'Tis the season for confections. For me, this time of year means Mom will reach, once again, into her box of butter-smudged recipes and make her holiday stollen. The powdered sugar-dusted bread filled with raisins and dried fruit is something she learned to make in Germany as a girl. Each loaf she bakes now is a labor of love.
Though she'd like to, Mom can't slip one in everyone's stocking, so I looked around the Front Range to see who else is committed to creating world-class holiday pastries from the old country. I found some local businesses making treats that anyone would be happy to unwrap.
Boonzaaijer's Cakes and Pastries
4935 Centennial Blvd., 264-0177
In addition to holiday stollen, Dutch baker Steve Boonzaaijer, former pastry chef for the Broadmoor Hotel, offers up filled speculaas ($2.35 for each large-brownie-sized piece). The treats layer smooth, sweet, almond paste between soft, spongy cake that's spiced with coriander, ginger, clove, cardamom and surprisingly black pepper, all sprinkled with sugar and almonds.
Boonzaaijer, who apprenticed in the Netherlands, produces an assortment of Dutch treats, but cautions buyers on the filled speculaas. He says their richness is best when savored and shared, adding, "You know what the holidays will do to you."
Gagliano's Italian Market
1220 Elm St., 719/544-6058, Pueblo
Bonnie Gagliano explains that eight decades ago, the Italians lived on one side of Interstate 25 in Pueblo and the Slovenians and Croatians lived on the other. Her family should know, having served the area for 85-plus years from its small Italian market. Over time, the communities merged and potica bread was born.
The large, multi-spiral, hand-rolled loaf is a sweet, chewy, nutty treat ($16.50 original, $17 with raisins). Josephine Gagliano, the family matriarch, notes that due to the high demand at Christmas, shoppers should call ahead to order. The bad news: By the time this reaches print they will have reached their holiday limit, but fear not ... Josephine says that after the family takes a two-week break at the end of the year, the ovens will sing again in January.
Wimberger's Old World Bakery and Delicatessen
2321 Bott Ave., 634-6313
It would be a disservice not to share one of the best spots for holiday stollen. For 38 years, Wimberger's has been serving not only fresh traditional brotchen, rye breads and pretzels, but also its own take on the German bread.
Gisela, Randy and Ulrike "Uli" Wimberger (mother, son and daughter-in-law, respectively) continue a tradition first started with German-trained baker Robert Wimberger. They soak raisins and dried fruit in "real" rum for a week. Then, with the fruit mixed into the dough, a layer of marzipan is placed in the middle, folded over and baked. The bread ($9.25 one pound, $12.95 two pounds) is available without the marzipan, but the almond paste adds a moist sweetness.