I am always fascinated how one recipe can lead me to the next (and the next…). Like when I was researching for the Rheinische Neujährchen, which leaded me to the Variant from the Westerwald. And then a reader commented about a tradition from reutlingen called Mutschel day. This day is the first thursday after Three Kings Day and at this day the people in Reutlingen a playing dice games in order to win a mutschel.
The mutschel is a highly decoreated bread made from a very rich dough. The bread has a eight pointed star shape with a bump in the middle. The shape is much easier to form then I first thought as the dough ball just has to be cut like a “#” and the sides then has to be pulled away and shape into pointy tips. I made pictures form the process but used a tinier variant of the mutschel as it was much easier taking pictures from it then from the big one.
For new years morning I baked my traditional New years pretzel, Westerwälder Neujährchen and Rheinische Neujährchen. The swirly form of the Rheinische Neujährchen may looks familiar to some of you. It is one of the forms that is used traditional for Lussekatter. And in Tyrol there is a Bread called “Thomasradl” which is baked during Christmas time in this form. The wide spread of this form is a hint that baking breads in this forms stems from a pre-Christian time. It is discussed that its a leftover of the midwinter fest and is a symbol for the sun.
I like the idea of sun very much as I am waiting each year in January to the days get visibly longer again.
The name “Neujährchen” is used in different regions of Germany for a wide variety of bread and pastry baked for new years eve or new years mornig. This variant stems from the Westerwald. I stumbled about it when I researched recipes for Neujährchen from the rhineland. I was fascinated by the dark crust which is archived by glazing them with cold coffee. And I was thrilled by the interesting mixture of spices and the fact that it is baked with a good amount of rye flour. The dough is mixed with a generous amount of butter, too, which is rather seldom for rye bread. The mixture of spices seems to vary from village to village. Adding Pepper and cinnamon seems to be common everywhere, but if anise or clove or both is used is different from recipe to recipe. As I do not like anise very much, the decision for my recipe variant was an easy one.
The hearty mixture of spice makes the rolls special, but very delicious. They taste great with honey, but would go as well with a mild goat cheese and some cranberry jam, too.
I love to bake bread for Christmas. And nearly every Christmas I included one loaf with nuts, as nuts are an essential treat on Christmas for me. So, the 2018 Edition of Christmas Bread is made with walnuts, spelt and emmer. It has a crisp crust and soft and fluffy crumb, perfect to go along any Christmas delicious.
The preferments are inspired by a look in the fridge: a bit of left over Pâte Fermentée and a Sweet starter that needed a feeding. They add complex aroma notes to the dough which is nicely underlined by the flavour of buttermilk and nutty tone from the Spelt and Emmer.
And with this recipe, my dear reader, I start my christmas break here in the blog. For new years eve I will be back for the traditional “Best of 2018” post. I whish you merry and peaceful Christmas Days!
In the last years I tested several speculaas recipes without finding “the one”. I was searching for a recipe which yields tender but crisp cookies. But most of the time I ended up with cookies that where rather hard. And so Charlotte had my full attention when she posted the speculaas recipe from Ottolenghi & Gohs Book “Sweet”. “Terrific” she called them.
And so I had to try them instantly. I followed Charlottes advice to cut down the amount of sugar and made some small adjustments in the spice mixture as no one here likes anise. With my speculaas roller I cut the dough into speculaas which worked perfectly with this dough.
And in the end, when I sampled the first cookie, I was ready to chime in the choir: they are terrific! The only drawback is, that they seem to evaporate from my cookie bin much to fast. If they keep vanishing in this rate, I have to bake another batch before Christmas….
Honey is a stable in our pantry. There is no weekend breakfast without honey for me. Luckily we have some beekeepers in the family, so we are always well provided. Honey is although a delicious part of Christmas Baking, as for Turrón or Pepperkakror. And so I was hooked when I stumbled over a recipe of soft ginger bread in an old christmas cookbook.
and because I read a lot of using rye flour in such cakes lately I decided to modify it a bit and add some rye to the recipe. I tweaked the amount of liquids and spices as well a bit and was then very pleased with the outcome: The ginger bread is soft and fluffy and so delicious that is has to be hidden to survive until Christmas!
The more often I bake stollen bites, the more I love them. They are the perfect as late afternoon treats with a cup of tea. They are a perfect little Christmas gift for friends and colleagues. And they are perfect for testing new stollen variants in small scale.
The idea of a whole grain stollen grew in the last year somewhere in my mind. And as it happens so often I felt a itching in my fingers to try the variant. But I was absolutely unsure if I would like the flavour of whole grain flour at all in such a festive bread. And so I did a recipe test with half of the recipe of the stollen bites. After two weeks of resting I finally tested them last weekend and I was thrilled. The slight bitter and nutty tones of the flour harmonises perfectly with the spices and the sweet dried fruits. The flavour is deeper and more complex then of the white flour variant. And they stay as moist as the original, too. And I’m now sad that I made just half of the recipe…
No, I will not start complaining about the rain. I am honestly glad about the constant pouring as the hot and dry summer and autumn left nature thirsting for water. But my foodblogger heart is still grumbles a little bit about the dull light we have. It is rather bad for taking pictures. But that’s what high Iso and the golden side of my reflector is for, isn’t it?
And when it’s raining cats and dogs it is the perfect weather for baking bread. And so I spent the last sunday with baking another regional bread. The Kassler Bread (or short Kassler) stems – as its name suggest – from the city Kassel, but is nowadays baked often in the Rhineland, too. It contains about 30% Rye and 70% Wheat flour and it’s a kind of bread I call lovingly “everyday bread”. It is flavourful and goes well with every kind of topping: from honey to cheese, everything fits with this kind of bread.
It may looks like a bagel, but it’s no bagel for sure. This crusty roll with its fluffy crumb shares only the shape with the more prominent bagel. It is a regional speciality which is baked only in Dortmund. It is topped generously with salt caraway seeds and often is spread with Mett. So – it’s said – the Innkeeper will sell more beer because salt increases the thirst.
The roll was inveted already back in the nineteenth century by the bakery Fisher. But the original recipe was lost when the bakery burned down during the bombing in the second world war. But it was reinvented is baked until today. But its distribution area is still restricted on the city of Dortmund. And so I’m very happy that I found this delicious little gem of regional tread!