Dresden Christstollen® is inextricably linked to the history of Dresden and its rich cultural heritage. Whether among kings, princes or the people of Dresden, traditional Dresden stollen has played a significant role throughout the city’s past: the history of stollen is the history of culture in Dresden.
Stollen as a food eaten during mediaeval fasting – Dresden Christstollen® is first recorded in 1474 on a bill at St. Bartholomew’s, a Christian hospital. At that time, however, there was no thought of festive pleasures: the mediaeval fasting food was made only of flour, yeast and water. The authoritative Catholic church did not allow butter or milk, as a sign of abstention.
The butter missive – However, as Saxons have always enjoyed the pleasures of life, Prince Ernst, Elector of Saxony, and his brother Albrecht asked Pope Innocent VIII to revoke the ban on butter. The Holy Father granted them their wish, sending his Butterbrief, or butter missive, to Dresden in 1491. From then on, stollen bakers were also allowed to use richer ingredients.
The Striezel und its Christmas market – Dresden Christstollen®, which is also fondly known to the people of Dresden as ‘Striezel’, is also inextricably linked to Germany’s oldest Christmas market: Dresden’s Dresdner Striezelmarkt. It was here, around 1500, that ‘Christmas bread’ was first sold to the people of Dresden.
A royal treat – Dresden stollen gained its reputation as being fit for kings from 1560. Dresden’s stollen bakers traditionally presented their sovereign with a festive stollen or two at Christmas. At one ceremony the stollen, weighing in at 36 German pounds, or 18 kilos, was carried through the city to the palace by eight master bakers and eight assistants.
The electoral prince Augustus and his giant stollen Augustus the Strong, probably Saxony’s most famous electoral prince, was also a self-confessed stollen enthusiast. In 1730, when the court was at the Zeithain Encampment military exercises, he called upon Dresden’s bakers to create a giant stollen for him. Some 100 bakers and their assistants combined 3,600 eggs, 326 churns of milk and 20 hundredweight of flour to produce a giant stollen weighing around 1.8 tonnes. Though – untypically of a stollen – this oversized stollen was baked with eggs, in June, this is nonetheless considered the Baroque precursor of today’s Dresden Christstollen®. Even today, the Stollen Festival, which takes place every year in Dresden on the Saturday before the second Sunday of Advent, calls to mind electoral prince Augustus and his giant stollen.
It is only since the twentieth century that Dresden Christstollen® has been baked to modern standards of quality. Only high-grade materials and select ingredients are used. The Stollen Association (Schutzverband Dresdner Stollen e.V.) today fights to protect the heritage of Dresden Christstollen®. For more information about the association click here.
Source: Schutzverband Dresdner Stollen. e. V.