BLUE WINDOW | Food Travels in the Alps | Stollen (fruit cake, South Tyrol style)


Stollen is a heavy yeast-raised loaf with a high butter and fruit content associated with the German city of Dresden but is found in the months up to the end-of-year festivities throughout Germany and Switzerland, where it is known as stollen fest.

Free-formed by hand and shaped into loaves, stollen come in several sizes. Dresdner stollen, also known as Dresdner Christstollen, has an interesting history. In 1490 Pope Innocent VIII exempted Dresden‘s bakers from the 1450 ban on baking with butter during Advent (which was then a period of fasting). Today‘s Dresden bakers regard this ‘butter‘ letter as an historical document that establishes stollen as a traditional product exclusive to the food culture of their city. The two million stollen produced every year in the city are sold worldwide. A Dresdener stollen has a light aerated crumb, with an aromatic smell and taste.

But stollen is no longer associated exclusively with Dresdener food culture. It has become an integral aspect of alpine food culture, with countless variations on the original ‘butter’ recipe. Butter is still prevalent but spices play a larger role in the alpine version.

1 kg white wheat flour, t405 / t550
650 g sultanas, soaked for 12 hours in 175 ml kirschwasser
500 g butter, softened
330 ml whole milk, lukewarm
200 g butter, melted for brushing
200 g candied lemon and orange peel, fine cut (in blender), added to sultana marinade
150 g almonds, roasted, chopped
100 g icing sugar, for finish
100 g yeast
60 g honey

60 g sweet spices, ground (cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, fennel, ginger, nutmeg, pomegranate)
30 g vanilla sugar

1 egg yolk
1 lemon, zest

Dissolve 50 g of the yeast in 30 g of the honey and the milk. Sieve 600 g of flour into a large bowl, add yeast mixture, work into a loose dough. Leave to ferment for 16 hours. Combine the remaining yeast and honey with 350 g of the butter and remaining flour. Bring together into a soft dough. Leave for an hour. Taking a small piece each of the pre-ferment dough and the butter dough, work the two until completely incorporated, repeat with remaining dough. Gradually add the remaining butter in small pieces, then the egg yolk, lemon zest, spice mixture and vanilla sugar. Leave to rise for an hour, degas, leave to rise again, until dough doubles in size. Roll out the dough on a clean surface until thin, distribute fruit evenly over the surface. Press down, add almonds and fold over several times to form a long cylinder. The weight of the finished dough should be around 3.2 kg, so cut into three pieces, approximately 1070 g each, place on greased baking trays and leave to rise for 90 minutes. Preheat oven to 200°C. Bake at 180°C for 65 minutes. Leave to cool completely, then brush each stollen evenly with melted butter, dust with icing sugar. Wrap in parchment or foil, cut after 48 hours.