Sunday, December 09, 2018

She Shapes Sea Shells out of Sugar

Do I look tired? Perhaps like I've been using every spare moment to make hundreds of tiny, candy seashells to decorate a three tiered cake later this month? Honestly, it isn't difficult, just boring as hell. Thankfully, I've had other holiday baking to keep me from falling asleep standing up. Being December, I thought you might like to try your hand at some of these as well, so here's a quick round-up of the better recipes from the blog.

Pulla Buns. These are cardamom rolls with a butter and sugar topping. They're sweet, but not overly so, and when stale are excellent split and toasted.

You Will Need:

2 cups milk, scalded and cooled to 130 degrees F.
5 1/2 teaspoons granulated yeast (not instant)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
5-6 cups plain flour (I replaced 1 cup with strong flour)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

Filling for buns:
1/2 cup butter cut into as many pieces as you have buns
1/2 teaspoon sugar for each bun


1 large egg beaten with 2 tablespoons milk. Top with parlsocker, almonds, or both

In a large mixing bowl, combine yeast, sugar, 4 cups of the flour, the salt, and cardamom. Add the milk, butter, and eggs and beat until soft and smooth. Add enough of the remaining flour until you have a soft dough. Cover, and let stand 30 minutes. 

Knead the dough well for 10 minutes or until elastic. Place in a greased bowl, turn once to coat, then cover and let rise until doubled-about 1 hour. 

Divide the dough into 20-36 pieces. Shape into smooth balls as you would for rolls, pulling under and pinching to make a smooth top. Set on a greased baking sheet (I used parchment as the butter in the buns gets a bit messy), cover, and let rise until puffy-30-45 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. 

Before baking, punch the butter pieces down into the roll, sprinkle with the sugar, then brush the entire bun with the glaze. Add sugar or almond topping. Bake 12-14 minutes (longer for larger buns) or until golden. Do not over bake. Cool on a rack. It wouldn't hurt to put some wax paper beneath the rack to catch dripping butter as the buns cool. 

Panettone. A richer, stickier version of what you can buy in the shops. This is an old photo. This year I bought the candied fruit rather than making my own. It is acceptable, but if you have the time to candy peel, etc. it does result in a nicer loaf. Still, I didn't hear any complaints and the loaves will probably be gone by the end of the week. Also, these days I just use anise extract and water rather than faffing about with the fennel seeds. Your call.

ou Will Need:

1/2 cup sultanas
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup candied cherries
1/2 cup maraschino cherries
1/2 cup chopped citron
1 cup dried currants
1/4 cup chopped crystalised ginger
1/2 cup chopped dried dates
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
warm water to cover fruit in bowl( about 1/2 cup)

2/3 cup whole milk, lukewarm
1/4 cup lukewarm water
4 1/2 teaspoons granulated yeast (not instant)
sugar (1/2 teaspoon with yeast, 1/2 cup with dough, 3 tablespoons for glaze)
1-1/2 cups bread flour, divided
3/4 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs plus 3 egg yolks, beaten
Grated zest of 1 orange
2 1/2-3 cups (or more) all purpose flour

1/4 cup of the soaking water from the fruit and the three tablespoons of reserved sugar. You can round up with water if you don't have enough soaking liquid. Bring it to a boil and remove from heat. Strain it through a fine sieve into a measuring glass.

In a bowl, soak the fruits and fennel seeds for half an hour until plump. You don't need to soak the cherries and citron.

Heat the milk in a saucepan until lukewarm. Place in a bowl with the warm water, 1/2 teaspoon sugar and the yeast. Let stand a minute and then stir to dissolve. Let stand about five minutes until it begins to proof. Add 1/2 cup of the bread flour and stir until smooth. Cover and let rest 30 minutes.

Stir the melted butter, 1/2 cup of sugar, salt, eggs and yolks, and orange zest into flour mixture. Add remaining bread flour and mix well. Add the purpose flour a cup at a time until it comes together in a ball. Remove from bowl and knead until smooth adding more flour if needed. Place in a buttered bowl, give it a turn and the cover. Let rise 1-2 hours or until doubled. Punch dough down, give it a fold and then return it to the bowl for another hour.

Remove bread from bowl. Drain fruit reserving liquid. Flatten dough into a large rectangle and top with half the fruit. Fold, and top with the rest of the fruit. Begin kneading it in( this will be a mess in the beginning, but persevere as it will event come together).

