The task of representing the Baby Jesus in the form of a baked good may well be imagined to be an onerous one. You might choose a shaped cookie, or ice his likeness on top of a gooey layer cake. However, it appears that Germans, who set themselves this difficult challenge, have succeeded. After 500 years of experimentation, bakers have settled on a dense, moist brick doused in icing sugar, known as stollen. Thankfully, it more than makes up in the taste department for its failings as representational art. Here, we take a look at its history.
In essence, stollen is enriched bread studded with candied fruit peel, nuts, spices and raisins soaked in booze; a sort of fruitcake/hot cross bun mix. It wasn’t always this way.
In its first incarnation, stollen was made of flour, oats and water. No sugar, no fruit, no booze. Then, 100 years later, it evolved to include flour, oil, water and yeast. So far, so bready. Because stollen is baked during Advent (the five weeks of fasting leading up to Christmas), the Church forbade the use of butter. Five popes later, the Elector of Saxony was finally allowed to use butter without paying a fine.
Because of this special dispensation, stollen became known as the ‘food of kings’. One year, bakers in Dresden (the main city in Saxony) worked together to make an 18-kilogram (40-pound) stollen that they carried through the streets to the palace. In 1730, stollen fan Prince Augustus asked Dresden’s bakers to make one fit for a king. A massive 3,600 eggs and 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds) of flour went into the project, which eventually resulted in a stupendous 1,800-kilogram (4,000-pound) dessert.
Even in the 21st century, Dresden, the main city of Saxony, is place to go for the stollen to beat all other stollens. Only 150 Dresden bakers are permitted to put the special King Augustus II seal on their products, which are then sold at the Christmas market. To double down on the stollen fun, visit Dresden on the second weekend in Advent for the Dresdener Stollenfest, a celebration of all things relating to the cake. Guten Appetit!
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.