Marzipan Stollen

stollen-wild-yeast-600

I have long extolled the virtues of Stollen, the classic German holiday yeasted fruitcake, as not only one of the tastiest ways to get your holiday-bread-shaped-like-baby-Jesus-in-the-manger fix, but as an extremely easy and forgiving bread to make.

This was evident when my colleague Susan and I were charged with making the Stollen for our baking school graduation. We tossed all the ingredients into the mixer and turned our attention to the half-dozen or so other breads on our day’s agenda. Almost an hour later, our cries of “Aaaaahhhh, the Stollen!” brought our panicked instructor running, and once he determined that the bakery was not burning down, he shot us a glare that demanded to know why two grown women couldn’t manage to act more dignified (especially considering, I suppose, the hallowed origins of this bread). The forgotten Stollen, however, didn’t care at all; the mixer was chugging along, with the Stollen dough swirling cheerfully and patiently inside. Most breads are ruined by excessive mixing, but it was going to take much, much more to get this baby’s swaddling in a twist.

My Stollen this year proved itself, fittingly, to be further willing to forgive; I inadvertently left the egg out of the dough, and nothing bad happened. Butter, sugar, and rum-soaked fruit save one from a multitude of sins, it seems.

stollen-sliced-wild-yeast-600

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Pumpkin Brioche Cinnamon Rolls

pumpkin cinnamon rolls

This post was originally published on November 19, 2009. May I recommend these for Thanksgiving breakfast?

I like these pumpkin cinnamon rolls a lot.

In case it seems like I’m damning them with faint praise, consider that I’ve spent the past two weeks in class redefining my relationship with butter. Brioche à tête. Brioche sucrée. More brioche à tête. Cinnamon rolls. Sticky buns. Brioche tarts. Brioche tartlets. Brioche coffee cake. Strawberry brioche. Gibassier. Stollen. Panettone. Pan d’oro. And let’s not forget croissants 521 ways.

They’re delicious, they’re beautiful, they’re fun to make, every one of them. So I truly mean no disrespect when I say Stop! I’m supersaturated! Quick, someone give me a lima bean (and if you know me, you’ll recognize a truly desperate plea here.)

But back to the rolls. I made them at home, the weekend before we started this descent into the sweet, rich, yeasty madness known as the Viennoiserie unit. I guess I thought… well, clearly I was unencumbered by the thought process, as Click and Clack would say.

But I can I still say like these rolls, and right now, that’s saying a lot. Maybe you’ll like them too.

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Panettone, In Miniature

mini-panettone-wild-yeast

It’s panettone time again! I bake this rich, light, citrus-and vanilla-scented bread every holiday season. It’s one of my favorite things to make because, although it requires meticulous mixing and handling, a more festive bread never graced a holiday table.

This year I used my go-to recipe, which I detailed in last year’s panettone post. The only difference is that, for the first time, I baked it in these wonderful diminutive molds. Although it was a bit more work, I loved ending up with 20 small breads — each perfect for one, or sharing with a friend.

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Pan de Muerto

pan de muerto

Pan de muerto is the traditional Mexican sweet bread eaten during Día de los Muertos, observed November 1 and 2 to honor loved ones who have died and celebrate the eternal cycle of life. The signatures of this soft, sweet, orange- or anise-scented bread are the “skull” and “bones” and that decorate its top and sides.

This pan de muerto recipe is richer in butter than one I have made in the past, and zestier with the use of sourdough starter. I present it in honor of mis muertos, who made my life richer and zestier in countless ways:

My father: Charles W. Tenney, Jr., a brilliant mind and playful wit, who encouraged me to dream first and ask questions later.

Charles W Tenney Jr

My maternal grandparents: Mary Strawson, who taught me  to make things with my hands, and Stanton Strawson, who thought hammering together wooden vessels to float in the tide pool was a perfectly wonderful pursuit for little girls.

Stanton and Mary Strawson

My paternal grandparents: Mildred Tenney, who loved nothing more than sitting down at the piano to play a lively tune, and Charles W. Tenney, Sr., who gave me stamps that inspired me to learn how to use an atlas and discover more about the big world out there.

Mildred and Charles Tenney

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Panettone

I started making panettone at Christmastime in 2006. Over these few years, I have tried variations on the recipe (here’s a chocolate one, and here’s one studded with bits of chocolate and ginger), but this is the one I keep coming back to. I still hold my breath each time I make it, because it’s fussy and needs to be pampered. But given patience, discipline, and a loving hand, it does not disappoint. Light and buttery, citrus-y sweet and holiday-special, its baking is a ritual that comforts and satisfies me. Sharing it with my family, and with you, makes me unreasonably happy.

 I first posted this panettone in 2007, and the recipe hasn’t changed. But I have accumulated a few refinements and lessons learned, so I thought it was time, once again, to tell you everything I know about making panettone.

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Sourdough Carrot-Ginger Cake

sourdough-ginger-carrot-cake-wild-yeast

Although carrot cake has been around for centuries, I think of it as the 1970s’ attempt to rationalize dessert.

Come on… it’s dessert! Putting carrots into your cake doesn’t make it any better for you than, say, putting sourdough into it. Together they make a pretty good cake, though. And a nice way to use leftover sourdough starter.

(And if you really want a healthful cake, you can substitute collard greens for carrots, spirulina powder for sugar, and fish oil for vegetable oil. There. Don’t say I never do anything for you.)

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