Sunday, July 9, 2023

Stollen for Christmas

This was published in Feeding My Enthusiasms in December 16, 2011 

A Christmas Tale of Bread Baking

Time has passed in the Land of St. Honore', as it does everywhere. Hearing the Angelus church bells ring out in the early morn over the snowy winter land, twelve year old Elias knew it was time to start the surprise for Grandfather. He had plans to spread good will through his baking. Christmas was coming and it was time his Grandfather knew that he had, indeed, inherited the family talent for baking.

Thirteen years ago his mother, the princess, had chosen his father, Ian, as a husband because his baking made her happy.

Elias's grandfather the king also enjoyed a fine baked good and had been hoping that the baking gene, so prized in the Land of St. Honore', had been passed on to Elias because his mother was a better baked good eater than baker.

Although Elias enjoyed the comportment and manners training that was part of his education and really appreciated access to spirited horses since he loved to ride, he truly loved spending time in the kitchen with his father learning the ancient secrets of butter and eggs, sugar and flour. Recently his father had been given a gift of quantities of candied orange and lemon peel. He had just the recipe to make good use of them.

The day before he had gathered his ingredients and started the candied peels to soak in their rum bath. Although the recipe looked fine he was going to change a few things. He preferred to mix together all of the dough ingredients (except for the soused fruit) and let it chill overnight for extra flavor. In the morning he could knead in the fruit and shape the loaves.

For Christmas the tradition is to use a richer dough than usual, so to the flour and yeast he added milk, eggs, butter, citrus zest and spices. All of that butter fat meant that the dough wouldn't rise as much, but since Elias planned a shaped set of loaves that was OK. The overnight chilling would still add flavor.

So now he was returning from his early morning visit to church and he was looking forward to the warmth of the kitchen. He retrieved the dough from the cooler, tipped it out on a floured board and punched it down. As the dough warmed he found it easier to spread the dough out on the board and then he spread the rum and fruit mixture over the dough, rolled it all up, then kneaded it to distribute the fruit.

As he kneaded the dough he leaned down and really appreciated the fragrance of the fruit and spices. After dividing the dough into three pieces, he shaped each one into a batard, then used a large dowel to create an indentation, slightly off center. One piece was flipped on top of the other and lo and behold! Stollen. Once the loaves had been proofed for about two hours they were ready for the oven. After baking to a golden brown he brushed them with clarified butter and gave them a generous coating of superfine sugar so they looked snowy.

Don't let anyone tell you that stollen, the lovely fruited yeast loaves of Christmas from Dresden, Germany, is supposed to be hard and dry. These loaves were fragrant with spice, zesty with citrus and rum, tender and moist and sweet. Elias knew that the stollen he had made as a gift for the king would be enjoyed because he enjoyed his own loaf very much!

A big thank you to Susan of Wild Yeast for this delightful take on stollen and congratulations to her on her special day. Hope you enjoyed the story above. It's been a while since I visited the Land of St. Honore', where baking is a birthright.

Please visit the other Bread Baking Babes (links found at right) to enjoy their beautiful stollen posts. I'm including the recipe below so you can see what should have happened. My experience was pretty much the same as Elias'. I also chose not to use confectioners' sugar on the finished loaves. The superfine sugar was enough sweetness.

Do consider baking these for yourself and your gift giving. You can be a Buddy by sending Susan an e-mail with a link to your post and/or a description of your baking experience and a photo of the finished bread(s). You have until Dec. 29th but I encourage you to make these in time for Christmas.
Of course I'm sending this over to Susan at Wild Yeast for Yeastspotting. Merry Christmas Susan!

(Adapted from San Francisco Baking Institute)

Yield: 1500 grams (3 loaves, more or less)

• Candy and dry citrus peel: 12 hours or more (can be done ahead)
• Soak the fruits: 12 hours
• Mix and ferment sponge: 12 hours (can be simultaneous with fruit-soaking)
• Mix dough: 20 – 30 minutes
• First fermentation : 30 minutes
• Pre-shape, rest, and shape: 30 minutes
• Proof: 90 minutes
• Bake: 30 minutes

Sponge Ingredients:
• 120 grams flour
• 80 grams water
• 0.1 gram (small pinch) instant yeast [or 0.13 g active dry, or 0.25 g fresh]

Soaked Fruit Ingredients:
• 130 grams raisins
• 75 grams dried cherries (or more raisins)
• 61 grams candied orange peel
• 92 grams candied lemon peel
• 82 grams slivered almonds
• 34 grams rum

