The 'Stollen' History
Over 600 years of 'Stollen' Tradition
Probably the germans invented it - the Christstollen, the King of all Christmas pastries. But this was a long time ago. For the first time, this cake was mentioned in 1330 in Naumburg/Saale, (Germany) as a special privilege granted to the bakers' guild by the bishop. But probably its origin dates back to heathen pre-historic times.
In those days members of German tribes have dedicated to their Gods certain types of cakes and pastries, which represented various symbols. The Christian Faith, however, forbade baking such symbolic pastries. However, in spite of such restrictions heathen customs have filtered in Christian traditions and eventually were adopted. After all, the name 'Stollen' reminds of the world 'Stulo' which is a pillar dedicated to the upper-most Gods.
During the following centuries, the symbolic meaning of the Holy Child wrappen into diapers was attributed to this strung-out piece of cake. The initially rolled-out flat dough folded over at both sides, symbolizes the protecting and warmth providing diapers, which are folded similarly.
In the Middle Ages baking Stollen has developed into a highly regarded art. Already in 1496 'Christstolle uff Weihnachten' were already sold as a commodity on markets. The growing significance in the 17th centruy was not only marginally connected with the activities of the East Indian Company, which in these times entertained a flourishing business with spices, which were also used for the preparation of Christstollen.
For Christstollen all these exotic ingredients are still of decisive importance ! They give it the very special taste and represent the characteristic feature of this pastry.
Today, all these ingredients from all over the world are available througout the year so that already in September the delicious scent of freshly baked Stollen can be smelled in the larger bakeries. At his time of the year, already very many Stollen of various tastes are being baked. While in Northern and Western German areas Stollen prepared with a Marzipan and Persipan stuffing are very popular, in Southern and Eastern German regions, the unstuffed Stollen are preferred. Marzipanstollen, Butterstollen and Butter/Almond Stollen are observed to be the favourites among consumers. But also whole-wheat- and Rum Stollen are being enjoyed by Connoisseurs.
These Stollen are not only being baked as early as September, but also being sold and consumed in great numbers at this time of the year. The number of 'Kölner Stollen' made in the Rhineland represents a large share in Germany's total Stollen production. Particularly in Aachen and Cologne the most important Stollen manufacturers are located, which bake these cakes in accordance with traditional procedures and recipes.