Everyone knows that Ohio’s Amish country bakeries are the best anywhere. Now we can share a traditional holiday treat with you: stollen bread.
There are all kinds of German and Swiss traditional foods that pop up during the holiday season. Really good stollen is a rarity, and we’re pleased that we can work with our region’s best bakery to bring it to you from now until Christmas.
A yeast bread that dates from the Middle Ages, Stollen is a one-of-a-kind German treat. Packed full of tasty dried fruits and nuts, our stollen was developed by a family-owned bakery in nearby Holmes County.
Owned by brothers Richard and Steve Kauffman, the bakery employs over 20 Mennonite and Amish women in both full and part-time positions. Twenty years after they built the bakery from scratch, the brothers are justifiably proud of the growth of the business.
“Mom still drives a part time route for us; and our brother Fritz helped out so much at the beginning, and still does, sometimes. Our aunt and uncle, who own Heini’s Cheese Chalet here in town really backed us up, and gave us some great business advice,” said Richard.
Family recipes still have a place at the bakery. “Our grandmother’s elephant ears are a traditional family recipe that we use here. My brother Steve developed most of the recipes we use here, including the stollen.”
It’s easy to hear the pride in Richard’s voice when he talks about his brother. “He went away for a year to a culinary school, and he learned how to create recipes. Most of what we bake on a daily basis are recipes of Steve’s, traditional recipes that he could translate from the family size to a slightly larger scale.” In fact, on the day Country Life visited, Steve was so busy that he could only pose for a couple of photos. Then he immediately dove back into the bakery’s immaculate production kitchen.
While Steve runs the production end of things, Richard manages the sales end of the business. It’s not a stretch to say that the Kauffman brothers are directly responsible for over ten thousand loaves of traditional and specialty breads and innumerable pastries distributed from their bakery throughout Ohio’s Amish country. Here at Lehman’s, we’re proud to offer their exquisite stollen bread.
“Steve worked on that bread recipe for some time. Because stollen is a yeast bread, it can be tricky. But his stollen is always wonderful, rich, and full of fruit. You know, people look at it, and think, “Fruitcake bread? Are you kidding?’ Once they try it, though, they’re hooked. It’s so good.”
And the bakery is clearly a team endeavor. Behind the counters, the staff all work together, waiting on folks efficiently, while some good-natured teasing goes on, just like an extended family. Richard looks around the bustling shop, and back over toward the kitchen, where there’s just as much activity, if not more, and it’s clear that he and Steve are grateful and glad that they have so much support from their family and co-workers.
Editor’s Note: First published in September 2013.