It's stollen and panettone season, y'all. Fruitcake gets a bad rap, but these quasi-fruitcake creations, each with their own lore, texture, and flavor, put it rightfully back on the table in a new light. Both European cakes, stollen hails from Germany, while panettone derives from Italy. Both have their similarities, such as their affinities for dried and/or candied fruit, nuts, and spices, but where they differ is in their texture and appearance. Stollen is more elongated, almost log-shaped, with a firmer, more saccharine exterior and dense innards. Panettone, on the other hand, tends to be large and round, with a fluffier interior and less powdered sugar sprinkled on top. Whatever your fancy, here's your guide to stollen and panettone in Chicago.
(Stollen at Toni Patisserie & Cafe)
Stollen at Toni Patisserie & Cafe is a rich, butter-laden confection perfect for breakfast or an afternoon pick-me-way-up. The version peddled at this Loop cafe is studded with chopped nuts, candied and dried fruits, marzipan, sugar, and a cinnamon icing. Stollen is the pastry of the month at Floriole Bakery & Cafe, where the bulky one-pound loaves come riddled with golden raisins, currants, candied orange, lemon zest, dried apricots, and almonds. At Dinkel's Bakery & Cafe, stollen is their holiday signature. The vintage Lakeview bakeshop goes through thousands of stollen each year, even selling them internationally to Chicago expats who have moved abroad and spread the word that Dinkel's version is better than Germany's. The world-famous pastry utilizes the original 1922 recipe from Joseph Dinkel, with a prominent presence of pineapple throughout. In fact, they go through thousands of pineapples each year just for the stollen. Sorry, Hawaii. Another delightful version can be found at Delightful Pastries. The bakery tips its toque to the traditional German cake with a version brimming with marzipan, candied orange peel, raisins, and almonds.
(Panettone and pandori at Eataly)
This holiday season, Eataly is your number one destination for all things Italian cake, including panettone aplenty. The Italian wonderland is currently decorated throughout the store with shelves of panettone wrapped like presents. There are several varieties to discover, including versions studded with chestnuts and another with chocolate. These cakes are large, bursting with buttery flavor and erupting with treacly glazes and sugar. The chestnut version sports a vibrant yellow interior thanks to eggs, flecked with tender morsels of chestnuts. The chocolate version is a tad sweeter and heartier, with a fudgy quality like a batch of chocolate chip cookies exploded inside the cake. There's also another Italian cake here called pandori, a taller, lighter, less sweet confection that tastes more akin to angel food cake. It's also baked in a designated star-shaped mold, giving it a stunning appearance. Speaking of presents, there's nothing like a gift basket filled with panettone and other sweet Italian goodies. JP Graziano is all stocked up on holiday gift baskets, like The Dolce basket with panettone adjoined by torrone (Italian nougat), chocolates, marshmallows, truffles, caramels, and macaroons.