Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Baking

Last week, I spent most of Wednesday baking. First, allow me to say this:

I needed this much butter.

My plan was to make spritz cookies to decorate and trade for Cookie Day, and then to make some chocolate peppermint pull-apart bread to take to our small group Christmas White Elephant exchange.

The recipes I used for the spritz cookies (and the main reason for so. much. butter.) were both from Allrecipes. There was a chocolate spritz batch and a Swedish spritz batch. They are both good recipes. For some reason, the green dough was a little more moist than the reddish (in which I used MORE food coloring because I only had pink, not red, and was trying to darken it up a bit by adding purple then added yellow to bring it back toward orange from blue), so my "trees" looked more like amorphous vaguely-triangular blobs. Then again, they were the first ones I tried, and I hadn't used a cookie press in years. Perhaps if I'd gone back and tried them again at the end...

Speaking of the cookie press, when I taught a chocolate class to homeschoolers quite a few years ago, one of the students sold me her press for $5 because she never used it. I love it and I think about her every time I make spritz cookies!

Ready to decorate! (Or not, if you'd prefer them plain. They're great like this!)

For the bread, I used the Chocolate Peppermint Pull-Apart recipe from Hello Giggles, a website that is not typically about baking and does not, I think proofread the recipes.

So, this recipe makes a very delicious finished product, but I would add:

1) At the beginning, to proof the yeast, you use 1/2 cup of the sugar.
2) Before you add the flour to the yeast mixture, sift/whisk/stir in the other dry ingredients (baking soda and powder, and salt).

The picture on the site doesn't look hugely appetizing, and neither do mine. But trust me that this is really good stuff.

Here it is before I cut it. The recipe says to roll it out to 1/4 inch thickness, but that was not happening for me. I rolled it for thirty minutes and got that "post-push-ups" feeling. I ended up with great chunks of chocolate bread, which I think is okay. It cuts through the sweetness of the "filling," so it isn't treacly.

The recipe mentions that you might have some squares left over. I felt like it was plenty to make two loaves.

I had folded the dough over on itself several times and let it rest for a few moments, trying to control the shape and the size. I love the way it rose, with layers like this.

I do think that I made the glaze too thick, but it was still delicious!

Then, the next day, I decorated the spritz cookies. (The first loaf was gone already!)

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