Final Dough Ingredients:
• 348 g flour
• 53 g milk
• 25.3 grams (2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) instant yeast [or 18.6 g osmotolerant, or 31.6 g active dry, or 63.3 g fresh]
• 8 g (1-1/3 t.) salt
• 8 g (2-1/3 t.) diastatic malt powder (omit if you don’t have it)
• 51 g sugar
• 50 g egg (about one large egg)
• 5 g grated lemon zest (one average lemon)
• 5 g grated orange zest (one small orange)
• 1/3 t. of each of these ground spices: cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, allspice, nutmeg
• 273 g unsalted butter, at room temperature (should be pliable)
• all of the sponge
• all of the soaked fruits

Finishing Ingredients:
• clarified butter
• fine granulated sugar
• powdered (confectioner’s) sugar

1. Toss the soaker fruits with the rum in a medium bowl. Cover and leave at room temperature for about 12 hours.
2. Meanwhile, combine the sponge ingredients in another medium bowl. Cover and ferment at room temperature for 12 hours.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook, combine all of the final dough ingredients except the soaker. Mix in slow speed until all the ingredients are incorporated.
4. Continue mixing in medium speed until the gluten reaches full development. The dough should come together around the hook and should no longer stick to the sides and bottom of the bowl. This could take about 20 minutes or more, but will depend on your mixer.
5. Add the soaked fruits and mix on slow speed just until they are evenly distributed through the dough.
6. Transfer the dough to a lightly buttered container. Cover and ferment for 30 minutes at room temperature.
7. Turn the dough onto the counter. Divide into three pieces, or however many you would like. Pre-shape the dough into balls and let them rest, covered, for 30 minutes.
8. To shape each loaf: Form a blunt-ended batard and dust it lightly with flour. With a thin rolling pin, press down firmly, separating about 2/5 of the dough from the other 3.5. Roll out the flap of dough connecting the sections so it is about 2 inches wide. Flatten the larger section slightly with your hand, then fold the smaller section over to rest on the larger one.
9. Place the loaves on parchment-lined baking sheets (two per sheet) and slip them into a large plastic bag with a bowl of warm water. Proof for about 90 minutes, replenishing the water when it cools.
10. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 on convection setting or 400 on regular bake setting. You will also need steam during the initial phase of baking, so prepare for this now.
11. Bake for 10 minutes, open the oven door briefly to allow any remaining steam to escape, and bake for another 20 minutes. If you do not have convection, you may need to rotate the position of the baking sheets halfway through the bake to ensure even browning and keep the one on the lower rack from burning on the bottom.
12. While the loaves are still warm, brush them with clarified butter. Dredge them in fine granulated sugar, brushing or shaking off the excess.
13. To finish, sift powdered sugar over the loaves.
14. Cut when completely cool. You can leave the stollen out overnight to let the loaves dry and the sugar crust up a bit.

Monday, January 16, 2023

Brownies in a Jar

 First published in Feeding My Enthusiasms September 27, 2010:

Brownies in the Land of St. Honore'

This post is for my Mom who enjoys our travels in the Land of St. Honore'. As usual, it is pure fiction with no relationship to anyone I know.

It’s late summer in the Land of St. Honore’. The leaves are just beginning to put on their fall colors. In the garden the tomatoes echo those colors and are dazzling in bright hues of orange, red, green, gold and russet.

It is still dark when Giselle and her swain leave home, taking with them a lovely picnic basket and warm sweaters. Once they arrive at their destination the sunrise illuminates the gently filling bag of the hot air balloon. Heat from the burners warms the air and the warming air causes the balloon to rise until it’s like a colorful teardrop, with basket and burner below. They climb aboard and the pilot takes the balloon up into the early morning stillness…broken now and then by the wooooosh of the burners.

As they drift with the wind they are able to see the vineyards spread below them in many shades of green and just touches of fall color. What a perfect way to celebrate their anniversary!

After they have risen and then moved off in a different direction the pilot sees a place to land in a lovely field. He lets the air cool and the balloon slowly descends and then lands with a small bump. Leaving the pilot to attend to the balloon, hand in hand they walk over to a live oak tree in a wide field, lay out their picnic blanket and enjoy the fruit, bread and cheese they have brought from home.

Then Giselle brings out her surprise…freshly baked deep chocolate brownies with walnuts. Some have been given a small rosette of coffee buttercream, just for fun. The brownies are moist and decadent and irresistible. Before they know it the brownies have all been consumed with delight. Giselle gives her husband’s lips a final pat with the napkin, followed by a kiss, and they head back to the waiting balloon for the rest of their ride on their special day.

