Stollen is a traditional German cake made with dry fruits and topped with sugar, powdered sugar, or a glazed icing. Much like a fruitcake, the cake incorporates chopped candied fruit, dried fruit, nuts and spices. Usually made in a loaf, it is commonly eaten during the Christmas season, when it is called Weihnachtsstollen or Christstollen. A similar cake, found in Dutch cuisine, is called a Kerststol in Dutch, while in Italian cuisine the panettone also shows a likeness.
The Dresden Stollen (originally Striezel), a moist, heavy bread filled with fruit, was first mentioned in an official document in 1474, and the most famous Stollen is still the Dresdner Stollen, sold, among other places, at the local Christmas market, Striezelmarkt. Dresden Stollen is produced in the city of Dresden and distinguished by a special seal depicting King Augustus II the Strong. This “official” Stollen is produced by only 150 Dresden bakers.
Augustus II the Strong (1670–1733) was the Elector of Saxony, King of Poland and the Grand Duke of Lithuania. The King loved pomp, luxury, splendour and feasts. In 1730, he impressed his subjects, ordering the Bakers’ Guild of Dresden to make a giant 1.7-tonne Stollen, big enough for everyone to have a portion to eat. There were around 24,000 guests who were taking part in the festivities on the occasion of the legendary amusement festivity known as Zeithainer Lustlager. For this special occasion, the court architect Matthäus Daniel Pöppelmann (1662-1737), built a particularly oversized Stollen oven. An oversized Stollen knife also had been designed solely for this occasion.
Today, the festival takes place on the Saturday before the second Sunday in Advent, and the cake weighs between three and four tonnes. A carriage takes the cake in a parade through the streets of Dresden to the Christmas market, where it is ceremoniously cut into pieces and distributed among the crowd, for a small sum which goes to charity. A special knife, the Grand Dresden Stollen Knife, a silver-plated knife, 1.60 meters long weighing 12 kg, which is a copy of the lost baroque original knife from 1730, is used to festively cut the oversize Stollen at the Dresden Christmas fair.
The largest Stollen was baked in 2010 by Lidl, a discount supermarket chain in Germany. The Stollen was 70 meters long and was certified by the Guinness Book of World Records, at the train station of Haarlem. (Thanks Wikipedia!)
Recipe for Quicker Stollen
- 1 package (16 ounces) hot roll mix
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup warm water (120° to 130°)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 egg, beaten
- 3/4 teaspoon grated lemon peel
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup mixed candied fruit
- 1/4 cup chopped almonds
Ingredients for Glaze
- 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 to 2 tablespoons milk
- Additional candied cherries and sliced almonds, optional