The perfect stollen
- rworange Dec 4, 2005 11:09 PM
Ive decided this is the year of the stolen for me. Who has the best version either thru mail order or sold at markets or stores. TJs to Cost Plus to Wal-mart fair game.
Also, if youve had some horrible stollen, please mention what to avoid.
I started the stollen season when I had to bring dessert for a gathering. I picked up four loaves from a German Deli.
What exactly is the difference between a marzipan stollen and a butter stollen? Is there one?
I didnt see any evidence of what I would think of as marzipan in any of the sampled stollens even though two were marked that (and neither had almonds on the ingredient list).
What makes the perfect stollen?
I found that the ingredients need to be paid attention to. Some are full of chemical preservatives. Instead of butter, they use butter oil. Also, some just skipped the butter and eggs altogether and relied on palm oil. What can I say? I left my glasses at home when purchasing them.
Heres what Ive tried from worst to best.
1. Sprengal Gourmet Cake Marzipan Stollen 750 g (1 1 / 2 lbs?) $7
Elze Germany - Serves 14. Doesnt have calories only energy per serving 1008 Gee I hope that isnt the same as calories.
Awful, awful, awful. Theres a bubble gum taste to it. I was embarrassed by this. Always taste test before serving to a group.
Theres more vegetable oil than butter oil and it had the most chemical preservatives a whole lot. Natural ingredients include: Wheat flour raisins, sugar, yeast, eggs, candied orange peal, candied lemon peel. Didnt see any marzipan thought it is listed prominently in the name.
2. Bahlsen Stolen 14.1 oz 400 g $ 5.50
Hanover, Germany - serves 7 Calories 240
The only place with a website: www.bahlsen.com
Actually, even though it had a little too many preservatives, no butter (just vegetable oil), no eggs and corn syrup / dextrose supplemented the sugar, it came close in taste to the top two Ive sampled. It was sweet and raisony with pleasant little bits of orange and lemon peal.
Natural Ingredients: Wheat flour raisins, candied orange peal, sugar, yeast candied lemon peel, almonds, apricot kernels (isnt that arsenic?
3. Emil Reimann Dresden Criststollen 400 g $5.50
Dresden, Germany - No nutritional info. Ingredients in German, so who knows. Doesnt look like any chemicals.
This was a denser stolen with a slightly boozy taste to it. I like this one.
4. Frau Helgas Dresden Butter Stollen - 1 lb $9.75
Alberton, NY - serves 8 - 170 calories
This stood out from the pack partly to the cinnamon in the topping. Also there was a separate pack of powdered sugar to dust the stollen after it was heated. Lovingly wrapped in a gift bag with poinsettias and secured with shiny green ribbons. It had only one preservative that I could see.
Total ingredients: Flour, butter, raisins, dried fruit, eggs, rum, water, yeast, sugar, oil, dried milk powder, vital dried gluten, salt, mono and diglicerides,fruit juices.
This had instructions on how to serve 1-2 minutes in a toaster over or 10 seconds in the microwave. Dust with powdered sugar. The toaster oven is better.
It also had this info on a little card.
As far as can be determined stolen was made during the middle ages. It is believed to be first made in Dresden Germany, and thus, Dresden style stolen has become the benchmark for all stollens.
Baking stolen is every German bakers challenge. Our bakers have the have the skill to know just when the yeast dough has risen the ideal time when it is ready to be baked. They pick the finest raisins and fruits and soak them in pure Carribean rum for days until they just burst with flavor. The 100% butter yeast dough Each of our loaves is lovingly washed with pure sweet butter then lovingly baked to perfection. When baked to a perfect golden color, each loaf is cooled and again, washed with butter and topped with flavorful cinnamon sugar.
While this wasnt world class it was the best of the stollens I sampled. Id buy it again if I couldnt find a local better version.
Apricot kernels would have cyanide not arsenic. They are used to give a bitter almond flavor. I use them as do others I know.
Years ago, like 40 years, Epplers was on Stockton in SF and made stollen that some Germans I knew loved. Times have changed.
Just a few pointers...
When shopping for a stollen, look for "Dresdner (Christ)Stollen." Stollen originated in Dresden, Saxony, and the best should be made there.
Look for the following ingredients: Butter, Eier (eggs), Hefe (yeast), Rosinen (raisins), Mandeln (almonds), Weizenmehl (wheat flour). There shouldn't be too many other ingredients. Cinnamon dusting on top is NOT traditional.
I don't normally buy stollen as I make a similar Christmas bread (vanocka), but have had store-bought stollen from Dean & Deluca and it was pretty good.
Obviously you got a bad batch of Bahlsen stollen. Bahlsen is regarded by many as the best of the best. Try their Exquisit-Stollen from Cost Plus, if that's not what you already tried. It is absolutely heavenly.
Also, Marzipan-stollen is less traditional than dresdner stollen, which might be what you're referring to when you say "butter stollen"
The stollen at Dinkel's bakery in Chicago are outstanding and better than any I have had imported from Germany. The imported ones seem to be both rather dry and loaded with preservatives. Note that Dinkel's charges a lot more than the examples in OP. I think they are worth every penny for ingredients that seem to be much higher quality than some in OP and are a lot fresher than the imports. Dinkel's is owned by the grandson of the founder and still uses some recipes dating back to 1922. These stollen freeze well.
They make versions topped with powdered sugar or granulated cinnamon sugar. If I had to have only one, I would opt for the cinnamon sugar version. They do not make a marzipan stollen, which in my experience has a layer of marzipan spread on the dough before it is folded and is not too my taste.
We used to have Dinkel's ship a stollen plus fruitcake combo to my late father every Christmas. The shipping always worked quite well, whether ordered in the store or more recently from the website. Since we live only a couple of miles away, we buy at the bakery.
The link below goes directly to the stollen product page on dinkels.com.
3329 North Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, IL 60657
I have made Martha Stewarts recipe for Stollen many times. It really isn't difficult once you get all your ingredients ready. I'm sure you'd like it way better than any you could buy.
I have purchased a few stollen, but everyone should bake a stollen themself. It is a fairly easy sweetened yeast dough. The marzipan can be hard to find but is almost always available from King Arthur baking, among other internet purveyors. I have a family recipe that I use, but the recipe in the King Arthur (Yellow) cookbook is very reliable.
The best to my mind is the Christmas Stollen from Sterntaler Bakery.
Most of the other ones - unfortunately also the imported ones from Germany - (Bahlsen, TJs, Kuechenmeister, etc) contain a whole load of chemicals. The one by TJ for example tastes like sand. This is a real one to avoid.
Generally make sure it is made with real butter and not margarine. Makes a real difference in taste (and transfats of course).