Tag Archives: Christmas

Bread Christmas Style aka Stollen and a Christmas Round Up.

Christmas starts for me with a mug of Glühwein and a slice of stollen so this year, after a year of bread making,  I decided I should make my own. After much research and deliberation I decided upon a Dan Lepard recipe, I’m obsessed with his guardian website page and his recipes are always easy to follow and informative. Bread is his speciality and his knowledge seemingly knows no bounds, so I felt like I was in safe hands having never attempted to make stollen before. His recipe uses a ten second kneading method which is repeated several times. I was dubious about this at first as the dough was very moist and sticky, but I persevered and the end result was great so I will no longer doubt it in future. The recipe I used yielded two large loaves, which can be frozen and do store well, but you may want to half the recipe if you’re already too full of christmas fare.

Stollen. (adapted from Dan Lepard)

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Ingredients:

Dan Lepard’s recipe uses the ‘sponge’ method, where the yeast is left to ferment in a separate mixture before being added to the main bulk of the ingredients.

For the Sponge:

50g strong white bread flour IMG_0690
1 tsp caster sugar
2 level tsp easy-blend yeast
100 ml warm milk

For the Dough:

450g strong white bread flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
3/4 tsp salt
50g icing sugar
150g unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
2 tbsp spiced rum
175g warm milk
250g raisins
125g mixed peel
250g golden marzipan
melted butter and icing sugar to finish

For variation you could add other dried fruit in place of raisins, such as dried cranberries or apricots

Method:

1) For the sponge; mix together all the ingredients in a bowl, leave to stand in a warm place for 30 minutes, the mixture should be bubbling.

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2) Meanwhile, place the flour for the dough in a  wide mixing bowl with the cinnamon, lemon zest, icing sugar and salt. Add the butter and rub it in with your fingers until all the lumps disappear.

3) After the sponge has been left for 30 minutes, beat the egg, rum and warm milk into it and  then pour this into the flour mixture. Add the dried fruit and stir everything together. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave for 10 mins.

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4) After 10 minutes lightly oil the work surface and your hands and gently knead the dough for 10 seconds. Return the dough to the bowl, cover and leave for another 10 mins. Repeat this light-kneading twice more at 10-min intervals. Once done, leave the dough covered in a warm place for a further 30 mins.

5) Then divide the dough into two pieces and form each in to a ball. On a lightly dusted work surface, roll each ball of dough out into an oval using a rolling pin, roughly 2 cm thick. Take the marzipan, divide it in half, and roll each piece into a sausage the same length as each oval of dough. Place the marzipan along the length of the dough, and then fold the dough in half so that the marzipan is covered. Press gently around where the marzipan is  to seal the marzipan in. Place each stollen on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment, leaving space between each of them so they don’t merge when proving. Place the tray in a carrier bag to create a pocket of warmth and moisture and leave in a warm place for about an hour, or until the stollen have almost doubled in volume. Meanwhile pre-heat your oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

IMG_06956) Bake the loaves on the middle shelf of the oven for 20 mins, reduce the heat to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5 and cook for a further 20 mins. Like bread, turn over a tap to see if the loaves are hollow and thus cooked. Remove from oven and leave to cool on a wire rack. While still warm, brush each stollen with melted butter and dredge heavily with icing sugar, then wrap in greaseproof paper and tie with string. Store in a air-tight container. The loaves keep for up to two weeks. If making again I would definitely half the recipe, although I did make a stollen based bread and butter pudding with the second loaf.

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So I’ve been pretty bad with blogging this festive season, bad internet coupled with busy christmas plans has lead to a neglecting my duties. So here’s a cheeky photo montage of christmas baking and general foodie-ness. Highlights include the two Christmas Puddings  made earlier in december, puff pastry mince pies, my new gorgeous anthropologie measuring spoons, chocolate orange star biscuits, turkey pie, my new le creuset pestle and mortar, Moran family pickles, red onion and cheddar soda bread and stollen bread and butter pudding.

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Chestnut Brownies and another Cake Date.

