Dresden-Style Christmas Stollen/Weihnachtsstollen Dresdner Art

stollen-crumbEurope has a long tradition of sweet breads fortified with whatever sweeteners and enrichments were on hand — usually honey or sugar, butter, eggs, nuts and/or dried fruit. These sweet breads represented both a change from the stultifying routine of a diet that, for most people, consisted of more than 80% bread and gruel, and a special treat honoring the observance of religious occasions.

In Germany, stollen is a longstanding Christmas tradition. And while each region has its own variations, Dresden stollen has emerged as the de facto standard. So herewith, a recipe that produces a traditional German stollen that’s impossible to stop nibbling.

Yield: Two 2½ lb. (1.15 kg.) loaves


Ingredient Ounces Grams


1 cup Milk 9.00 250 25%
2 Tbs Instant yeast 0.80 24 2%
1 Tbs Granulated sugar 0.35 10 1%
2 cups AP flour, unsifted 9.00 250 25%


6 cups AP flour, unsifted 26.50 750 75%
⅔ cup Milk 5.30 150 15%
½ cup Granulated sugar 4.10 115 12%
2⅔ sticks Unsalted butter, room temp 10.60 300 30%
2 Large eggs, beaten 4.05 115 12%
½ tsp Table salt 0.10 3 0%
1 Tbs Rum 0.50 15 2%
1¼ cups Golden raisins 7.00 200 20%
½ cup Candied citron, diced 3.50 100 10%
½ cup Candied orange peel, diced 3.50 100 10%
1 cup Chopped blanched almonds 5.30 150 15%
1½ stick Melted butter, for topping 5.30 150 15%
2½ cups Powdered sugar for topping 10.50 300 30%
  1.  Heat the milk until warm to the touch, dissolve the yeast and sugar and add to the flour, hand mixing until smooth. Cover and let stand about 20 minutes, until very bubbly.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sponge and all the dough ingredients, mix 6-8 minutes at low (KA 2) speed, using the dough hook. Turn the dough onto a well-floured work surface and knead in the fruit and nuts until evenly distributed throughout the dough.
  3. Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.stollen-dough
  4. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, punch it down and divide it in two equal sized pieces. Form each piece into a long flat loaf and place on a parchment lined sheet pan. Let the stollen rest for 20-30 minutes.
  5. Put the stollen in the oven and bake for 12 minutes at 400°F, then lower the temperature to 350°F and continue baking for another 30-40 minutes, taking care not to let them get too brown.
  6. Remove the stollen from the oven and immediately brush them generously with melted butter, then use a sieve to give them a thick coating of powdered sugar. Repeat twice more and let the stollen cool in the pan.
  7. When cool, wrap them in aluminum foil or place them in an airtight container and let them rest, unrefrigerated, for 1-2 weeks before serving.

Stollen-finishedNOTE: Feel free to substitute various fruits and nuts for those called for in the recipe.  Prominent German baker-blogger Wolfgang Suepke, for example, recently posted a recipe for Cranberry-Walnut stollen, and is a huge booster of Thuringia-style stollen (he’s from Erfurt, in the heart of Thuringia). So enjoy and Season’s Greetings!


Jelly Doughnuts for Chanukah

The perfect Chanukah jelly doughnut.

The perfect Chanukah jelly doughnut.

Back when I was a kid, we called Chanukah the Festival of Light, in commemoration of the eight days that the candelabra (hanukkiya) in the Temple burned on one day’s supply of oil.

As I got older, however, I began to think of it more as the Festival of Frying, since oil plays such a central role in the holiday. We eat latkes (potato pancakes), fried chicken and/or fish, french fries (a non-traditional favorite), and anything else one can imagine that’s both kosher and deep-fried.

Jelly doughnuts (sufganiyot in Hebrew), were never part of my grandparents’ Chanukah traditions (we ate latkes), but for many Jews are an integral part of the holiday. So herewith, Norm Berg’s recipe for sufganiyot, straight out of Inside the Jewish Bakery .

