Stollen is a cake like yeast bread that usually has candied fruit, currants, orange and lemon zest, spice and cardamom spices for flavoring. The most common Stollen is Dresdener Stollen from the city of Dresden, Germany.
The word Stollen, was a word for a post or boundary stone for a city. It also could be the entrance to a mine shaft. Some historians believe that the shape of this bread reminded the locals of the entrance to a mine tunnel reflecting the silver and tin mining in the area of Dresden, It was also called Striezel or Christstollen. Striezel is a word for loaf, and the shape of the bread along with being dusted with powdered sugar was a symbolic shape of the baby jesus in swaddling clothes so it was also called Christstollen.
Dresden Stollen is said by some historians to have originated in 1329 as a result of a contest offered by the Bishop of Nauruburg. Bakers in the region produced a wonderful bread baked with the finest butter, sugar, raisins, citron and other specialty ingredients. The Bishop enjoyed the stollen so much that he ordered a quantity of grain saved for stollen only.
Stollen is mentioned for the first time in 1474 in the accounts of the Christian Hospital of St. Bartholomew in Dresden where it is referred to as a cake for the fasting period, consisting of only flour, oats and water as required by Church dogma.
Stollen at that time was baked in loaves weighing 30 pounds! Stollen became such a part of Dresdeners' lives that it was cut and served with special, stollen only utensils. It was also tradition that the first piece of stollen was set aside and kept to ensure the family would be able to afford a stollen the following year and the last piece saved to ensure the family had enough food for the year.