Wednesday, December 11, 2013

{christmas bread - easy recipe}

In my family eating Christmas bread (or stollen) is inseparable connected to Christmas. Most of the time (read all of the time) the bread is bought in the supermarket or at a bakery. Not even my mom, who was a great cook and avid backer, made her own Christmas bread. Unfortunately I did not inherit her great cooking and backing genes, but I did bake my own Christmas bread. Yes I did......;-)

I found a nice and easy recipe on the internet and gave it a try. And it actually tasted great, even though I did not follow the recipe to the last letter. My love loved it and I think my mom would have too.

The bread is traditionally covered with powdered sugar and eaten with butter. I am not a fan of powdered sugar, that is why it is missing on the photo.

Since the recipe I linked to above is in Dutch, I translated it for you.

- 125 grams of butter
- 350 grams of flour and more to dust the working space
- 1 teaspoon of koekkruiden, now that is a difficult one. It is mix of spices like cinnamon, cardamom,       ginger etc used to make traditional Dutch cookies. Take a look at this explanation on Wikipedia
- 3 table spoons of white caster sugar ( I used 4 and will use a bit more next time)
- 1 lemon
- 1 package (7 grams) of dried yeast
-  2 eggs
- 150 ml lukewarm (not hot) milk
- 2 table spoons of rum ( (I used cognac)
- 200 grams of raisins
- 150 grams of currants
- 50 grams of chopped almonds
- 50 grams of candied peel and orange peel (didn't use it)
- 300 grams of almond paste

Okay, here we go.

Melt 75 grams of butter . Sift flour, salt, mixed spice and sugar into a large bowl . Grate the lemon peel and sprinkle it evenly over the mix, sprinkle the yeast evenly as well. Make a well in the center. Add 1 egg and add the melted butter, milk and rum . Stir with a wooden spoon from the middle to a sticky dough. Dust the work surface with flour and knead the dough 10 minutes by hand . Do this by constantly stretching the dough and fold until it is smooth and no longer sticks to your hands
Put the dough back into the bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise for about 45 minutes .

Squeeze the juice from one half of the lemon . Beat the second egg in a separate bowl . Place the almond paste on a plate and mix it with the lemon juice and half of the beaten egg.

Dust the work surface with flour again and press the dough a little flatter. Put the raisins, currants, almonds, orange peel and candied peel in the middle, fold the dough around the filling and mix through. Dust the rolling pin with flour. Shape the dough into a thick oval.
Shape the almond paste into a sausage and place in center, in the length of dough . Fold one half over the filing it so that the shape of a Christmas bread forms (look at my photo).
Place the bread on a lined baking sheet and let rise, covered under a damp tea towel for 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 220 degrees . Melt the remaining butter . Brush the dough with half of it. Turn the oven temperature down to 200 degrees and bake the bread in 30-35 minutes until golden brown . Place the bread on a rack , brush with the remaining butter and sprinkle with a thick layer of powdered sugar.

Here are some additional tips from me.

When I started the dough was very sticky and I feared that I did something wrong, but it turned out well. You just have to keep on kneading. I kneaded the dough with my hands, a nice work out. I found that it is very hard to use all the raisins, currents etc, so I added what I was able to work into the dough. Mix the almond paste, juice and egg with your hands, it is much easier than using fork. I bought vanilla pods a little while ago and I think I will add some vanilla next time.

Making this bread is a lot of work, that is probably the reason why everybody prefers to buy the bread. Making your own is totally worth the work though.

Give it a try and enjoy!


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