Holiday Marzipan Stollen

4 loaves of Stollen
Stollen is a bit lazy. It needs A LOT of rest, plenty of naps on its way to being eaten, a good 12 hours of sleep in the beginning AND at the end, four days of vacation after that. Stollen takes its time. I begin the process the night before baking by making the soaker (all the good bits soaked in dark rum), making the sponge (a bit of flour, water and yeast allowed to party overnight) and candying my own peel. The stollen is packed so full of good stuff, a long, slow rise is essential the next day. After baking, the cooled stollen rests again overnight and then benefits from a rest at room temperature, tightly wrapped, for at least 4 additional days. A clear calendar is essential to ensure the process isn’t rushed:

Night 1: Make candied peel, make soaker and make sponge (Steps 1-3 below)
Day 2: Make dough, proof, bake, coat with butter and sugar, rest overnight uncovered (Steps 4-12 below)
Day 3-7: Wrap tightly in foil at room temperature and allow to rest for at least 4 days (Steps 13-14 below )

Marzipan Stollen

Adapted from Wild Yeast Blog. It’s worth the time to make your own candied peel. It turns stollen from dowdy to delicious.

Ingredients


Soaker Ingredients:
– 120 grams golden raisins
– 90 grams dried figs, chopped
– 60 grams sliced almonds
– 35 grams dark rum
Sponge Ingredients:
– 120 grams all-purpose flour
– 80 grams water
– A small pinch rapid-rise yeast
Dough Ingredients:
– 350 grams all-purpose flour
– 55 grams whole milk
– 3 packages rapid-rise yeast (minus the small pinch)
– 50 grams sugar
– 53 grams egg (about one large egg)
– 8 grams salt
– ½ teaspoon cinnamon
– ½ teaspoon cardamom
– ¼ teaspoon allspice
– ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
– Grated lemon zest from ½ lemon
– Grated orange zest from ½ orange
– 275 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
– All of the sponge
– All of the soaker
– 75 grams candied orange peel (homemade or high quality)
– 75 grams candied lemon peel (homemade or high quality)
– 198 grams (7 oz.) of marzipan, divided lengthwise into four pieces
Finishing Ingredients:
– Clarified butter
– Granulated sugar
– Powdered sugar

Ingredients


Directions

  1. The night before: Combine the soaker ingredients in a bowl. Cover and leave at room temperature for about 12 hours.
  2. The night before: Combine the sponge ingredients in another bowl. Cover and leave at room temperature for about 12 hours.
  3. The night before: Make candied peel
  4. Heat milk to 105-110 degrees, add the yeast, stir and let set for 10 minutes.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all of the final dough ingredients except the soaker, peel and marzipan. Mix on slow speed until all the ingredients are incorporated, about 5 minutes.
  6. Continue mixing at medium speed until the dough comes together around the hook and no longer sticks to the sides and bottom of the bowl, about 10 minutes. It’s important to create a strong gluten network.
  7. Add the soaker and peels and mix by hand until they are evenly distributed through the dough. The fruit/peel to dough ratio will be high.
  8. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled container. Cover and let rise in a warm location until doubled in size, about 40 minutes.
  9. Turn the dough onto the counter. Divide into four even pieces, pre-shape the dough into balls and let them rest, covered, for 30 minutes.
  10. Shape the loaves into blunt end batards (country loaf shape). With a wooden spoon handle placed lengthwise and just off center, press down firmly making a long trough. Roll the marzipan into a rope about ½ in shorter than the batard and place in the trough. Tuck the short sides of the dough up around the marzipan and fold the smaller section of dough over the longer and seal well (it should look like a hoagie roll when finished). Pick off any fruit on the outside to avoid burning. Place batards on parchment-lined insulated (helps the bottoms from over-browning)  baking sheets (two per sheet). Cover and let rise for 90 minutes in a warm location.
  11. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400F. You will need steam during the initial phase of baking, so place a shallow pan of boiling water on the bottom of the oven.
  12. Bake for 10 minutes, open the oven door briefly to allow any remaining steam to escape and carefully remove the pan of water. Bake for another 15-20 minutes. You will need to rotate the position of the baking sheets halfway through the bake to ensure even browning. Cover loaves with aluminum foil if they are browning too quickly. Cool slightly.
  13. While the loaves are still warm, brush them with clarified butter and dredge them in granulated sugar. When cool, sift powdered sugar over the loaves. Leave the stollen out overnight to let the loaves dry out and the sugar to form a crust.
  14. To store, wrap tightly in foil at room temperature. Stollen should be allowed to rest for at least 4 days before eating, so plan accordingly. After the 4-day rest period, stollen can be frozen.
  15. To serve, unwrap, re-heat stollen in the oven, dust with additional powdered sugar if needed, slice and enjoy.

