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Archive for the ‘German-Austrian Style’ Category

Stollen is a traditional rich Christmas bread eaten in Austria and Germany.  It is full of dried fruits and candied peel with hidden marzipan centre topped with a drizzle of glace icing.  The way the yeast dough is rolled around the marzipan log is intended to remind us of the cloths that swaddled baby Jesus in the manger.  The usual shape is to simply fold the sides of the dough in over the marzipan centre so there is a central ridge.  I decided to make my Stollen dough into a plait so it looked more like swaddling bands.  I make Stollen on Christmas eve to eat at Christmas morning breakfast.  If there is any left later in the week it is lovely toasted.

The recipe I use comes from the book Delia Smith’s Christmas (1990 edition).  It is worth making a double quantity, especially if you have guests for Christmas. Delia says it freezes very well, though I have never done so.  Despite Delia’s original instructions saying that you should not use easy blend yeast, I have used it very successfully and have amended the instructions accordingly.  The remaining ingredients are as listed in the original recipe, but are simply added in a slightly different order. Delia suggests a light glaze of glace icing, but I simply dust my Stollen with icing sugar, which is more traditional making it much less sweet.  I also decided to make my own marzipan, which was very quick and simple: better than buying it ready made.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Stollen

5fl oz/150ml milk
2oz/50g caster sugar
1 sachet easy blend yeast
12oz/350g strong white bread flour
¼level teaspoon salt
4oz/110g softened butter
1 large egg, beaten
1½ oz/40g currants
2oz/50g sultanas
1½ oz/40g no-soak apricots, chopped
1oz/25g glacé cherries, rinsed, dried and quartered
1oz/25g mixed candied peel, finely diced
1oz/25g almonds, chopped
grated zest ½ lemon
6oz/175g marzipan – home made is so easy!

For the glaze:
4oz (110g) icing sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon lemon juice
alternatively
1tsp (aprox) icing sugar

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 190oC/375oF/Gas 5

2.  Warm the milk, first of all, till you can just still dip your little finger in it.  Warm the butter until just starting to melt.

3.  Sieve the flour into a large bowl reserving a little to flour the surface when you knead later – about 1oz/25g.   Add the salt, sugar and yeast and combine. 

4.  Pour in the warmed milk, part melted butter and egg.  Mix together well with your hands. 

5.  Begin to pull the mixture together into a ball.  When it is well blended and leaves the side of the bowl cleanly, turn it out onto a floured work surface.  Knead until it starts to lose its stickyness and becomes a smooth ball.

6.  Flatten the ball onto the work surface and pile the fruits, peel, nuts and lemon zest onto the middle.  Fold the edges of the dough over the fruits and continue to knead, distributing the added ingredients as evenly as possible.  If any pieces fall out then just push them back into the mixture.  Continue to knead the dough until it is springy and elastic – about 5 minutes more.

7.  Return the dough to the bowl and leave the dough in a warm place, covered with a clean tea towel or a layer of plastic, until it has doubled in size.  I use the airing cupboard. (The time the dough takes to rise varies depending on the temperature and it could take up to 2 hours.)

8.  Turn the risen dough onto a board floured with the reserved 1 oz (25 g) of flour.  Knead the dough, knocking the air out of it and continue kneading until it is smooth and elastic.  Roll or press out the dough to an oblong 10 x 8 inches (25 x 20 cm).

9.  Using your hands, roll the marzipan into a sausage shape that almost fits the length of the oblong.  Place this along the centre of the dough, finishing just short of the edges.

10.  Either: Fold the dough over the marzipan (for the traditional shape),
or: make 3 or 4 diagonal slashes along the long edges of the dough.  Alternately fold each one over the marzipan to give a plaited appearance, making sure the marzipan is fully enclosed. (This gives the appearance of swaddling bands.)

11.  Carefully place the Stollen on a baking sheet, big enough to allow for expansion. Leave it to prove in a warm place until doubled in size once more.

12.  Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes. Leave it to cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes and then lift it on to a wire rack to finish cooling.

13.  For a glazed Stollen: Mix the sifted icing sugar with the lemon juice.  Using a small palette knife spread it over the top of the stollen (while still warm).
For a icing dusted Stollen:  Gently sprinkle icing sugar over the Stollen while still warm.  I find the easiest way of getting a fine powder rather than lumps of sugar  is to rub it through a plastic mesh tea strainer or similarly fine sieve.

14.  Serve as fresh as possible, cut into thick slices, with or without butter.  It also toasts well when it is no longer fresh.

