Stollen is the traditional Christmas bread in German-speaking countries. It gets its name from its shape, which resembles a stole, or more specifically, the Christ Child’s swaddling clothes. Some people think that stollen is best when aged for at least a day or two before serving. If it seems dry, toast slices and serve them buttered. This recipe is based on one from my friend Beth Hensperger, one of America’s great bakers, who is of Hungarian heritage. European bakers would use candied fruit peels in their stollen, but Beth’s selection of dried fruits is colorful and more tasty, and her use of the soaking liquid to add flavor to the dough is inspired. The addition of almond paste was a suggestion from the bakers at Oberlaa, one of the newest and best of Vienna’s Konditorein.
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