Dresden’s Christmas Stollen is World Famous:!
The Christmas season brings with it many special treats and one of my favourites is the Stollen. This German Christmas cake, called the Weihnachtsstollen or Christstollen is a loaf-shaped cake made with chopped candied or dried fruit, nuts and spices. Marzipan stollen is my favourite.
Although many German towns make their own stollen and there is some dispute as to which German city invented the stollen, it is the Dresden stollen that is world famous. The international renown of the Dresden Stollen Festival also confirms Dresden as the unmistakable capital of this German Christmas cake.
About Dresden’s Stollen Festival
The Dresden Stollen Festival takes place on the Saturday before the second Sunday in Advent and is very much a part of Dresden’s cultural calendar. It is one of the highlights of the Dresden Striezelmarkt (Christmas market) and more than 700,000 visitors come to enjoy the festivities each year. It seems that even travel companies are getting in on the act and offering special Dresden Stollen Festival tours.
The elements that make up the Dresden Stollen Festival include, the selection of a Stollen Maiden, the baking of the Giant Stollen, the Stollen procession and the slicing of the Stollen with the special Stollen knife.
Record-making Dresden Stollen
The baking of the Giant Stollen is of course one of the highlights of the festival. Weighing between 3 to 4 tonnes, Dresden’s bakers and pastry chefs are in the Guinness Book of World Records for having baked the the largest stollen in 2000 – the Dresden Giant Stollen weighed 4.2 tonnes.
The other highlight of the Stollen Festival is the traditional procession of the Giant Stollen and Dresden bakers and pastry chefs across the city’s Old town. At a ceremony in the courtyard of the Zwinger Palace, the Stollen is unveilled and its weight announced. Following this, the horse-drawn wagon with the Giant Stollen and the festival convoy make their way through the Old Town towards the Striezelmarkt at the Altmarkt. Along the way, the procession passes important historic sights like the Semper Opera House, the Royal Palace, the Cathedral, the Fürstenzug (“Procession of Princes”), the Frauenkirche, the Coselpalais, the Albertinum, and the Bruehl Terrace.
At the Striezelmarkt, the Royal Master Baker takes his position and together with the Stollen Maiden, they perform the cake cutting ceremony. A special 1.20 metre-long silver-plated Dresden Stollen Knife is used for the first cut. The cake is then cut up into 500-gm portions and sold to festival visitors for 1 Stollenthaler. You buy your Stollenthalers at the Christmas market or at sales points along the procession. One Stollenthaler costs €4.00, so essentially your 500-gm piece of Stollen costs €4.00, which is really cheap.
Any town that has a Stollen Festival gets my vote and Dresden is another destination to add to the Christmas visits.
Map of Dresden: