Monday, 26 December 2011

Last-minute Christmas stollen

In the midst of getting stuck into the thousands of gingerbread cookies, glorious chocolate cheesecake and messy but yummy mince pies (thank you free Mary Berry recipe in this week’s Stylist!) that came out of my kitchen over the past few days, I noticed on Christmas Eve that I had a container of candied ginger that as yet did not have a recipe assigned to it. That was soon remedied, and a version of Christmas stollen was born. I cheated and did the dough in my bread machine, making it by far the easiest recipe of the season. Definitely on the baking list for next year.

Ingredients (makes two 10in loaves):
4½ cups (610g) bread flour
¾ cup (175ml) water
½ cup (130g) butter, softened
1 teaspoon almond extract
1½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
½ cup (100g) sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1½ packets of yeast*
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup (about 200g) candied ginger
¾ cup (about 200g) raisins or sultanas

Lemon glaze:
1 cup (130g) powdered (icing) sugar
teaspoon lemon extract
1-2 tablespoons milk

1. Mix and knead the dough by hand as you normally would and allow to rise until nearly double, or add the ingredients into a bread machine pan in the order recommended by the manufacturer and select the dough setting.

2. Punch down and separate into two sections. Roll out each section into an oval, approximately 8-9in diameter. Fold lengthwise and place onto a greased baking tray. Cover and let rise for about an hour, or until you see that it has risen to about 1.5 times its original size.

3. Bake at 350F (180C) for about 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Place on a wire rack to cool.

4. Cover with lemon glaze and powdered (icing) sugar. Top with maraschino (glace) cherries and almond flakes if desired.

*Note: whether due to the freezing temperatures outside, the humidity of the kitchen, random stubborness or all three, the dough just didn’t rise very much. I know stollen is meant to be more dense than your average white loaf, but just to be on the safe side, I’ve added a bit more yeast into the recipe below to compensate – I haven’t tested this though.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Gingerbread latte cupcakes

What tastes describe Christmas? Peppermint, orange, spices, candied fruit, almonds…although, I personally believe that anything with ‘Christmas’ in front of the title and with a spring of holly as the decoration can pass as a festive treat. 

It’s always fun finding out peoples’ family traditions when it comes to Christmas breakfast, dinner and dessert – for the former, I’ve heard about waffles and ice cream, apple pancakes, croissants and mince pies (why wait for dessert later when you can have it when you wake up?). None of them are particularly Christmassy (well, except the mince pies), but because they've been given the coveted title of Christmas Breakfast, Rudolph himself might as well be delivering it to their table.

To clarify, these are not on the menu next Sunday morning…

Cupcake ingredients (makes around 24):

½ cup (120ml) vegetable oil
cup (70g) sugar
1 egg
1 cup (220ml) molasses (dark treacle)
¾ cup (175ml) hot water
2 ¼ cups (290g) flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ginger
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt

Frosting ingredients:
3 cups (380g) powdered (icing) sugar
cup (75g) butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons milk
2-3 teaspoons instant coffee (depending on how strong you want the coffee flavour to be)

1. Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Blend liquid ingredients together, then add the dry ingredients until just mixed.

2. Prepare a muffin tray with cupcake wrappers. Fill each one three-quarters full with the gingerbread batter.

3. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

4. To make the frosting, cream butter and sugar, then add the rest of the ingredients. Blend thoroughly.

5. Frost each cupcake. Top with chocolate shavings, if desired.