It’s been a very busy month on the baking front for me.
For Lawrence and Jo’s wedding on 19 December 2010, I made the cake, with Fran doing much of the decoration. I’m slightly disappointed with most of the photos I got of the cake, many of them are pretty gloomy – not ideal for something involving so much dark chocolate! But anyway, here’s one:
It’s based on my “big cake” recipe, and I discuss it more over here on Cake-Off.
Dom and myself also did some catering for the late evening supper at the wedding. For this, I baked three different types of bread from three of my favourite baker-writers. These were Andrew Whitley’s seeded rye bread a 100% rye sourdough from Bread Matters; the wonderfully moist rolled oat and apple bread from The Handmade Loaf by Dan Lepard; and Richard Bertinet’s lovely simple fougasse from Dough.
For Christmas itself, I was keen to try and make a panettone. I really want to follow a traditional recipe – meaning, making a naturally leavened dough. Yep, apparently an authentic panettone is what many people would term a “sourdough” – it doesn’t use any commercial yeast, but instead involves a slow fermentation process based on a natural leaven. As that natural leaven is wheat-based, personally I wouldn’t call it a sourdough, but there you go (I’m of the school of thought that reserves the term sourdough for a rye leaven used to make rye-based bread – like the above-mentioned seeded rye).
Having said all that, though, when it came to the crunch, after all of the above, I didn’t really have the time to experiment with a fully naturally leavened panettone, so I cheated and kinda made up a recipe that used from yeast too.
I didn’t really write it all down properly, but I used:
50g white leaven
10g active dried yeast (ie granular yeast) or 22g fresh yeast, or 8g fresh yeast
350g water – my flour was cold, only about 16C, so the water was about 38C.
In a large bowl, I mixed:
800g strong white flour
50g caster sugar
zest of one lemon
100g pine nuts
50g flaked almonds
100g mixed peel
2 eggs, beaten
50g melted butter
Then added the leaven/yeast mix, and brought it to a soft dough.
Proved until doubled in volume, knocked back, rested, then formed into a ball, which I squashed into more of a teardrop shaped and put in a large catering tin, which I’d lined with baking parchment.
Proved again, till doubled in volume – or at least until it felt right with the pinch test. Glazed with basic egg wash, though I’ve seen recipes (like this one on the Wild Yeast blog, which I got via this thread on The Fresh Loaf) that use much more elaborate glazes. Some of them seem to glaze after baking too. There’s still a lot to learn about making panettone.
Baked At 200C for around 45 mins, I think. Doh, should have written more notes.
Anyway, the Wild Yeast blog had some interesting pics – notably about how to cool a panettone, by hanging it upside down. I rigged up an absurd set-up with two chairs and an oven rack. I put a box with soft packing material underneath just in case, as the loaf was heavy the skewers were tearing through.
Here’s the finished panettone:
Being critical for a moment, I think it was too dense. Next Christmas I’ll try and fully naturally-leavened version with longer fermentation to try and open up the crumb more – get some nice big, ciabatta style air-holes. It was very nice though. Ellis certainly thought so:
Other goodies I made over Xmas included this cake:
It was based on my fave cake batter again (Mollie Katzen‘s Cardamom coffee cake), but shrunk, and converted to Xmas spices:
200g soft butter
200g light brown sugar
220g sour cream
220g plain flour
1 t baking powder
1 1/4t baking soda
1 t ground cinammon
1/2 t ground ginger
1 t ground allspice
1/2 t ground cardamom
a good few grates of fresh nutmeg
Cream butter and sugar, add egg.
Sieve together dry ingredients, then add it bit by bit to creamed mix, alternating with additions of sour cream.
Put batter in lined 20cm tin, and bake at 140C (fan over) for about an hour and 20 mins, until skewer comes out clean.
I was tempted to add peel and fruit to make it even more Xmassy, without it being a nasty traditional Xmas cake, but decided against that as the panettone had such fruit in already.
Then, for new years, I made this one:
This one is from Diana Henry’s Roast Figs Sugar Snow. She calls it her “Italian chocolate nut Christmas cake, with chestnuts, hazelnuts and walnuts”. We had whole chestnuts, which I roasted, then skinned and broke up as per the recipe – they were a bit hard and chewy. Maybe this means they were too old or something. If not, I’d be tempted to leave them out as their toughness wasn’t nice in combination with the more crumbly texture of the other nuts. It was cracking nonetheless. Henry says she was inspired by panforte but in many ways, it’s quite like this Sachertorte recipe I use. It’s very rich, involves nuts (including ground almonds), and is made by melting butter and choc, adding sugar, egg yolks, then ground almonds, and nuts, then folding in whisked egg whites. It also uses orange zest, but I’m wondering whether that was even necessary.
Oh, finally, I also made mince pies, as usual. Here’ my version.