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!
Heißewecken – sometimes called Hedewäggen, Hetwegge, Heiteweggen or Heetwich, too – are spiced raisin buns which are typical for North Germany. Their form vary from region to region, sometimes they are baked in bun shape, in others regions they are baked as flatbreads. They are baked traditionally in the feasting time between carnival and Easter and often served with warm milk and butter.
I have them on my list of regionals breads I want to bake for already one year. And before it is Easter again I finally managed to bake them. I chose the bun shape over the flatbread as I find the buns easier to eat for breakfast. But you can easily roll the dough to small flatbreads, too. Both forms are baked fast and hot which ensured a moist crumb.
I like the fine crumb and soft crust of this rolls very much. Cinnamon and Cardamom add a delicious deepness to the flavour and I ask myself why it took me so long to bake them …
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!
My second contribution for the pumpkin buffet was a pumpkin ice cream. I used the recipe for gorgeous Marzipan ice cream which I served last Christmas as blue print. And like this ice cream the pumpkin ice cream is very creamy and keeps this creaminess even in the fridge. It is the Invert syrup, which makes it is soft. To balance the sweetness of the pumkin, I added a little bit of buttermilk. The mixture of spices is similar to pumpkin pie spice, but with some tonka bean to add a touch of special. The ice cream fits well into the Christmas time with its flavour of cinnamon, cardamom and ginger. Its bright yellow brings a bit of sunshine into the dark, grey days!
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.
I can not tell how I learn about the Reformationsbrötchen (reformation rolls). But the idea somehow stuck in mind and so I had to bake them just in time for the 31. October (Reformation day).
This rolls originate from the area around Leipzig and are baked in Saxony, Thüringen and Saxony-Anhalt. It is made from a buttery yeast dough enriched with a lot of raisins, candid orange and lemon peel and almonds. The square form with the red jam in the middle is said to symbolize either the Luther rose, the seal of Martin Luther, or a bishops hat.
My variant is made with a biga preferment for a complex flavour and is rich with raisins and almonds. The candid orange and lemon peel I added in a smaller amount. The crumb is soft and moist due to cream and butter and the tart cherry jam is a great counterpoint to the sweetness of the dough and fruits. A great pastry for the last day of October.
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!
When August changes into September it marks the beginning of autumn for me.
Now I start to search for my scarfs for the already cool, misty mornings and in the evening I will lit the first candles when the light goes down. Saying goodbye to the summer is not so hard for me, especially when between the cool morning and early evening lies a sunny, golden day. And when I can spent the light filled afternoon with a cup of hot tea together with a pieces of streusel cake filled with the autumn flavours of plum sauce and hazelnuts, then I will welcome autumn light-hearted!
It’s berry season! After we spent the last weeks with cooking red currant, raspberry and strawberry jam we turned our attention to the blueberries. Beside of cooking jam I set some aside to use them for a little weekend treat. Together with some quark I baked quark blueberry pastries.
For the dough I used my sweet starter which was just freshly feed. But like for this Sonntagszopf you can use Lievito madre or a biga instead. What ever you choose as a preferment, it will be delicious!