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 | By Michelle DiFranco


Sweetbread in Honor of the Baby Jesus

Dresden, Germany, is, without a doubt, one of the most festive places to be during the Christmas season. That is because it’s home to Striezelmarkt, one of the first Christmas markets, dating back to the early 1400s. Since then, hundreds of large and small markets have popped up to cover a “Christmas Mile” in the old city.

Among the many delicacies sold there, Stollen, or Christollen is the most popular and goes back centuries to the market’s beginnings.

The Christollen is a traditional sweetbread filled with raisins, nuts, candied fruits and spices, to name a few. The folded dough and oval shape of the cake-like bread, topped off with white icing or powdered sugar, symbolizes the swaddled Christ Child.

As we approach this season in which we celebrate God sending his only Son as the ultimate gift of his love, let us give thanks. Jesus, the fulfillment of God’s promise and the Light of the World, comes to us at a time when the days are short and the nights are long. He brings the light of God’s love into our world.

“Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!” (Ps 96:11)

Michelle DiFranco is a designer and the busy mom of three children.

This article was originally published December 2021.

No Yeast Stollen

  • 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground cardamom
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (cold)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • ½ cup slivered almonds
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • ½ cup chopped dried or candied fruit of choice
  • Melted butter and confectioners’ sugar (for topping)

Preheat oven to 325°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices in a large mixing bowl. Cut the cold butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture to form fine crumbs. In a separate smaller bowl, combine the ricotta, egg, vanilla extract, lemon zest, raisins, dried fruit and almonds. Combine the wet and dry ingredients until moistened.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it until smooth. Roll dough into an oval shape (about 8x10 inches). Fold dough over (longways) until one inch from the edge. Press edge to seal and place on parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown (and an inserted toothpick comes out clean). Transfer to a cooling rack. Brush with melted butter and generously sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. Stollen will keep well for up to two weeks stored in an airtight container.