A fruity, buttery German Christmas classic
“You can have it from the first day of Advent. Not before—though in my country, recently, they’ve started selling it in October. October!” Uwe exclaims, aghast, and we pray he never rests his eyes on the travesty that is Christmas displays in British shops in July. Needless to say, you won’t find stollen on the Artisan Foods stall in October—although the buttery, boozey nature of the sweet yeast bread demands he does at least start making it around that time.
“We soak the dried fruit—lemon and orange rind, raisins, almonds—in a bucket of rum for a minimum of two or three days. Then we mix it with the batter.” This batter consists of butter, eggs, yeast, milk and more butter, for good measure. “It’s over 50 per cent fruit, and 40 per cent butter,” explains Uwe—which leaves roughly 10 per cent of heady, almost hallucinogenic rich dough.
Once it has risen—if such a word can be used to describe a dough so dense, so steeped in fruit, rum and nuts—it is rolled up with marzipan. This is homemade, or sourced from Uwe’s trusted producers back in Germany. “It is very good and natural.” The final package is basted in butter and rolled in icing sugar, basted in butter and rolled in icing sugar, basted in butter and rolled in icing sugar repeatedly until it looks like it’s wrapped in a blanket. “We leave it for two or three weeks—well wrapped, so it doesn’t dry out,” says Uwe. “Then we eat it.”
Pair with a hot cup of coffee, or gluwein if it’s past the wine-shed hour which, let’s face it, gets earlier and earlier as Christmas approaches.