Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter Solstice Delights

5.5 cups all purpose flour 
1 tsp cinnamon 
1/2 tsp ginger 
1/2 tsp nutmeg 
1 cup sugar (or more or less if desired) 
1 cup candied orange peel and/or dried apricots (or that dried fruit mix they sell for fruitcake) 
.5 cup coarsely chopped almonds 
1 cup melted, salted butter 
2 cups scalded milk 
1 tbsp yeast 
1 tin of almond paste 
confectioner’s sugar for dusting
(I use a standing mixer, so my technique isn’t exactly standard.) Mix dry ingredients, sugar, and yeast in large bowl while the milk is scalding and the butter is melting. When the temp drops to about 130, pour it into the dry ingredients and mix, mix, mix. Add the fruit and nuts and keep mixing. If the dough is slightly sticky, add a bit more flour and keep mixing until the dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl; turn out onto a floured surface and knead about ten or fifteen times before returning the dough to an oiled bowl to rest. Cover with a clean cloth and let rise for an hour in a warm place. When the dough has doubled, punch down; repeat. When the dough has risen a second time, punch it down again, knead it a few times and divide it into however many loaves you plan to make. Divide the marchpane into the same number of pieces and roll into a cylinder or rope. Shape the dough around the marchpane, pinching the seam and tucking it under; after the dough has been shaped, let the loaves rest on buttered baking sheet (covered with a towel) while the oven heats to 350.. about 35 minutes or so. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes and remove from oven. Move to cooling rack and let the bread rest until it’s cool, then roll it in confectioner’s sugar (or just sprinkle if you feel like being a bit more conservative with the sweetness :P), shake gently to get rid of excess.
Happy Solstice, kids. =^.^=

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


When all is said and done, and people are pains in the fanny, there is much satisfaction to be derived from the fact that yes, dammit, I'm good at what I do and I can knit them under the table. Case in point.. I have now finished another object on my list of holiday gifts and intend to crow about it.
1. For Rasputin, there is half a pair of ____. The other will be completed as time permits, which hopefully means before the self-imposed deadline of New Year's Eve.
2. For Heather, there is a ____. I'm thrilled with the way it turned out.
3. For Rasputin's mum, there is also a pair of _____. They're heavier than I was expecting, which is blamed on the fact that I didn't check the yarn label before I started knitting. Oh, well.. they'll be just fine for those long, cold New England winters.

I still have a ways to go yet, but.. yeah.. I'm feeling accomplished. So put that in your pipe and smoke it, you pompous prat.