11:00 PM

Bells are ringing~~ (Dairy-Free Stollen)

Tis the season..

Christmas is my favourite celebration.

Not 'one of the favourite', but The Favourite. With capitals. With Bells. Loud ones.

It can't even lose to my own birthday.

Even though I'm in Malaysia. With no snow. With no holiday.

I can't do my favourite thing, which is to cuddle up near the fireplace, with a cup of steaming hot-chocolate, and an amazing book.

But I won't let that bring me down. I can BAKE! =)

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book.........and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

~ My new toy - Soya bean blender.. =D ~

60ml lukewarm water (think baby's bottle)
2 packages (14 grams) active dry yeast
240 ml soya milk (I blended the beans myself)
140 grams vegetable shortenings (or other dairy-free butter)
770 grams all-purpose flour
90grams sugar
¾ teaspoon sal
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice (original recipe called for lemon extract)
135 grams mixed peel
170 gms firmly packed raisins
3 tablespoons rum (I replaced this with lemon juice)
100 grams flaked almonds (I omitted this, as my sister can't eat almond)
Vegetable oil for coating the wreath
Handful of Dairy-Free Chocolate Chips
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting wreath

1) Soak the raisins in rum, or lemon juice. 
2) Pour the warm water into a small bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Leave to stand for 5 minutes.

3) In a small saucepan, combine the milk and the vegetable shortening over medium - low heat until it is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes.

4) Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon juice and vanilla extracts.
5) In a large mixing bowl stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests.
6) Then stir in (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/shortening mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball.

7) When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.
8) Add in the mixed peel, soaked fruit and gently mix with your hands.
9) Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed.
10) The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 8 minutes until a reasonable bread-dough consistency is reached. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough – a few raisins will start to fall off the dough onto the counter because at the beginning of the kneading process the dough is very sticky and the raisins will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn't enough to bind the outside raisins onto the dough ball.
11) Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Put it in the fridge overnight. The dough becomes very firm in the fridge (since the butter goes firm) but it does rise slowly… the raw dough can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week and then baked on the day you want.

Shaping the Dough and Baking the Wreath
1) Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.
2) Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
3) Preheat oven to moderate 180°C with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
4) Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches and ¼ inch thick.

5)Sprinkle with chocolate chips, if using.

6)Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder.

Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan. Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle. You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape.

7) Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough.

8) Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

9) Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.
10) Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

11) Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the top with the oil while still hot.
12) Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter.
13) Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first.

14) The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar.

10:52 AM

Nutty Brownies~~

What can go wrong with brownies? Especially those with NUTS!

(Yeah yeah, I'm crazy about nuts. So, keep note. I might give up a lot of things for nutty goodness.)

Sadly, I can't eat these. Since they have butter. But my friends and family seem to drool over the sight of them. I'll experiment with a dairy-free version soon. =)

3/4cup Dutch Process Cocoa Powder
3/4cup Unsalted Butter
2tbsp Strong Coffee
1cup Sugar
2 Eggs
2tsp Vanilla Essence
1 1/3cup All Purpose Flour
1/2tsp Baking Powder
1/4tsp Salt
3/4cup Walnuts/Pecan Nuts
1/4cup Chocolate Chips

(Sorry about the picture quality here, I left my big chunky camera upstairs while I was baking, didn't want to leave the melting butter/whisking eggs etc.)

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Butter a 8x8inch baking tin.
2. Melt the butter and cocoa powder over medium heat. When melted, mix in coffee. Leave to cool.
3. In a separate bowls, whisk together the sugar and the eggs. (eyap, give it a good whisk, it will turn to a lighter yellow). Add in the vanilla essence.
4. Whisk together the dry ingredient, i.e. flour, baking powder and salt.
5. Add the butter/cocoa mix to the egg mixture, then stir in the flour.
6. Save about 7 walnuts/pecan nuts (to decorate later). Stir in the rest of the nuts.
7. Pour in the buttered baking tin. Sprinkle the walnuts and chocolate chips on top.
8. Shove it in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.
9. Let it cool in the tin for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.
10. Take a big whiff. Grab knife/fork/spoon. Dig In.