What Giselle didn’t tell her hubby is that the brownies came out of a jar…sort of. The dry ingredients had been layered in a large jar and all she needed to do was to melt and cool some butter and then beat some eggs, then stir the butter, eggs and contents of the jar together, spread in a pan and bake them. SO easy and very luscious.

You, too, can layer the dry ingredients in a jar, ready for an impulsive brownie baking session or as a gift for someone who loves brownies. These are far better than any from a boxed mix but just as easy on the cook. There are lots of variations at the end of the recipe so that you can personalize them.

Other than the ingredients, the only thing needed is care in placing the ingredients in their layers in the jar. I made a sort of funnel with some waxed paper to keep excess from hitting the sides. A real funnel would probably work even better.

Brownies in a Jar
Makes 1 quart of brownie mix for one 9 x 13 inch pan of brownies

One 1-quart canning jar or 1-quart decorative jar, plus a lid
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
2 cups sugar
(NOTE: To be decorative, add ¾ cup sugar, then ¼ cup decorative colored sugar, add another ½ cup plain, ¼ cup decorative and ¼ cup plain or just put in a full cup plain. With all plain it is a large band of white. Alternately, put in ½ sugar then chocolate chips or substitute for chips, then rest of sugar.
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Put the baking powder and salt in the jar. Carefully spoon the flour into the jar; gently tamp the flour down and wipe the insides of the jar with a dry paper towel to clean off any dust.

Carefully spoon in the cocoa powder, gently tamping it down and wiping down the inside of the jar with a clean paper towel.

Spoon the sugar into the jar, then add the chocolate chips. Seal the jar with a canning lid and ring or decorative lid.

To vary this recipe
Substitute 2/3 cup of any of the following for the chocolate chips:
Butterscotch chips, chopped toasted hazelnuts, chopped walnuts, cocoa nibs, dried blueberries, dried cranberries, M&Ms milk chocolate chips, mint chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, pine nuts, raisins, Reese’s Pieces, white chocolate chips. (NOTE: I used 1/3 cup chocolate chips and 1/3 cup chopped walnuts in my jar. It worked perfectly!)

Brownie Mix Recipe Card - Include a card printed with this recipe with the layered jar of Brownies in a Jar:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or butter and flour a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
Empty the brownie mix into a large bowl. Add ¾ cup unsalted butter or margarine, melted and cooled, and 4 large eggs, well beaten. Mix well and spread into the pan with a wooden spoon.
Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Cool completely in the pan before cutting.

Chocolate Pavlovas

First published in Feeding My Enthusiasms on June 29, 2010:

A Tower of Sweetness in the Land of St. Honore'

Whoops! Missed the posting date for the Daring Bakers, even though the challenge was done and the post mostly finished...just blame it on the bathroom remodel. Things progress, although slowly. Will post a photo when all is this moment it seems like that will be Christmas, but actually will be much sooner.

So, return with me now to the Land of St. Honore' for the delayed, but still delicious Daring Bakers challenge for June, 2010....

Once upon a time in the land of St. Honore’, the duchess had guests coming for dessert. First she said, “I think I’ll make a lovely, light, luscious, delectable cake.” But the thought about it and decided she was tired of cake. “There must be some other treat that I could bake” she thought. Since she had a nice new bottle of dessert port and a yen for chocolate, plus a sturdy stand mixer, she decided to focus on eggs, cream and chocolate.

“Well given those things, I think I will try, a lovely, light, luscious, delectable pie.” She found a recipe for Angel Pie with a meringue crust and chocolate mousse filling. Still, it somehow still didn’t sound like what she wanted to make.

“I think I’ll make something without any flour; a lovely, light, luscious, delectable tower…with strawberries since it’s Spring.” Now she had the idea for the perfect dessert…and a showstopper, too.

First she made pavlovas, crisp discs of cocoa infused meringue. Three egg whites worth made four good sized discs. Her stand mixer got a good workout. The chocolate being folded into the whipped egg whites and sugar looked so pretty!

Then she made a luscious chocolate mousse, giving her stand mixer a good workout again with all the whipping she did.

There was some heavy cream in the fridge, so some of that got the stand mixer whipping treatment for embellishment.

Most important of all were the two pints of glorious freshly picked strawberries, sweet, juicy, fragrant, the soul of spring. She hulled them and sliced them into a bowl and let them sit and release their juices.

