Even though it is technically not a cookie, this German pastry is one of the most famous of all Christmas pastries. Stuffed with dried fruit, nuts and spices and famously dusted with a very thick layer of powdered sugar Christstollen are prized throughout the world.
Stollen, pronounced ‘shtaw-lehn,’ is a cake-like fruit bread made with yeast, flour and water as well as zest which is added to the dough. There are dozens of variations when it comes to Stollen such as Mandelstollen (which includes almond), Mohnstollen (which includes poppy seed), Quarkstollen (which includes curd), Nuss-Stollen (which includes nuts), Butterstollen (which includes a large amount of butter), Dresdner Stollen and Marzipanstollen (which includes marzipan).
The first and most famous one of them all is the Dresdner Christstollen. Dating back to the early 1300s, the Stollen also called Striezel (which is a word for loaf) is packed with rum-soaked raisins and dried fruits before being dipped in melted butter, vanilla sugar and then being finished off with a layer of powdered sugar. No wonder it has been a Christmas tradition for over 500 years. But it wasn’t always so flavorful, flaky and moist, on the contrary up until 1650 the Stollen was a bland, hard pastry because back then the use of butter and milk was forbidden during Lent by the Catholic Church. That same year Prince Ernst von Sachsen, at the request of the Dresdener bakers, petitioned the pope to have the butter ban lifted. It took several more requests and five more popes before the ban was finally lifted in 1490 in the famous Butterbrief or butter letter. Over time the Stollen has slowly developed into the sweet enjoyable bread that we eat today. So in a sense the Stollen has really come a long way. And in Dresden, the ‘official‘ Dresdener Christstollen is only produced by 150 Dresden bakers and distinguished by a special seal.
The word Stollen has several different meanings such as a post or boundary stone for a city, but it also can and probably most likely refer to the entrance of a mine shaft since the Stollen’s characteristic shape mimics that of a mine tunnel. But there is also religious symbolism behind the Stollen. The shape of the bread along with being dusted with powdered sugar was a symbolic shape of the baby Jesus in swaddling clothes, so it earned the name Christstollen and Weihnachtsstollen or Christmas Stollen.
Since there are so many different variations when it comes to the Stollen’s ingredients such as rum, different nuts and even marzipan – sometimes even the size varies, I am sharing a Stollenkonfekt recipe today. These bite-sized chunks can be ready in about 3 hours rather than having to wait weeks to achieve the rich, buttery, spicy flavor of Stollen. And they taste just the same and are easily arranged on a Bunte Teller with other Christmas cookies.
- 250 grams pr 1 2/3 cups of raisins
- 100 grams or 2/3 cups of candied orange peel
- 75 grams or 2/3 cups of chopped almonds
- 40 ml or 8 teaspoons of rum
For the dough:
- 500 grams or 4 cups of flour
- 2 TL or teaspoons of cinnamon
- 50 grams or 1/4 cup of sugar
- 1 pinch of salt
- 125 ml or 1/2 cup of milk
- 1 cube or 1 packet of active dry yeast
For the butter-sugar-dough:
- 200 grams or 14 tablespoons of butter
- 150 grams or 1 cup and 3 tablespoons of powdered sugar plus an additional 25 grams or 3 1/2 tablespoons of powdered sugar
- 25 grams or about 1/4 cup of chopped almonds
- 2 TL or teaspoons of amaretto
- 300 grams or 1 1/3 cups of butter
- 300 grams or 2 cups and 6 tablespoons of powdered sugar
- In a bowl combine raisins, candied orange peel, almonds and rum. Cover and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, sugar and cinnamon. Mix until combined.
- In the middle of the mixture make a hole and place milk and broken up yeast into the hole.
- Carefully combine the milk with the yeast before covering the bowl and let it rest in a warm place for about 15 minutes.
- While the yeast is processing, in a mixing bowl combine 200 grams and the 150 grams of powdered sugar (for the butter-sugar dough) and beat until fluffy.
- In a food processor or blender combine the almonds with the additional 25 grams of powdered sugar until completely ground up.
- Now add the amaretto bit by bit until a dough is formed.
- Take the almond-powdered sugar-amaretto mixture and using the spatular lift it under the fluffy butter-powdered sugar mixture until combined.
- Taking the bowl with the yeast-milk mixture, combine it with the flour before adding the butter-powdered sugar dough and the raisin-candied orange-peel-rum mixture.
- After everything is combined, cover the bowl and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius or 390 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Roll out the dough into finger-thick rolls and cut off an inch-thick pieces.
- Place the dough pieces onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.
- Cover the cookie sheet and let it rest rest in a warm place for an additional 10 minutes.
- Place in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes.
- While the dough pieces are baking, melt the 300 grams of butter and place the powdered sugar into a bowl.
- When the dough pieces are finished baking, pull them out of the oven and while they are still hot roll them in the melted butter and the powdered sugar until they are completely covered. (You can also just dust them heavily.)
- Place the finished covered dough pieces onto a parchment-paper lined cookie cooling rack.
- When completely cooled, place the finished Stollenkonfekt into an airtight container. (The longer the Stollenkonfekt is left in those containers, the better the taste.)