Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Traditions - Stollen & Fruit Cake

The fruitcake... The brunt of endless jokes at Christmas time. Some say it's heavy, not sweet and that there is only one in existance, circling the earth, being regifted from one person to the next. As I am not a fan of this Christmas cake I would tend to agree with the above statements. I am however a fan of it's sister... The German Stollen.

Dating back to the early 1400's the first Stollen was made in Dresden. During the time of Advent, Catholics were not allowed to use butter and milk in their baking so it was rather tasteless and heavy. Forty-years, several petitions and 6 popes later the bakers Guild of Dresden was given permission to use butter and milk in their Stollen but only for the Prince-Elector his family and household. Others could do so but would have to pay a fine which would go to building of a Minster (Church) in another city (Freiburg - quite a distance away)

It is now baked throughout Germany and the world and goes by many different names in German: Stollen, Dresden Stollen, Strutzel, Striezel, Stutenbrot, or Christstollen. The traditional German Christmas cake, is a colorful collection of nuts, raisins, currants, candied orange and lemon peel, traditional spices of Christmas such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, mace or cloves, brandy or rum and lots of butter. Personally, it has to have Marzipan in it as well. It's that little extra sweetness that does it for me

However,  just like "bubbly" can only be called "Champagne" if made in Champagne, only in Dresden can you get the official Dresden Stollen. Only 150 bakers make this "brand" which carries an official seal.

The shape of the cake was originally meant to represent the baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes but now it can carry many different shapes and sizes. Although not as dense as fruitcake they have made one weighing over 4200 pounds

This was made in the city of Dresden for, get this, "Stollenfest". A festival for cake...
I am so there.

1 comment:

  1. Wow - I am totally 100% with you about the fruitcake. Um - and I hate to disappoint you, but, the Stollen doesn't sound like something that I would like either. Bread and fruit - in my book - just don't belong together. I love them separately, but not together.

    But please, enjoy your particular tradition!