Stollen — The German Holiday Cake Everyone Seems To Adore
Even though I travel quite a bit, I can always count on being able to get a taste of Germany abroad during the holiday season. There is one kind of German Christmas cake in particular that people the world over seem to adore. It may be cliche, but I love that bakers everywhere, of all nationalities, are making Stollen cake this month.
Also known as Christstollen, it’s a very rich cake — you may want to eat it with a dark coffee on the side to balance the sweetness. There’s butter, cream, sugar, raisins, spices, and a strong dash of brandy or rum. (Regionally there’s also marzipan in the middle.) The top is covered with a grainy white sugar icing, and I can never stop with just one piece! ;-)
Neither can most Germans — Stollen is addictively good. This is one of the reasons that bakeries all over the world bring it out at the holidays. Baked in long, low loaves, it is sure to have customers clamoring for more.
As a result of its popularity, Stollen even has its own festival! Hosted in Dresden at the Striezelmarkt (Dresden’s Christmas Market on Altmarkt) the Saturday prior the second Advent, the highlight of the Stollenfest is the baking of a giant Stollen cake. The locals are honoring the effort of August the Strong, who once ordered a 1.8 ton Stollen cake!
This was back in 1730, and I’ve no idea how his baker managed. For years, no one else tried, but gradually curiosity got the better of the locals. In 1994, the organizers of Dresden’s Christmas markets decided to bring the tradition back, and have been baking giant Stollen cakes each year since then.
The average “uber cake” now has 44 liters of Jamaican rum and weighs in at between three and four tons. Cut with a four foot (1.2 meter) silver knife by the Royal Master Baker, 500 gram pieces of the festival cake are then sold to attendees for about 3 Euro. With an average of 700,000 people turning out each year to enjoy the festival, it’s a good thing the cake is so large so that everyone can get a piece!
If you can’t make the festival, and your local baker doesn’t have any Stollen, you can also order it online from a number of traditional bakers, including the American based Dresden Stollen bakery.
However you manage, be sure you get a taste of Stollen this season, so you can see why so many people — including me, of course — adore this wonderful holiday cake. :-)
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