Forget mince pies and mulled wine: German treats have 'stollen' Christmas

Christmas purists fear a German food invasion as markets, Glühwein and stollen see rising sales

Is the end of the mince pie nigh?

It seems if the Germans have their way it could well be, with sales of stollen on the up, Glühwein available on every street corner and a Bavarian market in every town. OK, we're exaggerating a little but when the Germans do Christmas this well, how long can our not-very-popular-anyway Christmas pudding hold out?Move over mince pies, German Christmas cake has stollen the show (sorry) [REX]

Well, according to sales figures, not so well. Waitrose and Sainsbury's have both announced that their stollen sales are significantly up on last year and according to the Telegraph, Lakeland has sold out of its build-your-own Hansel and Gretel gingerbread house.

Stollen then. What exactly is it?

It's quite a heavy fruit cake, containing marzipan and dried or candied fruit and perhaps nuts. It can also be made with various spices and fruit zest for extra flavouring and is the Germans' traditional Christmas cake.

In his infinite wisdom Heston Blumenthal is obviously behind Waitrose' 50 per cent rise in stollen sales with his take on the European recipe - Earl Grey stollen dusted with tangerine-flavoured sugar (which we have to say sounds rather good to us).

And its not just stollen. The growth of German Christmas markets (and German-owned supermarkets) has given us a love of a Teutonic-themed Christmas. Glühwein (roughly translated as 'glow-wine' from the hot irons once used to mull it), the spicy, fruity version of our popular mulled wine is gaining ground, and lebkuchen (soft ginger biscuits) are flying off the shelves.

But is this really that new? We all know that Germans do Christmas brilliantly - after all, where did we get the idea of a decorated tree indoors from?

German Christmas may be steeped in history and tradition but it might be where we're looking for the future of our festive celebrations. Is there a place for stollen in your house?

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