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The German Christmas tradition that’s travelling around the world
The German Christmas tradition that’s travelling around the world

Few delicacies evoke the spirit of the European winter season and Christmas quite like the smell of freshly baked German stollen. It conjures up delightful memories of roaring log fires, beautifully decorated trees, glistening white snow, and of course the warming aroma of spices and fruits.

But while Germany will forever be the home of stollen, people around the world now enjoy this delicious Christmas treat. In fact, Kempinski Hotel Beijing Lufthansa Center and Mall of the Emirates Kempinski Dubai have created their own stollen traditions that reflect their local culture.

The home of Kempinski Christmas stollen

The first day of Advent is eagerly anticipated at Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski Munich, not least of all because that’s when the hotel’s celebrated stollen makes its annual appearance.

From then until New Year’s Eve, Ian Baker, the hotel’s Head Pastry Chef, will oversee the creation of around 400 stollen loaves.

“Our recipe is around 100 years old,” Ian explains, “But we vary it slightly, experimenting with different fruits and flavours. For example, we might use tea instead of rum; cranberries rather than raisins. But what transforms our stollen from simply delicious to extraordinary is our use of precious cinnamon blossom rather than cinnamon powder. There are many variations on the recipe throughout Germany such as poppy seed, chocolate, and even Champagne stollen. So, as well as our very traditional bread, we also have a ginger, rosemary and cranberry stollen”.

Traditional stollen will be made two to three months before it’s due to be served when it will be covered with a layer of icing sugar, cut into finger-thick slices and perhaps enjoyed with a glass of warm mulled wine.

Some guests come year after year just to buy Ian’s stollen. He finds it rather amusing that they make the pilgrimage to Germany to buy the tastiest possible stollen made by an Englishman working in a classically French role!

So what is Ian’s top tip for the perfect stollen?

“Read the recipe properly, make sure you understand it, then take your time. Rushed recipes never turn out well!”


Stollen, Chinese style

At Kempinski Hotel Beijing Lufthansa Center, there is a sense of eager anticipation when Executive Pastry Chef, Joachim Caula (Chef Kim) steps into the kitchen to begin production of the first batch of stollen.

The hotel has been producing German stollen at Christmas for 25 years and around 250 portions are sold in the Kempi Deli each year. About 100 metres of stollen is also placed around the Christmas trees in the Lobby.

“A lot of traditional rules go into the making of the Kempinski stollen recipe. But first and foremost is the use of the highest quality ingredients,’ explains Chef Kim, through a haze of flour. “You really can’t take your eye off the process for a minute”.

Chef Kim views it as an opportunity to bring a little taste of a European Christmas to Beijing.

“We help our guests get into the Christmas spirit by preparing a variety of scrumptious traditional German food accompanied by our homemade Glühwein,” he enthuses. “Most local people like the taste of stollen, perhaps because we use spices like cinnamon, cloves, and star anise to name just a few, which are familiar ingredients in the Chinese kitchen”.

Last year, the hotel’s Chef Furong Yang attended a training workshop at Hotel Vier Kempinski Jahreszeiten Munich, led by Ian Baker, to learn how to bake the perfect Christmas stollen.

During the two-day workshop, she absorbed Ian’s tips and tricks for the preparation method discovered the best ingredients to use and learned the craftsmanship needed to produce the most delicious stollen. She brought this wonderful tradition back to Beijing and happily shares it with her team.

Stollen is a lengthy process in Dubai

It’s October, and a special team of Chefs at Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates Dubai has gathered to start preparations for the annual charity stollen cake sale in December. The atmosphere is intense because this is no ordinary stollen. Over the next few weeks, these chefs will go to great lengths to produce something quite spectacular!

The charity cake sale began in 2005 to raise money for the Dubai Center for Special Needs. That first stollen measured 250 metres, and it’s been getting considerably longer with each year.

Michael Henssler, COO Asia, was General Manager of Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates Dubai at the time:

“In the Middle East, a mall is a social hub as well as a place to shop,” he explains. “With that in mind, we always made sure the hotel and its F&B outlets were completely integrated into the mall and were an active part of the community. We had already held several fundraising events for The Dubai Center for Special Needs. The idea for stollen came about as a way to celebrate our German roots and Kempinski craftsmanship. And because this was happening in the Mall of the Emirates, we had to go big! Stollen is, of course very seasonal so it wasn’t an obvious choice. But in a place that doesn’t have seasons, you have to create them for yourself. In any case, we all loved stollen and I have to confess, we all ate a lot, even at 35 degrees in the shade”.

2017 has been declared the Year of Giving in the UAE. It is with a spirit of generosity that a team of 12 Chefs worked around the clock for two months to produce a 750-metre stollen in time for the 12th annual sale which took place on 8th December. It was the hotel’s longest stollen, and a big logistical and culinary challenge.

The recipe is very traditional but without alcohol and the ingredients included more than 600 kilograms of flour, 2,200 eggs and nearly 300 kilograms of raisins! The stollen was divided into 60cm loaves for the sale which cost AED100, or AED5 for a slice.

Since the sale began, the hotel has produced almost 6,000 metres of stollen and raised more than AED 600,000 for the Center which works hard to provide a brighter future for children with special needs.

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