A Christmas specialty originally from Saxony in Germany, stollen is a long, shallow, slightly oval, yeasted cake packed with spices, dried fruit and nuts with a thick roll of marzipan through the middle. It was traditionally meant to represent the Christ Child wrapped in swaddling clothes. Once baked, authentic stollen is rolled in melted butter and when this has set, sprinkled with icing sugar.
Apart from the icing sugar, true stollen is not very sweet and is quite dry; lighter, sweeter versions are modern variations.
Widely available in the months before Christmas.
Choose the best
Only experience will tell you which you prefer. If you find the one you have chosen is too dry for you, slice it thinly and spread it with butter – or see below.
Stollen has a very long life when packaged. Keep it wrapped well after slicing, perhaps even storing it in the refrigerator and letting it come to room temperature before serving.
Serve sliced with good coffee, spreading on butter if it seems too dry. It can’t be toasted, but a very light microwaving, so it is just warmed, can be very rewarding because the spices are energised to share their fragrances.
Otherwise, crumble, sprinkle with dark rum or an orange liqueur and use it layered with fruit and cream in a post-Christmas sundae. Rather better is to slice it, spread it with butter and apricot jam and then to use these slices to make a rich, festive-style of bread and butter pudding. Best be sure everyone likes marzipan and, if not, dispose of this or dab it on top before baking, so it can be avoided.