Fit the dough into a well-buttered tube pan (or 2 large coffee tins, etc.) trying to keep the dough as even in level as possible (you won't get it perfect so don't obsess over it). Cover with a towel and let rise another 60-90 minutes or until doubled.

Preheat the o 400 degrees F. Move a rack down to accommodate the tall bread. If using a tube pan, place it atop a baking sheet (butter drips, ya know). Bake it for 10 minutes and then turn the heat down to 350. The bread can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour depending on the size of the pan and whether you make one loaf or two. It may begin to get too dark before it is fully baked inside-just cover it loosely with a piece of foil and keep baking. You'll need a large wooden skewer to test for doneness and really, you need to watch it as it can go from wet batter to over baked in a matter of a few minutes depending on how much fruit you used and how moist it is. While the bread bakes, make the glaze.

When bread is done, cool in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes. Then run a knife around the inside and very carefully remove. Immediately glaze the hot bread with the syrup, giving it a generous coating (or three). Let stand until completely cool and dry. Store wrapped tightly in foil

Lebkuchen and Springerle. Wouldn't be Christmas without some biscuits, would it? 

For The Springerle (From Better Homes and Gardens Cookies and Candies, 1966)

4 large eggs
 1 lb (4 cups) icing sugar
20 drops anise oil (I used 1/2 teaspoon extract)
4 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarb
crushed anise seed for coating baking sheet

With a mixer, beat eggs until light. Add sugar slowly, and keep beating on high for 15 minutes or until it looks like soft meringue. Add anise oil. Sift flour and bicarb together. Add to mixture on low speed. Cover bowl tightly with foil, and let stand 15 minutes. 

Divide dough in thirds. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece into an 8 inch square. It should be just a bit thicker than 1/4 inch. Dust your press or mould with flour and press into dough firmly. With a sharp knife, cut apart and place on a floured surface to stand overnight covered with a tea towel.

Next day:
Heat the oven to 300 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet (or 2) and toss with 1-2 teaspoons crushed anise seed. This helps keep the biscuits from sticking. 

Brush excess flour from biscuits, and with a wet finger, lightly rub the underside of each. Bake 20 minutes, or until a light straw colour. Cool on racks, then store in an airtight container for a few days before serving.

For the Lebkuchen (From Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook, 1950)

1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup molasses
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 3/4 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarb
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup cut-up citron 
1/3 cup chopped nuts (I used sultanas)

Bring honey and molasses to a boil. Cool completely. Add brown sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest. Mix well. Sift together flour, bicarb, and spices. Add to mixture. Stir in citron and sultanas. Mix well, divide into 2, and wrap tightly in cling film. Chill overnight.

Next Day:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment (You'll be glazing these straight from the oven, and it is messy). Roll dough out 1/3 inch thick, and cut into oblongs. Press in dried fruit or nuts to decorate top. Place on a baking sheet 1 inch apart. Bake 10-12 minutes until they show no imprint when toughed lightly. As soon as they are out of the oven, glaze them (see recipe below) then cool on racks and store a few days before serving. 


1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water boiled to 230 degrees F. Remove from heat, and whisk in 1/4 cup icing sugar. Brush the hot icing over the lebkuchen thinly. If it gets hard or frosty-add a bit of water, and gently re-heat it. 

Coconut Kisses are always welcome and a good way to use up any extra egg whites.

You Will Need:

3 large egg whites at room temperature
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar (caster sugar works best if you have it)
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flaked coconut

Beat egg whites until foamy, then add the sugar a tablespoon at a time. When about half the sugar is added, beat in the vinegar. You need to keep beating until they are very fluffy-a good 10 minutes. Beat in vanilla and fold in coconut.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Drop by teaspoons, or pipe through a bag. Top with something festive, or leave plain and drizzle with melted chocolate later. I made mine large, but the recipe says you can get five dozen. I got about 18.

Bake 30-45 minutes until dry. Cool on rack.

Spritz are easy enough to manage. I don't think I would go as wild with the food colouring as I did here, if making them today. 

You Will Need:

1 cup soft butter
2/3 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Mix together the butter and sugar until light. Add the egg yolks and vanilla-mix well. By hand, mix in the flour and work until quite soft and pliable. Tint if desired. Force through press according to directions onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 7-10 minutes (mine took 8) until just set-do not let them brown. Cool on racks. Makes about 6 dozen cookies (I got about 4)

Anisette rosette biscuits. These are dry-ish, but wonderful with coffee. 

You Will Need:

3 cups sifted AP flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 tablespoons anise seed
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon anise extract if desired (I omitted this)

3 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
1/3 cup hot milk (I used water)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease two baking sheets.