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I have never roasted Chestnuts before. I know its a christmas traditions, well its part of a christmas song so it must be a big deal. But I have never done it before. So when I came across Dan Lepard’s Chestnut Brownie recipe that used pre-cooked Chestnuts I decided it was only fitting that I went the whole hog and roasted them myself, and it surprisingly wasn’t as laborious as I had envisaged. I did however, massively undercook the brownie mixture. I intended to double the recipe, and knew this would mean an extended cooking time, but clearly I didn’t add enough time. They tasted great, and the chestnuts and rum were a great addition, but they were hard to cut into pieces and didn’t retain their shape well at all. But you live and learn, and I will definitely try this recipe again (perhaps after christmas when the price of chestnuts have gone down!)

Chestnut Brownies (adapted from Dan Lepard)

Ingredients;

400g chestnutsIMG_0614
200g brown sugar
25ml dark rum
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 medium eggs, separated
200g unsalted butter
200g dark chocolate, broken into small chunks
100g plain flour

Method;

To roast the chestnuts; cut cross shapes into the base of the chestnut in order to pierce the skin, this will mean steam will not get trapped in when they cook. Place on a roasting tray and cook at  200C /gas mark 6 for 30 mins, until the chestnut inside is soft. Leave to cool, remove the skins and cut into small pieces.

1)Line a deep, 20cm square tin with nonstick baking paper. In a bowl mix the chestnut pieces with 100g sugar, rum and vanilla.

2) In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until they form soft white peaks, slowly beat in 100g sugar until you have a soft meringue, then beat in the egg yolks. To ensure your bowl is clean and grease free, rub a lemon and dry with a paper towel.

3) Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, then remove from the heat and beat into the chestnuts and flour. Stir this into the meringue, then spoon into the prepared tin. Bake at 170C (150C fan-assisted)/335F/gas mark 3 for 20-25 minutes, until barely set in the middle, then leave to cool completely in the tin before cutting.

To make it a little festive I made a stencil out of paper in the shape of a snowflake and dusted icing sugar over, after all, its the closest thing you’d find in your kitchen to snow!

Cake Date Tuesdays

I am a little behind on my blogging, so a whole week has gone by since we visited French Fancies! This week’s cake date again took place in New Town. This time we headed to The Bakehouse on Broughton Street. It was rainy and miserable, and reasonably late in the day for cake, but that meant we had the run of the place and the full attention of the staff who were extremely friendly and helpful (not to mention enthusiastic, having made the products themselves they were more than happy to recommend their favourites). I settled for a chilli hot chocolate, perfect for a cold and dismal day, and we halved a scone and a lime and coconut slice. The coconut slice was crumbly, tangy and had a delicious icing. It was also the largest slice I have ever eaten, practically needing it’s own table. The scone was light, fluffy and lacked the bitter bicarbonate of soda aftertaste that some of its counterparts fall victim to. It’s a beautiful shop, conveniently located and very inexpensive, I thoroughly recommend you visit.

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The Thirlestane Road Christmas Pudding Experiment- Part One.

As I write this post there are 36 days, 1 hour and 20 minutes until christmas 2012 is officially here. Normally I restrict my christmas joy to the two weeks preceding christmas and one week after, for fear of a total holiday overkill and in protest of those who put their decorations up in November. Whoever said you can have too much of a good thing was definitely thinking about tinsel, turkey and general christmas frivolity. My strict limitation of christmas celebration isn’t intended in a scrooge-esque way, I merely wish to enhance the specialness of christmas by ensuring it’s magic is contained to a short, manageable time period. I believe it’s the only way to keep things special (plus, I intend to spend my christmas period eating as much food as physically possible, any elongation of the christmas period has direct correlation to how much weight I gain and years I lose off of my life)

Having said that, my flatmate and I embarked on a yuletide challenge today. It may not quite be the season, but everyone knows a good christmas pudding needs some time to mature, thus my normal november christmas ban must be lifted for one day. After much research, deliberation and preparation, we decided upon two types of christmas pudding. My flatmate found a ginger and cranberry christmas pudding in this months Sainsbury’s Magazine which contained a whole Jamaica Cake, how could that not be amazing? So we decided to make two of these, one for her family christmas and one for our flat christmas. I decided to stick with the traditional for my family christmas pudding and used a recipe by Paul Gray, the ‘master baker’ at Betty’s teahouse. However, wanting to put our own Thirlestane Road spin on things, we did bend the rules a little with the ingredients, substituting various dried fruits and most importantly adding a hideous amount of dark rum, after all christmas pudding is traditionally alcoholic.

