Saturday, 7 December 2013

Getting in the Festive Spirit!

Until Christmas last year I had never tried Stollen. One day in December 2012 my workmate brought some in that she didn't want and as they say the rest is history.  
So this year I decided it was time for me to return the favor. Suffice to say it went down pretty well at work and also at my parents house when I took round the leftovers.
Now, this Stollen does keep quite well (I've been eating it for my elevenses for most of the week) but is best eaten on the day of baking. Also, the recipe says that this will make a 'large' loaf. For 'large' see 'absolutely gargantuan'! It can easily feed 12!

The recipe is taken from Ed Kimber's Say it with Cake, with a few of my own adjustments and ingredient switch ups.


250ml milk
100g butter
500g strong bread flour
1 tablespoon mixed spice
50g golden caster sugar
1 teaspoon salt
7g fast action yeast
1 large egg
150g raisins
25g chopped glace cherries
25g halved almonds
200g golden marzipan
50g melted butter for glazing
icing sugar for dusting

Firstly put the milk and butter in a pan over a low heat until the butter has melted. Allow this to cool until it is lukewarm. (This is important, if you don't let it cool you will kill your yeast!)
In a large bowl mix in the flour, mixed spice, sugar, salt and yeast together, making sure to put the salt and yeast on separate sides of the bowl (salt will kill your yeast too). Then pour in your milk and butter and work together with a wooden spoon and then your hands to form a soft dough. 
Turn this out onto a floured work surface and knead for 15 minutes or until you have formed a smooth, elastic dough. 
Then flatten the dough out and sprinkle over the fruit and almonds. Knead until the fruit is all evenly distributed. 
Lightly oil a bowl, plop your dough inside, clover with clingfilm and leave in a consistently warm place until the dough has doubled in size. (My flat is freezing during the day in the winter so I find the best place is actually in the oven on the lowest setting possible for an hour).  
Once risen turn out onto a floured surface and lightly knead to knock some of the air out. It should look all stringy and holey underneath. Since this dough is very soft it is now best to press it out (instead of rolling) to a large rectangle. About 25 x 30cm. 
Take your marzipan and roll out to a sausage of the same length as your dough rectangle. Place this in the middle of your dough and fold the dough over, pressing it around all sides to seal the edges. 
Now the challenging bit. Gently lift the dough onto a large baking sheet lined with baking parchment. (This was mildly terrifying, but its very forgiving dough! Also it's a loaf, so it really doesn't matter if it looks a little messy!)
Place back in your warm place for 30 mins or until it has grown in size. 
Meanwhile preheat the oven to 190C/374F. 
Before you put the loaf in the oven brush with half of the melted butter. 
Bake for 35-40 minutes until the loaf is browned and there is a hollow sound when you tap the bottom. Keep an eye on it towards the end of the cooking time as it will turn quickly. 
Allow your loaf to cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes then brush with the remaining melted butter and dust with icing sugar. 
Leave to cool completely before eating. 

Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

Katie x

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

It's now December and we are in the official run up to Christmas! I can't even tell you how excited I am. This has always been my favorite time of year. Not so much the day itself, but the next couple of weeks are always so magical.

I have been using the recipe for years for various different shaped and size biscuits. I scaled it down by 2 thirds for these biscuits (makes 32 5cm stars), so it can be scaled up for more or bigger biscuits.
These are crunchy, nibbly biscuits that are perfect when dunked in hot chocolate, tea or coffee. They are flavored with what I have always called 'Winter Spice'. It's the kind of flavor that I always associate with this time of year. (Also, your house will smell AMAZING when they are cooking!!)

Winter Stars

30g butter
30 light brown sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1/2 teaspoon black treacle
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
half teaspoon bicarbonate soda
80g flour

Preheat the oven to 180C/356F. 
Put the butter, syrup, treacle and spices in a small saucepan and heat gently until everything is dissolved (be careful not to overheat or your biscuits will taste burnt). 
Put the flour and bicab in bowl and mix in the melted winter spice. Combine until it forms a smooth soft dough. 
Roll out on a lightly floured work surface to a 5mm thickness. Using a cutter of your choice cut out and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. 
Bake for 10 mins on a middle shelf (keep an eye on them as they cook very quickly!)
Allow to cool on a wire rack and definitely try one when they are still warm! 

Happy Baking!