I am on a never ending roller coaster of procrastination and acting like a kaput. I truly believe that Christmas decorations should go up after Thanksgiving but this year my stuff is still in the boxes. I like to put it up on Black Friday but as you all know I was having date with Netflix, but that changes today. Boxes are coming out and that little corner of my house is gonna look pretty soon!
Making bread may seem like an inutile work. But the breads available in grocery store, well let’s not use some words here, but they should be thrown away. Check out the label once, it is full of words no normal person can pronounce unless of course you are Graduate of Chemistry or some kind of scientist. If you don’t have access to some really good bread bakery around, get down to making some breads at home, it is worth your effort. And then there are people like us who live in dark, cold winters with temperatures below freezing and you are stuck inside with nothing do to but dirty laundry, making breads could illuminate your day and make your home smell like you live in heaven. Of course you will finish your laundry too while your bread is rising and proofing.
Yeast is invariably the culprit behind people running as far as they could from bread baking but once you learn the ropes it is easy, only catch is you should be home for few hours. This is the first time I used fresh yeast and I was little skeptical too, but once I saw the dough rising I was breathing normally. You can use instant or active dry too. My rule of thumb is whichever yeast I use I let it bloom in whatever liquid the recipe calls for, that way I know yeast isn’t dead or too old.
Christbrot is a type of German holiday bread like Stollen but lighter and less sweeter. Stollen dough traditionally requires two weeks of resting period before you bake it. Also this dough sans spices lets the orange flavor shine through. The dough rises three times, first without the add ins so the yeast gets a chance to be fully active. The dough is on the dryer side so working with hands is the best thing. Yes when you read the recipe and see double coating of sugar don’t be aghast; you need it as dough itself has very less sugar. Turn your dull as dishwater day into something fun to do, culminating in a delicious bread, oozing with rum soaked raisins and citrusy enchantment in every bite.
Recipe from Classic German Baking
Makes 2 loaves
- 110 grams/ 3/4 cup raisins
- 100 grams/ 3/4 cup chopped candied orange peel
- 100 grams/ 3/4 cup chopped candied citron peel
- 60 grams/ 1/4 cup dark rum
- 600 grams/ 4 3/4 cup all purpose flour, plus little extra for dusting
- 35 grams/ 1 1/4 ounce fresh yeast or 1 ½ teaspoon instant yeast
- 120 grams/ 1/2 cup whole milk, lukewarm
- 120 grams/ 8.5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled (preferably European)
- 2 eggs, large
- 70 grams/ ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 lemon, zest only
- 110 grams/ 3/4 cup blanched almonds, chopped
- 100 grams/ 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 vanilla bean
- 130 grams/ 9 tablespoons, unsalted butter (preferably European)
- 100 grams/ 13 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- Two days before making bread soak raisins, orange peel and citron peel in the rum. Stir occasionally, cover and set aside.
- On the day of making bread, place the flour in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in center and add freshly crumbled yeast. Pour lukewarm milk over yeast and stir carefully with a fork; taking little bit of of surrounding flour. Cover with a kitchen towel and let it rest for 5 minutes. Whisk together butter, eggs, sugar, salt and zest. After minutes of rest, add egg mixture to it and mix the dough to form a shaggy dough.
- If using instant yeast; whisk together flour, yeast, sugar, salt and lemon zest. In a separate bowl whisk milk, butter and eggs. Pour this milk mixture over flour mixture and form a shaggy dough, proceed to kneading.
- Transfer the dough into a work surface and knead in for five to seven minutes, it should be smooth. Put the dough in a large bowl, cover with kitchen towel and rest for 30 minutes.
- Transfer the dough into work surface and pat it into a half inch thick. Add the almonds, soaked raisins and peels along with any rum remaining at bottom evenly. Press it down and start kneaded it by lifting the corners. You should have around dough and well distributed add ins. Place the dough into the bowl and let it rest for 45 minutes.
- Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Divide the dough into two using a weight scale if you have one. Form two round loaves and place it on baking pan leaving few inches between. Cover with a kitchen towel and let it rest for 30 to 45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°F.
- Bake for 35 minutes, until loaves are golden brown.
- While loaves are baking, put 2 tablespoons granulated sugar with vanilla bean in a food processor and pulse till sugar is powdered and vanilla is powdered. Combine this mix with remaining granulated sugar, keep aside.
- Remove baking pan and place it on cooling rack for 5 minutes. Transfer loaves to cooling rack. Start brushing the loaves with butter, keep going till all butter is gone. Sprinkle evenly with vanilla sugar and sift the confectioners’ sugar all over it. Let the loaves cool completely. Can be frozen for about a month (wrapped in aluminium foil and freezer safe bag, defrost at room temperature).