December 21, 2009

Viennese Striesel

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

1 egg

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.

Viennese Striesel:

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


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!


lata raja said...

Aparna, I understand how you might be feeling . All that you feel are normal at this juncture. Allow them to come back to normal. It is a terrible and irreplaceable loss.
That you have tried to post a recipe is itself some effort. Keep strong.

Ivy said...

Dear Aparna,
I just heard the sad news and God rest his soul. It needs time to heal, I know I've been there as both my parents are gone. Keep him alive inside you with all the lovely moments you have shared. Ivy

Parita said...

Love the photo Aparna, classic one!

Indhu said...

glad you are back.. love the shape of that bread... :)
It looks too difficult for me to attempt though.. ahh well.. some day :)

Madhu said...

Love the texture and shape of the bread. Looks delicious.

Prathibha said...

Loved the shape of that bread...looks very nice....

♥♥♥Ria♥♥♥ said...

Good to see that you are getting back to normal routine.

Never heard of this bread before and I still cannot believe that you actually messed up a bit with braiding! I loved the way you braided them! And the colour is really good! :)

jayasree said...

As always, time is the best healer. Good to see you a post.

Liked the way the bread is shaped.

Cham said...

Only time can heal- blogging can definetly put you in track! This one is a beautiful bread!

Happy cook said...

Like you said time will heel,, but still life goes on. Enjoy the time with you sis. I know it must be nice for both of you to be togehter at this difficult time.
Love the bread. As it is a busy time here I haven't posted anything.

Baking Soda said...

Thank you for taking the time to bake with us, hope there's some comfort from baking for your family and the smells lingering in the house.It's a lovely braid. Take care!

Curry Leaf said...

Time heals and baking as well as blogging can definitely help you.Fantastic bread as always.Keep on baking.

jayasri said...

It is lovely to see you back with a beautiful bread as always, I know and cannot describe in words what your loss is which can be never healed, time alone can heal so they say, but I personally feel that you need to try your best to come out of it, well, forget it, it is easy to say but when it comes to do it is different, I know this as my husband lost his mother last year, he is still trying to cope with it. Aparna, I can only tell you do take care of yourself you have to get through this as you have your little girl, who needs you, that's what I keeping telling my hubby, concentrate on your kids, they need you, that's the only way you can give yourself to come through this, you don't have to post this, I just thought I wanted to write to you, you are such a lovely person, take care love. I love to see more lovely bakes and cooking in this blog which I love so much, which has given me an inspiration in baking.

Tasty Eats At Home said...

I am sorry for your loss. And here's to hoping that baking bread such as this helps to soothe a tired soul such as yours - this looks absolutely lovely. Take care!

Sumi said...

Welcome back Aparna and sorry for ur loss...Missed ur posts.You have baked lovely bread there...cant wait to make one for myself.

Natashya Kitchen Puppies said...

Lovely! Your striesel is absolutely gorgeous. Thanks so much for baking with us this month!

Divya Vikram said...

Sorry to hear about the loss. Glad to see you back. Bread looks lovely.

Joanne said...

In the end, unfortunately, time is the only true healer but I think getting back into a routine can help also. Baking tends to comfort me as well, so it is definitely a good thing to turn to. Your striesel turned out beautifully!

Trissa said...

Dear Aparna, I only saw this post now and did not realize your father had passed away. I know it is late but I would like to extend my condolences to you and your family. By the way, the bread looks delicious...

Aparna said...

Thanks once again for all the support.