For many years, a decadent version of stollen made at the Four Seasons Hotel in Vancouver was the must-have holiday item. When the hotel closed earlier this year, legions of fans were left wondering what would happen this Christmas.
Enter chef and baker Mark Burton, who recently launched his online bakery Best Kind — where the celebrated stollen, using the original Four Seasons recipe, is the hottest item on the menu.
"The one thing that's super special for me was the fact that the recipe I'm using actually has a really long history and it's got a lot of pride within this recipe," Burton told host Gloria Macarenko on CBC's On The Coast.
Stollen, or Christstollen, is a traditional German fruitcake containing spices, nuts and dried fruit, and coated in icing sugar.
Burton, who used to work at the Four Seasons, got the recipe from his colleague and pastry chef Gerhard Weitzel, who had prepared the stollen at the hotel since 1991.
"He has been making this particular stollen at the hotel right up until the last Christmas before it closed. This was an opportunity for me to carry on with this little tradition," Burton said.
"He's very, very happy that I'm able to do it, as well."
Burton says stollen is the definition of "slow food."
"It's a three-day process. It's pre-soaking your fruit with lots of rum. Advance-toasting the nuts. It's a lot of fermentation. There's a lot of butter, let me tell you that. Lots of marzipan. And then [there's] a lot of patience involved as well," he said, laughing.
After baking, the loaf is slathered in butter — twice — dusted in vanilla sugar and aged for seven days.
Weitzel was supposed to join Burton in the kitchen this year, but had to withdraw because of health issues.
"I think it's actually killing him a little bit that he can't be in the kitchen with me. The pandemic has limited what we're able to do. However, I'm still able to produce this," Burton said.
At the height of Christmas season, the Four Seasons Hotel would sell upward of 900 loaves of its stollen.
"I'd be really happy if we get to that number. It's going to be a lot of work, but I'm looking forward to it," he said, adding that he had already sold 200 loaves.