Sift together dry ingredients. Cream together the butter and sugar until light. Beat in the eggs until well blended. Add the anise seed, lemon zest and lemon juice. Mix well. Add all BUT 1 cup of the sifted flour mixture. Beat well. By hand, work in the remaining amount of flour (I could not get it all in-about 1/8 cup remained, but it was fine). Knead about 1 minute until smooth. Divide into 8 parts. Roll each part into a length about 18 inches long. Cut into 5 parts. Roll each slightly and then cut, 1/2 inch intervals about halfway through log. Join ends. Place on a greased baking sheet. Bake 7-10 minutes. Cookies will not brown on top. Cool on rack. When cool, dip in glaze and let dry on a rack over a baking sheet. Decorate as desired. Makes 3 1/2 dozen.

After all that baking, you'll be needing a cocktail. Why not whip up some of these orange slices in whisky to garnish your drink? 

You Will Need:

Sterilised jars with appropriate lids (the recipe didn't insist on sterilising but, you know me)

1 lemon, thinly sliced

1 orange, thinly sliced

1 grapefruit, thinly sliced

Boiling water to cover

3 3/4 cups water (for syrup)

3 cups sugar

1/2 cup lemon juice

a few drops of orange and yellow food colouring

2/3 (or more) cup rye or bourbon

Wash the fruit well and slice thin. Place in a large pot and cover with boiling water. Boil gently (not vigorously) for twenty minutes. Drain the fruit and reserve them.

While fruit is cooking, make syrup by mixing the water, sugar and lemon juice in a pan and bringing slowly to a boil. Cook about five-seven minutes or until it just barely coats a spoon.

In two separate pots, place the oranges in one and the lemons and grapefruit in another. Add a few drops of yellow food colouring to the lemon/grapefruit pot and a few drops or orange to the oranges. Cover each with syrup and simmer slowly for 30 minutes, adding more syrup if needed. Let the slices cool and slice the larger ones in half. Combine them and then pack them in jars with syrup and bourbon. Seal the jars and chill the fruit in the fridge.

Make yourself a whiskey sour and go relax. OK, have a couple.

Yeah, I'm still sitting here. Hey, I'm tired.  Before I go make some more candy seashells, do you want to know about this outfit?

80s denim jumpsuit-Hand-Me-Ups
70's corduroy blazer with suede elbow patches-Goodwill
80s belt-Hand-Me-Ups
Lurex Dickie-Hand-Me-Ups
Earrings-K Mart

All Danny wanted for his birthday is some time at the batting cages (where a machine pitches a baseball at you in a cage so you don't need to worry about... ahem...breaking your mother's nose) and tickets to watch the Cubs minor league team in Des Moines this summer. Those are both very inexpensive gifts, but if that's what makes him happy, I'll drive him to Iowa to watch baseball. For his birthday dinner he's once again requested the terrifying pressed turkey loaf (Jennie-O) and Thanksgiving style side dishes. I kind of understand-Thanksgiving is his favourite holiday, so why limit the dressing and cranberries to once a year? I thought about baking a cake in the shape of a pie, but he requested something else. At 14, I'm not sure how much longer he will want to do this sort of thing (with his parents anyway) so I'm going all-out to give him a good birthday. I have 10 days to pull it off-keep your fingers crossed for me.

Anyone else baking something special for the holidays? I'd love to hear what you're up to.


Bibi Maizoon said...

All that & pressed loaf Jennie-O turkey too? Wowzers!
That looks more like an "I have had enough of your shit" look than fatigue. Those metallic boots are divine.
What a lovely assortment of Xmas treats! I use Betty Crocker's Lebkuchen recipe too- but with date syrup in place of molasses and orange juice & orange zest in place of lemon.
I made Zimtsterne (the recipe is on my blog today) and have Kruidnooten dough in the fridge to bake for the mosque.

Señora Allnut said...

woww, thanks for sharing these fab recipes, they look particularly yummy and not deadly difficult which I'm grateful for!
Curiously, biscuits are not considered traditional christmas food here in Spain, we have our own sugar overdose by nougat (turrón) and marzipans. Anything made of almonds and sugar, actually. ;DD

Vix said...

You don't look tired, just slightly pissed off but remarkably cool at the same time. Love those bronze boots.
That's a lot of baking. We don't do Xmas food - we'll go for a curry on Xmas day and that's. I've got a date with a string bikini in three weeks time! xxx

Vronni's Style Meanderings said...

