Famous Christmas cake orginates in Dresden

Petra Lessoing
Kaiserslautern American

The holiday season in Germany is also combined with a variety of holiday bakery items  including Christmas cookies, gingerbread, spekulatius and marzipan items.

A special cake at Christmas season is the “Dresdner Stollen” originating from Dresden in the east part of Germany, back in 1400. Historians found the first mention of the cake, also called Striezel, on a Dresden hospital’s invoice dated 1474. The cake, a pastry made of flour, oats and water contained no butter or milk and was very plain tasting.

Therefore Elector Ernst of Sachsen and his brother Albrecht asked the Pope to please revoke the butter prohibition.

The Holy Father relented and sent a letter known as “butter letter” saying if they did penance, milk and butter may be used at good conscience and with God’s blessing.

Dresden’s Christmas market called Striezelmarkt is also mentioned for the first time in a chronicle of 1474. After 1560, bakers from Dresden gave their reigning prince for the holy fest one or two Stollen weighing 36 pounds. Eight masters and eight journeymen carried the Christstollen up to the castle. This tradition was kept for many years.

In 1730, August the Strong surpassed everything ever seen. For a festivity, he asked the bakers’ guild to bake a giant Stollen of 1.8 tons for about 24,000 guests. The Stollen fest which takes place each year in December in Dresden is a result of this former fest.

In our century, the Dresdner Christstollen reached a high standard and was made with many high quality natural products. Before World War II, the cake was sent throughout the world packed in tin boxes.

Even though there is a basic recipe for the Dresdner Christstollen, every baker from Dresden has his own family secret.