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Cranberry Swirl Bread

Cranberry Bread
This recipe is about a week too late. I should have posted it immediately after Thanksgiving – but, after hosting two back-to-back Thanksgiving dinners, I succumbed to post-holiday laziness and didn’t get around to it until today. Apologies for my tardiness. So, close your eyes, pretend it’s Black Friday, you’ve finished shopping and you’re staring at a fridge full of leftovers – including a big Tuppperware of cranberry sauce. My go-to Thanksgiving cranberry sauce makes a generous four cups of the sparingly-used condiment and, after the big T-day, I always have a bowl of leftover sauce hogging fridge space. I have a few recipes for using up the leftover sauce including cranberry panna cotta, cranberry gelato and, my personal favorite, cranberry-cherry tart. Rather than my standard array of dessert fare,  this year I wanted to make a lovely, not-too-sweet cranberry swirl bread that could be toasted, slathered with mayo and layered with leftover turkey and warm stuffing for the ultimate savory post-holiday turkey sandwich. I’m rather happy with the results – I used the bread for sandwiches on Friday, French toast on Saturday and, finally, a creamy bread pudding studded with tart cranberry swirls on Sunday.


Cranberry Swirl Bread

  • Servings: One 8 ½ x 4 ½ inch loaf
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Adapted from Joy of Cooking’s Fast White Bread recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 cups bread flour, divided
  • 2 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 package Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup very warm water (115⁰ – 120⁰ – this is warmer than normal yeast activation temperature)
  • 2 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 cup cranberry sauce, drained
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • pinch salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Turbinado sugar (like Sugar in the Raw) or white sugar

Directions

  1. In the bowl of the mixer, add two cups of bread flour, sugar, yeast, and salt (yeast and salt should not touch as salt can retard yeast activation). Add water and melted butter and combine on low to medium speed. Gradually add the remaining 1 cup of flour until the dough is moist by not sticky (you may not need to add the entire cup). Knead for about 10 minutes on medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in volume (about 30 minutes).
  2. Preheat oven to 450⁰. Grease an 8 ½ x 4 ½ inch loaf pan. Punch the dough down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into an 8-inch x 12- inch rectangle. Cover dough with cranberry sauce..
  3. Starting at the short end, roll up the dough, jellyroll style, pinching the ends closed to contain the cranberry filling. Place the dough in the loaf pan, seam side down. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise again until doubled in volume (about 30 minutes).
  4. Brush beaten egg over top of loaf, sprinkle with salt and turbinado sugar. Bake in 450⁰ oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350⁰ and continue baking for about 30 minutes more. If the top of the loaf is brown, cover with foil until loaf is fully cooked. Remove loaf from pan and let cool completely on a rack. Slice, toast, slather with mayo and make the best leftover turkey sandwich ever.

7-spice Pumpkin Bread

Chinese 5 spice mini pumpkin bread with cream cheese frosting
Growing up here, I feel the almost imperceptible California shift from late summer into fall. Newbies to this state, especially from the East, think I’m crazy.

Yesterday, I left my home, stepping into a darkening evening full of clouds and chill. Defiantly, I put the top down on my car but resigned to wrap myself in a scarf as a buffer to the cold. When did these days begin to shorten? Weeks ago, but I only noticed yesterday. Autumn is my favorite season. To me, it’s a “renewal” – a description usually left for spring. Fat pumpkins and squash almost magically appear on the ground – they’ve been there, growing for months, but only now say, “Look at me.” Trees explode in a riot of color – plum, gold, orange and russet. Yes, some of our trees actually do change color. The sky feels alive with a fresh chill or, alternately, the warm Santa Ana winds. Fall gives me reason again to simmer rich stews and comforting soups for hours, filling the house with superb smells. My long-dusty fireplace again crackles with burning logs.

Autumn is the time to draw within, to take stock of ourselves and to contemplate. It’s a time to close our doors and windows to our neighbors and snuggle in with ourselves. It’s a perfect time to prune back our over-extended commitments, to focus on our essence, to become cozy with who we are. Autumn is not a sad dying, but its own living – an insular living that renews in its own way – a quiet Yin to spring’s Yang. Autumn is a time to reconnect with ourselves.

Pumpkin-spice mania has had its run – while I love pumpkin anything, this is my last autumnal pumpkin recipe for this year…


7-spice Pumpkin Bread

  • Servings: 3 mini loaves
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This is my go-to recipe for using up leftover canned pureed pumpkin. Instead of making one large loaf, I like baking mini loaves so I can eat one now and freeze the rest for a rainy day…or tomorrow.

Ingredients

  • 7.5 oz. pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ⅓ cup buttermilk
  • 1 ½ cups white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ¾ all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ginger

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350⁰ F. Butter and flour 3 mini loaf pans (or one standard size loaf pan). In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, eggs, oil, buttermilk, sugar and vanilla. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, Chinese 5-spice, nutmeg and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until combined (don’t over-mix).
  2. Pour batter evenly into the tins. Don’t overfill. Bake 35-45 minutes (longer for a standard loaf pan) or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool and enjoy. I smother my bread with maple cream cheese frosting and maple walnuts.


