Setting the Table
Stollen is a fruit bread made of nuts, spices, either dried or canned fruit, and either topped with powdered sugar or icing. Stollen originated in Dresden Germany around the 1400s. It is traditional in German households around Christmas time. It is believed that Christmas would not be complete if Stollen was not present. The bread is typically made by, soaking the raisins, preserved fruit, and almonds in rum overnight. Mix yeast then “mix flour, egg, yeast mixture, sugar, lemon peel vanilla and salt. The dough should just come together and not be very smooth yet. Cream the butter and 2/3 cup flour with the nutmeg and cardamom until smooth.” Put the yeast dough back in the bowl and work it. The dough should sit for 30 minutes, place a cloth over to cover it. “Turn dough out onto tabletop or lightly floured board. Knead in fruit and chopped almonds. Let rest for 15 minutes.” Once the dough is laid out form it into a rectangle. “Fold 1/3 of the dough over to the middle, filling the dip. Pat into a Stollen shape. Fold a piece of aluminum foil several times on the two long ends to build walls.” Bake the loaves for approximately 35 to 45 minutes. Once the dough looks a golden color brush it with warm butter. Next “dust” loaves with powdered sugar. Let Stollen sit for 2 to 3 weeks to ripen. (McGavin, 2018). I think I will only run in to a couple problems. First having to let everything sit overnight in rum, I will have to find a good window of time so that they do not soak to long or too short. Secondly, having to wait 2 to 3 weeks for the Stollen to ripen will be hard, this will cause me to set my schedule accordingly so that I make the bread in time. According to German Christmas History, “The “Christstollen” became very famous and it didn’t take long until it was eaten every year for Christmas. Even the sovereign electoral got a five-foot-long Stollen from the Saxonian bakers as a Christmas present every year.” (Home, 2019). This Christmas bread is important due to its significance and meaning. Stollen is considered religious in German Christians because the bread is typically in a shape to symbolize a swaddled Christ child. The reason I picked this dish is due to the fact I am part German and this is something that my grandfather has mentioned he misses that his grandma would make.
Stollen is a Christian German Christmas bread that dates back to the 16th century around the 1400s. Stollen was first discovered when it was given to a Bishop of Nauruburg which he loved so much he wants to save a lot of grain for only the Stollens production. The bread was to have looked like Jesus Christ wrapped up in a swaddle as a baby. In 1545 the “Christmas Catholic church, as part of the fasting rules in preparation for Christmas, forbade the use of buttermilk during advent” (The Origin of Stollen, 2018). The only way the Christians would be allowed to use butter was by paying a fine. In the 1650’s the restrictions of butter during advent were lifted only in Dresden because of Prince Pop Urban VIII. Advent is where Christians give up something in awaiting the arrival of Christ on his official birthday. There were Stollen parades, where carriages would storm the streets of Dresden and Stollen would be cut up for everyone to eat. The holiday continues even to this day although advent itself has changed from the 15th century to today’s 21st century. According to Culture Trip, “In its first incarnation, Stollen was made of flour, oats, and water. No sugar, no fruit, no booze. Then 100 years later, it evolved to include flour, oil, water, and yeast” (Smallwood, 2017). Through the years some families have added some ingredients while others add different but the majority of the Stollen ingredients have remained the same over time. Stollen is known as the food of kings because of its special exemption from the rules of traditional advent. In today’s society Christian German household’s sets up a wreath with four candles signifying the four weeks of advent. Each new week another candle is lite while the families sing Christmas carols. The advent calendar “in former days it was a simple painted cardboard with 24 windows, or doors, to open. Behind each window was a Christmas themed picture.” (Amend) Inside of these windows lies some sort of treat or small present. “Another old Advent customs to cut a cherry branch and out it in vase inside the home on December 4th (St. Barbara’s Day). The Barbarazweig will usually bloom at Christmas and brings luck for the following year, and a scent of spring in the dark season” (Amend).
