Stollen

First the blog checking lines out of the way…

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.

Its been aN UNBELIEVABLY tiring week. I am utterly exhausted and think I have two brain cells left, and they are barely puttering around in there.
Its also been a week of non-stop packing and goodbyes and for the next few weeks my life will be in boxes….

For now I’m going to leave you with this most amazing bread. The STOLLEN is a traditional German Christmas Bread and one I am so glad I made inspite of my crazy life.Although I am nearly always yeast-challenged, this one was absol-wonderful. Just delicious!

Here I must thank Aparna for the parcel of candied fruit that she parceled to me….thank you thank you thank you.!!!

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
¾ cup (180 ml) (4 ¾ ozs) (135 grams) mixed peel (link below to make your own)
1 cup (240 ml) (6 ozs) (170 gms) firmly packed raisins
3 tablespoons (45ml) rum
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

Note: If you don’t want to use alcohol, double the lemon or orange extract or you could use the juice from the zested orange.

Directions:

Soak the raisins
In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the rum (or in the orange juice from the zested orange) and set aside. See Note under raisins.
To make the dough

Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.

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.

Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon and vanilla extracts.

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.

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.

Add in the mixed peel, soaked 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!

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.

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.
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 the Wreath

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.

Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder.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.

Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough.
Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.
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.

Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the top with melted butter while still hot.
Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter.
Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first.
The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar.
Let cool at least an hour before serving. Coat the stollen in butter and icing sugar three times, since this many coatings helps keeps the stollen fresh – especially if you intend on sending it in the mail as Christmas presents!

When completely cool, store in a plastic bag. Or leave it out uncovered overnight to dry out slightly, German style.

StorageThe more rum and the more coatings of butter and sugar you use the longer it will store.
The following is for the recipe as written and uses the 45 mls of rum and two coatings of butter and icing sugar
1. Stollen freezes beautifully about 4 months
2. The baked stollen stores well for 2 weeks covered in foil and plastic wrap on the counter at room temperature and
3. One month in the refrigerator well covered with foil and plastic wrap.

And Before I forget….

MERRY CHRISTMAS….
and Have GREAT NEW YEAR!
See u in 2011……..

Super Healthy Eggless Choco-Nut Banana Bread

Banana Bread, that innocuous looking cake-masquerading-as-bread breakfast choice has eluded me for a while now. But when I saw this, it took me less than five minutes to assemble the required ingredients and a very short while later I had a wonderful banana bread that my family and I absolutely loved. And here’s the bonus- Its low fat and very healthy( flax seeds, almonds..and what have you…).

Go ahead, make some now…….

Eggless Choco-Nut Banana Bread


Ingredients:
(yields one loaf in a 9 X 12 pan)

1. 2 cups whole wheat flour + 1 cup all purpose flour plus more for dusting
2. a pinch of salt
3. 2 teaspoons baking powder
4. 1/3 cup flaxseed powder
5. 1/3 cup + 1 cup milk
6. 1/4 cup oil
7. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8. 1 cup sugar
9. 1 cup mashed banana, about 3-4 bananas depending on the size
10. 1/2 cup chopped semisweet chocolate
11. 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
12. 1 cups chopped almonds

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Lightly grease a 9 X 12 loaf pan.

First sift the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder.

Take 1/3 cup of the milk and add the flaxseed powder to it.Keep it aside for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile in another bowl combine the oil, sugar, vanilla essence ,mashed banana, and the remaining milk.

Add the flaxseed powder-milk mix to this and stir to combine.

Add the flour mix to this wet ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until just blended. Dont panic if its a sticky dough. Thats the way its supposed to be.Thrwo in the chocolate chips and the chopped(or powdered in my case) almonds. Fold it it.

Spoon the dough into the loaf pan and bake for about an hour to hour and a half or till the toothpick comes out clean .

Cool completely for about 15 minutes before turning the bread over. Slice only when completely cool or it will fall apart.

I Knead Bread

Bread- Homemade
Ah! the aroma of home baked bread! I have always shied away from baking bread the old-fashioned way, preferring to buy it from the bakery in our area. But a few days back I decided to take the plunge…and I am so very proud and glad that I did. That doesn’t mean that im gonna knead my way to all my bread requirements. All I’m saying is that it was very fulfilling in a i-didn’t-expect-it-to-turn-out-like-bread-at-all way. In fact I didn’t expect anything edible at all!
.

Although this 6,000-year-old process hasn’t changed much since Pasteur made the commercial variety of standardized yeast possible in 1859, all our modern electrical gadgets have undoubtedly helped simplify and quicken the whole process. Still the process remains rather time-consuming and a bit tiring (all that kneading and punching is really good exercise) but it is definitely something I want to try again. The version of bread I have baked is called Twirled Herb Bread. I got the recipe from a book called ‘Breads to Go’ that I found lying in my cupboard. So here goes…

2 ½ cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
13 grams fresh yeast
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
4 cloves garlic, chopped finely
3 spring onions with greens, chopped
2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
4 peppercorns, crushed
15 grams butter

In a small bowl mix ¼ cup of warm ( not boiling) water with the yeast and the sugar. Stir and keep in a warm place for 15 minutes to froth. If it does not froth then discard and try again.

Sift the flours and the salt into a large mixing bowl. Pour in the frothy yeast and approximately 2 cups of water (add water gradually, you do not want a gooey paste).

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic. Cover with a damp cloth and leave covered for about two hours until it doubles in size.Add the chopped ingredients

Punch back the swollen dough and add the minced garlic, spring onions, coriander leaves and the peppercorns. Knead well for a few minutes.

Next, divide the dough into two equal portions and roll each using your hands into cylindrical shape. Twist both the rolls to get a spiral shape. Now cover both these rolled dough’s with a damp cloth and wait until they double in size, 30 minutes or so.

Place the rolls on a greased tray and bake in a preheated oven
at 200 C for 35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately brush with melted butter. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. Voila!!! Your very own home baked bread is ready!

Since this months theme for the Sunday Snacks Event is Bread(what a coincidence) I am submitting this recipe. The event started by Hima of snackorama is being hosted this month by priya. Her fantastic blog has more details of the event. You can click here to read more.

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