The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baking for the winter solstice

  • Pin It
breadsong's picture
breadsong

Baking for the winter solstice

I discovered this poem on TFL (in a comment posted by LindyD – thank you, Lindy, for sharing it);
I am re-posting the poem here - I thought it so beautiful, and so fitting, for the winter solstice.

I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.

'We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,'
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.

  • Oliver Herford

 

This baking is inspired by the winter solstice and all of the stars, the moon and beauty lighting up the night sky.

Last year about this time, I saw a breathtaking Christmas Bread, made with rye levain, spiced raisins and roasted sesame - in a beautiful star shape, baked by Lutz of Plotzblog. The star shape and dark color of this bread made me think of the season’s dark skies, the sesame seeds like tiny 'lights' in the crumb.

The Plotzblog site is undergoing some maintenance so his formula isn't available at the moment; this is my interpretation of the formula Lutz posted:




 

This Christmas bread reminded me of an article a friend sent me a couple of years ago (written by Martha Rose Shulman, and so interesting!), about the French Pastry School’s Jacquy Pfeiffer and the baking traditions he grew up with in Alsace, France. One of the traditional holiday cookies Mr. Pfeiffer made was Zimtsterne, a cinnamon star-shaped cookie. These seemed like the perfect thing to bake, to go along with the bread. I'm so glad I tried making these - they are a most delicious cinnamon cookie! :^)

...royal icing glaze lightly caramelized, after a gentle bake
(baked at 335F convection for 15 minutes)
                                     

 

These cookies are called Vanillekipferl, a Viennese almond shortbread cookie, shaped like a crescent and rolled in vanilla sugar after baking. The shape of the cookie, and the vanilla sugar adding a silvery, glittery sheen made these cookies seem moon-like to me :^)

               Before baking...

...and after baking, dusted with vanilla sugar...beautiful flavor!

Here is the recipe, from something I saved from a magazine years and years ago.

 

  

I hope you like these stars and moons, and the poem for the winter solstice...wishing everyone at TFL a very happy holiday season!
:^) breadsong

Submitted to YeastSpotting

Comments

golgi70's picture
golgi70

Are they small or large?  The picture is deceiving.  the formula shows a small piece of dough.  None the less they look quite amazing and the flavor combo sounds great as well.  

Nice Bake

Josh

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hi Josh,
Thank you! :^)
When I made these, they were scaled at 450g each.
Happy baking, and happy holidays -
:^) breadsong

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Amazing, Breadsong.  May I promote these on the home page for a bit?

(and Merry Christmas to you as well!)

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hi Floyd,
Thank you so much, and yes please, it would be an honor!
Merry Christmas to you and yours, and happy baking!
:^) breadsong

plevee's picture
plevee

But neither of the shaping videos work for me.

Patsy

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hi Patsy,
When I visited the Plotzblog site today, there is a notice stating the site is 'under construction'...I understood (through Google Translate) that the site would make all of the posts available again, but likely the links will be different.
There's a star-shaping method for bagels, posted here on TFL -
http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/20757/star-bagels
(pictures, not video, but I hope this is helpful)
Thank you - and happy baking!
:^) breadsong

plevee's picture
plevee

I just read in Farine's blog about the bread baking class you gave in Seattle. Any chance of repeating it in Portland? Your breads are always beautiful and I would love to learn from you.

Patsy

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hi Patsy,
Thank you so much - what a kind thing to say!
The bread class was in Victoria, held at my friend's place.
We haven't talked yet about organizing another class (timing or location)...but if it were possible, Portland would be a great place for people to gather (just think of the bakery tours that might be worked in as part of an event - Pearl, little t, Ken's Artisan, and just learned of a German bakery there called Fressen Artisan Bakery)!
Thank you for your suggestion - I'll keep you in mind if we are ever able to do something like this.
:^) breadsong

 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

breadsong.  The Rye Star is breathtaking, very wintry and the cookies have to be delicious.  With those Chocolate Rye Salted cookies, you are getting quite a wide variety of unusual cookies baked this year.  Well done and

Merry Christmas and Happy Baking to you and yours breadsong.

breadsong's picture
breadsong

And the very same wishes to you and yours, dabrownman - I think Lucy would like these cookies too!
Many thanks, and happy holidays,
:^) breadsong

isand66's picture
isand66

What a beautiful post Breadsong!  As usual your baking is visually stunning and this is not exception.  I love the shape of these rolls and they must taste great.  How would you describe the taste?

