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 great to 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!
I like white nougat very much. And most I like hart variant, the Turrón Duro. In the last years I tested different recipes but I never found the perfect recipe for me because I always get the soft white nougat.
So I optimized the recipe once more this year and was successful at the end. With more sugar, a little bit of invert sirup and and summer flower honey is the nougat not as white as it could be but it is very delicious and just the way I love my nougat!
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)!
This Month I published another recipe in the staff journal of the university of cologne. And this time it is a chocolate cardamom sablé recipe, perfect for Christmas.
Sablé is French and means “Sand” and as tender and friable is this cookie inspired by the French original. With cacao, cardamom and cinnamon the cookies are very aromatic and the little salt crystals of the fleur de sel are the perfect contrast to the sweet cookie.
When making the dough you have to take care of two things: Butter and egg white should both have room temperature, to ensure a soft dough perfect for piping and you should just fold the flour under to ensure a tender cookie. But then they are easily made and a perfect treat for Christmas time!
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.
To give you a guide to recipes and tips is here a overview: Continue reading
Since I tasted Pandoro many years ago I’m madly in love with this cake/bread. I love the light crumb, the flaky crust and its taste of vanilla and butter.
Until now I baked two different recipes: The Pandoro from the sisters simili which I found on Chili und Ciabatta and the recipe from the SFBI, which Susan published on Wild Yeast. The Pandoro of the Simili-Sisters is a yeast based one, with the butter laminated into the dough, while the SFBI-Recipe uses both sourdough and yeast and the butter is kneaded into the dough.
This year I dared to create my own recipe, with laminated butter for a crumb that can divided into long strands. It is risen with the pure power of a sweet starter. Continue reading