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.

Virginia Light Rolls, Page 86, December 22, 2017

I was in charge of dinner rolls for our traditional Christmas Eve Dinner at my cousin’s house.  We have missed this particular get together over the past few years and now that Mom and Dad are back home for the holidays, I am really looking forward to seeing everyone.

After making rolls for Thanksgiving and shaping them using the cloverleaf-style, I decided to attempt fantan-style rolls this time.  (More on the shaping escapades to follow the recipe)

Into the bread machine pan, I placed:

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk

3 tablespoons honey

2 large eggs

1 – 1/2 teaspoons salt

6 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

4 – 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons SAF yeast

I set the machine for the “Dough” cycle and set about greasing my muffin tins.  When the machine signaled the end of the cycle, I turned the dough out onto a lightly floured mat.

I then rolled the dough into a rectangle 18 x 14 inches and brushed the surface with melted butter.  At this point in my retelling, I am going to quote the cookbook directly.

“Cut the rectangle in half lengthwise, then cut each half into 3 long strips of equal width.  Stack the strips on top of each other to form a layered pile.  With a sharp knife, cut in half.  Cut each half into 6 equal portions.  Place each portion in a muffin cup with the cut edge facing up (they will open as they bake). Brush each with melted butter.”

I covered the rolls loosely with plastic wrap and allowed them to rise at room temperature for 45 minutes.

I am not sure what I did wrong, but I certainly did something. After rising, the rolls looked like something exploding our of the muffin tins.  I went ahead and baked them, at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, but for the second batch, I shaped them as cloverleaf rolls, following the same rising and baking instructions.

The rolls baked up golden brown and tasted delightful.  The issue I had was with the density.  They just seemed so heavy.  One of the dinner guests said the following, “They were very good but a little dense.”

Again, no photos. You will have to trust me that the first batch looked crazy.

 

 

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.”