Now the fun began! On a footed cake plate she placed a chocolate pavlova disc. On top she spread chocolate mousse quickly covered with a generous amount of the fresh strawberries. The same process was repeated three times which gave her an impressive stacked tower of chocolate-strawberry goodness. A dollop of whipped cream on top finished it off.

She had invited friends over for dessert. The port wine perfectly complimented the decadent dessert and there was coffee, too, to ward off the evening chill that began at sunset. With the garden setting and half moon rising in the sky it was hard to imagine a better way to end the day, cheered by stories and laughter, warmed by wine and friendship, and delighted by chocolate pavlovas and strawberries.

The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard. You can find the recipe at Dawn's blog. You can check out the Daring Baker's blogroll to see all the amazing pavlovas created this month!

I had a great time making this dessert, although I wasn’t entirely faithful to the challenge. I made the pavolova discs exactly as described in the recipe. In case you were wondering, it doesn’t help to have added the confectioners sugar to the regular sugar and then try to whip the egg whites with added sugar mixture. I didn’t read the recipe well and that was my first batch…the egg whites never did rise or get firm. Second time worked like a charm.

Amazing how using the recipe helps with the results!

Where I went off track was the mousse. Not a big fan of mascarpone and since I already had a go at making it with the Daring Bakers, I decided to do a different chocolate mousse. Unfortunately time got away from me and the duchess’s guests were going to arrive and expected a dessert toot sweet. I was feeling frantic, so I threw together some ingredients I thought would produce a mousse like texture, although I had never made whipped ganache before now.

The ‘save’ consisted of chocolate ganache which I chilled in the freezer, then whipped. Whipping cream was whipped as well. Another egg white was whipped until stiff. (So glad I have a stand mixer!) The whipped cream and egg white were folded into the whipped ganache and that mixture was used as mousse to fill the layers of chocolate meringue discs. It was wonderful!...light but intensely flavored…a perfect foil for those berries and crispy pavlovas. There was absolutely no time for a sauce of any kind, but turns out it didn’t need one.
The biggest challenge was cutting the dessert into servings. A serrated knife worked pretty well, but most servings were still pretty messy. No one seemed to care…every morsel was eaten. Of course it could have been the result of sipping port with the pavlovas.

Many thanks to Dawn for a lovely, light, luscious, delicious, decadent, drool-worthy dessert! Yay for chocolate!

Check out the other Daring Bakers’ versions of Chocolate Pavlovas, with links found on the Blogroll.. You don’t have to be a duchess to make Chocolate Pavlovas with Chocoalte Mascarpone (or my) Mousse and Crème Anglaise sauce.

Au revoir from the Land of St. Honore’! xoxo Elle

“Quick” Chocolate “Mousse”
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups heavy cream, divided
1 egg white

Place the chocolate in the bottom of a stand mixer bowl. In another small, microwave-safe bowl place 1 cup heavy cream. Heat in the microwave until very hot, about 1 minute on full power. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit 2 minutes. Stir with a spatula, to mix the melted chocolate with the cream. Make sure mixture is smooth. Place mixture in a bowl and put into the freezer for 10 minutes.

Clean the stand mixer bowl. Beat the egg white with the whisk attachment in place until the egg whites are stiff but still moist. Set aside in another bowl. Beat the remaining 1 cup heavy cream until soft peaks form. Set aside in another bowl.

Return the chilled ganache to the mixing bowl. Whip at high speed with the whisk attachment in place until the ganache is whipped, lightened and holds soft peaks. Remove bowl from mixer and fold in the whipped heavy cream and the egg white. Use as filling at once for the Pavlovas.



 First published in Feeding My Enthusiasms May 27, 2010:

Cream Puff Dreams in the Land of St. Honore'

Return with me now to the land of St. Honore’ where a graduation party for a princess is taking place at the palace. Princess Rosebud’s fairy godmothers are here, contentious as usual.

“Arabelle, you know that giving her a trip to the Enchanted Forest is so passe’”, said Eleanora.

“Well, at least I was invited to be here…unlike you”, protested Arabella.

Caramona observed,”Who would invite someone who always brings bad spells along and never fails to insult everyone at a party?”

Eleanora was incensed and decided that a bad spell was just what the party needed. With a wicked smile she said, “I haven’t given dear Rosebud my gift yet, so my gift is a spell…she will fall asleep and everything she dreams of will come true, just for tonight.”

