I received several questions to that effect last week — oh and…I hope everyone out there had a terrific Christmas and a not-too-painful post-New Year’s hangover. My speculation is that most of the people who asked this question own Peter Reinhart’s excellent book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, for in it the panettone and stollen both employ the same dough, the main difference being that the stollen has twice the fruit plus marzipan.
Much as I respect and admire Peter Reinhart, I’m not down with his implicit assertion that panettone and stollen are the same thing under the hood. Reminds me of the time my uncle claimed that his new $25,000 Toyota was exactly the same thing as a $50,000 Lexus. Sure it had a dissimilar appearance and handled completely differently, but inside all the important parts were identical. Call me skeptical.
It’s true that panettone and stollen are both types of European fruitcake. It’s also true that both have their origins in the butter- and egg- enriched breads of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Still I have a problem treating them as identical, as though the cuisines of Milan and Vienna are basically the same except for all the gorgonzola (those who are about to raise the point that there’s no difference between cotoletta alla milanese and Wienerschnitzel will kindly now shut up).
For my part I think of panettone as being a much lighter thing than stollen, the latter being not only heavier in fruit but also heavier in crumb, with quite a bit more butter and, especially, egg yolk. A panettone that’s as rich as most German stollen would never rise to its expected heights. A stollen that’s as light as a panettone would never cut the proverbial mustard in Dresden. So while I absolutely respect PR’s instinct to simplify processes for the commercial bakers and home bakers alike, I categorically reject the notion that the doughs for panettone and stollen are interchangeable. No offense, Peter!