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I love Lebkuchen, the spiced Christmas-time biscuits from Germany which are slightly soft rather than crisp.  They are often called German Gingerbread with the most famous type originating from Nuremburg. The German Food Guide gives more information on the different types of Lebkuchen.  This recipe is for the most well known type: Brown Lebkuchen, but there is a lesser known White Lebkuchen made with almonds and candied fruits. Brown Lebkuchen can be either iced or chocolate covered.  It was not easy tracking down a brown Lebkuchen recipe.  There was nothing on my extensive cookbook shelves or in the library, and although there are lots of references to Lebkuchen online the recipes I found were written for US cups rather than UK or European measures.  (I know there are conversion tables but I find them rather confusing and baking is a precise art!)  My only comment on the finished biscuits, which were lovely, was that we would have liked some other spices.  Other online recipes included cinnamon, nutmeg and/or cardamom.  I will definitely make Lebkuchen another year and I will try adding a bit of one or two other spices to see whether they improve an already good recipe.  If they do I will update this post. (By the way, you really cannot detect the chilli heat, so don’t worry about including it as an ingredient.)

I had almost given up my hunt until a chance conversation with a cookery loving friend – thank you Jo – who lent me a delightful little book, a charity shop purchase.  In the book: Making Gingerbread Houses and other Gingerbread Treats by Joanna Farrow, was the Lebkuchen recipe I had been seeking, plus instructions for decorating the finished biscuits.  Truly this is a book for those who like to mess around in the kitchen, also giving recipes for golden and chocolate gingerbread and how to form them into the most amazing Gingerbread creations, including ideas for using crushed boiled sweets as stained glass windows.  (As the gingerbread bakes the sweets melt and form a brittle coloured shell.)  Wish I had visited the charity shop first!

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Lebkuchen
(Makes 40-50 biscuits, depending on the size of your cutters)

115g/4ozs unsalted butter, softened
115g/4ozs light muscovado sugar
1 egg, beaten
115g/4ozs black treacle
400g/14ozs self-raising flour
5ml/1tsp ground ginger
2.5ml/½tsp ground cloves
1.4ml/¼tsp chilli powder

1.  Cream the butter and sugar together until they are pale in colour and fluffy.

2.  Beat in the egg and treacle.

3.  Sift the flour, ground ginger, ground cloves and chilli powder into the bowl.  Using a wooden spoon gradually mix the ingredients together to make a stiff paste. 

4.  Turn this paste onto a lightly floured surface and lightly knead until it is smooth.

5.  Wrap and chill this dough for at least 30minutes.  (I left mine in the fridge overnight.)

6.  Grease two or three baking sheets. Pre-heat the oven to 180oC/350oF/Gas 4

7.  Divide the dough into equal portions, one for each cutter you are using.  I used three different shapes of about 4.5cm/1¼inch: heart, square and round, each of which was differently decorated.  Roll out the dough on a floured surface to a  thickness of ¼in/8mm.  Cut out the shapes and place on the baking sheet with a space between each to allow for a very small amount of expansion.  The dough can be re-rolled and cut, using a little additional flour to stop it sticking, until it is all used up.

8.  Chill trays of uncooked Lebkuchen for 30 minutes.

9.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.  Once cool the biscuits can be stored in a well sealed container until you are ready to decorate and/or eat them.

10.  Decorate each shape in a different way.  When they are finished, leave in a cool place to set, but do not refrigerate as this will spoil the shiny appearance of the chocolate.  Suggestions include:

a)  Make an Icing Glaze: mix together 1tbsp lightly beaten egg white and 1tbsp lemon juice with enough sifted icing sugar until you have a mixture which is like thin cream and thinly coats the back of a spoon.  Use this to cover the biscuits, tapping the wire tray as in a) to evenly distribute the glaze.  This lemony glaze is a lovely complement for the ginger flavour as well as being very traditional.

b)  Melt dark chocolate in a dish over a pan of boiling water (or very carefully in the microwave) and coat the biscuits.  Do this on a metal rack over a tray.  Tapping the tray slightly will help the chocolate run evenly over the biscuit.  Add a decoration of chocolate sprinkles while still wet.

c)  As a) but melt a little white chocolate in the same way in a separate bowl. Once the first dark coat is dry, pipe a decoration of white chocolate stripes or carefully drizzle with chocolate. (This could be reversed with dark stripes on a white coating for those who like white chocolate.)

d)  As a) using dark chocolate and a dusting of sifted icing sugar while still slightly wet.

e) As a) using white chocolate and a dusting of cocoa powder while still slightly wet.

f) A thin layer of marzipan under a coating of chocolate.  Other decoration if you wish.

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White Lebkuchen

As mentioned above, there is another type of Lebkuchen made with ground almonds and decorated with candied peel.  I plan to try this recipe for White Lebkuchen from the Good Food Channel website another year.

Thick Chocolate Fruit & Nut Lebkuchen

Lebkuchen can also be cut twice as thick (making half as many finished biscuits, of course) giving a softer more chewy biscuit/cake.  These thick Lebkuchen are covered with a coating of dark chocolate as in a) above and then decorated with glace cherries, almonds and walnuts. 

These are both something to try another time and I will make a separate post if they are successful.

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