For as long as I can remember, my mom made what she called Stollen every year at Christmas. Traditionalists would not recognize our family’s rendition of Stollen, which is similar to fruitcake. Ours would be described best as a tender sweet roll pastry cradling fresh or canned fruit, with nuts and a sweet glaze topping.
I can still remember the aroma of the yeast bread as a child and the large roasting pan we used to mix the dough in by hand. Cherry, blueberry, almond, apple, peach, and apricot flavors would make it hard to choose just one, so we would fill our plates with slivers of them all. Of course, each of us had a different favorite and Mom faithfully indulged us. She learned to make this delightful pastry from her sister, Louise, who was a tremendous cook.
My sister, Debbie, and I have carried on the tradition with our own families, teaching our children to make it as well. It is part of our family’s Christmas breakfast every year and we often give it as a gift to friends.
Making this Stollen recipe as gifts, she has made dozens of them at a time (usually by request), so this method made it easier to create more varieties with custom sizes.
Years ago, mine deviated in shape to resemble a Swedish Tea Ring or what some call a Christmas wreath. I liked the presentation and I can divide the dough to make smaller rings for gifts, about the size of a dinner plate. Our family and friends settled on just a few favorite flavors—Blueberry, Cherry, and Blueberry-Cream Cheese (recipe below)—so this method has worked well for us. I have also experimented with different flour mixes to incorporate whole wheat here and there, or layered butter into the dough like a croissant to give it a richer texture from time to time.
It is heartwarming to know my mom, extended family, and close friends are enjoying this delicious Christmas breakfast just as we are. Although separated by distance, we relish each bite of this family tradition, as though for just a moment, we are together again.