The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Christmas Baking Limited Edition

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Christmas Baking Limited Edition

The kids no longer living with us, I get late into Christmas mode. No Adventskranz (traditional wreath with 4 candles lit for each Sunday before Christmas) on the table, no calendar window to open. Holiday baking happens usually in a rush on the 23. and 24th, but this year we are invited for Christmas dinner, and nobody's around to eat all the goodies (not counting a dog that would LOVE to help us with that task!).


Having to limit my output I decided on two of the best: Mohnstollen (poppy seed stollen) and Lebkuchen (German spice cookies). Before I came to Maine I never made either of them, stollen I always got from my mother, and I never cared too much for Lebkuchen. If Cooks Illustrated had not published a recipe for German spice cookies last year, I would never have dreamed of making them. Sheer curiosity prompted me to try it ("Americans and German Lebkuchen, haha!").


Reducing the sugar just a little, I followed the recipe, and the result was - incredibly good! Instead of the chewy, dry-ish store-bought stuff I sometimes had at home, this was a delicate, moist cookie, where you could actually taste the toasted hazelnuts; and the spices were spicy in a good way, harmonious, not crude. Last year we ate them so fast, I had to make two batches, and gave some to the nice people from A & B Naturals (the store that sells my breads), too.


Lebkuchen


To find a perfect recipe for Mohnstollen was not easy - there are so many of them. I settled on one whose ingredients I liked best, from a German cooking magazine's website (essen&trinken.de). But I would add an overnight fermentation, reduce the sugar, and exchange half of the raisins with cranberries for a little bit of tartness. So far so good! But what about the poppy seed filling? Germans always use Dr. Oetker's "Mohnback", a ready-made poppy seed mix you can buy everywhere. Fortunately the "internets" yielded a recipe for home made poppy mix, too, with almond paste, semolina flour, milk and eggs.


Our Cuisinart coffee mill that we were about ready to trash - it did a miserable job with the coffee beans - now got it's second chance. And, lo and behold, it ground the poppy seeds as if it were made for just that. The last ingredient I had to find was candied citrus peel. Our supermarket had only some tutti frutti mix left, full of Maraschino cherries (I hate them). Again, Google, helper of the clueless, linked me to a recipe.


Candied orange peel


The Mohnstollen turned out as good as expected, I sold some, too - and I won't tell my mother that it's better than hers.


"Downeast" Mohnstollen with cranberries


 

Comments

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

Any chance of posting your versions of the recipes (if I could add an ingratiating tone, and even a beseeching look, I would!).


Cheers!
Ross

Franko's picture
Franko

Mmmm,


I'm with Ross, that stollen looks wonderful, and of a type I've never seen before. Would a second plea to your good nature help in having a recipe posted?


Best of the Season Karin!


Franko

arlo's picture
arlo

Third plea :D


 


Have a great holiday!

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Of course I can't resist Ross' ingratiating tone and beseeching look, and the force of your united pleas!


Here are the links to the recipes:


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/21275/mohnstollen-german-poppy-seed-stollen


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/21276/lebkuchen-german-spice-nut-cookies


Have great holidays, all of you,


Karin

Franko's picture
Franko

Thank You Karin!

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

So yummy looking !  

wally's picture
wally

Merry Christmas and good baking in 2011!


Larry

Mary Clare's picture
Mary Clare

Glad to hear the Cuisinart grinder can do poppy seeds!  I was just going to ask TFL if the only way to get ground poppy seeds was those $60 grinders I see on the internet.  I do have Cuisinart coffee/spice grinder in my closet that I've never opened (we don't drink coffee....).  I'm Czech and can't wait to try it with poppy seeds!


Mary Clare in MO

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

coffee grinders are the best. I too have an old one and use it for everything seeds, caraways, fennel, anise, coriander, you name it.  Nuts I chop in the Cuisinart processor if I make Marzipan (almond paste), what a money saver - doing it yourself.


