Decorated gingerbread houses, sweet cookies, Christmas pudding, and traditional stollen bread. Nothing says Christmas quite like the sweet smell of baking from kitchens around the world. Most of these familiar treats have a significant place in our memories of holidays past but they also profound history of their own! Let’s talk about the origins of two of our favourites – gingerbread houses and Christmas stollen bread.
Gingerbread is a beloved classic during the holidays, but did you know the tradition of building and decorating gingerbread houses began in Germany? Food historians suggest that this unique Christmas activity began when the famous Brothers Grimm published a fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel, two children that discover a house made of gingerbread and sugar decorations. As the tale circulated the country, German bakers began creating their own versions that became very popular with children and adults alike, firmly planting the sweet edible decoration as a family tradition for generations to come.
Traditional stollen bread is very similar to the well-known Christmas fruit cake. While Stollen bread does have fruits, almonds and spices, it is more bread-like than its denser and heavier counterpart. The origins of stollen harken back to the 14th century in the city of Dresden in East Germany. According to the Dresden Stollen Bakery Co., the bread is said to have originated as a result of a contest offered by the Bishop of Nauruburg. Bakers in the region produced a winning bread baked with the finest butter, sugar, raisins, citron and other specialty ingredients. The Bishop enjoyed the results so much that he ordered a quantity of grain reserved for stollen only. The local wheat farmers would have benefitted from the growing popularity of this Dresden delicacy.
To this day, it is considered the “Specialty of Dresden”, and is made only during Christmas time.
Whatever your family’s cherished baking tradition is, you can be sure to find the ingredients that you will need to make these delicious creations on Cow-op. Farm fresh eggs, organic butter and, of course, True Grain flour milled here on the Island from organic Canadian-grown grains!