During the month of December Stollen is being prepared all over Dresden. This divine fruitful breads are made both in homes and in bakeries (The Origin of Stollen, 2018). Wherever it is being made it is bringing everyone who makes if closer together. Christmas is a time of celebration for many. This holiday already brings families closer in celebrating the life of Jesus Christ but with the making of Stollen it brings those individuals or families even closer. In the Christmas month there are parades of celebration where Stollen is made and handed out to everyone, they travel through the streets of Dresden, and anyone and everyone is welcome despite their thoughts or beliefs (The Origin of Stollen, 2018). This brings the community of Dresden together as a whole and makes them feel together which increases their well-being. The making of the Christmas bread takes about a day’s worth of making and another 2 to 3 weeks of ripening through the process anyone is allowed to participate (McGavin, 2018). The reasoning behind the wait is because this special bread needs time to ripen and for the flavors to absorb throughout.
Being religious or not being religious does not limit anyone from participating in the making or eating of the amazing Christmas bread called Stollen. Someone has the religious freedom and the social justice to join in the celebratory making of this fruitful bread. It is important to remember that everyone has the freedom to believe what they want and there can be no limitation as to what they are allowed to do when it comes to religious things such as baking a religious meal or believing in a certain god, or not even believing at all. Social justice is where there is a distribution of opportunities or privileges within a community or place (What is Social Justice, 2019).
“Environmental justice is fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people with respect to development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies” (What is Environmental Justice). Many would say that the making of the German Christmas bread called Stollen is environmentally friendly because there is no harm that is being done to any animals both in the making of the bread and the in the ingredients needed for the making of the fruitful bread. There is however an egg that is being involved and this could be given off as a not so environmental friendly because it gives off greenhouse gases. The good that Stollen brings outweighs the one bad things that many people could argue as not being that bad. If this is something that bugs anyone to a greater extent than going organic would be the way to go.
Gathering all the ingredients for Stollen was fairly easy because everything could be found pretty much anywhere. I chose to get my stuff at Safeway. The tricky part was trying to find Gluten Free bread mix, but not regular mix, the right mix to go in this bread. They unfortunately did not have it so I had to improvise and get two separate mixes that would replace the King Arthur’s mix that I needed.
After gather all of the items it was time to get started. I had to get out two big bowls for the yeast and the flour mix. In one bowl I measured out half a table spoon of yeast and placed it in a mixture of warm water, warm milk, and honey, and flour. The smell of yeast is nothing you will forget; it almost smells of something rusty or about to go rotten. After placing it in the bowl I continued to stir until there were no yeast clumps. This needs to be covered in plastic wrap and placed in a warm spot for a couple of hours so it can rise.
This step takes a little longer than the rest so it needed to be done a head of time. I took 3 boxes of raisins or 1 cup and placed it in the bowl. Next, I put 1 cup of dried cherries in the bowl. These needed to be soaked in orange juice or rum for 4 hours but I chose to use orange juice. The smell of orange juice was stronger than the smell of dried fruit. I then covered this bowl with plastic wrap and set it aside to sit. I will start the bread in about 3 hours.
Next comes a little more challenging part, taking a lemon we had to act like we were shaving the sides to get lemon shaving. The smell of lemon filled my kitchen which is a very relaxing smell. After the whole lemon was shaved I placed the shaving in a bowl and added tablespoon of honey and mixed these together.
Now comes the time to make the bread. The mix of honey and lemon shaving will be used first. My mom got out the electric whisk so things proceeded faster. I slowly added egg and warm milk to the mixture, making sure that it was fully mixed before moving forward. Next the yeast that we set aside needs to be used. Add the smelly mixture to the honey and lemon mixture. Once this is completely mixed slowly start adding in the flour. Soften the butter and slowly add it in the bowl. The longer it mixes the more it becomes like dough but still of a liquid mixture. This is the time to add the almonds and fruit that had been soaking in orange juice. Mix with a spoon.
Adding the dried fruit!
I hope you didn’t forget about the cinnamon, sugar, and butter mixture cause this is the time to bring forth the sweet mixture. We split the mixture in half and spread it on top of the dough with a spoon but leave the outside ½ inch open. Once we got a semi oval with the delicious cinnamon coating it was time to transfer to the actual cooking pan we would use to bake them on. The key was to fold on of the sides in half and repeat with the other, smooth the edges as best as you can. Our hands smelled like a mix of fruit and dough with a tint of yeast.
After the time is up take the bread out and let sit until it is cool. Once is cooled off to the point you can place your hand on it and It’s not too warm it’s time to do the last step. Sprinkle powdered sugar over the whole thing until the whole thing is covered which to me was the easiest part. Lastly cut it in to strips and enjoy!
