The first time Stollen was officially mentioned was in 1329 as a Christmas gift for a bishop. However, at the time, they were meant for the Christian advent fasting and therefore only consisted of water, yeast and oil. Probably not very enticing!
At the end of the 15th century the pope sent a "butter letter" which allowed to use butter for Stollen, in return people had to pay a monetary fine which was used for the construction of the Freiburg cathedral. A Saxon baker had later the idea to improve the Stollen with richer ingredients, like for example candied fruit.
The most famous Stollen is the "Dresdner Stollen" from the city of Dresden. Just like with "Nürnberger Lebkuchen" "Dresdner Stollen" is a protected designation of origin. It has to contain at least 50% butter and 65% raisins (referring to the amount of flour). Stollen used to be called "Striezel" in Dresden, and this is what gave the name to the famous Christmas market in Dresden, the "Striezelmarkt". In 1730 August the Strong had a Stollen baked that weighed 1.800 kg and was divided into 24.000 pieces. This event is the origin of the annual "Stollenfest" at the Striezelmarkt.
Nowadays a lot of bakeries bake their own version of Stollen. Each tastes a little different and varies in ingredients. Some bakers add marzipan, almonds, poppy, nuts, quark, chocolate or they leave out the fruit. Instead of soaking the raisins in rum, they soak them in champagne or wine. There is no limit to the creativity of German bakers.
Now, if you would like to try to make your own Stollen, I have found a Stollen recipe online that sounds rather nice. It is a marzipan Stollen, my favourite kind. I can’t vouch for the recipe though, as I would never make a Stollen myself. Going to the next bakery and buying one is just so easy!
Images: Stollen by su-lin at flickr, label by sludgegulper at flickr.
Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads