Dagmar’s Stollen and German-style Sweets a Favorite for the Holidays


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OLD SAYBROOK — “Of course Christmas is the time of the stollen but it’s such a good pastry, why not offer it throughout the year,” said owner Dagmar Ratensperger at her shop on Saturday morning where a stream of pastry lovers bustled in and out. “My customers know it and they buy it all year long but if you’re someone coming from Germany, they say it’s a little funny.” 

The traditional fruit bread is eaten during the Christmas season in Germany, but at Dagmar’s Desserts it became so popular now it’s available all year round. This time of year, the bakery offers marzipan, quark cheese, and cranberry walnut varieties. 

Marzipan Stollen (CT Examiner/Hewitt)

“We do some spring and summer stollen to mix up the flavor, but it’s such a nice pastry you can have it for breakfast tea,” said Ratensperger, who started baking professionally in 2007. After earning her B.A. in economics, she said her plan was to stay work in the field of finance but she started baking for friends and then decided to open a small commercial kitchen in Deep River. 

“It was one room with a big garage door,” she laughed. “I put a little A-frame sign out there and we had little tables and people came back and they found us.” 

In 2009, she moved to space across from The Kate in Old Saybrook and then to her current location at 75 Main Street in 2015.

“I live in Guilford, so I was looking for something along the shoreline and Old Saybrook came up first,” she said. “It’s a really nice neighborhood and people come from different places, from over the bridge, from Old Lyme and Madison and Guilford — there really aren’t too many German bakers around here.” 

German pastry is different from many other baked goods because it is less sweet, she said. 

“Except for the stollen, which is on the sweeter side, one thing with a lot of German or European pastries is they don’t have that much sugar in them,” she said. “And we also use high quality ingredients and fresh fruit — like the apple strudel, for example, there’s just a little bit of sugar in there. That’s what I really like — you can taste the fruit, you can taste the butter, you can taste everything but it’s not super-sweet.” 

She said she likes to experiment with new desserts but always keeps her customers’ favorites in stock, including apple strudel, Linzer torte and Black Forest cake. 

Inspiration comes as part of the holidays and from seasonal fruits, she said. 

“In the bakery, every season is kind of nice because once Christmas is over, then it’s Valentine’s Day, and then it’s Easter,” she said. “And then it’s fresh fruits like strawberries and in summer you wait for the peaches and the plums and then in the fall it’s great because you have so many different fruits coming in. It’s almost too bad that you have Thanksgiving and Christmas are so close together because you’re just starting to get your apples and pears and pumpkins.”  

Stollen can improve with age, an advantage for customers who want to ship the pastry to friends and family, she said. 

“Stollen is good for shipping because it has such a nice shelf life. Everything else is either too fragile to ship or you would need to have it refrigerated or cooled,” she said. “Stollen has a shelf life of several weeks and they always say it improves its flavor with time so you can wait a week so that all the ingredients and the rum and everything comes together.” 

Orders for December 24 and 25 must be placed by Tuesday, December 17

Ph: 860 661 4661

75 Main St.
Old Saybrook, CT 06475

Tues – Fri 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Sat 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sun 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.