Stollen is thought to have originated in Dresden, Germany in the 1400’s. The Catholic Church at that time forbade the use of butter during Lent so, unlike today, the first stollens were a heavy, tasteless pastry. The Pope eventually lifted the ban and declared that stollen could be baked with butter with a “clear conscience and with God’s blessings.”
By 1600 Christbrote uff Weihnachten (Christ’s bread of Christmas) was sold in the Dresden “Striezelmarkt,” the oldest existing Christmas Market in Germany. The traditional shape of the stollen – tapered at each end with a ridge down the middle – represents the Christ Child wrapped in swaddling clothes.
This is the Dresdener Stollen that is served in my home at Christmas time, the recipe used by my mother and grandmother and generations before them. I hope it will become a part of your holiday tradition too.
Dresdener Stollen…from Mom’s recipe box
- 1 package yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1 cup milk, scalded
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- 4 – 4-1/2 cups flour
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- 3/4 cup white raisins
- 1/2 cup candied fruit (I used pineapple and cherries)
- 2 teaspoons grated orange peel
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts)
Soften yeast in 1/4 cup warm water. Combine milk, butter, sugar, salt and cardamom. Cool to lukewarm. Mix in 2 cups flour. Beat well. Add yeast and egg. Again beat well. Stir in fruits and nuts. Add enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead till smooth, about 8-10 minutes. Place in an oiled bowl and moisten the surface of the dough with a little oil. Let rise till doubled, about 2 hours.
Punch down the dough and turn out onto lightly floured surface. Divide into 2 or 3 parts depending on how large you want your stollens. I cut it into thirds if I’m giving them as gifts. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll each piece into a 10 x 6 inch rectangle and fold in half lengthwise to within 1 inch of the opposite side. Let rise for 1 hour.
Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes until golden brown.
Immediately frost with a glaze of 1 cup powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons hot water and 2 teaspoons butter. Decorate with candied fruit and chopped nuts.
I’ve tried many stollen recipes and this one is the best. It keeps well and stays moist because of the added fruits. I like to top a slice with a little butter and have it with a cup of tea or coffee. If your holiday tradition includes this famous German treat I hope you will try this recipe.