Stollen came about during a period in time where the making of Stollen could be considered ethically unjust. The story of Stollen in itself has some encounters that some people would argue go against the four principles of environmental justice, well-being, social justice, and religious freedom. The use of butter and oil in the 15th century was against the rules of advent. During advent, fasting was a tradition done through Catholics churches all the way through Christian churches. Yet, there were five Popes that denied the people of their request to lift the ban although people of higher class were aloud the use, only by paying a fine (Killebrew, K, 2019). Which I believe is very wrong when there is a greater portion of the people still abiding by the rules and laws of advent. This is a worst case scenario for social justice in the middle and lower class because they had to abide but rules for the time being until Prince Pop Urban VIII lifted the ban all together, of all sweet ingredients like butter and the use of oil in the famous letter known as the “butter letter” (The story behind some traditional holiday desserts, 2014). Even though he did lift this ban the charge to use these ingredients did not change. This changed how social justice was weighed with classes. Now, everyone could enjoy the taste of Stollen. This went against what advent was for, fasting and prayer. The money that was saved up from the charge was then used to help build churches. The building could be considered a part of environment justice in the way of bringing good to the place but also bad because the building is damaging the environment both that it is built on and the spaces around. In Dresden, Stollen parades filled the streets as anyone was welcome to join (Smallwood, 2017). Although, it is peoples religious freedom to eat Stollen even though it is a German Christian Christmas bread. Worst case would be that it goes against their religious views to eat something of another religion or the Christian religion does not allow for others outside of their religion to partake in this. I believe that is should not matter what their religion is, they should be able to partake in the celebration with the rest of the people. The parades along with the churches were a good thing for the well-being of the people. It would bring everyone closer from the making of the bread to the serving of the bread (Smallwood, 2017). The only down fall would be that this bread has a lot of sweet and unhealthy things in it which could be bad for people’s health. Beyond that, the process of making Stollen takes many hours of concentration that could be good for the well-being of families if they cook it together. However, it could also cause stress and argument among the family with many people helping out. The use of butter and oil are a part of today’s advent. Fasting is not required during advent, as it is more something that someone has the option of being a part of or not. The reason for that is to make the season of advent more enjoyable for families. This can be seen through the travel of Stollen. People all over the world are enjoying this delicious German Christmas bread. The making of Stollen is still popular in Germany, as it is in America as well. In my case, when I made Stollen, it was a lot of work. My mother and I were the ones to make the German Christmas bread and honestly, it was challenging and caused a little tension between us at points. It went against what the initial good for well-being we thought because one was trying to do more than the other or we just weren’t on the same page. In the end it all worked out and the well-being was restored as it brought us closer once we realized we did it, we made a very challenging bread. My family is religious but does not follow necessarily follow the rules of the religion to a T. In an extreme case we might not have the right to make this bread because of that, back in the 15th century we would not have been allowed the use of butter and oil for a long time before the pope lifted the ban, and still if you did not have the money to cover the fine then you could not use those ingredients. Today’s society is more laid back than that back then but there are still things you have to think about when making religious food items.
I am a very adventurous person when it comes to food so I am willing to step outside my comfort zone to try new things. From the start of choosing this dish to the very end once I tried the bread I knew I would love the German Christmas bread called Stollen. I had chosen this dish because as a child my great great-grandmother who was German would make this delicious bread for my grandpa so it is a part of our heritage and religion. It is also something that my grandpa has mentioned that he missed. Due to her making it way before I was born there was no family recipe or written recipe that I thought she followed so I had to find a good recipe online. Not to mention celiac was not found back then so I had to find a recipe that was Gluten free. Stollen is not easy to make especially without wheat but during the making of this bread it gave me a look into how my great great-grandmother may have did things. I am new to the making and eating of Stollen but it has been in my family for a long time. I love homemade bread and it is something that my mother and I like making together. Yet, this bread was that with a twist, it was something I also shared with my mother but there was more to the process. This bread also has a religious aspect, Stollen is a Christian German bread that is made during Christmas time. Everything we eat has a religious aspect to it whether we think about it or not. This bread symbolizes baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes while the dried fruit and nuts are there to represent the gift to him from the three wise men. Stollen is something that I will continue to make each year (Austrian Breads, 2017.