“What is it with that stollen?” we’re asked again aind again.
Great ingredients for sure, but it’s so delicious, so irresistible, we’re told that the taste is more than the sum of it’s parts. Maybe it’s ancient history lends a bit of magic to this fruit-filled delight.
The first stollen loaf first appeared in Dresden, Germany in the 1400s. According to legend, it represented Baby Jesus, with the powder sugar icing as the baby’s diaper. In addition to being an unappetizing metaphor (the diaper, not baby Jesus), the original stollen tasted less than divine. It was dry and dense, as butter and milk were both outlawed during Advent, leading up to Christmas.
Local folk lobbied the Papal powers to allow blessed butter and milk during Advent. The Pope conceded, but only in Dresden and with proper penance, issuing a decree called “Bufferbrief." In the 1500s stollen started to appear at the Dresden Christmas Market with great fanfare. Thereafter, stollen bakers delivered one or two Christmas stollen weighing 36 pounds to the king of Saxony for the holy celebration. Eight master bakers and eight apprentices carried it to the castle. Escalating this show of piety, "August the Strong," elector Lord of Saxony in the 1700s, commanded the bakery gild of Dresden to make a huge Stollen with a weight of 1.8 tons! A similar stollen is baked every year on the Saturday before the second advent at the annual Dresden Stollen Festival. The biggest stollen ever baked weighed nearly five tons and was more than 10ft long.
Although our 3# Stollen Wreath doesn’t seem quite so huge now, we are even prouder of our delicious product and it’s somewhat shorter legacy. Since given the recipe by a French customer back in 1997, we’ve tweaked it again and again to make it our own. To the requisite butter, milk, eggs and currants, we’ve added organic flour, dried cherries and pineapples soaked in brandy, a hint of nutmeg, sliced almonds, all covered in our lemon zest-infused glaze.
Sacred? Perhaps. All we know is that both customers and staff alike thank us for only baking it one month out of the year, as they sheepishly sneak yet another sample from the front counter. But you be the judge. Come down to the bakery and endulge in a sample (or 2!) or stop by any of the high quality wholesale markets that offer it