Princess Rosebud thought that was a nifty gift, even though she promptly fell asleep and missed the rest of the party.

“Couldn’t you at least have given her a spell that ended with being kissed and woken by a handsome Prince?” asked Caramona?

“Maybe if I’d been invited I would have, but now I’m off to a party where I was invited”, sniffed Eleanora, and she left with a swirl of her cape, in a puff of smoke.

Nothing interesting happened at first (other than the fact that the princess was smiling a lot) but after about 40 minutes someone noticed that the dessert table suddenly held a beautiful new dessert.

Small cream puffs had been dipped in caramel and stacked up on a pretty plate. The guest broke off pieces and popped them in their mouths. Delicious!

When Princess Rosebud woke at midnight Caramona and Arabella asked her what she had dreamed. She was very excited.

“I’m never allowed in the palace kitchens, but in my dream I was a pastry chef and I created the most wonderful dessert! It’s called a piece montee’ and is a ‘mounted piece’ so I made a pyramid of pastry cream filled cream puffs, hooked together with caramelized sugar and decorated with spun sugar. I had so much fun making it!

The cream puffs were made with a cooked paste that was piped on baking sheets and baked…that’s when they puffed up.

The pastry cream was thickened with eggs and took a long time to cook over low heat.

Making the caramelized sugar was a little scary because it got so hot and you had to work quickly once it was set in the pan of cold water to stop the cooking process. It looked so pretty once it was all put together. I wonder what happened to it?”

Her fairy godmothers had the good grace to look abashed as they admitted that the guests had finished off every last cream puff. The princess wasn’t upset, however, because in her dream the one that appeared in real life was her practice version and not nearly as nice as the one she made next. Once she finished making the second one she had eaten her fill, wearing a white chef’s coat and a big smile. Sometimes dreams are better than reality.

The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.

If you want to practice your pastry chef skills and make this decadent dessert, you can find the recipe at Cat’s blog Little Miss Cupcake and probably at many Daring Baker sites across the blogosphere.

I had a good time making this, almost as good time as Princess Rosebud. I had never made the caramelized sugar with lemon juice but it worked well. I ended up with a nice dark amber color.

The cream puffs were similar to those I made for the Gateau St. Honore’ for the first Daring Baker's May challenge, but I made these very small.

I think I should have made them a bit bigger so they would hold more of the luscious pastry cream. I flavored the cream with vanilla and rum. Although the sweetness level was higher than I like, Sweetie and I managed to polish off this piece montee with great enjoyment. No need to dream when you have the real thing.

Thank you Cat for selecting such an inspiring challenge for this month!

Catching Up - Orange Tian Dessert

 First posted in Feeding My Enthusiasms March 27, 2010:

Daring Bakers Orange Dessert Delight

Once upon a time in the Land of St. Honore' March came in like a lion, with rain and cold. It was a good time to gather in the living room as a family, basking in the glow of the television set. Maman put a frilly apron on over her sleek black outfit, then put the coffee pot on. As she set the dessert delight she had made onto pretty little plates and added the caramel orange sauce she thought back to the fun she had had creating these light and citrus-rich morsels.

Although she had cooked and baked for years she had never segmented oranges as this recipe required. As the juice dripped off her hands into the bowl, she cradled the peeled orange in one hand and sliced next to each membrane to release the segments. The remaining membranes reminded her of a fan somehow.

Oranges add such a bright look and flavor, so welcome in winter!
She has also never made fresh marmalade, even though she loved it on toast. It was pretty easy to do and the taste so much fresher and lovely than the store bought kind. It was interesting that the whole orange was used and that the blanching removed a lot of the bitterness usually found when the pith is included in recipes. Here's the slices being blanched:

Soon she was layering the caramel covered orange segments,

a lovely whipped cream based band of white, and fresh marmalade on a sweet, crisp cookie.

Once chilled and put on the plate it looked like a dessert you would see at a fine restaurant. The sauce added just the right touch of extra elegance.

As her family gathered to watch the Academy Awards ceremony and to see if they had guessed correctly on Best Picture, she served them the Orange Tians and freshly brewed coffee. The perfect dessert for a festive evening!

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.

Thanks to Jennifer for choosing such a delightful, delectable dessert! It was fun to make and even more fun to eat!

You can find the recipe here at Jennifer's blog. Do check out other Daring Baker's versions of this treat by using the Blogroll.

Thanks for joining me for the March 2010 Daring Baker's Challenge. Sweetie says orange you glad you did?

