Sunday, October 31, 2010

Another Use for "Wonder Dough"

Stollen goes really well with coffee
May I suggest baking Stollen for your Christmas celebrations?  Or, really, any time of year?  Stollen is a traditional German Christmas bread that always shows up this time of year at the imported foods store.  However, I think it's better to bake your own, even if it's a bastardized 1950s Betty Crocker interpretation of stollen.  Let's say it's stollen-inspired or something like that.  I also have to admit to changing the Betty Crocker recipe because no one in this house is a fan of glacĂ© cherries.  Also, turns out I inadvertently skipped the kneading the fruit into the dough bit, so it's just a filling.  Feel free to knead if you try this at home.  Anyhow, my stollen is really tasty and that's all you need to know.

Super-messy counter after glazing
Download a PDF of this recipe here.


1/2 Sweet Dough recipe
1/2 cup blanched almonds, finely chopped
1/4 cup candied lemon peel, finely chopped
1/4 cup raisins
1 cup golden raisins
2 teaspoons butter, melted

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 to 2 tablespoons cream

After second rising, flatten dough on a lightly floured surface and top with the almonds, peel and raisins. Knead into the dough and then press dough into an oval (approx. 8" x 12").

Fold the oval in half lengthwise ("hot dog") in order to form a crescent.  Press the edges together and transfer to a lightly greased baking sheet.

Let stollen rise at room temperature 35 to 45 minutes, or until doubled or let it rise overnight in the fridge and take it out while the oven is coming up to temperature.

Brush butter over the top of the stollen and bake at 375 degrees for around 30 minutes, or until golden.  Place on a cooling rack and make the glaze.

Put the powdered sugar in a small mixing bowl and stir in the lemon juice and enough of the cream to make a glaze.  Be sure to add cream slowly, because you don't want your glaze to be too runny!  Spread glaze over top of stollen (you don't need to wait for stollen to cool).  Enjoy!

Adapted from "Stollen," Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book (Minneapolis: Macmillan USA and General Mills, Inc., 1950), 102 and "Confectioner's Sugar Icing," Ibid, 111.

P.S. My "Missus C" mug is available from Anthropologie.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Poldark and Pasties: Cinematic and Culinary Cornwall

Today, it finally feels as though the weather has changed--the air is cool, the lawn is covered in orange leaves and it's fifteen 'til five and gray and dreary and wonderful. I'm absolutely delighted. The best things happen in autumn and winter.

One of those things is curling up and watching a BBC miniseries, like Poldark.  Made in 1975, Poldark is the story of a man (Ross Poldark) who returns from fighting in the American Revolution to discover that his estate in Cornwall has gone to rack and ruin.  I couldn't wait for each disc to arrive and I usually watched all the episodes on a single disc the day it arrived from Netflix.  Yes, it's soapy and it was obviously taped rather than filmed, but Poldark is an entertaining and enjoyable 821 minutes (and it moves a lot faster than The Pallisers).  Note: this is only a review of series 1.  Series 2 comes out on DVD next Tuesday, so I haven't seen it yet!

While you're devoting almost 14 hours of your life to Poldark, you might get hungry.  How about a Cornish pasty?

Download a PDF of this recipe here.


Makes 8

Shortcrust Pastry x 1.5 (go ahead and make a double batch...stay tuned) (recipe here or download here)
1 lb steak (a cheap cut), trimmed of fat and cut into small pieces (1/2"x1/2")
1/2 lb potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
1/4 lb rutabaga or turnip, peeled and cut into smaller-than-1/2" cubes
1 medium onion, diced
mixture of dried thyme, marjoram, savoury and rosemary (or use Herbes de Provence)
salt and pepper

Divide the pastry into 8 individual discs and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a mixing bowl, combine the steak, potatoes, rutabaga, onion, herbs and salt and pepper.  Stir to combine and set aside.

Roll out each disc of pastry to about 1/8" thickness.  Place 1/8 of steak mixture in the middle of the pastry round, bring two ends of the circle together, seal and flute the edges.  Place on a baking sheet and keep in the refrigerator until all of the pasties are prepared.  Repeat for the remaining seven pasties.  You'll need two baking sheets.

Bake pasties for 20 minutes at 425, then turn the heat down to 350 and bake another 45 minutes.  Cover the pasties with tin foil if they start to get too brown.

Adapted from Paul Richardson's Cornucopia: A Gastronomic Tour of BritainFavourite Dorset Recipes and Tea & Sympathy.

And now, an idea for the leftover 1/2 recipe of shortcrust pastry...

Yes, you most certainly are allowed to make a one-crust pie with it.  May I suggest my Kentucky Bourbon Pecan Pie; Artichoke, Bacon and Cheddar Quiche or Blackberry-and-Apple Pie?

However, if you'd like something new, I have just made my first batch of Jam Tarts (adapted from The Gentle Art of Domesticity by Jane Brocket).

There's no recipe, just a few instructions.  Each batch of shortcrust pastry will make approximately 32 tarts, but you can use however much dough you have.  (The 1/2 batch of dough you have left over from the pasties will make 16 tarts in a standard-sized muffin tin.)

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Roll the pastry dough out to 1/8" thickness.
  • Cut out rounds of pastry with a 3 1/4" diameter circle cookie cutter.
  • Place rounds in the wells of a standard muffin tin.
  • Fill each tart with 1 teaspoon jam (any kind, I happened to have strawberry preserves).
  • Bake 12-15 minutes, or until pastry has browned slightly.
  • Cool on a wire rack.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Malt Whisky Ginger Cake

Autumn's Bounty

So, we have about half a bottle of Johnnie Walker Red Label that I bought for Burns Night earlier this year that is just gathering dust. Paul loathes any Scotch whisky (he's a "bourbon man") and I'm really not much of a drinker, even though I actually like Scotch. I am, however, a bit of a Philistine when it comes to whisky. I bought the Johnnie Walker simply because it had a royal warrant and, to be honest, I can't say that the single malts I've had were really any better. That's evidently why I have a food blog and not a liquor blog. Besides, to make up for it, I'm a total snob about plenty of other things.

Anyway, when I saw this recipe in The Guardian, I knew I had to try it at home. Mostly, I've just adapted the ingredients for the way Americans bake (Imperial units, volume rather than weight, etc.), but I did lower the oven temperature because I was using a larger pan and I reduced the amount of crystallized ginger and added some extra ground ginger. That's because when I bought the crystallized ginger I thought (silly me!) that an entire jar would be more than enough.

Malt Whisky Ginger Cake

Yields 1 loaf cake
Serves 10

¼ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup black treacle
1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
¼ cup Scotch whisky
2.6-oz. jar crystallized ginger (about 2/3 to ¾ cup)
1 ½ cups cake flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ tablespoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon mixed spice
1/3 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 8 ½” x 4 ½” x 2 ½” loaf pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. As soon as the butter is melted, remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the treacle and sugar until smooth. Whisk in the eggs then the oil and whisky.

Using a rubber spatula, stir in the crystallized ginger. Next, add the flour one-half-cup at a time, stirring after each addition until combined. Stir in the baking soda, ground ginger and mixed spice.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out on a wire rack to cool completely.

When the cake is totally cool, mix the powdered sugar with enough water to make an icing (it takes a lot less water than one would think) and then spread it over the top of the cake.
For Mika and anyone else who was wondering about PDF hosting--
I just save my Word documents as PDFs (with my Mac, the option is in the print window) and then upload them to Really couldn't be easier, even for tech-incompetent me.


Paul poses with his doppelgänger, Simon the Chipmunk.