Ari’s Pick: Stollen

Classic German Christmas cake, loaded with butter, dried fruit, spices, and more!

The Bakehouse’s old-school German stollen is a classic Zingerman’s Christmas gift that will bring comfort and wonderful complex flavors to anyone who tries it. The stollen includes an incredible array of ingredients including sweet butter, Bacardi rum, lemon, orange, Michigan dried cherries, citron, currants, almonds, golden and Red Flame raisins, Indonesian cinnamon, lots of real vanilla, and more. When you nibble a bit, at first you get a touch of creaminess on the tongue from the powdered sugar that coats the surface. Then you taste the butter and a bit of the dried fruit as you break through the thin crust, then the tartness of the dried cherries, and sweetness of the raisins. The citrus stays brightly in the background; the vanilla and cinnamon come through subtly, but meaningfully, in the finish. And it all lingers with a really nice, mouth-watering finish.  

The History of Stollen

an overhead view of a loaf of stollen on a marble surface with some slices cut, a decorative muslin bag next to it, a gold knife, and some greenery

For a bit of historical context, stollen was originally a much simpler, staid, and stern product, made only from flour, oats, and water. Back in medieval times, Advent—the lead-up to Christmas—was a time of fasting, during which Catholic bakers were banned from using butter.

In Rome, where butter was only rarely used and olive oil was easy to access, the butter ban was, from a practical standpoint, not a big deal. But to the north, in Germany, where oil was costly and butter was a staple, the ban led to serious hardship. Saxon German nobles wrote to the Pope and requested permission to stop using oil and switch back to butter. Their request was denied by Pope Nicholas. It took six more popes before Innocent VIII, in 1490, gave permission in what became known as “The Butter Letter” for bakers to use butter without having to pay a fine. 

Fortunately, times have changed and we all have access to the Bakehouse’s butter-laden loaves of stollen. The main thing to know in 2022 is that the stollen tastes terrific. It warms up beautifully on Xmas morning (or any other morning for that matter). Co-managing partner Grace Singleton at the Deli suggests “grilling” slices of it in butter in a sauté pan til the cut face of the stollen turns golden brown. The Bakehouse’s stollen comes in a lovely cloth sack!


Ari headshot
Ari Weinzweig
Co-Founding Partner at Zingerman's | + posts

In 1982, Ari Weinzweig, along with his partner Paul Saginaw, founded Zingerman’s Delicatessen with a $20,000 bank loan, a Russian History degree from the University of Michigan, 4 years of experience washing dishes, cooking and managing in restaurant kitchens and chutzpah from his hometown of Chicago. They opened the doors with 2 employees and a small selection of specialty foods and exceptional sandwiches.

Today, Zingerman’s Delicatessen is a nationally renowned food icon and the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses has grown to 10 businesses with over 750 employees and over $55 million in annual revenue. Aside from the Delicatessen, these businesses include Zingerman’s Bakehouse, Coffee Company, Creamery, Roadhouse, Mail Order, ZingTrain, Candy Manufactory, Cornman Farms and a Korean restaurant that is scheduled to open in 2016. No two businesses in the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses are alike but they all share the same Vision and Guiding Principles and deliver “The Zingerman’s Experience” with passion and commitment.

Besides being the Co-Founding Partner and being actively engaged in some aspect of the day-to-day operations and governance of nearly every business in the Zingerman’s Community, Ari Weinzweig is also a prolific writer. His most recent publications are the first 4 of his 6 book series Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading Series: A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Building a Great Business (Part 1), Being a Better Leader (Part 2), Managing Ourselves (Part 3) and the newly-released Part 4, The Power of Beliefs in Business. Earlier books include the Zingerman’s Guides to Giving Great Service, Better Bacon, Good Eating, Good Olive Oil, Good Vinegar and Good Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Ari regularly travels across the country (and world) on behalf of ZingTrain, teaching organizations and businesses about Zingerman’s approach to business. He is a sought-after Keynote speaker, having delivered keynotes for Inc. 500, Microsoft Expo Spring Conference, Great Game of Business Gathering of Games, Positive Business Conference at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, American Society for Quality (ASQ), and the American Cheese Society. Most recently, Ari and Paul Saginaw were invited to address an audience of 50,000 for the University of Michigan 2015 Spring Commencement.

One of Zingerman’s Guiding Principles is being an active part of the community and in 1988, Zingerman’s was instrumental in the founding of Food Gatherers, a food rescue program that delivers over 5 million pounds of food each year to the hungry residents of Washtenaw county. Every year Zingerman’s donates 10% of its previous years profits to local community organizations and non-profits. Ari has served on the board of The Ark, the longest continuously operating folk music venue in America.

Over the decades, the Zingerman’s founding partners have consistently been the recipients of public recognition from a variety of diverse organizations. In April 1995, Ari and Paul were awarded the Jewish Federation of Washtenaw County’s first Humanitarian Award. In 2006, Ari was recognized as one of the “Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America” by the James Beard Foundation. In 2007, Ari and Paul were presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award from Bon Appetit magazine for their work in the food industry. Ari was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Cheese Society in 2014. And Ari’s book, Building a Great Business was on Inc. magazine’s list of Best Books for Business Leaders.

Notwithstanding the awards, being engaged on a daily basis in the work of 10 businesses and 21 partners, writing books on business and in-depth articles on food for the Zingerman’s newsletter, Ari finds time to be a voracious reader. He acquires and reads more books than he can find room for. Ari might soon find himself the owner of the largest collection of Anarchist books in Ann Arbor outside the Labadie collection at the University of Michigan library!

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