – 200 g 

Iconic Christollen


  • Place the raisins, sultana, sliced almonds, and candied orange in a medium bowl and pour the rum over it. Stir to combine. Set aside and let the fruit mixture soak in the rum while the dough rises.
  • Stir the yeast and 2 tablespoons of the sugar into the lukewarm milk and sit in a warm place for 10-15 minutes until very frothy.
  • Place the flour, remaining sugar, egg, egg yolks, butter, vanilla extract, lemon zest, salt, cardamom, cardamom and cinnamon in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the yeast/milk mixture.
  • Use a spoon to stir the mixture until it comes together. Knead the dough on the bread setting and once the dough comes together, continue to knead for 7 minutes.
  • Remove the dough ball, lightly spray the bowl with a bit of oil, return the dough ball, cover loosely with plastic wrap and place it in a warm place or lightly warmed oven (just barely warm), to rise until nearly doubled in size, at least 1 hour.
  • Punch down the dough and add the soaked fruit/nut mixture to the dough (it should have absorbed all the rum by now but if there is excess liquid, pour it out before adding the mixture to the dough).
  • Using the dough hook, knead the fruit/nut mixture into the dough until combined. If the dough is too wet to handle, add a little bit of flour until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
  • Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface.
  • Cut the dough into two equal halves. Press or roll each piece into an oval to about 1-inch thickness. Roll each piece of marzipan into a log the length of the oval. Press the marzipan gently into the middle of the dough.
  • Fold the left side of the dough over to cover the marzipan, then fold the right side over on top of the left side so that the edge of it sits just left of the middle of the stollen. In other words, don't fold the right side all the way over to the left edge of the stollen.
  • Pinch and tuck the top and bottom ends of the stollen to cover the marzipan.
  • Use the bottom edge of your hand to press down along the length of the stollen towards the right of the centre to create a divot and characteristic hump.
  • Place the stollen on a lined baking sheet. Cover the stollen loosely with plastic wrap and let them rest in a warm place or lightly warmed oven for 40-60 minutes until puffy.
  • At this point, you can pick off any raisins that are sticking out of the dough (they will burn during baking).
  • Towards the end of the last rise, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and bake the stollen for 30-40 minutes or until golden. You can use an instant thermometer to aim for an internal temperature of 190 degrees F.
  • Let them sit for 5 minutes, then use a toothpick to poke holes all over the stollen. This will allow the melted butter to seep in.
  • Generously brush the stollen with melted butter while the stollen is still warm.
  • Immediately sprinkle with a generous amount of powdered sugar, rubbing it into the creases and down the sides. Let the stollen cool completely

The stollen can be sliced and eaten now or wrapped tightly (I like to wrap in plastic wrap then foil) and left to "ripen" in a cool place for 2 weeks. The liquid from the dried fruits will further penetrate the dough for more flavour and moisture. Stollen can also be frozen for more extended storage.