Before I get on with this post, I would like to say a special thank you to everyone for your thoughtful, kind words and support during our time of loss.
As you all know, this month hasn't quite been the month that December is considered to be. There have been a lot of changes in our lives and right now we have our hands full trying to adjust to it all. Everything shall settle into some sort of routine eventually and we're getting there slowly.
In the meanwhile, I haven't been cooking much other than rather routine (and maybe boring) stuff. My sister is down for a short stay and I have been quite happy to let her take over as much of my kitchen as she chooses to while she's here.
I'm also finding it a bit of an effort to get back to blogging. Just the thought of cooking something, then taking a picture of it and trying to write a post when words seem to have deserted me, seems to tire me out. Every time I feel it's time I got back to blogging, I invariably end up thinking, "I'll do this tomorrow". Except tomorrow seems to be hiding some place where I cannot find it!
So I thought the best way to get out of this apathy would be to jumpstart things by baking some bread. For me, there's something almost therapeutic about baking bread and it certainly helps that we also really love bread.
When I saw that Katie of Thyme For Cooking had chosen a Viennese Striesel for the Bread Baking Babes (and Buddies) to bake, I thought this festive holiday bread ought to be a great way to get back to baking. I have been planning to make this since I saw it a couple of days back and finally did it yesterday!
I just mostly followed the given recipe (from Breads of Many Lands by Clara Gebhard Snyder).
I had a little less than the required amount of candied cherries and my daughter doesn't really like raisins, especially in bread. So my striesel has a little less of these two ingredients than required, which explains why you need to really search for them in my striesel.
I couldn't find any candied orange peel, so I compensated for this by adding orange extract to the sugar glaze.
I also had a slightly difficult time doing a 4-stranded braid and messed it somewhere in the middle. However, the 3-stranded braid placed over it and a 2-stranded twist right on top helped a lot to disguise the mistake!
My baking tray proved a little small for my fully risen striesel, so I didn't quite get the finish I was looking forward to. All said and done, this slightly sweet festive bread is quite delightful, soft yet not rich.
If you are thinking of leaving out the sugar glaze (I almost didn't as I thought it might make the bread too sweet), please do not as it certainly adds to taste and the visual appeal of this bread.
Basic Sweet Dough:
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup very warm water
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp shortening, melted (I used butter)
2 3/4 - 3 cups flour
Dissolve yeast in warm waterScald milk. Put milk, sugar, shortening, salt in bowl of mixer. Cool until just warm. Stir in 1 cup of flour. Mix in dissolved yeast.Whisk egg and add to dough. Add remaining flour and knead until smooth and satiny.
1 recipe Basic Sweet Dough (from above)
1/4 cup seedless raisins
1/4 cup candied cherries, chopped
2 tbs candied orange peel, chopped
1/8 tsp mace
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tbsp milk
almonds or walnuts for sprinkling
almonds or walnuts for sprinkling
Method:Add fruit and mace to basic dough before the last cup of flour. Mix in well. Add remaining flour and finish kneading until smooth.Shape into a ball, place in lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled, about 2 1/4 hours.
Punch down. Divide into 9 pieces, shape each into a ball and let rest 5 minutes.Roll each piece into a rope about 15" long.
Lay 4 strands on a lightly greased baking sheet, overlapping at the center. Braid from the center toward each end. With the side of your hand make a trench down the center. Now braid 3 strands, also from the center to each end, and place in the 'trench'. Twist the 2 remaining strands loosely together and place on top, bringing the ends over the end of the loaf and tucking in.
Cover loosely and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. Bake, 350F (180C) for 40 - 45 minutes. Remove and cool on a wire rack.Mix milk and sugar. When bread is cool, drizzle frosting over the top. Sprinkle with nuts.
This Viennese Striesel is being YeastSpotted!
The winner of my blog anniversary cookbook giveaway will be announced in my next post. That's a promise!