The traditional German Stollen Cake (Stollen) is meant to resemble the baby Jesus in swaddling clothes.
Stollen was invented in the City of Dresden, and now is the subject of an annual festival in its honor, this candied fruit peel-studded cake has been around since 1474 and was originally known as “Striezel”.
Usually, Stollen that you can find in stores is fairly sweet but the wonderful thing about making your own is that it is up to you how much sugar and fruit you put into it. This long cake actually started life as a very different confection. The dough itself only became enriched with butter in 1647, when Pope Innocent VIII gave his official permission to include butter in the recipe during what was then a time of fasting. The slightly sweetened bread dough is nowadays enriched with almonds, citrus peel, marzipan and with those most Christmassy of spices, cinnamon, anise, coriander, cloves, allspice and cardamom.
To make baking easier while still enjoying the delicious seasonal taste of Stollen, why not bake this traditional cake a bit differently and prepare Christmas Stollen Bar Cookies (Stollenkekse) instead. Just use a square baking pan and there is no need to recreate the shape of a swaddling blanket for these delicious Christmas cookie treats.
Recipe for Christmas Stollen Bar Cookies
Ingredients for the Cookies
- 175 grams (6.1ounces) super fine white sugar
- 75 grams (2.6 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 125 grams (4.4 ounces) good quality cream cheese (I use Philadelphia cream cheese), room temperature
- finely grated zest from one organic orange
- ¾ tsp Stollen Spice Mix*
- 1 egg (M), free range or organic if possible
- 250 grams (8.8 ounces) AP/plain white flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 75 grams (2.6 ounces) blanched ground almonds
- 100 grams (3.5 ounces) plumped up raisins or dried cherries (you can also soak them in a bit of cognac or rum or even applejuice for about 20 minutes before using without the soaking liquid in this recipe)
- 50 grams (1. 7 ounces) shelled natural pistachios (unsalted)
- 50 grams (1.7 ounces) slivered almonds
- 275 grams (9.7 ounces) good quality baking marzipan (such as "Niederegger" or "Dr. Oetker")
- some unsalted melted butter for brushing the warm baked cookies
- a generous amount of powdered sugar to dust the cookies just before serving
Preparation of the Cookies
- Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
- In the bowl of your mixer, beat together the sugar, butter, cream cheese, orange zest and Spice Mix until smooth, then beat in the egg.
- In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and almonds.
- Add the flour mix to the butter mixture (you should have a soft dough)..
- Stir in the raisins and pistachios and slivered almonds.
- Cut the marzipan into small pieces and add to the dough (best done with a spatula).
- Line your square baking pan and press the dough evenly into the pan (bst done if fingers or ooset spatula).
- Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden on top. Transfer to a cooling rack.
- Leave in the pan to cool, then, while still warm, brush generously with melted butter and leave until completely cooled before wrapping well.
- Just before serving, dust heavily with powdered sugar and cut into bars. NOTE: If wrapped really well, these cookies will keep for about two weeks in a cool, dry place. Just make sure to heavily dust the cookies with powdered sugar just before serving and not before wrapping.
If you cannot find Stollen Spice Mix in the stores, you can make your own following this easy recipe.
Stollen Spice Mix
- seeds from one vanilla pod (you can also use about 2 tsp pure vanilla sugar instead)
- one pinch ground cinnamon
- one pinch ground anise seeds
- one pinch ground coriander
- one pinch ground cloves
- one pinch ground allspice
- one pinch ground cardamom
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Store in air tight container.
Use this mixture in recipes that call for Stollen Spice Mix.
These Christmas Stollen Bar Cookies have all the wonderful flavors of German Stollen without being overly sweet. The cubed marzipan keeps them nice and moist and they will even improve in taste after a few days. They are utterly delicious when served with a nice cup of tea or coffee and they make wonderful gifts. And they are so very easy to make, there is no need to buy a specialty Stollen Baking Pan. Also, this recipe does not contain candied fruit peel such as candied lemon peel (Zitronat) or candied orange peel (Orangeat) which a lot of people do not enjoy eating in their baked goods. For an added splash of color, I used bright green pistachios. These nuts look wonderful and taste fabulous in these Christmas Stollen Bar Cookies and they are a nice compliment to the ground almonds in the cookie dough.