Have fun !

hanseata's picture
hanseata

It seems that there is more and more to bake every year, lots of untried must-do recipes - so little time... what a predicament! I guess that's just a burden we bread addicts have to bear!


I know that Czechs like baking with poppy seeds, too. And they have such good pastries. What about some nice Czech recipes, Mary Clare?


All of you enjoy your holidays, good food, no family quarrels...


Karin

Mary Clare's picture
Mary Clare

I wish I could be of more help in authentic Czech recipes.  It was my dad that was Czech, and his mother died when he was six.  I have two Czech cookbooks; one is very old and assumes you know what to do with things like rabbits and dumplings, and the other book might have some good recipes, but has other American things in it like chocolate chip cookies!


I did make some fantastic kolaches from Mary Gubser's "American's Bread Book."  Light as air, and nothing like you would find in most bakeries today. (My sister worked in a Czech bakery while in high school in the 70's.)  Let me know if you'd like the recipe.


My mother made raw potato dumplings (rather heavy....), but I like mashed potato ones, and the recipe I ended up with is just like Lidia Bastianich's potato gnocchi recipe.  The Bohemian Cafe, a restaurant near my childhood home in Omaha, still a very thriving business, always has made steamed bread dumplings, also very good.


I don't care for sauerkraut : )  But I LOVE rye bread, especially the kind that was sold by the aforementioned Czech bakery, no longer in business : (  You can still get good rye bread in Omaha, but somehow it's not the same.


A Very Prosperous New Year to you!


Mary Clare in MO

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

Really appreciate your making the effort to post the recipes. I've been offline due to Christmas etc, or I would have gotten back to you earlier.


Looking forward to trying both!


Cheers
Ross

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

It actually isn't all that difficult, boiling in sugar etc., but the availability of the right orange is a bit of a challenge since a thin orange peel, as we have right now, does not want to part with its white and bitter undercoating. A thicker skin might be easier.


 

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Mary Clare, I would love to have the kolaches recipe. I don't care too much for sauerkraut, either, and I'm grossed out by the idea of eating it with corned beef on a sandwich (as in Reuben). Perhaps you might like my Feinbrot recipe - that might come close to the Czech rye: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/20242/karin039s-german-feinbrot


Ross, try them, I'm sure you will like both. I just came back from the store that sells my bread - I had given the nice people there a box of Lebkuchen as Christmas gift - and several complained that they had the day off when it came, and the next day not a crumb was left...


Anna, I made the orange peel myself. There was a recipe in the last "Fine Cooking" issue, and I used medium oranges. I followed breadsong's adivice of dipping the peels after each blanching in ice water to preserve the color, and it worked just fine. I have a lot left in the fridge, so maybe I have to make another stollen or pastry with it.

Mary Clare's picture
Mary Clare

Light and luscious!


I checked the book out of the library so often, I bought it for my own library.  Mary Gubser and her husband traveled to all 50 states over several trips, and she collected bread recipes all the way -- an interesting read.


3/4 cup sugar


12 T. salted butter


2 egg yolks 


2  1/4 cups milk, scalded and cooled, or a 15 oz. can evap. milk


plus enough water to make 2 1/4 cups


6  - 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour


2 teaspoons salt


IMPORTANT EDIT:  4 tsp. instant yeast


 


Cream sugar and butter until fluffy.  Add egg yolks and ....everything else.  I ended up adding more flour because the dough is pretty loose.  This dough is not kneaded, so resist the temptation!  Let rise in the bowl until double.  The dough is sticky! 


 


Pull off egg-sized pieces of dough with floured hands and put on parchment lined cookie sheets (about 50 kolaches, depending on size).  Don't expect the dough balls to look smooth -- they'll even out later.  Let rise about 45-60 minutes, and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Indent the dough with your floured thumb, or what have you.  Fill indentation with about a tablespoon of filling and sprinkle with posipka (crumb topping).  Bake about 10-15 minutes, depending on size -- watch them, they can burn.  Brush with melted butter and swoon as you take a bite!


