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The History of Stollen




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.

The early Stollen was not very flavorful as butter and milk were forbidden to bake with during the Lenten season. In 1647 two Electors Kurfürst Ernst and his brother Albrecht tired of the taste decided to petition the pope, asking him to strike down the butter ban. The ban was finally lifted.

In 1434 in Dresden Prince Friedrich II and his brother Duke Sigismund started a large Christmas market in which to buy meat for holiday festivities. As the successful festival grew and expanded into other products. Since Christstollen was a specialty of this area it was sold.

Here is a Stollen, the entrance to a mine shaft.

In 1560 one or two giant Christstollens equaling 18 kilograms (36 lbs.) and about 5 feet long were delivered to the castle of the king of Saxony and presented to the King for their holiday festivities.

In 1730 "August the Strong", the lord of Saxony held a festival called "Zeithainer Lustlager" to show the strength of the Saxon Military, to many dignitaries of Europe to gain them as allies. The Lord commanded the Bakers guild to make a Huge Stollen weighing 1.8 tons, 27 feet long and 18 feet wide and a foot high was to be the be the highlight of the festival. A special oven had to be built to bake this huge Stollen

This is what a Stollen Knife looks like

A Stollen festival was started in 1994 to commemorate this event. and a huge stollen is baked every year, on the saturday before the 2nd Advent. It is delivered through town on a horse drawn wagon along with the pastry chefs of Dresden to the Striezelmarkt Square, ceremoniously cut into pieces with the 1.2 meter long Stollen knife and sold to visitors, a portion of which goes to charity.

You can learn more about this Stollen Festival here

On the seal is a picture of August the Strong.

A golden seal is awarded by the Dresdner Stollen Schutzverband e.V (Dresdner Stollen Protection Association) to distinguish true authentic handmade Dresden Stollen from other types of Stollen.

You can see this seal on the box of Stollen. This shows that it meets the standards set by the association. There are about 150 bakeries that display this seal on their Stollen


Video of making real Dresden Stollen or Christstollen

This is a fun video from a bakery in Dresden (The Stollen capital) with great music and showing all the steps of making the Stollen including how they put in the Marzipan, and make the proper shape with the little hump on top.

I usually buy one brand of Christstollen a year.
There are several famous brands

Buy Stollen from the Germandeli.com


Stollen Links

The Dresden Stollen Festival

The Annual Stollen Making Contest in Germany

Buying Authentic Dresden Stollen

On the history of Stollen

History of Stollen by the World Wide Gourmet

The history of Striezelmarkt

Stollen as a Surname

Dresden Hotel Article on Stollen




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Last updated December 21, 2013