Our oven has been rather busy lately, especially with the Christmas cookies that my wife likes to make at this time of year. In spite of all of that going on, I still managed to work in three different breads yesterday.
First up was the Tyrolean Christmas Zelten from The Rye Baker:
These gems are essentially fruit and nut loaves lightly glued together with the smallest possible amount of dough. Raisins, golden raisins, chopped figs, pine nuts, and any of hazelnuts/almond/walnuts spend the night in a rum soaker. (I used almonds.) Right alongside those, candied lemon and orange peel have their own beauty bath in white wine. The next day, rye flour, all purpose flour, fennel, anise, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, lemon zest, orange zest, sugar, salt, egg, and water after blended into a dough. After the dough has risen, both soakers are combined with the dough. The soakers contribute enough liquid that the dough becomes more of a batter but you soldier on and shape three loaves on parchment or a pan liner. After baking and cooling, the loaves are wrapped or bagged and allowed to ripen for a couple weeks. These should be ready when the kids come to town for New Year.
The second bread was Bagguettes with Poolish from Hamelman's Bread, Vol. 2.
The baguette choir was singing as these cooled. Since my wife wanted these as the base for crostini, the less than stellar slashing isn’t particularly worrisome and the somewhat bready texture will actually accommodate the toppings better than a wide-open crumb. “It's not a bug; it's a feature!” Or something like that. I used the metric quantities, divided by 10. Per Hamelman, that should yield four 22-inch bagguettes. Knowing that mine would be 15-16 inches in length, I opted to make six instead of four from the same batch.
The third bread was a perennial favorite here on TFL, Cream Cheese Braids:
There was a batch of unused blueberry filling lurking in the refrigerator from a recent class, so that was the primary motive for baking these. Were I making them specifically for a holiday gathering, I might have chosen the cranberry filling, instead. Since no one has ever turned these down previously, I don’t expect to hear any grumbling about them this evening.
Sometime in the next week or two, I need to make a rye bread, too. If anyone has a suggestion for one that would be a good analog for the miniature cocktail rye breads that sometimes show up at the deli, I’m all ears...