A VARIETY OF CHRISTMAS BREADS
Oh yes, there are such things and not just the panettone from Italy and stollen from Germany which most of us are familiar with.
Traditional Christmas breads are enriched doughs. That means a combination of lashings of butter, eggs and plenty of flavour from dried fruits, citrus nuts and spices; all the tastes that we love and that evoke the smell of Christmas. The key is to keep them light and airy due to the use of yeast.
Dieting – well, you can forget that with these delights, but then, it is Christmas after all. Why not choose one with lots of fruit and class it as part of your five a day? 😉
So, let’s have a tour of the world and see what delights await us.
CHRISTMAS BREADS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
I always associate Scandinavian bakes with cinnamon. They have a variety of Christmas breads, none of which disappoint. Cardamom (one of my all time favourite spices ) features heavily in their recipes, and the bread I enjoy the most is the Finnish Nissua, a cardamon braided bread (usually in the shape of wreath) topped with a simple sugar frosting.
From Eastern Europe we come across the Polish, Czech and Hungarian breads. Unlike the Scandinavian ones there is no real theme to these as they range from spiced to fruit based.
For us at Hunnypot cottage not being great lovers of the traditional dried fruits, we love the Russian Krendel. This contains dried pears and apricots, amongst other fruits, and a cup of white wine - yes the cook does get to finish the bottle. This is shaped into something similar to a pretzel with a glaze.
One of the prettiest breads is the Mexican Three Kings Bread (cue singing We Three Kings ....) or the Roscoe de Reyes. Like a number of Christmas breads it’s baked in the shape of a wreath, braided and adorned with dried fruit. And, just like our traditional Christmas pudding, it contains a surprise inside - a figure of the baby Jesus.
But let’s return to the two we know best.
HUNNYPOT COTTAGE CHRISTMAS BREADS
Panettone (big loaf) originated in Milan, Italy, and is known for its traditional cupola shape - a large dome. Thick slices can be served warm with lashings of salty butter. If you have purchased one of the traditional large ones dunk it in your coffee or sweet dessert wine (well, it is Christmas after all).
We don’t make ours with the traditional dried fruit. We prefer our own mix of cherries, cranberries blueberries and vanilla. We also make a particularly delicious mocha version - coffee and chocolate with cinnamon and mixed spice. In addition, we sneak in pine nuts for our own personal twist. Whilst we do make large ones, we find people prefer our small individual ones, which are perfect for a quick coffee dunk.
You've no doubt seen mass produced stollen at the German markets. If you’ve tried them, you’ll know there is marzipan at the centre of the bread. But do you know the meaning behind it? This represents the baby Jesus wrapped in his swaddling clothes.
At Hunnypot Cottage we make the all of the marzipan and candied peel that we use. And while you might be too late for Christmas day, unless you have placed your order we are always happy to accommodate some special orders, if you want to keep the festive vibe going into the new year.
What is your favourite bread at Christmas?