The pig as lucky charm is very common in Germany on new years eve and new years morning. They are called “Glücksschweinchen” which literally means “Lucky pig”. Often they are made with marzipan and used to decorate the table. For the first day of 2015 I baked in a muffin tin some little pigs made of sweet yeast dough.
I can not remember where I got the idea. A quick search in the internet just provided the side from the Doktor from Bielefeld but I’m quite sure that it was not this side… But wherever I got the idea in first place it is a very sweet one for sure!
I used the dough from my my new favourite braid (with some minimal modifications) because after some time in the fridge the dough is so easy to handle. And when you let the pigs rise long enough before placing the nose, eyes and ears on it they will not loose their face! And so you will have a delicious and sweet looking treat for breakfast, which hopefully brings good luck for whole 2015 for us!
When I bake my Sourdough Pandoro with the special (not sour) sourdough called sweet starter last year I knew already that I would have to make my own Panettone recipe for the following christmas. Similar to the Pandoro recipe I planed to build the dough in some steps so that the yeasts in the sweet starter would get used to sugar and fat which would help to let the dough rise fast. The sweet starter I kept during 2014 alive and baked rather a lot of different breads with him.
On 22. December I refreshed the sweet starter tree times to make him strong and fast rising. He was so strong and fast rising that he only needed two instead if three hours to double his volume when I started the sweet starter for the Panettone at the 23. in the morning. And even the sugar and the butter in the following first and second dough did not slow him down, and tripled its volume in 90 minutes instead of 2 hours. But anyway the third (and last) dough had to take 3 hours for rising because I had to run some errands. Coming home again I formed the Panettone (Susans Tip to grease hands and counter with a lot of butter is really helpful!) and during forming I calculated: I’m now two hours earlier then planned… but it will need about 12 hours at least to proof… and at seven in the morning I’m normally already awake. So there is no problem at all…
At five o’clock the next morning, on my way to the bathroom, I quickly checked the Panettone in the kitchen. And turned the oven on. Ten hours were what they needed to reach the rim of the form. And who needs sleep?
One hour later the panettone was already hanging between two chairs and I crawled back into bed to have another little nap. Later that day we took some pictures and sliced one cake. And it was so delicious: soft and fluffy, the crumb could be teared into long strands, flavours of orange and vanilla and subtle, but complex notes from the sweet starter. And it keeps fresh for a long time, we eat one with my family on the first christmas day, and had some on second christmas day as well and it still tasted like freshly baked. It is a fussy cake and I could less sleep then normal but it is worth everything! It is the perfect christmas cake!
My entry for the christmas party in the lab looked like that: Bread (of course homemade). That was an easy decision. It was more difficult to decide what to bake. We are a very international team and everyone should bring something special from his country. And so I decided to honour the swabian part of my family history and baked pretzels. For the second kind of bread I chose my favourite bread. With this dough you can do every “mischief” you can imagine when forming a bread. And so I decided to bake a Santa Claus bread. I saw similar breads before but I did not like the fact that they were painted with food colouring and the way how they were formed did not fit to my ideas complexly either. But I had my own ideas already…
… and the ideas worked well and the breads turned out to be the most photographed part of the buffet. And one colleague asked me to bake such a bread for christmas eve for her (what I will love to do).
About the bread itself I can just repeat what I said before: It is delicious crusty with a soft crumb and great flavour. It is my personal favourite. And that makes it a good candidate for Michas new permanrnt blogevent where she looks for “Undiscovered Blog Buster” (german: Der Unendeckte Blog Buster =DUBB)!
The Weckmann is a tradtional bread baked in germany between Saint Martins Day and Christmas. In the Rhineland they are given to children after the Saint Martin procession.
It is five years ago since I posted the last Weckmann recipe. I baked them than for my first blogbirthday. This year I felt that I would like to try a new recipe, with cream, egg yolk and a biga as preferment. The cream makes the dough very tender and the dough is easy to handle, too. And using cream instead of butter makes it easy to let the dough rise in the fridge, so you can bake them freshly the morning if needed.
They have a tender crust and soft crumb and a perfect to enjoy them together with a cup of hot cacao.
One thought hits me every year out of the blue at the End of October: Its only a month left till advent! And because my family has the tradition to eat christstollen at the first advent Sunday, I have to start my stollen baking early enough because a good stollen needs two to four weeks storage to develop the perfect flavour!
