Germany: Pumpernickel History and Recipe

Pumpernickel (English pronunciation: /ˈpʌmpərnɪkəl/German: [ˈpʊmpɐˌnɪkəl]) is a typically heavy, slightly sweet rye bread traditionally made with coarsely ground rye.

Pumpernickel has been long associated with the Westphalia region of Germany, first referred to in print in 1450. Although it is not known whether this and other early references refer to precisely the bread that came to be known as Pumpernickel, Westphalian pumpernickel is distinguished by use of coarse rye flour—rye meal and a very long baking period, which gives the bread its characteristic dark color. Like most traditional all-rye breads, pumpernickel is traditionally made with an acidic sourdough starter, which preserves dough structure by counteracting highly active rye amylases. That method is sometimes augmented or replaced in commercial baking by adding citric acid or lactic acid along with commercial yeast.[1]

A slice of Polish malt colored pumpernickel

Traditional German Pumpernickel contains no coloring agents, instead relying on the Maillard reaction to produce its characteristic deep brown color, sweet, dark chocolate, coffee flavor, and earthy aroma. To achieve this, loaves are baked in long narrow lidded pans 16 to 24 hours in a low temperature (about 250°F or 120°C), steam-filled oven. Like the French pain de mie, Westphalian pumpernickel has little or no crust. It is very similar to rye Vollkornbrot, a dense rye bread with large amounts of whole grains added.

While true Pumpernickel is produced primarily in Germany, versions are popular in the Netherlands, under the name Roggebrood, where it has been a common part of the diet for centuries.

Click to See Rec ipe

Germany: Stollen History and Recipe

Stollen is a traditional German cake made with dry fruits and topped with sugar, powdered sugar, or a glazed icing. stollenslicedMuch 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.

glazed_stollen

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

Ingredients

  • 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

*Click here for directions. Recipe and picture of Quicker Stollen from Tasteofhome.com.