Venetian Panettone, page 523, December 24, 2017

I am making this recipe for our family’s Christmas Brunch. There are instructions in Ms. Hensperger’s cookbook for baking a single large loaf or 2 smaller, freeform loaves.  I am making the smaller and will only include those instructions in this post.

In a small bowl, I placed:

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/3 cup minced dried apricots (could also use orange confit)

2 tablespoons candied citron (could also use minced dried pineapple)

I tossed the dried and candied fruit with 2 tablespoons of flour and set it aside.

Into the bread machine went the following:

1 cup water

2 tablespoons honey

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

3 large egg yolks

2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (could also use Fiori di Sicilia)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3 cups bread flour

3 tablespoons vanilla sugar

2 teaspoons SAF yeast

The machine was programmed for the dough cycle and started.  I then set a kitchen timer for 10 minutes.  After the timer went off, I unplugged the machine and allowed the dough to rise for 1 hour and 15 minutes. While the dough was rising, I lined a baking sheet with parchment paper and prepared a lightly floured mat to work on. According to the cookbook, the dough should have risen until it was nearly to the top of the pan.  It hadn’t, so I have it another 30 minutes of rising time before progressing to the next step.

After it had risen, I turned the dough ball out onto my floured mat and patted it into a large rectangle.  I sprinkled the floured fruit of the dough and folded it over, kneading gently to distribute the fruit.

The next step was to divide the dough into 2 equal pieces and to form those pieces into 2 tight round balls.  I placed the balls onto the parchment covered baking sheet 3 inches apart and using kitchen shear, but an “X” 1/2 inch deep into the top of each loaf.

I then covered the loaves loosely with plastic wrap and let rise another hour.

About 20 minutes before baking, I preheated the oven to 375 degrees.

When the loaves had sufficiently risen, I used the kitchen shears to “redefine” the X on each loaf.  I then inserted a 1/2 tablespoon piece of butter into each cut. The loaves were then baked for 30 minutes.

panettone

These loaves have a golden brown crust and chewy interior.  It was not too sweet, and the flavor was lovely.

 

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Portuguese Sweet Bread, page 514, December 22, 2017

Yet another loaf for gifting at Christmas, this loaf is supposed to be reminiscent of a Portuguese holiday bread known as Pão Doce. Ms. Hensperger recommends serving it toasted for breakfast with jam or lemon curd, but mentions it is also good with a sweet wine for dessert.

Into the bread machine, I added:

2/3 cup evaporated milk

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoons water

2 large eggs

3 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3 cups bread flour

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1 tablespoon instant potato flakes

2 teaspoons gluten

2 1/2 teaspoons SAF yeast

This loaf requires the dark crust setting and can be baked using either the Basic or Sweet bread cycles.  I used Basic.

portuguese Sweet] Oh, boy, this one really reminds me of Hawaiian Sweet Bread.  The lemon and vanilla flavors marry well and this texture is tender and slightly chewy.

Here are my cousin, Faye’s thoughts:

“The next time you make your Portuguese Sweet Bread, try is as bread for French Toast. AWESOME!  I tried it as is and with jam, and the flavor was so good as it but also made great French Toast. Yum!”

Dutch Sugar Loaf, page 434, December 21, 2017

This recipe sounds interesting. Crushed sugar cubes baked into a loaf of bread?  We shall see.

The first step in preparing this loaf is to place 2/3 cups of sugar cubes in a heavy clear plastic freezer bag and, using the smooth side of a meat mallet, crack the cubes. You want them still to be chunky (no smaller than 1/4 cube).  Add 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon and a small pinch of ground cloves to the bag and toss to coat.  Set aside.

The following ingredients go into the bread machine pan:

1 1/8 cups fat free milk

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

3 cups bread flour

1 tablespoon gluten

2 teaspoons SAF yeast

This loaf uses the “Sweet Bread” and “Medium Crust” settings.  Five minutes into the kneading segment, I sprinkled half the sugar and spice mixture over the dough.  Three minutes later, I added the rest.

This smelled great while it was baking, the cinnamon scent permeated the house.  It baked up well rounded with a dark crust.

dutch sugar]The blend of cinnamon and sugar flavor here is amazing.  Throughout the loaf there are these moist, sugary pockets and the whole loaf tastes like cinnamon toast.  This is another loaf that I think would make wonderful French toast.

Cranberry – Golden Raisin Bread with Cardamom, page 443, December 20, 2017

I am gifting bread to a few people this Christmas and this is the first loaf I am including in the gift baskets.  I will write all these recipes as I bake, but will not post them on the website until after Christmas.

According to Ms. Hensperger, traditionally Scandinavian Raisin Breads include cardamom.  I am used to raisin breads spiced with cinnamon, so it will be interesting to see how this loaf differs from what I know.