Saturday, November 19, 2022

A New Link - Candied Popcorn with Dried Cranberries and Chopped Almonds

I'm pretty sure that I didn't yet include a post on Feeding My Enthusiasms that is part of the St. Honore' collection. It's about a mom who makes a caramel corn snack for her son for after school. HERE is the link

Friday, January 8, 2010

Banana Bread in the Land of St. Honore'

The Christmas ornaments and stockings are in the attic and the swag with red lights that hung on the porch has joined the tree stand in storage. Before the last bit of Christmas cheer tiptoes away, join me for a seasonal tale in the Land of St. Honore', where baking is a birthright.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, in the Land of St. Honore’, the hall clock struck 2 in the wee hours of the morning. As the refrigerator door swung open, it illuminated the elfin features of Mitzi, one of Santa’s helpers. She checked to see that the old dog hadn’t been awakened by the light, but he was still asleep by the couch in the glow of the Christmas tree lights.

It was Little Christmas or Epiphany, January 6th, and Mitzi was homesick. On Christmas night she had been with Santa on the sleigh with her own sack of goodies...for Santa. He was fighting off a cold and her job was to provide chicken soup from the Thermos, nasal spray as needed, and large white handkerchiefs for his drippy nose.

Unfortunately at one stop Nature called. How she wished that female elves could wiz anywhere like the guys. Since she couldn’t she had left the sleigh to find a bathroom. Santa didn’t realize she was gone and had left for the next stop. She was lucky that there was a nice hall closet where she could curl up with the coats and mufflers to sleep.

At first she didn’t mind being stranded. The people in the house didn’t miss oranges and apples, nor yogurt or mini carrots. She ate while they slept and slept under the bed in the spare room while they were awake.

There were also plenty of gingerbread cookies at hand. She had managed to avoid the after Christmas clean up at the North Pole and now felt very rested. The problem was how to let Santa know where she was so he could come get her.

One thing that Santa loved was banana bread. Mrs. Claus rarely made it because she was trying to keep his weight in check. Mitzi decided to bake some to lure Santa to her hideaway.

First she took some eggs from the fridge and some leftover eggnog…Santa loved eggnog, too. Then she warmed some rum and soaked dried cranberries in it. Then she found the softened butter on the counter and sugars in the pantry. By standing on the counter top she was able to find, measure out and combine flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda, and some nutmeg…the latter to set off the seasonal eggnog flavor.

Once the oven was preheated and she had found a bread pan, she whisked together the butter, sugars, egg, some vanilla, and the eggnog. Next she stirred in some grody old brown skinned soft bananas that she had peeled and smooshed. Then she added the dry ingredients and mixed ‘em up, threw in the cranberries and the rum they were soaking in, and added a handful of chopped walnuts from the ‘fridge. Once well stirred the batter smelled great!

Into the bread pan it went and the pan into the oven. She played some jacks while the bread baked. Once the bread was out of the oven and it had cooled just a little bit, she cut two slices and wrapped them carefully in paper towels.

Then she took the rest of the fresh bread over to the fireplace. It was cold since no fire had been lit that day. Softly she blew across the loaf of bread and the fragrance was caught and went up the chimney. In an amazingly short time she heard the bells jingling on the reindeer harness.

Santa had indeed smelled her banana bread and come to get her! She put the loaf back on the counter for the family who had provided for her for the twelve night, grabbed the slices in the paper towel and was at the hearth just in time to see Santa’s hand reaching out for her from the chimney. Once they were in the sleigh and on their way back to the North Pole, he tried her luscious Eggnog Rum Cranberry Banana Bread. Hohohohoho! It was sure good.

Eggnog Rum Cranberry Banana Bread

¼ cup dark rum, warmed slightly
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup butter, softened
¼ cup dark brown sugar, packed
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
¼ cup eggnog
½ teaspoon vanilla
3 bananas
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ cup chopped walnuts

In small bowl combine the warm rum and the dried cranberries. Set aside to soak while you prepare the bread batter.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl beat the butter with the sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs , one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the eggnog and vanilla and combine. The mixture may look curdled. That is OK. Stir in the bananas. Add the dry ingredients all at once and stir just until combined. Add the cranberries and their soaking liquid and the walnuts and stir until just combined.

Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour. Test for doneness with a toothpick in center. When done, toothpick comes out clean or with a few crumbs on it. Cool well. Store overnight before cutting...if you can wait that long…a certain elf couldn’t. A serrated knife makes cutting easier.

Makes one loaf.

Previously posted at Feeding My Enthusiasms