I wanted to make something for Christmas that didn’t involve cookies, cake or chocolate but still festive. I did make the squash bread to go with dinner, but I needed dessert. So here’s 2 breads I tried out and both are books by Peter Reinhart, so no recipes will be posted sadly however these recipes use basic sweet dough like the cinnamon buns.
First little breads called Thumbprints.
Start with hydrating the yeast in the milk. Then mix with melted butter and dry ingredients.
Knead until it forms a coarse ball, then add milk and flour to make a tacky smooth ball.
At this point you can let it rise in the fridge, but I wanted them that day so I let it rise on the counter. It rose pretty fast!
Cut into 1.5oz pieces, I used a kitchen scale for that. Roll into little balls, cover and let rise again.
When ready, start using your thumb! Dip your thumb in water so it won’t stick to the dough, and push down almost to the pan one way and the other so it’s a decent sized print, you want to fit lots of fruit in there!
I didn’t have any fruit on hand.. so I chopped up some canned fruit and jam. I used the fruit filling recipe in the book, basically fruit, sugar and corn starch for thickening but I found it wasn’t sweet enough.. or maybe the canned fruit didn’t have enough flavour because it was a little bland.
Now I thought they would stay depressed but the thumbprint puffs up and the fruit sits on the top of the little bun. So be careful, the fruit slips off sometimes.. As soon as they come out, brush them with glaze (just icing sugar and water) then let cool on rack.
When cool, add more glaze. I found the glaze made it a little better in sweetness. The finished bread wasn’t what I thought it would be. I guess I was expecting a danish sort of taste.. but it was disappointingly bland and a little tough. That could be my fault; maybe rising it on the counter instead of the fridge..
They were cute, but not my favorite. I think I’d rather have a danish..
Now for bread number 2, everyone knows Panettone!
OK. They don’t look like the store bought ones.. those big red boxes in stores at Christmas with a big picture of a sweet bread with candied fruit. The italian fruit cake, so tasty! I love eating it for breakfast with a little icing sugar on top.
I read on this blog site that panettone was pretty hard to make so I wanted to try it myself.
I used my sourdough starter with warm milk. I decided that I’d make half the recipe.. and so put this amount in a bowl and let sit for 4 hours until bubbling. Then you put it overnight in the fridge.
At the same time, I chopped up apricots and mixed it with golden raisins and cranberries and let it sit in vanilla extract, almond extract and rum to soak it up.
Next day, I mixed up the rest of the ingredients and then realized I just made the whole recipe and only had half the starter… So I thought I’d stick the dough in the fridge and just make another half starter.. Next day the dough was tough and a little dry.. I threw the whole thing out. That took me 2 days, but I was determined to make this bread!
So I made a whole starter and a whole recipe of dough. First you knead it into a shaggy ball.
Once kneaded it into a smooth ball..
I kneaded the butter in, then the fruit with slivered almonds.
I let that rise on the counter and then made 24 little panettones in muffin tins with a little loaf leftover to bake. I let this rise again.
Bake them up and let them cool. These can be wrapped in foil and saved for 2 weeks!
The bread book also included an extra recipe with panettone. Bread pudding. I love bread pudding, creamy and sweet custard..mmm..
Basically, you scoop out the middle of the little muffin tin panettone breads. I found the deep muffin trays let them become a little taller in size and easier to scoop out. Cut the top off the little breads, make the bread pudding with the insides of the panettone.. and when cool, scoop the bread pudding back into the panettone. It was yummy. I recommend it!
So the panettone turned out pretty good and tasty, but not as fluffy as the store bought ones. I wonder if they use oil in those store made ones.. it reminds me of that fluffiness..