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Christmas isn't Christmas without stollen

stollenRegular readers know that we are great fans of holiday traditions in the country and our heart lifts when we see lingonberries and fresh oysters, lutefisk and potato bologna start to appear in the store. In Eustis, the holiday table includes German wurst sausages, but for many people in a wide swath around McCook, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without stollen from Sehnert’s Bakery.

According to Sehnert’s website, stollen or “Christollen” dates back to the 14th century, but due no doubt to wrangling among the bakers, the standard recipe for this fruit-and-nut confection with its distinctive shape wasn’t accepted by the Pastry Baker’s Guild until 1528. Stollen were popular at Christmas fairs and festivals and were often used as tributes paid to royalty and church dignitaries.

As with many holiday traditions, there is a symbolism to stollen as well. According to the website, “Two legends are told about the stollen ingredients and its traditional shape: one has it that the hump on the top of the loaf is reminiscent of the hump of the camel that brought gifts to the Christ child that first Christmas, and the brightly colored candied fruits and nuts represent the precious jewels and gifts in the camel’s pack.  The second story…is that the raised portion of the loaf is a reminder of the nave of the church and the candied fruit reminds us of the stained glass windows.”

Whichever story you prefer, stollen is a Christmas tradition dating back hundreds of years in Germany and dating back at least to 1957 in McCook when Sehnert’s Bakery opened their doors. It’s a treat that can be enjoyed at any time, cold, warm or toasted, plain or with butter and jam. Visit Sehnert’s website to learn more about and order this delightful holiday tradition.

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