Christmas baking

The tradition of Thuringian stollen

When the dough, made from yeast and local flour, is kneaded together with all the other delicious ingredients, baked in the oven and left to mature, it tastes so good! As only the original stollen can. By that, we mean the stollen we know and love today.

And this is because, some 700 years ago, when stollen was first documented in Naumburg an der Saale, it was simply a fasting cake made from yeast, flour and water. But, over time, so many tasty things were added that the stollen turned from fasting staple to festive indulgence. 

What’s in a name?

Christmas in Thuringia wouldn’t be complete without stollen. In the Thuringian Forest, it is referred to as chrisamel, and the town of Suhl even dedicates an entire Christmas market to it ‒ the Chrisamelmart. Here, the town’s bakers sell this much-loved festive treat from a bakers’ hut in the market’s Christmas village.

In central Thuringia, stollen is known as scheitchen and in Erfurt schittchen. These names make reference to the small piece of wood or holzscheit that was used to give the stollen its characteristic indentation down the middle. There are more than 20 different names for stollen in the Thuringian dictionary.

It comes down to the ingredients

The ingredients in stollen are just as varied as the names for it. As you might expect, the local bakers keep all their recipes under wraps. However, the dough always contains butter, flour and dried fruit. And not forgetting almonds of course. The stollen society in Thuringia ensures that the ‘Thuringian Christstollen’ name can only be given to stollen that are baked exclusively in Thuringia to specified recipes. After passing a laboratory test and tasting by a panel of judges, the stollen may be considered an authentic Thuringian stollen for one season only.

Time to cut the cake!

Christmas markets up and down the country are usually opened with the aid of silverware: more specifically, a knife for the cutting of the stollen. The official cutting of the Erfurt stollen (or schittchen) takes place at Erfurt Christmas market on the first Sunday of advent in the presence of the bakers and patissiers from the Thuringian stollen society. The ceremonial cutting of the stollen is performed by the stollen queen. The Christmas market in Jena, meanwhile, is traditionally opened by the cutting of a giant, four-metre-long stollen. 

But if you’re in Germany and fancy an authentic Thuringian stollen, do not despair! At Christmas time you can buy this delicious cake at our Christmas markets, have them delivered directly to your door or pick them up – from the Roth bakery in Erfurt (click here for the shop), for example, or the Süpke bakery in Orlishausen (click here for the shop). Enjoy!

How to bake your own Thuringian stollen

Alternatively, you could try your hand at baking a Thuringian stollen at home. We have persuaded the stollen society of Thuringia and Erfurt to divulge a recipe for authentic Thuringian stollen. For more information on the society, please visit www.erfurter-schittchen.de

So, tie up your apron, put on some Christmas music, get your baking utensils ready, and off you go!

Ingredients

 1 kg  wheat flour type 405 or stollen flour
 200 g  granulated sugar
 500 g  butter or vegetable fat (min. 50% butter)
 15 g  table salt
 200 g  whole milk or water and powdered milk
 80-100 g  baker’s yeast
 550 g  sultanas
 200 g  candied lemon peel
 100 g  candied orange peel
 100-150 g  roasted almonds, slivered or chopped
As desired  spices (cinnamon, tonka bean, lemon, cloves, etc.)
 150 g  rum, min. 40%
 200 g  melted butter for brushing on the top
 150 g

 icing sugar for dusting

   vanilla sugar for dusting

 

Method

Before you start, soak the sultanas in rum for 24 hours. Make the yeast dough using 350g flour, the yeast and 200ml milk, and let it rest for approximately one hour at 30-33°C. Once ready, take the remaining ingredients (excluding the ingredients for dusting) and knead them into the dough. The sultanas should be added last and kneaded in with care. The dough should then be left to rest. After approximately two hours, shape into a loaf and use a knife to make a lengthways cut down the middle. Bake the stollen at 180-195°C for 50-60 minutes. Brush the stollen with butter while still hot, let it cool and then brush it a second time. Finally, dust the stollen with the icing sugar and vanilla sugar. 

Guten appetit!

Main picture: ©Meeta K. Wolff, Thüringer Tourismus GmbH


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