Saxony’s World Famous Delicacy
The Dresdner Christstollen is a piece of cultural history, a centuries-old baking tradition, a prevailing passion and, above all, a delicious treat. For centuries, Dresden's bakers and pastry makers have kept up this tradition, passing it on from generation to generation. That and the unique combination of selected ingredients are the secret behind that inimitable stollen taste.
Dresdner Christstollen is only produced in bakeries and pastry shops in and around Dresden. The original Dresden Christstollen is a raisin stollen that can be recognized by its golden seal of quality.
How a Dresdner Christstollen is Baked
Raisins, butter, sweet and bitter almonds, candied orange and lemon peel, flour, water and yeast are required to be ingredients of the dough. Also, whole milk or whole milk powder, crystal sugar, clarified butter, lemon zest, table salt, powder sugar, stollen spices and spirits are in the laid down recipe of the Stollen Association. An addition of margarine or artificial preservatives and flavors is not allowed.
Carefully selected ingredients are the main base of the Dresdner Christstollen.
Out of flour, yeast and milk a heavy yeast dough is made.
Raisins are added to the dough right before it goes into the oven so that they won't be squished.
After the dough rests the stollen will be shaped.
Eventually it is cut along the middle and then slightly baked at a medium temperature before it's baked thoroughly at a "cold" temperature.
At the end the stollen will be buttered and sugared.
A Treat for Everyone - The History of the Stollen
Dresdner Christstollen is inextricably linked to the history of Dresden and its rich cultural heritage. Whether among kings, princes or the people of Dresden, traditional Dresden stollen has played a significant role throughout the city's past: the history of stollen is the history of culture in Dresden.
Stollen as a food eaten during mediaeval fasting – Dresden Christstollen is first recorded in 1474 on a bill at a Christian hospital called St. Bartholomew's. At that time, however, there was no thought of festive pleasures: the mediaeval fasting food was made only of flour, yeast and water. The authoritative Catholic church did not allow butter or milk, as a sign of abstention.
The butter missive – As Saxons have always enjoyed the pleasures of life, Prince Ernst, Elector of Saxony, and his brother Albrecht asked Pope Innocent VIII to revoke the ban on butter. The Holy Father granted them their wish, sending his Butterbrief, or butter missive, to Dresden in 1491. From then on, stollen bakers were also allowed to use richer ingredients.
A royal treat – Dresden stollen gained its reputation as being fit for kings from 1560. Dresden's stollen bakers traditionally presented their sovereign with one or two festive stollen at Christmas. During one ceremony the stollen, weighing in at 36 German pounds, or 18 kilos, was carried through the city to the palace by eight master bakers and eight journeymen.
The elector Augustus and his giant stollen - Augustus the Strong, probably Saxony's most famous elector, was also a self-confessed stollen enthusiast. In 1730, when the court was at the Zeithain Encampment military exercises, he called upon Dresden's bakers to create a giant stollen for him. Around 100 bakers and their journeymen combined 3,600 eggs, 326 churns of milk and 20 hundredweight of flour to produce a giant stollen weighing around 1.8 tons. Though – untypically of a stollen – this oversized stollen was baked with eggs and in June, this is nonetheless considered the Baroque precursor of today's Dresden Christstollen. Even today, the Stollen Festival, which takes place every year on the day before the second Sunday of Advent, calls to mind elector Augustus and his giant stollen.