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Festive German Glühwein and Vegan Christmas Stollen

Updated: Jan 20, 2021

Both Glühwein and Christmas Stollen (the Dutch call it “kerststol”) are two staples of German Christmas festivities. There are as many variations of Stollen as there are people who make it, every grandma has their own decadent recipe, and everyone likes to make it differently. What all have in common is being absolutely tasty and a well-beloved Christmas treat.

While Glühwein is an easy one, I have worked on a veganized version of my grandma’s Stollen recipe for the past couple of winters. And you guys will be the first ones to get your hands on it. Preparing this bread-like fruit cake accompanied by some Christmas music classics is the ultimate pastime on a cold winter afternoon during lockdown.

Here are two easy step-by-step recipes for the (in my opinion) best German Glühwein and vegan Christmas Stollen to ease you into the holiday mood.


The Rotterdam winter is grim, cold, and wet (most times), and with the upcoming weeks of a tighter lockdown, we should not deprive ourselves of this heart- and gut-warming remnant of seasonal frivolity: Glühwein. Also known as mulled wine in the English-speaking realms, is a heated beverage, usually made with red wine and spiced with star anise, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, sugar, and orange. To get you through the season, buckle up your shoes, run to the next market to get a bulk of spices, and treat yourself to a mug of liquid Christmas.

Before I hand you the recipe that makes your Christmas wishes come true, here are some do’s and don’ts!

Warm, don’t boil!

While not exactly being rocket science, do not overheat your Glühwein, otherwise, the alcohol will evaporate. If you want to go for the non-alcoholic version, consider using apple juice, pomegranate juice, or grape juice.

Which wine to go for?

Make sure to pick a vegan wine (you can find a database here which features most supermarkets in the Netherlands, so you can choose one that is close to you in Rotterdam ). Some wines are not vegan, due to being clarified with fining agents (casein, gelatin, fish bladder protein…).

Mulling wine disguises lots of nuances of the wine itself, so don’t go for very delicate grapes. Bolder, more full-bodied wines include Syrah, Malbec, Grenache, Spätburgunder, or Merlot. But to be fair: Whatever floats your boat. Make your Glühwein your own.

And the spices?

Traditionally, German Glühwein is spiced with star anise, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, sugar, and orange. But be bold, be loud - you can give it a personal twist and try adding vanilla, ginger, black pepper, bay leaves, or piment!

Use an organic, natural orange.

To not have to fish all spices out piece by piece, use a tea egg or strainer! Thank me later.

What you need:

  • 1 bottle organic, vegan red wine

  • 1 organic orange, sliced

  • 2 Ceylon cinnamon sticks

  • 3 star anise

  • 3 cardamom pods

  • 10 cloves

  • Sugar (or any other sweetener), to taste

  • Any additional spices you love

What you do:

  1. Fill the wine into a pot on medium heat. Do not bring to boil!

  2. Slice the orange and add to the pot.

  3. Fill a tea egg with your spices and add to the wine. (Note: crush them before for more intense flavours!)

  4. Let your Glühwein hang out for about 30 minutes on low heat. Remove all spices and the orange and enjoy while hot. Merry Christmas!

Christmas Stollen

Making Stollen really doesn’t require any magic, all you need is a stand mixer with a dough hook (or your hands), good ingredients, and lots of love. It’s a bit of a tradition to prepare mini-Stollen and hand them over to friends and family around Christmas time, but only if you manage not to devour everything yourself before it. Christmas Stollen really is the best when made weeks in advance and stored until the flavours develop and the bread softens, but I found it to be still tasty if it only ‘ripens’ a few days.

The fun thing is – you can adjust it to your own taste. Don’t like raisins? Leave them out. Despise marzipan? Ditch it! Candied fruit is not your thing? Skip it.

Many traditional recipes ask for quark or curd and yeast but using baking powder does the job as well and makes this recipe foolproof. So here we go!

What you need:

  • 500 grams of flour

  • 200 grams of sugar (brown)

  • 250 grams of palm-oil free margarine (I like Flower Farm) + a bit more to coat the Stollen

  • 250 grams of raisins (get them in bulk from the market!)

  • 150 grams almond flour (use normal flour if you’re not a fan)

  • 1 vanilla pod

  • 1 pack of baking powder

  • A dash of salt

  • A dash of muscat

  • Juice of a lemon + zest

  • Powdered sugar

  • Optional: almond flavouring, candied orange and lemon peel, 100 grams of marzipan

What you do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius (circulating air).

  2. Add the flour, sugar, margarine, almond flour, baking powder, salt, muscat, lemon juice and zest (optional: almond flavouring) into a stand mixer with the kneading hook and mix well. The dough should not be sticky. If it is too dry, add some water, if it is too soft, add more flour!

  3. Dust your tabletop with some flour and knead until a compact dough forms.

  4. Knead in the raisins and optional candied lemon and orange peel. If you’re using marzipan, wait until you form your Stollen to place a string in the middle and wrap the dough around it.

  5. Cut your dough into halves and form it into 2 rectangles. For both, fold approximately one third over the middle and pat until a nice shape forms. You can make smaller Stollen and adjust the baking time accordingly

  6. At this point, pick out any raisins that stick out – they will burn and taste nasty.

  7. Bake your Stollen in the oven on the medium rack for about 40-50 minutes, or until golden. The baking time really depends on the size you go for.

  8. When the baking time is over, get your Stollen out of the heat and let it cool on a baking rack for 5 minutes. Then brush it with the margarine while still warm. Immediately sprinkle a good amount of powdered sugar on top, rubbing it into every nook and cranny.

  9. Once cooled completely, wrap your Stollen or devour instantaneously.

On behalf of the VSA Rotterdam, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas! Call your loved ones, stay safe, and slide cautiously into 2021.

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