The Fresh Loaf

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After seeing these amazing looking rolls posted by Freerk ...

...I couldn't help but try making them. Unfortunately, I didn't do justice to the recipe - mine are more style than substance, thanks to some foolish tweaks.

First off, I love the shaping technique - absolutely beautiful. Mine are a bit more clover leaf/hearts looking, and irregular, but I still like it. Now - onto my less successful modifications! As I can't buy aniseed around here, I thought I'd swap the speculaas spices (which sound gorgeous) for some mixed spice, your traditional British Christmas spice mix. The spice taste was pretty mild in the finished rolls though, so I think for mixed spice you definitely need to add much more - Freerk did suggest upping the spice, but with a clove-phobe of a boyfriend, I was a bit wary (more fool me).

My next tweaks were solely based on using what I had/being too cold and lazy to go the shops. :o) I added a couple of drops of lemon oil instead of lemon zest, which came through nicely in the marzipan. Unfortunately, while the dough was rising I used up my last egg in some biscotti, so I only had about half a teaspoon left to mix in with the marzipan. I'm guessing this is why it sort of boiled out a bit rather than setting up more.

Finally, for some reason (probably my somewhat erratic oven) the rolls weren't browning after 15 minutes like the original ones in the photo, so I left them in for another 5-8 minutes. The result: nice and brown but sadly a little bit dry, of course - foolish me! I'm wondering if I can brush them with melted butter or something maybe to moisten them a little...

Anyhow, don't get me wrong: I'd say my efforts tasted about 6 or 7 out of 10, whereas those originals looked like a definite 10 out of 10 to me! What I'm loving about this site is all the inspiration and the chances to practice, experiment and learn from my mistakes, so set backs like this are just getting me thinking... I'm imagining a walnut and honey paste filling, or a pesto style filling, or some kind of hard cheese and spinach, or tapenade....

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Well, I'm having a busy baking week(end), getting the last few of my Christmas biscuits and the like made, ready to post to my relatives across Europe. I also made the Mohn Bars from the Inside the Jewish Bakery challenge, which will be part of the Christmas treats delivery too.

We ran out of bread on Thursday, so on Friday night, with some kneading help from my other half (on account of my still sore operation-recovering back), I made a stab at the Honey Wholewheat Challah from ITJB, and pretty tasty it is too. The texture seemed a bit variable to me, and the plaiting definitely needs work, but the taste was really good, toasted or plain, with cheese, peanut butter or alongside soup. I'm looking forward to having another go at this in a couple of weeks for the challenge, and hopefully improving.

Finally, I'm probably going to make my stollen today, since I inadvertently left the butter out and it needs using up now! Oh and maybe make the florentines a week early, purely to get them into the biscuit box distribution as well...

Excuse the blurring on the challah photo: my other half is a graphic designer and can't help styling shots (means I get great photos taken, mind you). I'll try and take a more prosaic snap of the crumb later. 

Edit: I made the florentines too - one to cross-post on the challenge next week, with more detail.

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Well this is my first batch of baking to be posted to this site, and having read so many rave reviews, I knew Norm's Onion Rolls had to be the recipe to start me off. I used the variation posted by Ehanner (which was really clear and easy to follow, so many thanks)

As mentioned, the dough was really stiff andif I hadn't been following the recipe so closely, I would definitely have added more liquid. After a quick initial knead, I left the dough to sit for about 20 minutes, then got stuck in and kneaded for about 10-15 in total. i'm still recovering from a back operation, so I have to do this kind of thing in stints.

After the first rise, shaping and the recommended relaxing time, I squished the rolls into the onion mixture, as advised, and it stuck really well. I was a bit nervous of flattening them too much, and squashed them to about .5 inch, but as they rose so beautifully later, I'd be less ginger next time.

My fan oven isn't that efficient, so I knocked the temp down by just 5 degrees, and once the rolls were proved ( judged by finger poking), I did the thumb poke in the middle of each and put them in the oven with a splash of hot water in the tray at the bottom. I turned and rotated the trays after 10 minutes, and thanks to a call from my Mum mid-bake, they were ina bit longer than I'd planned - just over 25 minutes. Some of the onion got a little singed, but it still tastes good, but I'd cook them for less time next time around. And there certainly will be a next time, because despite my botching, these turned out incredibly delicious - I see what all the fuss is about! Thanks to Norm and all of you who've posted about this recipe for inspiring me to try it.

One question I have, is that although I imagined these we going to be more bagel-like in terms of density, they actually ended up quite light and fluffy (I'm always startled at how much white flour bread rises). I don't know if that's the correct consistency, but I'll post some pics once I've figured out how. but here are some pics of the results:

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