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Showing posts from December, 2016

Yeast Or No Yeast? - That Is The Question!

When I was very young my grandmother and  my mum always had an argument at the beginning of December as to which type of Stollen we were going to have at Christmas! My grandma, being very traditional, always opted for the one baked with yeast. My mum, on the other hand, preferred the one made with baking powder for the simple reason that it was less time consuming.

But yeast was not easily available in the area where we lived, and dry or instant yeast had not yet been invented (or commercialized)! So my grandma would write a letter to her friend who had a farm, and ask her for the supply of some fresh yeast. Now the waiting would begin for the precious yeast to arrive. There was a specific date on which the baking was to be done to give the Stollen enough time to mature before Christmas Eve!

If the yeast arrived in time my grandmother would gleefully assemble all the ingredients and chase the rest of the family out of the kitchen! But if the deadline passed without any yeast in sight,…

Another Visit To Grandma's Christmas Kitchen

It is almost too late to do anymore  baking for Christmas, but this recipe is utterly worth it. This is a fairly thick chocolate Pfefferkuchen baked on a tray and finished with a sugar glaze. The spice mix is milder than given in the previous recipe, so you have variety!

 What you need:

750 g flour
125 g grated dark chocolate,
3 peppercorns, finely crushed
2.5 g ground cloves
2.5 g ground cardamom
7.5 g ground cinnamon
zest of 1 lemon
65 g ground almonds or hazelnuts

                     ___________

340 g honey (or syrup)
200 - 250 g sugar
1/8 l water (125 ml)
65 g butter

                    ___________

2 eggs, beaten
8 g potash (1 1.2 tsp)
1 small glass of rum

                    ___________

How to make:

Sift flour into bowl and stir in all other dry ingredients. in a saucepan combine the honey, sugar, water and butter and bring to boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Pour slowly into the flour mix, stirring vigorously. Or use a mixer with dough hooks, which our gr…

Spicy!

After the last article I was asked what Lebkuchen spice is or rather what it is composed of. The professional bakers all have their own spice mix which is a well kept secret. Apart from that there are also regional differences, so the choice is not easy for the home baker. Ready-made spice mixes are now available but not in every part of the world. So I did some research and came up with my own version.

In order to get the best out of spices one should preferably buy whole spices instead of ground because they keep their flavour and aroma for a much longer time. Some spices like cinnamon and ginger are acceptable ground because generally they are used more frequently.

Another important factor is the ratio of each spice in relation to the others. Some spices are so strong in flavour that only a little is used in order not to overpower the rest.

Let me show you the spices I used:
From top to bottom on the left side: ground cinnamon ground ginger whole cardamoms (only seeds are  used) wh…

More From My Grandmother's Christmas Kitchen

The enticing aroma and bewitching taste of Pfefferkuchen and Lebkuchen at Christmastime make them an unforgettable experience no matter how many years pass. These baked treats are in a class of their own and have no relationship with gingerbread in my opinion.

Recipes go back to the Middle Ages down to the 12th century when the spice trade was flourishing. Guilds were formed and no one not belonging was allowed to bake any Pfefferkuchen! Luckily we do not have these restrictions anymore and we have the choice of hundreds of well tested recipes!

My recipe today is not that ancient but just over a hundred years old. It is also fairly easy to prepare, considering that we now have blenders and mixers and food processors, items our grandmothers had to substitute with elbow grease!

What you need:
2 baking sheets, buttered and dusted with flour
Cooling racks, 2
Hand mixer with whisks and kneading hooks
Cookie cutters

Ingredients for the dough:
250 g granulated sugar (or a little less if you …

From My Grandmother's Christmas Kitchen

The build-up to Christmas was always mysterious and magical in our house when I was little. One moment one was banished from the sitting room because secret things were happening there and next moment the kitchen was out of bounds, even though the most enticing smells were wafting through the house!

The kitchen was firmly my grandmother's domain and I will always remember all the delicious treats she prepared. One of those was " Baked Potatoes ", a most delicious little mouthful!

Not to keep you in suspense what these potatoes could possibly be, here is the recipe:

200 g shelled walnuts (or mixed nuts)
250 g icing sugar, sifted
3 egg whites, a few drops of almond essence if liked
some cocoa or grated chocolate
baking tray, buttered and dusted with flour

Grind the nuts, preferably with the pulse button, so they would not become too oily.Add the icing sugar and almond essence if using. In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until stiff. Take some of the whites and stir und…