The recipe I use is unchanged since five years and I will use it this year again.And when I stop changing recipes then this means something! In the last years I collected my recipe, tips and tricks on the blog. Last year I although added two variants of my stollen which I baked ADDITIONALLY to the traditional one.
Nearly a year has passed since our visit in Alsace in our summer vacation. One of the souvenirs I brought home after two splendid weeks in france was a clay baking form for Kougelhopf. It is sitting on my kitchen cabinet since then, waiting for me to create a recipe for Kugelhopf.
This weekend I finally found the time to study different Kougelhopf recipes. But I did not like them, all of them use a lot of yeast and give the dough no time to rest properly to develop a good flavour. And I wanted a recipe which uses a preferment for better taste and longer shelf life! And so I decided to use my own interpreation with a sweet starter which helps to rise the buttery dough without using a lot of yeast.
The cake is more time consuming then other recipes you may find in the web, but it develops a fine complex flavour and light and feathery crumb. I imaging that even my alsacian great-grandmother would have enjoyed it!
Since some weeks I have some niece little brioche forms sitting in my cupboard which are only waiting for being filled with a new recipe. This long weekend was the perfect time to try the idea of baking Brioche with sweet starter. This strong, not tangy sourdough adds a niece complexity to the dough while the big amounts of egg and butter yield a soft and fluffy crumb.
But this big amount of butter makes it necessary to use a kitchen machine for kneading. When the butter is added, the dough loose all of its strength and becomes soft and smeary. So soft and smeary that I had my doubts if I could knead it to good consistency. But during intensive kneading with the kitchen machine the dough gains back its strength and after 15 min the gluten network was fully developed. But it is worth to find the patience to knead for such a long time because this will result in a fluffy crumb which can be torn into long fibres.
The only thing I will change the next time is that I would form the upper ball for the Brioche à tête a little bit smaller so that the head is easier to recognize.
When I baked the little Colombinas about five years ago I was already searching for the traditional paper mold for Colomba pasquale. But I had no luck finding one neither in the “real word” nor in german onlineshops. And so I finally give in and bought a silicon mold, ignoring my dislike of this kind of baking molds. And the mold was delivered just in time, so the only thing I had to was to refresh my sweet starter and start baking.
Raisins and candid orange peel would make my beloved one rather unhappy, so I choose semisweet chocolate drops and chopped candid almonds instead. The fits well with my first colomba memory, when some years ago a former colleague brought back a big, chocolate filled colomba after visiting her parents in Italy. The dough for the dove is similar to my pandoro recipe, but this time I kneaded the butter into the dough. The dough was easy in handling and after baking I was able to unmold the colomba without any problems, much to my relief.
After cooling down we cut the dove and the first bite of it was pure delight. The crumb could be torn into long strands and was as light as a feather, and the combination of chocolate and candied almonds is great, too! This colomba is a real dream dove!
It is tradition in Attendorn, a small city in the Sauerland, that the pastor will issue a bless on the “Ostersemmel” (which means Easter bread) on Holy Saturday. It is a big event, that takes place in front of the church where the citizens of the Attendorn will hold their bread into the air. The Bread is forked on both ends, a shape that should depict the Christian symbol of a fish.
It is a bread made with rye, wheat and caraway seeds. My interpretation of the Ostersemmel is made with 30% Rye and Sourdough, and the recipe yields to breads. With a round cookie cutter I make an inprint for the eye, like I saw it in some pictures.
It is a perfect bread for caraway lovers like me, very aromatic with a soft crumb and a shiny crust.
To dye easter eggs with different natural dyes is always great fun for me. This year I had the idea to use plant juices instead of the time consuming boiling and filtering of plant extracts I used until now. Since I call an old juice centrifuge my own I bought some red cabbage ad red beet. That the red beet would yield a fair amount of juice I knew, but what would happen with the red cabbage? To my great joy the yield of cabbage juice was amazingly high, too.
I mixed the cabbage juice with baking soda or vinegar and let the hard boiled eggs sit in the solutions for some hours. When I take the eggs from the soution, the red beet juice has dyed them in deep red, while the cabbage juice with soda yielded green eggs. The eggs from the red cabbage juice with pink when I take them out but turned brightly blue during drying. I dipped one of the blue eggs shortly in the red beet juice and so I get a dusky pink egg as well.