An ugly flu hit me and so my baking plans (Lusekatter, Kletzenbrot and rye flat bread) are nothing more then dreams at the moment. My stock of unposted bread recipes ran dry as well. Only a nice marzipan recipe – which fits well with Christmas – is left.
During the autumn holidays I was shopping in the “Stuttgarter Markthallen” and bought a small parcel of bitter apricot kernels. Bitter apricot kernels and bitter almonds contain hydrocyanic acid and just a few can endanger very small kids – so please store them out of children reach and not together with sweet almonds! The dangerous dosage are one bitter almond per kilogram body weight. So two for 200g Marzipan is no problem at all but if you feel unwell with using them you can use bitter almond extract instead, too.
The marzipan is easy to make with a food processor and so a good last minute Christmas present.
I tried this little Cookies some years ago when a colleague brought a bag of his moms christmas cookies when he came back from the Alsace. The bag was filled with beautiful and delicious cookies, like Linzer Ringe. And there was this rather plain, simple square cookies. But with the first bite I was in love. So plain they look so brilliant was their taste: a mixture of lemon and orange with a hint of almond was a great counterpoint to all the (delicious) vanilla and cinnamon Christmas flavours. And so I begged and begged and begged until the dear colleague brought a recipe when he came back from a family visit. I tested it and realized while making that it was for the second lemon cookie in the bag: Délices au citron – a good cookie, too but not the cookie I fell in love with…
And so I searched long and for some years. And finally I found a recipe that sounded similar: Orangenschnittli. I changed the recipe more and more, until it fits to the flavour I remembered. They need some days for ripening, as the flavour has to diffuse and melange for the perfect taste. But then this little cookies are a clear new favourite of my cookie plate: easy to make and so delicious!
Spelt is a favourite and so I was regulary asked if my Stollen can be baked with spelt flour, too. I answered “theoretically yes” and decided to bake a Stollen with spelt flour instead of wheat, too. I like to have a practical background for those answers.
The dough contains only minimal changes to the regular recipe: I used a mixture of sultanas and currants instead of raisins and I reduced the amount of yeast, too. And I replaced the wheat flour with spelt flour, of course.
After three long weeks of resting time we cut the spelt stollen for the first Advent. And it was as moist and mellow as a good stollen has to be. Maybe it is a bit more mellow then the normal recipe, but that was the only difference I recognize. The different spices are stronger then the slight spelt flavour and I doubt that I could tell the spelt and wheat stollen apart when blind testing. And so I can tell now with own experience: Yes, you can bake a spelt stollen!
Before we look back at the Blog year 2015 tomorrow, there is one last Christmas recipe I want to share with you. The little chocolate rounds are a delicious addition for the cookie plate and are a very nice little Present for everyone with a sweet tooth. And as they are easy to make they are a good last minute present as well!
For a good, shiny surface it is important to temper the chocolate. I do this by melting part of the chocolate, then adding the remaining part and then carefully heating it up to 30°C. This work best with a digital thermometer!
For the topping you can use what ever you like: dried fruits, nuts, candid fruits. I for myself prefer highly the variant with chopped (homemade) candid orange peel, as I like the contrast of sweet chocolate and the slightly bitter, fruity flavour of the Orange!
Upps, there was for a short time a blog post online which should be the last of the year. But there are still some recipes from my Christmas Cookie Plate waiting form which I want to tell you before the new year starts.
One of these are dark Nogat, Turrón de Chocolate. It is similar to the white nougat, but some additional chocolate is folded in before adding the nuts.
Turrón making is a exercise in multi tasking, and it makes sense to think about the process before starting. You need to have ready at the same time point melted chocolate, whipped egg white and the boiling sugar syrup at the right temperature. It helps to have kitchen machine for whipping the egg white or a second person who is willing to help. A sugar thermometer is a muss for this recipe as well, as getting the right temperature is essential for the consistence of the final product. To cold syrup will result in a not setting turròn while to hot syrup will starts to caramelize. It is a challanging recipe but the flavour is worth every trouble!
My mother and me are cut from the same cloth. Wenn one of us says that she baked the “favourite bread” we know that we both mean the same bread. It tastes gorgeous and we love its crisp crust and tender crumb, but besides that it is greatto play with. And so my mum send me some pictures of some breads she baked for her colleagues shortly before Christmas. Instead of decorating it with a rose, she made breads with a star decor. I fell in love with this idea immediately! Especially as I planed to bake a “thank you” bread for some friends who gave me beautiful paper stars for my christmas tree. A bread decorated with a shooting star would be great gift for them. On the first day of Christmas I then started the dough and decorate the loaf with a star, some long slashes for the comet tail and poppy seeds for the night sky. It worked as well as I hoped and I got a beautiful bread for Christmas time!
The Pompe à l’huile is a traditional french Pastry which is part of the “Les treize desserts”, the thirteen desserts served on Christmas. It is a very rich, sweet Bread and flavoured with orange blossom water and Orange peel. It’s crumb reminds on a rich brioche but it is not prepared with butter but with olive oil. Since I made the Schiacciata di Pasqua for Easter I knew that olive oil in a sweet bread is not a strange but a very delicious idea.
The recipes which I found in the net where all made with a lot of yeast. As this is something I don’t like so much, I decided to use some of my sweet starter as preferment, as I was feeding it anyway to make it strong for the Pandoro I plan to bake. The sweet starter is so mild, that even with this long fermentation it just gives a complex flavour to the bread, but with no sour tones. It harmonize very well with the orange flavour and the subtle spiciness of the olive oil.
When Petra bake Jodekager last year, I realized that it has been ages since I bake the very similar Brune Kager. I couldn’t find my old recipe and so I read different swedish recipes to reconstruct it according to my memory. It is a kind of gingerbread which is made with a light syrup. And as I read the labeling of this light syrup in the supermarket some weeks ago and learned that is just made of glucose and invert syrup, I went directly for my homemade Invert syrup instead. This knowledge is really useful as I have always invert syrup in the pantry for making ice cream!
The Brune Kager made with Invert syrup turned out as good as I had them in my memory: thin, crisp and so delicious!
Last year I saw a Christstollen with Sourdough which “Ofenkante” published on his blog. This stirred my brain and I started to think about Stollen made with sweet starter. But as I was already done with Stollen baking at this time point, I stored the idea in the back of my mind. After one year of thinking about it I decided to bake directly two stollen for this Christmas: a traditional and a experimental one.
In the experimental stollen with sweet starter I kept the same ratio of ingredients then in my traditional one (never change a winning team) but build the the sweet starter over several steps to get a enough strength for rising. It is always amazing to see how strong the sweet starter gets when fed three times in a row! But as the feeding is time consuming, this recipe needs a day until it is done.
After four weeks of ripening I brought the stollen from the cold attic back to the warm kitchen and sliced it. The crumb was perfect, firm but moist and the different flavours had fused to a harmonic consonance. Compared to the traditional stollen there are subtle differences in flavour nuances, but it is hard to pin them down. After all, both of them taste terrific and I can not name a favourite.
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!