Daring Bakers Challenger December 2010

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book………and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

Ok… so maybe I’m a little late with this challenge but I’ve been very busy socializing and enjoying the company of my extended family :D… I’m sure you’ll forgive me for that! I was very excited about this challenge because I very much enjoy baking bread.. and when Adrian’s mum asked if I could make something for the neighbour I was very happy too! So my stollen has gone to a good home and I’m very proud of it!

The idea for the challenge was to make a traditional german Christmas bread a.k.a stollen (pronounced: schto-llen cool huh) and instead of the traditional loaf to make it into this delightful wreath shape… luckily Martha Stewart has a video of how to shape Stollen bread into a festive wreath… and it was incredibly helpful at turning my hideous lump of dough into a delightfully fashioned and famously festive wreath… it’s quite simple really… roll the dough out into a big rectangle… then roll up like a sponge roll.. grab the ends and moosh them together (in a fair more delicate manner than I did please)… then after its left to rise use some kitchen scissors to cut little snips all around and gently tug them out to create an unusual ring shape that will come out of the oven smelling and looking like Christmas!!

Dust with icing sugar and a festive bow and voila… a perfect (post) Christmas gift… Unfortunately, I didn’t get to taste the finished product because I think it would have been slightly uncouth to pass on a half scoffed stollen… but it doesn’t matter! That’s what Christmas is about! Sharing! I hope you shared a wonderful Christmas and some wonderful or not so wonderful (it doesn’t really matter) food… with you family and friends and those who are important to you! I just wish Christmas came more than once a year so I could see my family a whole lot more…

Happy Baking!

Ingredients:

¼ cup (60ml) lukewarm water (110º F / 43º C)
2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) (22 ml) (14 grams) (1/2 oz) active dry yeast
1 cup (240 ml) milk
10 tablespoons (150 ml) (140 grams) unsalted butter (can use salted butter)
5½ cups (1320 ml) (27 ozs) (770 grams) all-purpose (plain) flour (Measure flour first – then sift- plus extra for dusting)
½ cup (120 ml) (115 gms) sugar
¾ teaspoon (3 ¾ ml) (4 ½ grams) salt (if using salted butter there is no need to alter this salt measurement)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 grams) cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (very good) vanilla extract
1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon extract or orange extract
1¾ cup mixed fruit
3 tablespoons (45ml) rum or 1 tsp rum extract
12 red glacé cherries (roughly chopped) for the color and the taste. (optional)
1 cup (240 ml) (3 ½ ozs) (100 grams) flaked almonds
Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath
Confectioners’ (icing) (powdered) sugar for dusting wreath

Method:

1. Soak the mixed fruit: In a small bowl, soak the mixed fruit in the rum (or in the orange juice from the zested orange) and set aside.
2. Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.
3. In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup (240 ml) milk and 10 tablespoons (150 ml) butter over medium – low heat until butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes.
4. Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon and vanilla extracts.
5. In a large mixing bowl (4 qt) (4 liters) (or in the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment), stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests.
6. Then stir in (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/butter mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.
7. Add in the soaked mixed fruit and almonds and mix with your hands or on low speed to incorporate. Here is where you can add the cherries if you would like. Be delicate with the cherries or all your dough will turn red!
8. Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing with the dough hook) to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed. The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 8 minutes (6 minutes by machine). The full six minutes of kneading is needed to distribute the dried fruit and other ingredients and to make the dough have a reasonable bread-dough consistency. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough – a few raisins will start to fall off the dough onto the counter because at the beginning of the kneading process the dough is very sticky and the raisins will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn’t enough to bind the outside raisins onto the dough ball.
9. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
10. Put it in the fridge overnight. The dough becomes very firm in the fridge (since the butter goes firm) but it does rise slowly… the raw dough can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week and then baked on the day you want.