Oh my, you have been busy! What a wonderful blog title by the way.

The recipes look fabulous; once again I was dribbling. Unfortunately, when I bake in this house it is mostly me who eats the result. OH doesn't eat much cake, nor son nor grandsons but I think my daughter would like the 'Coconut Kisses' and I may give them a try.

I didn't think you looked tired in your photo but definitely pissed off! Loved the outfit.

Isn't it lovely that Danny is so easily pleased? I hope he has a wonderful birthday. Can't believe he will be 14. My middle grandson is 14 in early January and a typical sullen, taciturn, teen permanently in front of a screen...I know it will pass but Lord please make it soon!

Have a great week.

Polyester Princess said...

We don't really do Christmas, which will be a quiet day with just the two of us here at Dove Cottage. Your recipes do look yummy. However, we've promised ourselves to take the time to try out one of Danny's State Fair recipes in the Christmas holidays. Will let you know how we get on ;-) I agree with Bibi and Vix that rather than tired, you look slightly pissed off, but I'm sure making hundreds of tiny candy seashells would have the same effect on me! Love the denim jumpsuit. I bought one myself a month or two ago, but I've yet to wear it. I won't look as great in it as you do, that's for sure. xxx

bahnwärterin said...

totally impressed by all the yummy recipes!
i´m very lazy with baking - some "mürbchen" will be the only one i do - if ever. but we live in x-mas-country (saxonia/east erzgebirge) so wie can buy real lebkuchen and perfect handmade stollen at every corner.....
love the jumpsuit look with soft browns - chic casual at its best!!

Mrs Rat said...

What an amazing assortment of holiday baking recipes---I will have to try some out, as they are all new to me. This year I made ginger-molasses, cocoa spice, and lemonade cookies to give to our neighbors and my husband's coworkers.

I hope that Danny's birthday is all that you both hope for! My husband and I enjoy baking something special for each other's birthdays (this year he made me an old fashioned gingerbread cake) and my mom often bakes us birthday pies... She made my husband an apple pie for his birthday this year. So you may have a whole lot more birthday baking in the years ahead---it just might not be every year, depending on how close or far apart you end up living when Danny is an adult. I still like having birthdays with my parents whenever we can---which is most years. We haven't missed many yet, and I'm in my late 20s.

Danny's birthday cake sounds like it will be amazing. You'll share photos when it's done, I hope? I can't wait to see those candy sea shells!

Beth Waltz said...

No springerle this year -- it's something to do the day after Thanksgiving, or not at all. (Has to age properly, methinks.) I'll prop the wooden molds about as holiday decorations. This is a green-and-brown Christmas since I'm not feeling very glitzy.

Me for the turkey roll or whatever makes a celebration pleasurable for the celebrants! I'm looking forward to an annual Christmas dinner at a local Chinese restaurant whose owners adore the scene in "Christmas Story" and offer to sing "Yingle Bells"...

Goody said...

I have a bottle of date syrup I've been wondering how to use-hadn't thought of replacing molasses with it. Gonna try that!

@Senora Allnut
I bought Danny a selection of Turron for his Birthday-curious to see if he likes them. My poor old teeth wouldn't try!

String bikinis don't come with a size limit ;)
Enjoy your curry and have a good trip to India.

I wouldn't worry too much about your grandson-that's pretty normal stuff for teens. The screens are like we were with televisions and our parents warning we'll get square eyes. Most questions to Danny are answered with either sarcasm or a shrug.

That's wonderful-hope it turns out well for you, otherwise we'll tell Danny he ruined your Christmas ;)
You will look incredibly chic as you always do! Can't wait to see it.

I definitely wouldn't bake if I lived where you do! Stollen is my least favourite thing to bake because of all the mess with candied fruit and icing sugar. I'll do it, but I will grumble about it.

@Mrs. Rat
Those cookies sound lovely, especially the lemonade ones. A Birthday pie is a wonderful idea. Danny insists he isn't moving away, ever. I guess I can give up on turning his bedroom into a sewing room ;)

Wish I'd known earlier, could have sent you some. Next year *(as the Cubs fans say...). hristmas in a Chinese restaurant sounds perfect. Hope you get a movie afterwards.

Mim said...

We made our own mincemeat for mince pies, and our own Christmas pudding (so much better than the bought ones). Your recipes look fab - I might have to try making my own lebkuchen next year, if I get time.

Radostin said...

You look SO GREAT in this outfit. All your baking! Just reading about it and I'm ready for a drink!