Because I am baking several loaves, then gifting them all later, I want to be sure not to allow the bread to dry out.  Here I am paraphrasing the author’s instructions for freezing bread:

First, be aware that freezing bread at home will keep it fresh for a maximum of 3 months.  Longer than that, and your bread will definitely become stale.  To freeze bread or rolls, first bake and then cool completely at room temperature.  (If your recipe calls for glazing or icing, that should not be done before freezing, but just prior to serving.)  Once the loaf or rolls are completely cooled, wrap whole or pre-sliced loaves first in good quality plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil or a plastic freezer bag.  (A double layer or freezer bags is also acceptable.

To thaw, let the loaf or rolls stand at room temperature for about 3 hours.

That said, I placed my ingredients in the bread machine in the following order:

1 1/4 cups water

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

3 cups bread flour

1/4 cup nonfat dry milk

1 tablespoon gluten

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

2 teaspoons SAF yeast.

After selecting the light crust and sweet bread settings, I measured out the cranberries and golden raisins to add later in the cycle.

When the machine indicated the point between kneads 1 and 2, I added:

2/3 cup golden raisins

2/3 cup dried cranberries

This loaf baked up beautifully, with a rounded dome and golden brown colored crust.  I didn’t think to take any photographs of this one though, and this is one I haven’t been able to taste test.  I spoke with one of my recipients today and she will let me know what they think after they try it.  I will update this post at that time.

 

Amaretto Bread, page 518, December 20, 2017

This is another of my “Christmas Gift” breads this year.  This recipe includes both amaretto liqueur and eggnog so it will taste, I hope, delicious and be reminiscent of the holiday season in every bite.

The note included by the author mentions that if your eggnog is thick, you may need to add another tablespoon or so to the amount listed.  I have kind of a standard commercial eggnog here, so I will be using the amount from the recipe.

The first step in the preparation of this bread is to preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  While that is heating, coarsely chop 3/4 cup (3 ounces) whole almonds.  Then, spread the almonds evenly on a clean baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted, 5-7 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Into the bread machine pan went the following:

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon commercial eggnog

1/4 cup amaretto liqueur

2 large egg yolks

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces  (can substitute 2 tablespoons almond oil)

3 cups bread flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon gluten

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

2 1/2 teaspoons SAF yeast

Set crust for medium and use the “Basic” bread setting.  When the machine beeped indicating the cycle point between Knead 1 and Knead 2, I added the chopped, toasted almonds.

As the loaf baked, it smelled really lovely. I noted the eggnog scent more than the amaretto, though.  The finished loaf had a dark crust and nice dome shape.

amaretto

This recipe recommends a dusting of Almond Confectioners’ Sugar prior to serving.  I prepared the sugar using the following recipe, and planned to include a small container with each gift.

Place 1 cup blanched almonds in the workbowl of a food processor with 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar.  Process until finely ground and fluffy.  Add another 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar and process until a fine powder is created.  This created a fluffy sugar that, stored in an airtight container, will keep at room temperature for up to 1 month.

That shared, I totally forgot to include any of the Almond Sugar with the gifts, so now I have a rather large container of Almond Confectioners’ Sugar here at home that I have to figure out what to do with.

This loaf is only slightly sweet with a soft, chewy texture.  The flavor is good, but it doesn’t scream Eggnog or Amaretto.  I enjoyed it, and would make it again.

I got a couple quotes from my cousins, Cathy and Michael on this loaf.

“Delicious Toasted!”

“It is great toasted with honey and butter.”

 

Welsh Bara Brith and Pumpkin Apple Butter, Goodbye Downton Abbey

My sister and I decided to get together for a little tea party and viewing of the series finale of Downton Abbey. (I will miss that show.) I thought this would be a good opportunity to use my mom’s bread machine to make a quick bread, and a spread.  (Her machine has both of those settings.)

The Welsh Bara Brith is very similar to what we in America think of as a fruitcake, however, the dried fruit is soaked in Earl Grey Tea instead of liquor.    I deviated from the recipe a bit, I will mark deviations with parentheses.

The night before I was going to make the bread, I boiled 1 1/4 cups of water and poured that into a 4 cup glass measuring cup.  To the water, I added 2 Earl Grey tea bags and let that steep for 10 minutes.  I then removed the tea bags, squeezing them to release all the tea.  To the tea, I added 4 oz of chopped dried apricots, 2 oz of dried cranberries and 2 oz of chopped dried figs.  I allowed that to come to room temperature, and then put it in the refrigerator overnight. (The recipe called for 8 oz of chopped dried fruit, so I used what I had on hand. The recipe also says to let the fruit soak for 1 to 4 hours.)

