It’s a longstanding family tradition to bake a few fruit cakes – known as Stollen in German – about five weeks before Christmas. The (secret) recipe has been handed down from generation to generation and thus links the present to the past. Personally, I always feel particularly connected to my dead grandparents when making these cakes. We don’t actually bake anything else for Christmas. The shameful truth is that we tend to buy mince pies, Christmas puddings and panettone, and aren’t too keen on most Christmas biscuits.
But be that as it may, the Christmas season officially starts with Stollen. In this particular case the fruit cake, which can also be described as a fruit bread, and is a German Christmas classic, is made using curd and does not include any yeast. I was very surprised to find out that most other people seem to use yeast. I would expect a yeast dough to make this sort of thing taste more like panettone, which is vastly different from Stollen. It can really be described as quite “dense”, not at all as fluffy as its Italian counterpart. The fruit part is mainly made up of raisins; other ingredients include almonds and spices like cardamom and nutmeg. Since the recipe is a family secret I can’t give you a full list of ingredients. However, here’s a quick look at what was used.
The loaves are then baked for about 40 minutes. I used to bake two at a time, but since the weight can be too much for the baking tray to handle, it’s better to bake one after the other – just to be on the safe side.
The finished Stollen then looks something like this:
The Stollen will now “rest” for about a week before they are finally ready to be eaten. They easily keep until Christmas, and are a great treat for Advent tea.