Shaping the dough and Baking:
1. Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.
2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
3. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
4. Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches (40 x 61 cms) and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick.
5. Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder.
6. Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan. Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle. You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape.
7. Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough.
8. Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
9. Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.
10. Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, should register 190°F/88°C in the center of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

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Florentines…

A little something no Santa can resist...

 

A Christmas staple in my family is the humble florentine… I’m not sure whether it’s particularly Christmasy but I know they are my Dad’s favourite and that’s reason if any to make them during the festive season… A couple of weeks ago my husband and I finally graduated from Theology… It was a weekend of mixed emotions… excitement at finally finishing… relief as the assignments slowed down to a light trickle… and reticence at what the future would hold… Ultimately it was our family that got us through… their continual encouragement… optimism… and general cheerleading meant we could enjoy the weekend the way we intended even if the prospect of packing up our house loomed once the ceremonies were over… I think it was Saturday lunch when Nan whipped out the florentines… and they were an allround crowdpleaser… the crunchy cornflakes and bitey nuts smothered in a crisp sweet coating… the addition of dried fruit with the glistening cherries add a definite hint of Christmas cheer… and who can resist something that is smothered in chocolate!

 

 

Christmas reminds me of the blessing of family… this recipe comes form my nan.. with adaptations and I hope it reminds you of family traditions and recipes that you bring out at Christmas and share!

Happy Baking!

 

Florentines
Adapted from Nan’s recipe.

Ingredients:
3 cups cornflakes
100g cherries
1 1/2 cups mixed fruit
110g sliced almonds
1 tin condensed milk
200g good quality dark chocolate

Method:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
2. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Add tin of condensed milk and stir with a wooden spoon to combine.
4. Spoon mixture on to baking sheets lined with baking paper. HINT: If you use a large soup spoon you can fill the spoon, drag it up against the side of the bowl and then hold upside down onto the baking sheet and get a nice shape. It gets a little sticky so make sure you have a finger or teaspoon handy to scrape out the extra.
5. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Don’t be afraid to leave them a little longer as you want them to be crunchy and crisp. Under cooking you’ll end up with a chewy biscuit that can sometimes fall apart.
6. Break the chocolate into a heatproof jug and melt in the microwave.
7. Using an offset spatula spread chocolate liberally over the flat side of the florentines.
8. Refrigerate until set.

Christmas treats…

 

My favourite thing about Christmas is obviously going to be the food… but I’m not talking about the roast turkey and vegies or even the Christmas pud… I’m talking about all the Christmas themed treats that come into season and into the kitchen generally when the calender ticks over to December… Unfortunately the first part of my December was spent packing boxes… which also meant packing away all my baking trays, rolling pins, mixing bowls and cookie cutters… all essential items for christmas themed treats… as my husband and I sat down amidst the piles of boxes and packing tape at the end of the first day of packing an overwhelming cloud settled over my head at the huge task of moving related logistics ahead… Adrian took one look at my downcast expression and being able to physically see the tension in my shoulders promptly trekked out to the mass of boxes in the storage shed and brought back one of the kitchen boxes… “I think you should bake something..”

 

 

I didn’t need to be told twice! So I unpacked my baking things and decided to get into the festive spirit with this adorable little Christmas cookie trees… that seem week I had bought the star shaped cookie cutters with the intention of making these little treats for our last small group meeting for the year… but as a result of the aforementioned packing stresses they became travel treats instead! I’ve only in the last couple of days had a chance to put them together properly! Aren’t they cute? and super easy… I can’t quite remember the recipe I use but grab your mum or nans typical Christmas cookie recipe or gingerbread recipe (or try this one) and some assorted sized star cutters and you’re good to go…

 

all you need to do is grab a skewer and using the blunt end poke two wholes next to each other in the centre of each sized cookie… stack them up and using a crochet needle or just any large needle that you can thread the ribbon into pull the ribbon through both wholes and tie at the top…. I used a thin ribbon to hold them all together and then made a festive bow with the red and white ribbon and pinned it on top…. but you can make any festive combination you like!

 

Happy Baking!