Those cookies look like they belong with the bread as the centerpiece and the cookies surrounding them in perfect harmony.

Thanks for sharing and inspiring.  I will have to try a variation of this for sure.

Happy Holidays.

Ian

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hi Ian,

Here's a crumb shot :^) 
 
The flavor - mmm, so good with the rye levain and rye flour. Even with the raisins and honey, this bread is not as sweet as you might expect - to my taste, a nice balance of flavors with the hint of cocoa and the sweet raisins.
Infusing the raisins with spice I thought a really nice idea - I've tried infusing the raisins with a spiced apple cider (Trader Joe's) along with the cinnamon and the flavor was *gorgeous*.
I love your suggestion for a photo and wish I'd been able to do that prior to posting :^)
Thank you so much Ian - hope you love this bread and wishing you the best for your holiday season, and holiday baking!
:^) breadsong

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Happy holidays to you and your family!

David

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Thank you, David! - and my very best to you and your family as well :^)

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Delicious Bread and pastry, breadsong! you did such an artistic job, well done.

Thank you for posting the recipes for both, and merry christmas to you and yours.

 

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hi Khalid,
Thank you so much for your Christmas wishes, and kind works about the bread and cookies.
I've really enjoyed seeing all of the beautiful breads and sweet things you've been making - and if you try making these, I hope you and your family really enjoy them!
:^) breadsong

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi breadsong,

What a treat to see one of your lovely breads up on the front page again. Congratulations and well deserved! The Zimtsterne Star is so unique, I think this is the first time I've run across this bread and you've done an amazing job of  shaping and scoring to show it off to it's best potential. Stunning work breadsong!

Best of the Season,

Franko 

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Thank you so much, Franko!
When I saw the bread Lutz baked last year, I thought it so beautiful and a lovely thing to bake for the Christmas season.
Best wishes to you and your family for the holidays - I can only imagine what a delicious holiday it will be, with all of the wonderful foods, savory and sweet, that you make!
:^) breadsong

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Thanks ever so much, breadsong, for the reminder of that poem.  

It was very timely, given we've received about 100 inches of snow as of the winter solstice.

Like the photo of your beautiful bread, it lifted my spirits.

Merry holidays to you and yours!

Lindy

 

 

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hi Lindy,
It was snowy here too, but nowhere near what you got in terms of snowfall!
Thank you so much, for offering that poem and for your lovely message.
My very best to you and your family for the season!
:^) breadsong

Yippee's picture
Yippee

Breadsong:

Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones!

Yippee

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hi Yippee,
I hope you and yours are having a lovely holiday season - thank you so much for your kind words, and wishes.
It's so nice to hear from you - all the best for the New Year, and for your baking!
:^) breadsong

katygold's picture
katygold

Seeing this bread that you made wants me to get right into the kitchen and start baking some bread!  :)  This is very pretty!

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hello katygold,
Thank you for your comment - it made me smile.
Happy New Year and wishing you many wonderful bakes in 2014!
:^) breadsong

Steve Unifine Flour's picture
Steve Unifine Flour

Breadsong;

New member to Fresh  Loaf and I just LOVE IT. This will be such an inspiration to get in the Holiday mood mid November, I'm going to tuck your blog away for inspiration!

Certainly not wishing any time away, but your lovely post will certainly get me excited for some creative holiday baking.

Nicely done!

Steve

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hello Steve,
What a kind thing to say - thank you so much!
I am so glad you like this site - there's so much here to inspire your baking - the posts and information shared here certainly inspire mine.
Best wishes to you for 2014!
:^) breadsong

gastromonica's picture
gastromonica

Thanks for posting this beautiful Christmas Bread image and recipe. It looks terrifically festive, and I love that it is an enticing holiday treat on the less sugary end. 

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hello, and thank you!
That is one thing I loved about this bread, lovely flavor and not too sweet.
The people I gave this bread to also received jam to go along with the bread - ultimately, no respite from sugar!
:^) breadsong