Makes: about three dozen





Baker’s Percentage

½ cup Shortening




2/3 cup Granulated sugar




2¾ tsp Table salt




½ cup Nonfat dry milk (optional)




2 Large eggs, beaten




2¼ cups Water




1¼ tsp Vanilla extract




Zest of 1 lemon




6 2/3 cups Bread flour, unsifted




2 tbs + 2¼ tsp Instant yeast





  1. Put the shortening, sugar, salt and dry milk into a mixing bowl and blend until smooth, about 8-10 minutes, if by hand and about 4-5 minutes using the flat (paddle) beater at medium (KA 4) speed if by machine.
  2. Beat the egg lightly and incorporate into the shortening mixture and continue blending until smooth, 2-3 minutes, then add the water and flavorings, mixing to form a slurry.
  3. Reduce the speed to low (KA 2) and slowly incorporate the flours and instant yeast, forming a smooth dough.
  4. Switch to the dough hook and knead for another 8-10 minutes, until the dough forms a ball around the hook and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
  5. Knead the dough on a lightly floured board until it’s no longer sticky, then form it into a ball, place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic and ferment until doubled, about 45 minutes.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a moderately floured board, flour the top surface lightly but evenly to prevent sticking and punch down.  scale the dough to 1.0-2.0oz/30-55g pieces, roll into balls and flatten to ¼”-3/8”/0.6-1.0cm thick.
  7. Preheat your frying oil to 350°-375°F/175°-190°C.
  8. Place the dough pieces on a frying screen (I use 10″ pizza screens, available at kitchen supply vendors). Proof until slightly less than doubled in size and a finger gently pressed into the dough leaves an indentation that doesn’t spring back, 45 – 60 minutes.  Be very careful when you handle the doughnuts, as too much touching will result in a collapsed product.  Don’t under any circumstances transfer the doughnuts to the oil by hand.
  9. Lower the frying screen with the doughnuts into the oil and fry until golden brown on the bottom.  Turn the doughnuts using the handle of a wooden spoon or a pair of bamboo chopsticks and fry for another minute.
  10. Lift the frying screen and the doughnuts out of the oil, let any excess oil run off and transfer to paper towels to drain.  When they’re cool, use a pastry bag and plain tip to inject them with jelly, custard, pudding or other smooth filling. Finish the with honey glaze, simple icing or powdered sugar.

No Honey Cake This Year

strudelThis year, for the first time in a long time, I didn’t bake honey cake for Rosh Hashanah. Not because I don’t love it; I do. I love the sweet-sour spiciness of the fruity-sweet, slightly sour honey; the fragrant bite of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. I love the firm consistency that reminds me of a fruit cake, but without the fruit. I love the way the top crust of my rye-flour honey cake softens after a few days and turns into a caramel-like self-frosting that melts in my mouth and carries with it the concentrated essence of sugar and spice. And I love the idea that by baking a honey cake, I’m carrying on a tradition that has bound Jews together, across centuries and generations.

But no, I didn’t bake honey cake this year. Why? Because my wife and I wanted something different for Rosh Hashanah; something equally sweet and equally special, something equally evocative of the holiday and of our European roots. I baked an apple strudel.

We chose apple strudel for many reasons, some practical, some symbolic. On the practical side, stretching the strudel wrapper is an adventure akin to magic. I’m enthralled by the idea – and the reality – of transforming a few ounces of dough into a nearly transparent membrane the size of a kitchen table and filling it with fresh apples, sugar, raisins, walnuts and spices that have macerated for hours.

stretchstrudelThen there’s the wonder of rolling the strudel. Few baking experiences can compare to rolling a strudel, starting with the first fold over the filling, and then gently pulling and lifting the tablecloth on which I’ve stretched the dough so that the strudel rolls itself, like the body of a snowman, without the damaging interference of hands and fingers. The aroma of baking strudel  – the same honey-cake perfume of cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg, but with the added fruit-sweetness and subtle tang of cooking apples, brings its own aura of sweetness in the coming year.

On the symbolic side, this year’s baking united us with generations and traditions past. It brought me closer to my late grandmother, my bubbe, who came from a shtetl southeast of Warsaw and who, as my father recalled to me many years ago, rolled her strudel on a tablecloth in the kitchen I remember so well.

rollstrudelFor my wife, Sylvia, it brought back memories of her mother, Gertrude, who grew up in a town called Judendorf (Jew-town) just outside of Graz, in eastern Austria. My late father-in-law fled the Holocaust in 1938 and returned to his native Austria with the U.S. Army. There, he met and married Gertrude and brought her back to Philadelphia right after the war. She, too, baked strudel, stretching her dough thinner than paper, filling it, rolling it with a tablecloth.

I made the strudel for a family of close friends who came to celebrate the New Year us, and especially for the patriarch, Laszlo, whose family survived the Holocaust in Budapest and escaped to Canada following the Hungarian Uprising of 1956.

When it came time for dessert, we served the strudel warm, dusted with powdered sugar. We ate, our stomachs full and our eyelids heavy with wine and food. The dining room was filled with contented laughter and the sweet smell of apples and spices. Around us, as if borne on that fragrance, hovered the spirits of those we loved and had lost, enfolding us with their warmth and bestowing their blessings for a sweet and prosperous year.