Hahdough, the only dedicated German bakery in San Francisco, is baking up a small serving of holiday cheer with stollen, the traditional Christmas bread that’s laden with dried fruit and dusted in sugar like a blanket of snow. But wait, it gets cuter — they’re sizing it down into mini stollen! Which are just the right size for lockdown, so you could feast on one at home alone, and drop off another to a friend.
Baker Ha Do grew up in Germany, which is why she specifically wanted to open a konditorei, to share the tradition of afternoon cake and coffee. She’s known for Black Forest cakes with chocolate and cherries, herrentorte (gentleman’s torte), and bienenstich (bee sting cake), as well as jammy Berliner doughnuts. But this time of year, “stollen is a very traditional German Christmas thing, and right now in Germany, you can get it everywhere,” Do says. She chats with her sister back home almost every day, who reports that stollen started showing up in shops as early as September. Do attributes that to the pandemic — she believes that people were craving comfort early.
She specifically ordered special pans from Germany, to be able to make this mini size and serve some comfort during quarantine. It’s a Dresdner-style stollen, with German marzipan, which is a little less sweet, and wafts of cardamom, cinnamon, and mace. She soaks raisins in rum, and folds in two types of candied citrus zest, both orange and citron, as well as slivered almonds. Unlike others, this version doesn’t use any eggs, leaving it delightfully crumbly. Out of the oven, it’s brushed with butter, rolled in granulated sugar, and dusted with powdered sugar, to seal in moisture. Do maintains it only gets better if it sits for a week or two, so the flavors can bloom. You can order your own here.
There are a few other bakeries in SF that make stollen. Arizmendi has a solid one, and Lehr’s German Specialties, the wonderful old shop in Noe Valley, imports the heavy tins from Germany, those ones that tip a couple of pounds. A weighty tinned stollen with a golden seal is a comfort, to be sure. But a fresh little stollen from a new bakery is a small joy, especially this grim winter.