- Associated Press - Sunday, December 13, 2015

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - In the world of traditional holiday desserts, fruitcake - with its spiced, often alcohol-soaked fruits and nuts - gets a lot of flak. But at the Shepherdstown Sweet Shop, they’re changing some minds about that with their old-world, German stollen.

“You could call it a fruitcake, but it’s a very unique one,” owner Pam Berry said.

“It’s a unique, European style fruitcake. I mean, there’s lots of different stollen. Where in this country we have grandma’s fruitcake recipe, they have stollen recipes, and it goes back to the 14th century.”

The Sweet Shop’s version, though, which has been featured in “Gourmet” and on the Food Network, is much newer.

Pam and her husband, Rusty, bought the business in 1997. They’ve kept the basic recipe used by the previous owners, but with a few tweaks, like doubling the amount of rum and adding chopped dates rather than whole ones.

And it seems to have worked in their favor. The shop is on track to sell 3,000 holiday stollen this season.

“It pretty much takes over our whole place in November and December when we’d normally be doing wedding cakes,” Berry said.

She added, though, they do make stollen year-round, as well.

“We have people who like it at Easter. We have people who eat it every week,” Berry said. “It’s a breakfast food in Germany. Believe it or not, they actually sautee it in butter and eat it.”

And it isn’t just the locals doing the ordering.

“I have people order multiple ones from Seattle, from Los Angeles, and we’ll ship maybe 10 or 12 to them,” Berry said. “We just finished an order for someone in Alaska. It’s been pretty much nationwide.”

Berry added that the shop also sells its stollen to others - churches, restaurants, hotels - who resell it.

“They get pretty widely distributed,” she said.

Carey Heilman, operations manager, or the “stollen maven” as Berry called her, is in charge of production.

“I’ve cut a lot of stollen in my day,” Heilman laughed.

To make the stollen, Heilman mixes rum-soaked golden and regular raisins, dates and pecans with sweet butter and a “special stollen mix.”

Berry said a half batch, which makes 60 one-pound loaves or about 25 two-pound loaves, uses more than 20 pounds of flour.

“Everything happens right here in the shop, and it’s a manual process,” Berry said. “It takes a lot of handling.”

Once mixed, Heilman takes the dough and forms a loaf shape around the marzipan center.

“We also make the marzipan,” Berry said. “This is what makes ours kind of special. Not all stollen has marzipan filling.”

The loaves are put into the oven for about an hour, or until golden brown. Once they are removed and cooled, they’re brushed with butter, rolled in granulated sugar and set up to age.

“We like it to age about 30 days,” Berry said. “It doesn’t have to, it just gets better.”

And they would know.

“It’s all about quality control,” Heilman said. “We eat a lot of stollen here.”

Finally, the loaves are coated with a type of imported sugar, called New Schnee, or New Snow, similar to powdered sugar, then later bagged and boxed.

“The thing is, once you get a stollen like that, you can leave it in your pantry for two months,” Berry said. “It doesn’t spoil, it doesn’t mold. We actually recommend it be stored at room temperature, which will allow the rum to be released into the bread and make it softer.”

One-pound loaves are sold for $16.95 and two-pound loaves are $29.95.

“I think we’ve come up with something people like,” Berry said.

Shepherdstown Sweet Shop is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (until 2 p.m. during January through April).

To place an order for holiday stollen or other baked goods from Shepherdstown Sweet Shop, visit www.wvbak ery.com or call 304-876-2432.


Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, https://wvgazettemail.com.

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