Special cake for a special season!

by Petra Lessoing
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

For a few weeks now, grocery stores and bakeries have been offering Christmas baked goods. Customers have the choice of special Christmas cookies, gingerbread, marzipan and other items.

One traditional cake for this season is the “Christstollen,” or “Dresdner Stollen.”
The cake originates from Dresden in the eastern part of Germany, and its history of it dates back to 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 revoke the “butter ban.”

The pope relented and sent a letter, known as the “butter letter,” saying if they did penance, milk and butter may be used in 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 one or two Stollen, weighing 36 pounds, to their reigning prince for the holy fest. Eight masters and eight journeymen carried the Christstollen up to the castle. This tradition was kept for many years. To commemorate this event, a similar Stollen is baked every year the Saturday before the second Advent at the annual Dresden Stollen Festival.

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.
Nowadays, the Dresdner Christstollen has reached a high standard and is made with many high quality natural products. Before World War II, the cake was sent around the world packed in tin boxes.

Even though there is a basic recipe for the Dresdner Christstollen, every baker from Dresden has his own secret family recipe handed down over generations.
This year’s stollen fest will take place Dec. 8 in Dresden. It will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Schlossplatz, and at 11 a.m. the huge Dresdner Stollen will be presented.
Then it will be taken through the old part of Dresden in a fest parade. At 12:15 p.m., the cake will be cut and sold with proceeds going to charity.

For more information on the festival, visit www.stollenfest.de.