In the morning, I added the following to the bread machine pan:

The tea-soaked fruit, with liquid

1 large egg

1/2 cup milk

1 tablespoon of unsalted butter, melted (the recipe says that the butter can be melted, or at room temperature)

3 tablespoons of apricot preserves (The recipe calls for your choice of apricot preserves, orange marmalade or ginger marmalade)

1 cup light brown sugar

2 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1 cup dark raisins (recipe says dark or golden)

1/2 cup candied cherries (Here was a big deviation, the recipe said candied orange peel, I used what I had on hand)

2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons apple pie spice

3/4 teaspoon salt

The recipe says to used the Quick Bread/Cake cycle on the machine and then, when the timer goes off, use the bake only cycle for another 20 minutes, or until the top is firm to the touch, it shrinks slightly from the sides of the pan, and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  (20 extra minutes was no where near long enough,  I kept adding time, in 20 minute increments until the loaf was done.  All total, I think I may have added another hour or more.)

Once the loaf was done, I removed it, still in the pan, to a rack to cook for 1o minutes.  After that, I removed it, right side up, to the rack to cool completely, then I sliced it and stored the slices in the refrigerator until teatime.

After cleaning the pan, I started my Pumpkin Apple Butter. According to the cookbook, this recipe is adapted for the bread machine from a Libby’s recipe.

Into the bread machine pan, I placed:

15 oz of pumpkin puree

1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and grated

1/2 cup unsweetened, unfiltered apple juice

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

I set the machine for the Jam cycle and let it go.  When the cycle completed, I removed the pan and stirred in 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter.  I waited until the mixture was cool before transferring it to small containers to freeze.  You can also store this in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.

The bread was dense, moist, and totally delicious.  Not being a fan of fruitcake, I was a little worried that I would not like this, but the tea made all the difference.

Welsh Bara Brith

The pumpkin apple butter was great also, but not really needed with the bread.  It was better with plain English Muffins or over biscuits.  The cookbook recommends serving the bread spread with butter, and I think that may be the best way to appreciate all the great flavors in it.  Since I can’t eat a lot of dried fruit, I sent the leftovers with Becky and she took them to work to get more opinions.  I also gave her the leftover Apricot Preserves, so she offered that with it as well.

Here is what our taste testers at Steamboat Animal Hospital had to say,

“Favorite so far”

“Iz Goood!”

“I love the tea soaked fruit.You can really taste the tea.  I tried it w/marmalade and without. . . both ways are delicious. I love the consistency of the bread and the mix of flavors are each distinct, but go together very well. Two thumbs up.”

“So Good!  Would have never thought of soaking the fruit in tea for baking – genius!  How can I get my hands on a whole loaf?”

“Dank”  (I totally had to use the urban dictionary online to define that one. . . an expression frequently used by stoners and hippies for something of high quality.) LOL

All in all, this one is a keeper, and will possibly show up again around the holidays.

Not sure if this would be good enough to serve the Grantham Family upstairs, but I am sure the staff downstairs would approve.  (Well, maybe not Mr. Carson.)

Cinnamon-Apple-Pecan Bread, page 446, July 27, 2015

Onward and upward.  One more loaf before I head out in the morning, then I will bake a couple when I get to my mom’s.  This one is touted by the author as “the ultimate breakfast bread.”  From the ingredients, it sure sounds like that will be an apt description.

Ingredients for this loaf go into my bread machine in the following order:  1 1/8 cups buttermilk, 2 tablespoons walnut oil, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, 3 cups bread flour, 3 tablespoons light brown sugar, 1 tablespoon cinnamon (yeah, a whole tablespoon,) 1 tablespoon gluten and 2 teaspoons SAF yeast.  I have set the machine for a medium crust and the basic bread cycle.

While that gets going, I chop up 1/2 cup dried apples and 1/3 cup pecans.  They will be added when the machine signals between Kneads 1 and 2.

As I check the dough after the first mix, it seems really dry. I will add more buttermilk, a little at a time, until the consistency looks right.  I am concerned that the first knead won’t be enough to blend the buttermilk in completely.  Please don’t let me end my night with another brick.

It was looking really ugly, so before adding the apples and pecans, I tossed the dough and started over.  This time, I added 1 more tablespoon of buttermilk during the mixing phase and it already looks better.

IMG_4373

This loaf didn’t rise terribly high, but that is what I am expecting from the sweeter loaves anymore.  Still it looks significantly better than the Greek Currant Bread I did earlier today.  It smells really lovely, too.  The scent of apples and cinnamon is always a delight.

My cousin-in-law(?), Brian, comments on a lot of my bread recipes, so I sent him half a loaf of this.  Here’s what he had to say:

” Thank you Paula for the wonderful bread! Love it! Ate half but going to toast the rest cuz I am all about that toast. Much thanks.”