Marzipan Stollen

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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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Corn Bread Rolls

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There’s cornbread — spongy, sweet, and efficiently leavened with baking powder — and there’s Corn Bread: hearty and crusty, with the hard-won flavor than can only be achieved with yeast and time. And then there are these Corn Bread Rolls, which are fun to shape, if not precise replicas of the ears of maize that represent a bountiful harvest. Or little lopsided footballs, depending on your preferred meaning of Thanksgiving. Or maybe both, like when my dad took me to the thrilling Nebraska Cornhuskers game in Lincoln on Thanksgiving in 1965.

May your holiday be filled with what gives you sustenance, people you love, a little bit of excitement, and appreciation of blessings and hard-won victories, whatever yours may be.

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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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Pan de Muerto

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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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National Doughnut Day!

Some people keep lists and calendars to remind themselves of food holidays: National Raisin Bran Cereal Day, International Nacho Day, Lobster Thermidor Day, and so on. I prefer to keep track of these things the way nature intended: by taking a morning peek at Facebook and noticing doughnuts everywhere. Doh! It’s national Doughnut Day! I was caught off-guard, but it was early in the day so I had time to recover.

I made baked yeasted doughnuts that you can really sink your teeth into. If you like those soft, lighter-than-air Krispy Kreme things, don’t make these. These are to those what Guinness Stout is to cotton candy (it’s also National Mixed Metaphor Day, by the way).

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Stollen

Today is December 16, 2011. Is this an important date because …

A) It’s the posting (and my hosting) day for the Bread Baking Babes

B) I get married today

C) Both of the above, and by the time you read this I will have pulled the Stollen from the oven, dusted the flour off my dress, and made my way to City Hall to exchange vows with my beautiful, brilliant, sweet, funny, gentle, loving…

Ahem. Back to the Stollen. A perfect choice for this month, because it practically makes itself, leaving us Babes to occupy our minds with… whatever other things we may wish to occupy them with.

Stollen is one of my favorite holiday breads, and quite easy to make. It is a traditional bread from Dresden, Germany, and the shape is said to represent the swaddled child in the manger. You kind of have to use your imagination to see this.

Mixing the dough is simple if you have a stand mixer with a dough hook, although it takes some time. Just throw the ingredients in the mixer, turn it on, and go buy a wedding dress or something.The dough will be ready when you get back.

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