Here's the recipe Mary Gubser gives for poppy seed filling:


1 cup ground poppy seed


4 T. butter


 1/4 cup milk


2 tsp. lemon juice


1/2 tsp. vanilla


1/2 cup sugar


Put all ingredients in a sauce pan, boil, then reduce heat the simmer about 5 minutes, until thickened.  Cool.


She has several fillings in the book-- prune, apricot, apple, and cottage cheese.  I can't remember if one recipe of filling will fill 50 kolaches (it doesn't sound like it does....I know I only made 1/2 recipe of dough since the full recipe is too much for us).  She mentions making several fillings the day ahead, and any leftover fillings can be used in coffeecakes, etc.


Posipka (streusel, crumb topping).  This is sprinkled on the filling before baking.


1 cup sugar


1/4 cup flour


1 tsp. cinnamon


2 T. melted butter


Blend all ingredients in a bowl until it looks like cornmeal.  This can be made in advance.


Kolaches can be frozen.


 


I should make some soon!


And actually, I got out my coffee/spice grinder, and it's a Krups, not a Cuisinart.  I'll be testing it out!


Happy kolache making!


Mary Clare in MO

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

had to be blanched. Would that help in removing the white underdcoating?


 

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Thanks, Mary Clare,


That sounds really nice! I'll love to try it out. In Germany I often made yeast dumplings with prune purree (Pflaumenmus) filling and a poppy seed/castor sugar topping - my kids loved it, but the whole thing came deep frozen in a package, and had only to be steamed.


I like all kinds of dumplings, the sweet ones more than the salty ones. In Germany this can be a main course, not just a dessert, same a sweet gratins with quark.


Karin

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Do you sprinkle the posipka over the filling, so it's inside of the kolaches, or do you sprinkle it over the kolaches?


Karin

Mary Clare's picture
Mary Clare

The posipka is sprinkled over the filling before baking.  I edited the recipe to be more clear about that....and also added the measurement for yeast, a rather important ingredient!


Mary Clare in MO

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Anna, I understand that blanching the peels repeatedly gets rid of the unpleasant bitterness of the remaining pith. Candied citrus always has a little bit of pith, it's not totally removed.


This is the recipe I used:


CANDIED CITRUS PEEL


4 oranges
or
8 lemons
315 g sugar, (1 1/2 cup)
Using a sharp knife, cut fruit lengthwise into eights; then cut off zest along with thin layer of white pith. Slice peels into 1/4 inch (6 mm) wide strips. (Save fruit for another use).

Put sliced peels in 3-quart heavy-duty saucepan and add enough water to cover. Bring to boil over high heat and blanch for 5 min.

Drain peels, dip strainer in bowl with ice water, cover with fresh water, bring to boil, and blanch again for 5 min. Repeat once more (3 times total).

Using the same saucepan, combine sugar and 1 cup water. Bring to boil over high heat. Add peels and reduce heat to low. Let simmer very gently - mixture should be just slightly bubbling - until they begin to look translucent, 40 - 60 min. Stir occasionally to ensure peels candy evenly.

Drain peels (reserving syrup for another use).* Dry on rack. Cut in cubes.
Store in airtight container in cool, dry place.


*In the original recipe the peels are not into cubes, as needed in pastry recipes, but rolled in more sugar, to be eaten as a snack.


The recipe was adapted from "Fine Cooking", the tip with the ice water came from breadsong.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

from blanching the peels is gently great for repelling all kinds of vermin!  It is loaded with orange oil.   Pour or spray in areas of the yard to repel cats and dogs, puppy spots in carpets or lightly mist your mattresses against dust mites. (filter out the bits with a paper towel or coffee filter) 

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Mini, as usually you have some great advice. I re-use the cooking liquid from rye berries for fertilizing my plants, but I never thought twice about dumping the citrus peel water.

I'll keep that in mind, when I prepare this year's stollen.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Karin