Saturday, December 29, 2012

Snow Days

Although we didn't get a white Christmas,we got a white day after Christmas.  And a little more white three days after Christmas.  This is what it looks like from my corner of the world:

It makes my snow-loving husband quite happy.  He's been out shoveling snow for the last three days.  Apparently there is more coming on Monday.  The only thing good I can say about it is that I don't have to go anywhere in it.  (Actually, I can't even say that's good.  It kept me from going home to see my family while we're on break from the university.)

These are good days to stay home and bake though.  I've done quite a bit of that lately.  

I had good intentions of taking photos . . .
We are fortunate to be invited to our friends' home for Christmas Eve.  Wayne and Terry are fabulous people and we love the tradition of spending Christmas Eve with them.  An evening of good food and good friends is such a blessing.  Terry always serve a fabulous meal and because of such, I simply can't go empty handed.  This year I took four mini boules (two plain, two dill) and a pistachio Italian cream cake.  No photos of either, of course.  I'm very out of practice in that regard.

Curmudgeonly (but sweet) professor's gift basket
A few years ago, I adopted the Italian tradition of panettone for Christmas morning.  So Christmas Eve also found me making panettoni for Wayne and Terry and myself as well.  I didn't actually get the panettone I made for myself as another friend, Rhonda, sent me a message about last minute gifting for a curmudgeonly bachelor professor friend of ours.  He received a gift basket of panettone, tea and some preserves.  His reaction totally made it worth it and I made myself another panettone on Christmas Day.

My panettone . . . minus a few slices

Soon to be bread
I also made a loaf of sourdough sandwich bread on Christmas Day for Tug and myself.  (It didn't last long, so there's another loaf rising right now.)  It was perfect with the potato soup I made in the new cooker I received for Christmas.  Later that evening I remembered some coffee cookie dough in the refrigerator and baked us some cookies to have in the evening while sitting in front of the fire.  Again, no photos.

Terry had asked me on Christmas Eve if I would be interested in doing a birthday cake for a friend of hers.  Since I didn't get to go see my family after Christmas, I said I would.  We finalized arrangements on Thursday and the cake was needed Friday evening.  Sometimes I am a glutton for punishment and make things harder on myself than necessary.  I used a recipe from Rose Levy Berebaum which, while a great recipe, was very time consuming and really needed an extra day of prep.  The cake wasn't quite finished in the manner Terry requested, and I was seriously disappointed.  Apparently, the guest of honor was quite pleased though so that's a plus, but still . . . and no photos of the cake either.  I did snap a pic of one of the cupcakes I made with the extra batter, left over glaze and fondant rose that wasn't used.
I'm thinking about what I want to bake next.  I'm thinking I need more butter.

Christmas Panettone
(Adapted from King Arthur Flour)

120 g all-purpose flour
1/16 tsp instant yeast
113 g cool water

Combine the starter ingredients thoroughly in a medium-sized container with a cover.  Rest the starter overnight, or 8 to 10 hours, at room temperature.

all of the starter
2 large eggs, room temperature
85 g salted butter, room temperature
57 g lukewarm water
1/4 tsp Fior di Sicilia*
120 g all-purpose flour
28 g tapioca flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
50 g granulated sugar
11 g instant yeast
60 g dried cranberries
60 g dried apricots, diced
40 g candied orange peel, diced
40 g candied ginger, diced

Combine the starter with the remaining ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.  Mix on low speed (stir on Kitchen Aide mixers) for one minute.  Increase the speed to low and mix for another minute.  Increase the speed again (2 on Kitchen Aide mixers) and mix for another minute.  Increase the speed once again (4 on a Kitchen Aide) and mix for three minutes.  The dough will be soft and sticky.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (or transfer the dough to a covered container) and allow the dough to rise for 1-1/2 hours until it’s puffy.  It may not be doubled in size, but definitely should have “grown”.

Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead briefly and form into a ball as best as possible.  Place the dough into a paper panettone baking mold set inside a cake pan or on a baking sheet.  (If you don’t want to order these, a paper lunch bag cut to about 8” tall works well too.)  Cover the dough and let it rise in a warm spot for about an hour or until the top of the dough reaches the edge of the baking paper.

After 40 minutes of rising, begin preheating the oven to 375°F.  Bake the panettone for 15 minutes.  Remove the panettone from the oven; reduce the oven temperature to 350° and loosely cover the top of the panettone with foil to prevent over-browning.  Return the panettone to the oven and bake for an additional 35 minutes.

Remove the panettone from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack.

*Available from King Arthur Flour or substitute 1/4 teaspoon orange extract and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Butter is always important for an upcoming baking experience! I'm glad you had a white day after Christmas. We did too in Michigan, though I did miss it a bit on Christmas day. It seems like you had a productive week of baking. It's always nice to have so many different occasions to bake for!

    1. I like having occasions to bake for as it means what I bake will be leaving the house! I've restocked on butter and tomorrow will be working on my recipe for the Scharffen-Berger Chocolate Adventure Contest. Last minute, but why not? Unfortunately though, these won't have a place to go!

  2. Gorgeous snowy day! I love the winter for its baking adventures. This post made me so hungry for all of it, especially the panettone and that cupcake. I'll bet that cake was stellar!

    1. Being able to stay home and bake on a snowy day was a fair consolation for not being able to travel to see my family. It felt good to be able to spend that time in the kitchen! The panettone, though far from authentic, is a favorite of mine. I heard the cake was good - my cupcake was missing the chocolate Swiss buttercream the cake had, but my hips were okay with that. :)


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