Chock-full of dried fruit, almonds, and spices, the German stollen is a dense bread that is traditionally oblong, symbolizing a swaddled infant. The history of stollen dates to 15th-century Dresden, where the first German Christmas market was held (a festival still honors it each year). The bread has evolved since then, gradually becoming richer and sweeter. In this version, a recipe from Martha's mother, Martha Kostyra, pieces of the dough are braided, letting drizzles of the icing pool in the baked loaf 's twists and turns.
Stollen, panettone, and fruitcake are longstanding Christmas traditions that are worth revisiting. These rich cakes and breads are densely packed with dried and candied fruit and nuts, and often bathed in a sweet glaze or soaked with rum or whiskey. Nobody will be making fruitcake jokes when they taste these Italian, German, Polish, and American Christmas breads and cakes, which make wonderful hostess gifts or Christmas breakfasts.