Let’s put this one in the “holiday food” category, because stollen is made similarly to fruitcake and has some similar ingredients. However, that’s about all the similarities between stollen and fruitcake unless you consider “traditional” and “long history” to be similarities. Stollen is a yeast risen cake, and if you have watched even one season of GBBS, you will know this is not a typical type of cake, and definitely not in America.
Stollen has a long history – and depending on who you ask, it originated in the 14th century or the 16th century. Before Germany as we know it was formed, there were smaller regions and kingdoms, including Bavaria and Saxony. In these regions, Christmas was celebrated during Advent, which was the 12 days of Christmas and included fasting. In regions that were Catholic, the Pope prohibited the use of butter during Advent, and so Catholic stollen was made with turnip oil, flour, oats, and blah. Everyone agrees it didn’t taste very good. Sometime in the mid 1400s, the Saxon rulers wrote to the Pope in Rome and asked for special permission to use butter. How scandalous! The Pope in power at the time of their letter declined their request and it wasn’t until 1490 and five Popes later that their request was granted – but with conditions, of course. Only the royal family could use butter.
In the mid 1500s in Dresden, the bakers there offered the Saxon rulers a giant stollen (36 pounds!) and this was not the first stollen baked by the bakers guild. So, sometime between 1490 and 1560, the public was given permission to use butter and therefore stollen improved for the better. There has been a stollen festival in Dresden ever since, and there are some obnoxiously large stollen in recent history, including one that was 237 feet long, and a giant 5 foot stollen knife used to cut these super-stollen. Take a look at the links below the recipe for more stollen history and information.
1 qt milk
1 lb butter
1/4 lb citron
1/2 lb almonds
1/2 lb raisins
3 ¢ yeast
1 lb sugar
flour to make stiff
Who Invented Stollen? via Speigel Online
A Brief History of Stollen via Dresden Stollen Bakers
A History of the Christ Stollen via BackereiGnauck
Stollen via Wikipedia