 

Bacon, Cheddar and Green Onion Scones

A basket of Bacon, Cheddar, Green Onion Scones
Certain weeks, this week for example, I struggle to post even once. I’m typically not confounded by the culinary piece (although I can get frustrated when a day-long recipe results in an inedible flop), but by this part – the header, the “intro”, the story behind the recipe. Often, I’ve cooked (and eaten) my creation days, if not weeks, before I hit upon a header for the recipe, if ever. Many dishes never make it to publication.

Last night, “D” and I were batting around  fictional “intro” ideas for these scones (baked last Sunday) that included a faux picnic featuring these scones at last night’s Hollywood Bowl concert (à la Sunset Magazine) and another story involving Jared Kushner, Russia meetings and his desire for sweet scones vs. savory.

Unfortunately, in my world, the truth behind the recipe is never that compelling.

I baked these savory scones for no other reason than I wanted kitchen time. The flavor combination idea (a classic) resulted from watching a rerun of The Great British Baking Show. Originally, I was imagining a yeasty swirl bread, loaded with a filling of bacon-cheesy goodness when I hit upon the idea of scones instead. Using my favorite sweet scone recipe as a base, I decreased the sugar, swapped sweet ingredients for savory and, voila – buttery, savory scones.

Granted, the Kushner-Russia connection would have been more interesting.


Bacon, Cheddar and Green Onion Scones

I’ve taken my favorite American scone recipe and turned it savory and loaded with flavor. With three sticks of butter in the dough, no additional butter is needed on these babies.

Ingredients

  • 8 strips bacon, cubed
  • 1 bunch green onions, white and light green parts only, sliced
  • 3 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 1 ¼ cup buttermilk, divided
  • 1 whole egg
  • flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

Directions

  1. Cook bacon in a skillet until crisp. Remove bacon from pan. Add green onions to bacon grease in pan and sauté until softened. Add onions to bacon and cool both. Preheat oven to 350⁰ F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicon mats.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the cold butter. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until butter is pea-sized.
  3. In a liquid measuring cup, measure 1 cup buttermilk. Beat in whole egg until well combined. Pour buttermilk into dry ingredients and gently combine with your hands until dough barely comes together. Add bacon, green onion, and cheddar and gently combine. The secret to flaky scones is not to overwork the dough.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into two disks about 1 ½ inches high. Cut each disk into 8 wedges. Place the wedges on the baking sheets. Brush scones with remaining ¼ cup buttermilk and lightly sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 35-40 minutes until scone are golden brown. These scones are best served slightly warm.

 

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Sliced homemade cinnamon raisin bread and a cup of tea
9:30 p.m.: I’m ravenous for a snack, but I really must eat healthy for a change. Damn, I need to grocery shop – there isn’t a healthy morsel in the house. Oh wait, is that canned tuna way back in the cupboard? Tuna is healthy – all those Omega 3’s. I could whip up an easy tuna salad. Yawn, plain tuna salad bores me. Perhaps a tuna salad sandwich instead? Ugh, I’ve run out of bread. No matter, I can bake a quick white loaf. Flour, water, salt, yeast, sugar…oh wait, here’s a bag of plump raisins. Forget the white loaf; I should make cinnamon raisin bread instead! Yum!

11:30 p.m.: Mmm…there’s nothing better than thickly-sliced toasted cinnamon raisin bread slathered in melted salted butter. Healthy what?!


Cinnamon Raisin Bread

  • Servings: One 8 ½ x 4 ½ inch loaf
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Adapted from Joy of Cooking’s Fast White Bread recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 cups bread flour, divided
  • 3 Tablespoon sugar, divided
  • 1 package Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup very warm water (115⁰ – 120⁰ – this is warmer than normal yeast activation temperature)
  • 3 Tablespoons melted butter, divided
  • 1 cup raisins, soaked in hot water to soften and drained
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • pinch salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Turbinado sugar (like Sugar in the Raw) or white sugar

Directions

  1. In the bowl of the mixer, add two cups of bread flour, 1 Tablespoon sugar, yeast, and salt (yeast and salt should not touch as salt can retard yeast activation). Add water and 2 Tablespoons melted butter and combine on low to medium speed. Gradually add the remaining 1 cup of flour until the dough is moist by not sticky (you may not need to add the entire cup). Knead for about 10 minutes on medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in volume (about 30 minutes).
  2. Preheat oven to 450⁰. Grease an 8 ½ x 4 ½ inch loaf pan. Combine remaining 2 Tablespoons sugar with 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Punch the dough down. Place the dough between two pieces of waxed or parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into an 8-inch square. Brush the dough with the remaining Tablespoon of melted butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and drained raisins. Lightly press raisins into dough.
  3. Roll up dough, jellyroll style, pinching the ends closed. Place the dough in the loaf pan, seam side down. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise again until doubled in volume (about 30 minutes).
  4. Brush beaten egg over top of loaf, sprinkle with salt and turbinado sugar. Bake in 450⁰ oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350⁰ and continue baking for about 30 minutes more. If the top of the loaf is brown, cover with foil until loaf is fully cooked. Remove loaf from pan and let cool completely on a rack. Slice, toast, slather with butter, and push the guilt away until tomorrow.