Stollen is a German fruitcake that’s exceptionally light and moist. It dates to the 15th century, and there’s a curious bit of history about it. The Holy Roman Empire was an elective monarchy, which meant that the monarchs (at least formally) were elected by prince-electors.
During the Advent season, bakers were forbidden to use butter; it had something to do with the somewhat arbitrary rules for fasting. But you can’t make a proper Stollen without butter. So a Saxon prince-elector petitioned the pope for an exception to the rule. Five popes denied the request (and died in office), but the sixth granted an exception to the rule prince-elector and his family. Of course, by this time, the original prince-elector who had made the request had been dead for four years.
1 pkg. yeast, compressed or dry
1/4 c. water (lukewarm for compressed, warm for dry)
1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. shortening
2 1/2 c. sifted flour (approximately)
1/4 c. raisins
1/4 c. currants
1/4 c. chopped candied citron
1/4 c. chopped candied cherries
2 Tbsp. melted butter or margarine
confectioners’ sugar icing
1/4 c. chopped nuts.
Soften yeast in water. Scald the milk. Add sugar, salt and shortening and cool to lukewarm. Add one cup flour and mix well. Add softened yeast and egg. Beat well, stir in raisins, currants, citron and cherries.
Add enough more flour to make a soft dough. Turn out on lightly floured board or pastry cloth and knead until smooth and satiny.
Place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until double in bulk (about 1 1/2 hours). When light, punch down and shape into two balls. Let rest 10 min. Flatten each ball into an oval sheet about 3/4 inch thick. Brush one half sheet with melted butter or margarine.
Fold over like large Parker house rolls. Place on a greased baking sheet. Brush lightly with melted butter. Let rise until doubled (about 45 minutes). Bake at 350 degrees about 25 min. When cool, brush with confectioners’ sugar icing and sprinkle with nuts.