It's been a loooooong time, I know. Well, to cut the long story short, I got lazy. But look! It's less than a week left to the end of the year and you'll cut me some slack, right? I won't be writing lots since I'm running out of time, but here's two "recipes" for you, if you're up for some last minute Christmas baking. Here's wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
++Christmas wreath breads
When I saw the picture of the gorgeous wreath bread in the latest issue of Donna Hay Magazine (the Christmas one of course), I knew I wanted to make it. The original version in the magazine was made with raspberry jam which was beautiful with the red jam peeking out from the braids. I didn't have raspberry jam and settled with homemade chestnut paste (just boiled chestnuts cooked in milk and sugar with a splash of rum for good measure and then pureed) for the filling. An egg wash and sprinkling of pearl sugar and chopped dried cranberries adds a festive touch! I've also thought of using marmalade which I would probably do soon!
I used half the dough from this recipe which I adapted into a plain dough, or you could use your favourite dough. Prepare bread dough as per instructions right up till the first rising. When the dough has doubled, punch down the dough and divide it into 2. With one half of the dough, divide further into 3 portions and let rest for 15-20mins. Roll each of the 3 portions into rectangles, about 20x30cm. On one rectangle, spread 2-3 tbsp of chestnut paste evenly and cover with a second rectangle. Repeat the same with the second layer and cover with the third sheet of dough. Pinch the sides of the rectangles lightly to seal. Slice, lengthwise, the dough into strips of about 2 - 3cm wide each. With each of the strips, further slice in half, leaving about 1cm at the top, still attached. Twist the two strips together like a braid and then shape into a wreath by twisting the ends together. Repeat with all the strips of dough. Brush with egg and sprinkle with chopped cranberries and pearl sugar and bake in an oven, preheated to 190degC, for 12-15mins. Makes 6.
＊＊Coffee Bundt Cake
The cake itself, though not exactly special, is a pretty darn good cake. I baked it thrice, slightly different every time, and the results are always moist, fine crumbs which are not overly cloying. The original recipe is here from Linda of Call Me Cupcake. Of course, baking it in a bundt tin makes it more than just a coffee cake. Stick on some cake flags and you're ready for a party! It'll look impressive, without all the work and calories of an icing/whipping cream.
Prepare a concentrated coffee milk by dissolving 2-3tbsp instant coffee in 120ml hot milk and set aside to cool. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat 85g softened butter and 175g fine sugar until pale and fluffy. Sift together 190g all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt and set aside. When the butter and sugar is fluffy, gradually add in 1 lightly beaten egg, mixing well between each addition. Scrape the seeds from half a vanilla bean pod and add it to the egg and butter mixture. Gradually add the coffee milk to the egg and butter mixture while mixing. Fold in the flour, in 3 additions, and mix until just combined with a spatula. Pour the batter into a well-greased and well-floured 3-cup bundt tin. Bake in a preheated oven at 180degC for 10mins before lowering the temperature to 150degC and bake for a further 50-60mins or until a testing skewer comes out clean. After baking, let the cake rest in the tin for at least 15mins before unmoulding. You could also bake the batter in small aluminium jelly moulds for party finger food.