Stollen Bread Is No Substitute For Sugar Cake

Published 9:34 am Friday, December 30, 2016

OLD SALEM, Dec. 23, 10 a.m. — I was fifth in a line of 40 people waiting outside Winkler’s Bakery to buy sugar cake for Christmas — ahead of me, a couple from Kernersville; behind, a couple from Asheville.

Together we agreed reverently that this was the best sugar cake in the world, probably endorsed by the 17th century benefactor of the struggling Moravian sect, Count Zinzendorf himself. Other sugar cake is so … modern.

Elizabeth had given me one job — go buy sugar cake, and I had driven past the Dewey’s outlet operated by the high school band parents and a handful of groceries to stand in line on the stone walkway for the store to open.

Like the knights’ quest for the Holy Grail, I was determined to get the finest sugar cake for our brood.

As the store opened, a tiny, stooped lady dressed in 17th century costume came to announce to our horror: No sugar cake. It was late coming out of the bakery ovens and was too hot to package. It wouldn’t arrive for another hour.

The line immediately shrank as people abandoned their quests. The Kernersville and Asheville shoppers left along with others. I moved up to third and stayed to buy love feast buns for an at-home celebration with the grandchildren when they arrived.

Inside the tiny Winkler’s store I also spotted another item: Stollen, a German fruit bread.

I took one. If not sugar cake, then why not stollen?

Know this: Stollen is not a suitable substitute for sugar cake. At best, it’s just okay. A little dry. Not very sweet. Not nearly as fruity as fruit cake.

Nobody raised on sugar cake at Christmas would be happy with a loaf of stollen.

Refusing to fail, I stopped by the Dewey’s band parent store on the way home for sugar cake. No waiting in line. I’m going to imagine that Dewey’s sugar cake was blessed by August Gottleib Spangenburg, the distinguished 17th century Moravian educator and bishop who succeeded Zinzendorf.

I’ve modernized to the late 17th century.

• • • • •

Well, not so modern that I had heard of the singer George Michael, 53, who died this week. It seems he sold 100 million albums without coming to my attention. Of course, I had barely known about the singer Prince either. I am of a certain age …

• • • • •

Finally, a farewell and job-well-done salute to retiring Davie County Sheriff Andy Stokes whose long career in law enforcement is coming to an end with the New Year.

Stokes came to Davie County in the late 1960s as a State Highway Patrolman and had occasion to pull me over as a 16-year-old driver for an awkward pass on U.S. 158. He let me off with a stern warning.

For years in his early career, he and other members of the Highway Patrol were called when there was trouble, even trouble off the highways. The Davie sheriff’s department had not kept up with the times. The fearless and strapping young patrolman Stokes would wade into trouble while deputies followed. Those scars on Stokes’ face are from combat with drunks and their knives.

He served as a magistrate after he retired from the patrol and has been elected three times as sheriff and built the department into a modern, well-trained force.

He has earned a peaceful retirement and the thanks of a grateful county.

– Dwight Sparks