“What is it with that stollen?” we’re asked again and again throughout December? Great ingredients to be sure, but maybe there’s also a bit of magic passed down from this 600 year old sacred tradition.
The first stollen loaf was baked in the 1400s in Dresden, Germany. According to legend it represented Baby Jesus, with powdered sugar icing symbolizing 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.
Locals lobbied the Papal powers to allow blessed butter and milk during Advent. The Pope conceded, but only in Dresden, and with proper penance, in 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 in the 1700s, "August the Strong", commanded the bakery guild of Dresden to make a huge Stollen with a weight of 1.8 tons! A similar stollen is baked every year at the annual Dresden Stollen Festival, the biggest weighing in at nearly five tons and measuring more than 10ft long.
Last Saturday, the first Saturday of Advent, the village bakers in Dresden, Germany continued a 600-year-old annual holiday tradition and delivered a giant stollen to the King. While Avalon’s stollen doesn’t hold quite that long of a tradition, over the past fifteen years our holiday treat has indeed taken on a life of its own. We will go through approximately 10 cases of Brandy (that’s 60 gallons), 100 lbs of nutmeg, 1000 #s of dried pineapple, cranberries, raisins and cherries and LOTS of icing. We even hire an employee just to zest and juice fresh oranges!
Yesterday, for the second year in a row, we delivered an elegant 15-pound wreath of holiday goodness to Mayor Bing. Silly? For sure. But our esteemed bakers Curtis, Adeeb, Jason, and Ajamu so respectfully uphold this tradition, that our stollen is truly fit for a King…or Detroit’s Mayor, Dave Bing!
Of course, you are the real royalty of Avalon. The opulent three-pound wreath is an elegant centerpiece for your dessert table. The one pound loaf is a special treat for your family or anyone on your list. And the 5 oz mini loaf is the perfect gift for you to enjoy on the winter drive home. Partake in this ancient tradition through December 31st at Avalon or our esteemed “VOB” markets of good taste (link to wholesale markets).
Stop by this Saturday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m, and join Jackie for samples of stollen, seasonal cookies and other holiday treats (like the unfortunately irresistible “I Can’t Believe It’s Vegan” Chocolate Cake with Peppermint frosting!).
May your holidays be sweet and spice, filled with stollen and everything nice.
Ann and Jackie