Today marks the official beginning of the Holiday Season at Bakery Normand with the first appearance of our prized Dresdner Stollen. This variety of Stollen is the classic original made with raisins, currants, lemon peel, orange peel, and ground and slivered almonds. Our Stollen is made exclusively with butter and is flavored with almond and lemon extracts, nutmeg and cardamon. Our recipe was passed on to me at the first bakery in Germany where I worked in 1976. The Master Baker in the kitchen of Bäckerei Kaiser, Joachen, had fled the Eastern lands in advance of the Russian army and had ended up settling in the area around Wiesbaden in then West Germany. Originally he came from Dresden, the official home of Stollen in Germany. So I feel quite confident that the formula we use for our Stollen is as close to the real thing that you will get on this side of the Atlantic.
As I said, our Stollen is made with butter, lots of butter. This makes our Stollen a rather expensive item, but butter also explains why our Stollen will keep for weeks and months if stored in a cool, dry place. Butter, as every good baker knows, is a natural preservative.
Not only is there a generous amount of butter inside each Stollen, but additionally, each Stollen is brushed with liquid butter three times after is comes out of the oven. The next day, after the Stollen has cooled and can be handled, each loaf is brushed again with melted butter, rolled in vanilla sugar, and then coated with a thick layer of powder sugar.
Stollen is a yeasted bread; it is actually the crowning achievement of German yeasted breads. Not to be confused with normal bread, Stollen is more like a confection and should be sliced very thinly when serving. Stollen should never be toasted. Anyone selling you a Stollen who claims that it is great toasted is selling you fruited bread, not real Stollen.
Stollen gets better with age and will last several months....of course, no great Stollen should hang around that long; it's an indulgence you should recklessly indulge.
For those of you interested in the unique shaping of Stollen, I've included here a few photos of the process we use employing a wooden pin.