A stollen is a traditional German cake shaped like a loaf. Initially, a Stollen was a simple bread made of water, flour and oats. This cake has had close associations with the Striezel, a bread shaped like a loaf that was supposed to look like a wrapped Jesus Christ. The plain beginnings of the Stollen was due to the religious observance that important holidays such as Christmas should not use butter as part of the fasting. Eventually, the Vatican gave in by the 15th century, and not only did the Stollen gain its butter, it gained other hearty ingredients as well. The Christollen is actually the German version of the fruitcake, only denser. Another version is the Dresdner stollen which was exclusively practiced in Dresden for centuries; in comparison to the Christollen, this loaf has more moisture and some even use some marzipan. The Dresdner stollen is actually quite exclusive as such authentic stollen famously bears a particular seal. However, a regular Christollen can be made in any household; just follow the next recipe.
All-purpose flour, 5 cups
Active dry yeast, 2 packages
Ground cardamom, 1 tsp.
Milk, 1 ¼ cup
Sugar, ½ cup
Salt, ¾ tsp.
Egg, 1 pc.
Diced candied fruits and peels, 1 cup
Raisins, 1 cup
Chopped walnuts, ¾ cup
Shredded lemon zest, 1 tbsp.
Heat the milk, sugar, butter/margarine and salt in a medium saucepan over low heat. Wait until it reaches about 123-130 degrees F.
Combine 2 cups of flour with yeast and cardamom. Mix this with the warmed milk, and then the eggs.Once mixed, beat the mixture using an electric mixer for 30 seconds, on low; and then beat at high speed for 3 minutes. Afterwards, fold in the candied fruits and peels, the raisins, walnuts and lemon zest. Stir in the remaining flour until it turns into dough.
Knead the dough on a floured surface. Do not overwork the dough, but knead it until it is soft and elastic. Roll into a bowl and place in a greased bowl. Cover the bowl in a plastic wrap and then let it rise in a warm place for about 1 to 1 ½ hours or until the size doubles.
Once the dough is ready, punch the dough on a floured surface. Divide it in half, and then divide each half into thirds. Roll out each third until it forms a rope at 1 inch thick. Place three ropes next to each other on a greased baking sheet, and then “braid” the dough, starting in the middle until it finishes on one end. Do the same process on the other end. You will end up with a loaf.
Brush the loaf with milk. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees F or until golden.