Historically Advent, the nearly month long Christian Season just before Christmas, was marked with fasting in preparation of the birth of the Christ Child. The season was not that different from Lent in that its end was marked by a feast of gastronomic proportions. The original 15th Century Stollen was a staple of that season and reflected the lack of flavor that is associated with dishes from these seasons of fasting. Once Saxony became a Protestant state things began to change – filled with dried fruits, drenched in butter, and covered in sugar the Dresden Stollen came to symbolize the sweetness of the Christ Child. The stollen even bears a slight resemblance to a tightly swaddled infant. (and no, this is not the origin of the Spiritual “Sweet Little Jesus Child” but kudos on the musical tangent!)
There are some secrets of the Montclair Bread Company that can be shared. The recipe is an authentic Dresden Recipe. Instead of using purchased candied peel, the entire Crampsey family joins in the process of peeling and candying fresh fruit (so there is none of that gummy green stuff and none of that chemical preservative taste). Sweet butter is used throughout the preparation, shortening would be cheaper, but Stollen is about authenticity and flavor. And finally the sugar – confectionery sugar has become the standard for store bought stollen but they did not have that powdered stuff in the 15th or even 19th century so Rachel rolls her stollen in sugar crystals that actually sparkle just a bit on a table illuminated by candlelight.
Since purchasing the Montclair Bread Company in 2012, the Crampsey's have revitalized one of the township’s best known brands and turned it into a bakery that now embraces European traditions and is as good as the best bakeries in San Francisco and Portland. Go for the stollen, and come back for the baguettes, pretzel bread, and jammies!
For 2014 the Dresdner Stollen at Montclair Bread Company is $18.50.
113 Walnut Street
Montclair NJ 07042