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The Green Parent

By The Green Parent

17th December 2020

Festive breads have played a central role in religious feast days and seasonal celebrations for thousands of years. These breads are often highly flavoured using fresh eggs and butter, fruit and exotic spices. Here’s a selection.

The Green Parent

By The Green Parent

17th December 2020

The Green Parent

By The Green Parent

17th December 2020

Christmas Stollen

WHAT YOU NEED 200g dried currants 100g chopped candied peel 100g chopped blanched almonds Zest of 2 lemons, grated 1⁄2 tsp ground cardamom 1⁄4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg A pinch of black pepper 1⁄2 tsp vanilla extract 3 tbsp dark rum 6 tsp dried yeast 250ml tepid milk 500g strong white flour 1 1⁄2 tsp salt 100g granulated sugar 150g unsalted butter, softened Icing sugar for dusting

METHOD

1 Place the dried fruits, peel, nuts, lemon zest, spices and pepper in a bowl. Pour over the vanilla extract and rum, then leave to soak for two hours.

2 Sprinkle the yeast into the milk in a bowl. Leave for five minutes, stir to dissolve. Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeasted milk.

3 Use a wooden spoon to draw enough of the flour into the yeasted milk to form a soft paste. Cover with a tea towel and leave to “sponge” until frothy and risen, about 20 minutes. Add the sugar and butter to the flour well. Mix in the flour to for a soft, firm dough.

4 Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a buttered bowl and cover with a tea towel. Leave to rise for about 1 1⁄2 hours until doubled in size.

5 Knock back, then leave to rest for 10 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, use the palms of both hands to flatten the dough into a square about 1in thick. Scatter the fruit and almond mixture evenly over the dough and knead gently until evenly distributed.

6 Roll the dough out on a lightly floured work surface to form a flat oval, 14in long and 1in thick. Place on a buttered baking sheet. Make a lengthways indentation down the centre. Fold the dough in half lengthways, leaving a 1in flap. Press the flap over to seal.

7 Use your hands to plump a small, rounded ridge down the centre. Cover with a tea towel, and prove for about one hour, until doubled in size.

8 Bake in the preheated oven for 1 1⁄2 hrs until firm, and when a metal skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack. Dust with icing sugar, then store in an airtight container for at least one week.

Challah (Jewish Sabbath Bread)

WHAT YOU NEED 2 tsp dried yeast 200ml water 500g strong white flour 1⁄2 tsp salt 2 tbsp runny honey 2 eggs, beaten 60g unsalted butter, melted Egg glaze, made with 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tbsp water 2 tsp poppy seeds to decorate

METHOD

1 Sprinkle the yeast into the water in a bowl. Leave for five minutes then stir to dissolve. Sprinkle the yeast into the milk in a bowl. Leave for five minutes, stir to dissolve. Mix the flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the yeasted water

2 Use a wooden spoon to draw enough of the flour into the yeasted water to form a soft paste. Cover with a tea towel and leave to “sponge” until frothy and risen, about 20 minutes.

3 Add the honey, beaten eggs and melted butter to the flour and mix well. Mix in the flour from the sides to form a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth, shiny and elastic, about 10 minutes.

4 Put the dough in a buttered bowl, turning to coat evenly with the butter. Cover with a tea towel. Leave to rise for about two hours until doubled in size.

5 Knock back, then rest for 10 minutes. Divide into three equal pieces. Roll out each piece to form a 16in long rope. Use the flattened palms of your hands to taper the ends of each rope, so that it is thinner at both ends than at the middle, then plait the ropes together.

6 Place on a buttered baking sheet and cover with a tea towel. Prove for about 45 mins – one hour until doubled in size. 7 Brush with the egg glaze and sprinkle with the poppy seeds. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes until richly golden and hollow sounding when tapped underneath. Cool on a wire rack.

MORE INSPIRATION

READ For more recipes see bread by Eric Treuille and Ursula Ferrigno (£9.99 DK)

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