This December, Jerry Sheehan and his co-worker Kayla Remshard are busy baking the German stollen (“shtaw-luhn”) you can find at Wolff’s right now. And of course, this stollen is made with all of the authentic craftsmanship that Jerry is known for throughout this region. He is one of the only local bakers making a true traditional stollen, so we are especially honored to be able to share it with you here at Wolff’s.
Stollen can be made with multiple varieties of ingredients. Some version use rum, some use brandy. Some types have a marzipan center, while others don’t. Some are topped with icing, others with powdered sugar.
Jerry explains that this is bound to happen with a 600-year-old tradition. Different versions have appeared in different geographic areas over time.
So how have Jerry and Kayla chosen to make their version? With the maximum of incredible ingredients you can imagine!
Kayla explains that the dough is made with King Arthur flour and a little sourdough, and just the right amount of sugar, butter, milk and farm-fresh eggs from Lancaster. To take it to the next level, they add cinnamon, nutmeg, hand-milled cardamom (they mill it themselves!) and zest of not just lemon… but also lime and orange zest!
And that’s just the dough. The layers of the stollen include dried apricots, dried cherries, dark and golden raisins, candied ginger and figs. Then the dried ingredients rehydrate for two to three days in a local triple Belgian ale called “Piggy Stardust.” (Wondering why it’s Piggy Stardust? It comes from the Sterling Pig Brewery in Media!). There’s also a delicious house-made marzipan center, and the bread is topped with melted butter and powdered sugar.
Although Jerry says the dough is “not complicated,” he adds that the end product is a “very complicated bread,” once all the layers are complete.
Jerry explains that, in Germany, it’s traditional to buy stollen in a Christkindl market–a market held in the town squares during the Christmas season. There, you can also buy mulled wine and honey, candles, ceramics and other crafts. It is a German tradition to purchase the stollen and then store it in a cool, dark place until serving it along with mulled wine on Christmas Eve, which is a bigger celebration in Germany than Christmas Day itself.
Jerry also notes that the bread incorporates religious symbolism: the marzipan is like the baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes.
Jerry used to visit German Christkindl markets during the three years he spent living in Germany. One December, he and his family returned to Germany because he wanted to visit these markets again.
He loves seeing the array of crafts at a Christkindl market. Each craft reflects centuries of tradition and years of individual artisans perfecting their skills. It reminds him why he’s devoting his energy and attention to the craft of authentic bread baking.