Cranberry Gingerbread Christmas Pudding. (adapted from the Dec ’12 Sainsbury’s Magazine)

Fills a 2-litre pudding basin

Ingredients; 

300g Jamaican ginger cake

100g white breadcrumbs

300g light muscovado sugar

1 tbsp ground ginger

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cloves

200g plain flour

200g sultanas

200g raisins

75g cranberries

200g toasted pecans, roughly chopped

200g cold, hard unsalted butter

1 large Bramley apple, grated

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

zest and juice of 2 oranges

20ml of dark rum, we used Captain Morgans

Method;

1) In a food processor, break up the ginger cake until it resembles breadcrumbs. Place in a large bowl with the breadcrumbs, sugar, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, flour, sultanas,raisins, cranberries and pecans. Mix together.

2)Add into the bowl the grated apple and then grate the cold butter on the top of this.

3) In a separate bowl place the beaten eggs, rum and orange zest and juice. Pour this over the dry ingredients and mix well.

4) Butter your pudding basin, place a small disc of greaseproof paper at the bottom of the bowl.

5) To cover your pudding basin, cut a square of greaseproof paper larger than your pudding bowl, pleat it in the middle, so when the pudding expands the paper has room to grow as well. Do the same with a sheet of foil. Place the greaseproof paper on top of the pudding and then the foil, tie string tightly around to hold them tightly to the pudding basin. Lesley Walters has a great how to video.

6) Place in a large saucepan, and fill water up to a third of the height of the basin. Bring to the boil, then reduce to simmer and place a lid on top. Leave this to cook for 4 and a half hours, checking ever so often to see whether the water needs topping up.

The recipe says this can be made up to 3 months ahead of time.

Betty’s Traditional Christmas Pudding

Ingredients; 

230g raisins

50g currants

75g sultanas

50g cranberries

50g toasted pecans, roughly chopped

100ml dark rum

Zest and juice of one orange and one lemon

50g vegetable suet

30g wholemeal breadcrumbs

50g plain flour

90g light brown sugar

1 tsp mixed spice

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon, ground cloves

1tsp salt

2 large eggs, beaten

Method 

1)Place all the dried fruit, lemon and orange zest, citrus juice and rum into a large bowl. Leave overnight to soak.

2) In a separate bowl place the flour, sugar, suet, salt, spices and breadcrumbs, mix well. Add the dried fruit and liquid mixture to the dry ingredients, stir well, then add the beaten egg.

3) Grease a pudding basin, place a small disk of greaseproof paper in the bottom of the basin, and then pour the mixture in.

4) Cover the basin with greaseproof paper and foil, tying with string as explained in the previous recipe.

5) Place in a large saucepan, bring to the boil, then simmer for 4 and a half hours.

6) Remove and leave to cool.

STORAGE. 

We bought pudding basins from lakeland, which came with lids, which is perfect for storage, however, if you’re using a pyrex bowl then simply cover again with greaseproof paper and foil, using string to secure it tightly.

BEFORE CHRISTMAS

This is of course optional, but we intend to ‘feed’ our puddings a few times before christmas. Using a Mary Berry tip (a woman who loves a tipple herself) where you use a skewer to make a few holes in your pudding and pour a little rum (or whatever alcohol you are using) into the holes and cover your pudding back up. This will enhance the taste of alcohol as well as bringing out the other flavourings of your pudding.

ON CHRISTMAS DAY

For both of these puddings, on the day itself, you’ll need to steam them for a further two hours. Serve with brandy butter, cream, ice cream or whatever else takes your fancy.

Our Christmas Puddings are now on the shelf waiting for the glorious day, or at least until we have our flat christmas celebrations. Now, before I return to normalcy and a life without Christmas joy (well, at least for a few weeks), here’s my favourite christmas/winter song to get you in the spirit. I’ll be posting some pictures of the final results after our flat christmas, stay tuned!