If there is one thing in this city that you cannot ignore during Christmas season, it is stollen. Dresden is very famous for its traditional Christstollen, a very heavy sweet Christmas cake that is sold in every bakery and on every Christmas market. It’s shipped all over the country to friends and relatives and I am pretty sure you can order it from abroad, too. In addition to the traditional stollen, which is made with lots of butter, dried fruits and candied peel, there are many other versions. Nuts and marzipan are popular and bakers are trying out new ingredients every year. This season, for example, cranberry stollen are very popular. Because I love poppy seeds, my favourite is still poppy seed stollen which is closely related to similar Czech and Polish (Makowiec) baked goods.
Stollen is usually baked in advance and stored for weeks before it is finally eaten. Therefore it is made from a heavily enriched yeast dough with a very high fat content. The fats of choice are butter and sometimes lard. The fat and the dried fruits help to keep the cake fresh and moist. Poppy seed or marzipan fillings serve the same purpose.
In Dresden stollen is often called striezel but any sweet yeasted bread or cake that is shaped like a log or braided can be called striezel in German. My recipe is more a striezel in that general term than a stollen. It is much lighter and fluffier and can’t be stored that long because it has a lot less fat. (A couple of days wrapped in aluminium foil are fine, but it won’t keep for weeks like a stollen.)
Mohnstriezel (makes one loaf)
filling adapted from this recipe
400 g (3 1/4 cup) flour
80 g (1/4 cup plus 1/8 cup plus 1 teaspoon) sugar
200 ml (3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) soy milk
20 g fresh yeast (or 1 teaspoon instant yeast)
1/2 teaspoon salt
60 ml (1/4 cup) vegetable oil
1/8 teaspoon ground vanilla
250 ml (1 cup plus 2 teaspoons) soy milk
180 g (1 1/4 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon) poppy seeds, ground
25 g (2 tablespoons) semolina
50 g (1/4 cup) sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground vanilla
1 tablespoon rum (optional)
2 teaspoons lime or lemon juice
100 g (1 cup, sifted) powdered sugar
2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice
75 g (2/3 cup) slivered almonds
To make the dough: Combine flour, sugar, soy milk, and crumbled yeast in a bowl. Let sit for ten minutes. Add the remaining ingredients. Use a had held or stand mixer to knead the dough until smooth (4-6 minutes). Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let sit in a warm place for 60-90 minutes, until the dough has doubled in size.
Meanwhile prepare the filling. If you haven’t already, grind the poppy seeds in a coffee grinder. In a small pot bring the milk to a boil. Stir in poppy seeds, semolina, sugar, and vanilla. Remove from heat, cover with lid and let sit until the mixture has cooled to room temperature. Stir in rum and lime juice.
Roll the dough into a rectangle. (40 x 30 cm or 15.8 x 11.8 inch) Spread the filling on top, leaving a 1 cm (1/2 inch) margin around the edges. Roll the dough up from both sides:
Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover with a damp kitchen towel and let sit in a warm place for 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Bake the striezel for 25-30 minutes. The top of mine started to brown pretty quickly so make sure to look after it. If it browns too fast, cover with a sheet of aluminium foil.
Remove from oven and let cool completely.
Combine powdered sugar and lime juice. Whisk until smooth and sprinkle over the cake. Sprinkle the almonds over the glaze. Let the glaze dry serve. Store at room temperature or in the fridge, wrapped in aluminium.