It's easy when busy to take things for granted but this year has been a year of fantasy. I have no idea what the next few years will hold so I want to remember this feeling of excitement and anticipation of things to come. I do appreciate every lesson that I've learnt and everyone that has taken the time to leave me a comment, to write me an email or sit down with me. Christmas is a good time to contemplate such things in the absence of Thanksgiving traditions.
Every year I learn things. Take for example last year when I went to Austria I discovered stollen. Now my experience with stollen up until them had been unremarkable. Stollen was something that sat on a supermarket shelf and tasted like stale fruit bread with icing. Then I visited Austria where stollen were made fresh and it was a revelation. I was then served stollen in Dubai at the Burj Al Arab's 7 star afternoon tea and was blown away. Now _that _is stollen I thought to myself. Freshly baked fruit bread with a delicious icing top, surprise marzipan filling and served in thin slices.
The delicious marzipan centre
I hesitate to tell you that this is the best stollen recipe but I have to say that in my humble opinion it is one of the nicest stollen that I have tried (and I managed to try quite a few on my Austria trip). I loved the combination of the cherries, almonds and coconut to give it a different flavour from a regular stollen but of course use any dried fruit you like-cranberries, dried blueberries etc would be just as laudable. And yes I doubled the amount of fruit that is normally used in a stollen. It's the Franck Eggelhoffer in me ;)
I'll pass on a tasty tidbit here too-home made marzipan is fabulous stuff. Ignore much of the bought stuff that tastes like almond essence and mix up your own. It's very easy to do and absolutely worth the five minutes it takes to make and when you slice a thin slice of this and come across the sweet almond centre everything seems to make sense. And even though I know that our Christmas will be held during Summer, I'll serve these with a lovely Gluwein. I'll just crank up the air conditioning ;)
The bus side-minus appendage!
And Melbourne lovelies, I am taking a little trip to Melbourne this Friday to launch the new Cornetto Endless Summer campaign that I'm starring in. If you're near Federation Square between 3-7pm this Friday the 17th of December come down and say hello and get a free Cornetto! I haven't yet seen the bus sides in person but the lovely Gianna from The Empty Fridge sent me some shots that she took of a bus side with the ad on it. I remember the Sex and the City episode where Carrie came across the bus side of her with a spray painted male appendage. Thankfully these are appendage free-haha! ;)
So tell me Dear Reader, what have you learned this past year?
Cherry, Almond & Coconut Christmas Stollen
An original recipe by Not Quite Nigella
1/2 cup caster or superfine sugar
2 teaspoons instant dried yeast
4 cups bread flour (plus perhaps 3-4 tablespoons if mixture is too wet. I used Barilla bread flour)
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 flaked almonds
2 cups mixed fruit
1/4 cup glace cherries
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
100g/3.5ozs butter, melted
4 tablespoons rum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
- 250g marzipan* (home made is best, recipe to follow)
1 egg white
250g pure icing sugar, sifted
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons desiccated coconut
Step 1 - Firstly make the marzipan if you are using a home made marzipan (see recipe below).
Step 2 - Place the sugar, yeast, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, almonds, mixed fruit, cherries and lemon rind in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix for about 30 seconds with the dough hook. Place warm milk, salt, melted butter, rum, vanilla and egg in a measuring jug and whisk the egg. Set the dough hook on the lowest speed and gradually pour in the milky and eggy mixture. Knead for about 5 minutes until elastic. Add extra flour if mixture is too sticky.
Step 3 - Place in a greased bowl and cover with cling wrap and place in a warm spot in the kitchen for about an hour while it rises. If you don't have a warm place, sit the bowl within another bowl and fill with warm to hot water changing the water every 30 minutes.
Step 4 - Line a baking tray with parchment. Punch down the risen dough and spread it into a rectangle as shown. Take the marzipan and shape it into a long log and place it at the edge lengthways as shown and roll up the bread dough. Allow to rise in a warm area (on a 35C oven with the fan off will do if it is chilly).
Step 5 - Preheat the oven to 200C/400F (if you are rising the dough in the oven above, take out your stollen while the oven is preheating!). Bake the stollen for 20 minutes and then reduce the temperature to180C/350F and bake it for another 20 minutes. If you tap it lightly and it sounds hollow, it is done. Allow to cool.
Step 6 - Making the icing. In a large bowl, whisk the icing sugar, egg white and lemon juice until smooth. Drizzle on top of the stollen trying to coat it as much as possible. Then immediately sprinkle coconut on top and allow to set. Serve sliced into thin pieces.
100grams/3.5 ozs almond meal
100gram/3.5 ozs pure icing sugar, sifted
1 egg white
1 tablespoon plain flour
Step 7 - In a bowl, mix all of the ingredients together until cohesive. I usually make a double batch of this and use an electric mixer but you can make it in these quantities by hand.