There is one big christmas tradition in our Family: Cheese fondue with Grandparents, Grandaunt and –uncle, Parents, Aunts and Uncles, Siblings and Cousins and little nieces, nephews and great cousins. The recipe for the cheese fondue I published already some years back. Last year we had a little bread desaster. The bread was not only undelicous but crumbly and break rather than holding the cheese. A lot of bread got lost in the pots… And so my Mum and me volunteered (of course without any thinking) to bake baguette for all in the next year.
Over the year I did some researching and stumbled over the swiss fondue bread, something even my Swiss Grandaunt did not knew.
I love the Italian Christmas cakes Pandoro and Panettone. And as my sweet Starter is happily active it was no question that I would bake one of this cakes for Christmas eve. And when i found the lovely mini panettone forms for little cakes of 50g each the decision was quickly made. Panettone it would be this year.
My recipe for panettone yields an amount that fits for 3 normal sized cakes or for 30 mini ones. But forming so many minis was a bit to much, even for me and so I went for 2 big and 10 mini Panettone.
I tweaked the recipe a bit, too. I increased the liquid and butter amount but reduced the raisins a bit. The resulting cake was incredible light with a crumb that can easily be shredded into long strands and so tender that it seems to melt in the mouth.
My plans for the first of advent were somehow different, but as I caught a mean cold I have to spent the day on the sofa instead of baking something delicious for Christmas. The only good thing is that I had enough time to browse through the unpublished recipes. I rediscovered the chocolate panettone I bake last Christmas but never published the recipe.
And so I used the time to publish it now, nearly a year later. It is a delicious twist on the classic recipe which combines the flavours of chocolate and citrus fruits. And just like the “normal” panettone this chocolate version is baked with sweet starter only which adds a delicious deepness to its flavour.
And with this last year’s delicious treat in my mind I begin to dream about what to bake for Christmas this year….
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!
The quite days between christmas and new years eve I like to spent with baking time consuming “cake”-breads. My favourite one is the golden Pandoro, who is a laborious with its preferments, but every time I’m so excited how high it rise and what flavour it develops.
This year I baked once again my pure Sourdough variant, which gains it strangth and complex aroma through the sweet starter. It needs more then 24 hours until it is done, but when the tender crumbs nearly melts in my mouth I always think: This feels like eating a cloud.
When I was baking the pandoro this year there was a question about the sweet starter: Does it really rise during fermentation? I looked at my starter who had trippled its volume in 2 hours and decided to snap a photo to show how it should look. And as I was taking photos I decided to follow the whole fermenting and proofing process with the camera. When the pandoro was baked and sat in the kitchen to cool, I checked the pictures on the computer and was very happy with my result. The pictures showed so well how the preferment dobuled, nearly trippled and how the Pandoro gained a nearly the a four times bigger volume during proofing and baking.
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 I stroll over the Christmas market I’m often wondering about the enormous prices for little helpings of Schupfnudel, fried mushrooms or molten raclett cheese. And so I’m little tempted to spend my money there. But what I take with me this time was an inspiration for “Handbrot”. The name means literally hand bread and is a pieces of bread dough filled with Cheese, bacon or mushrooms. The versions sold on the cologne Christmas market where baked to pale for my liking and the dough contained surely to much yeast, but while looking on the breads a recipe started to appear in my mind.
As basis I used my favourite bread recipe but added some additional potatoes for a softer crumb. The filling is a mild gouda cheese, mushrooms and crisp fried smoked tofu. For non-vegetarian persons you can of course use bacon as well! Served still warm from the oven this little breads are a great treat with the gooey cheese. But they taste delicious when cooled, too. Then you can taste the complex flavour of the bread as well as the flavour of smoke tofu and cheese. And while eating my dearest and I started already to think about new variants: using raclett cheese instead of gouda or filling the breads with feta and dried tomatoes. There a millions of possibilities laying before us …
Christmas time can be a hectic time as well. To makes things easier, I like to have desserts that can be prepared in advance. Like this little mousse cakes, which can be prepared one week before time and then wait patiently in the fridge for their great day. You just have to remember the night before to take them from the freezer and defrost them in the fridge over night. The next day, they just have to get a little cocoa dusting and their dried apple star decoration and they are ready to be served.
With almond sponge, Cinnamon Mousse and a core of apple curd they are light and delicious end for any festive meal during Christmas time! And if you like to keep life even more simple, then skip the sponge and fill the mousse in little glases. This tealight holders have the perfect size!