Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts

The kids no longer living with us, I get late into Christmas mode. No Adventskranz (traditional wreath with 4 candles lit for each Sunday before Christmas) on the table, no calendar window to open.

Toasted hazelnuts: one of my favorite things
Having to limit my output I'll do two of the best: Mohnstollen (Poppy Seed Stollen) and Lebkuchen (German spice cookies).

Before I came to Maine I never made either of them. Stollen I always got from my mother, and I never cared too much for Lebkuchen (something that should change dramatically.)

To find a perfect recipe for Mohnstollen wasn't easy - there are so many of them. Finally I settled on one whose list of ingredients I liked best - it had hazelnuts!

I would add an overnight fermentation, reduce the sugar, and exchange some of the white flour with whole wheat, and half of the raisins with cranberries for a little bit of tartness.

So far so good! But what about the most important part of the Stollen: the poppy seed filling?

Ground poppy seeds
Germans use "Mohnback", a ready-made poppy seed mix you can buy everywhere. Luckily I found a recipe for a DIY Mohnback, with almond paste, semolina flour, milk and eggs.

Our Cuisinart coffee mill that we were about ready to trash - it did a miserable job with coffee beans - now got a second chance.

And, lo and behold, it ground the poppy seeds as if it were made for just that purpose.

The Mohnstollen turned out so good that now I sell some, too - and I won't tell my mother that mine is better than hers!

(adapted from "Essen & Trinken")

125 ml milk, lukewarm
125 g all-purpose flour
17 g instant yeast

148 g milk
10 g semolina flour
143 g poppy seed, ground
26 g honey
1 pinch salt
1 egg yolk
57 g raisins, coarsely chopped
11 g almond slices
100 g almond paste, grated

50 g raisins
50 g dried sweetened cranberries
50 g orange peel
50 g citron
50 g rum (or orange juice)

all sponge
50 g whole wheat pastry flour
275 g all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
20 g honey
10 g milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
200 g butter, softened
100 g almond paste, coarsely grated (box grater)
50 g hazelnuts, toasted, chopped
50 g butter, melted, for topping
50 g powdered sugar, for topping

Fruit soaker

For the rum fruits, chop all fruits in a food processor (or with a chef's knife) to desired size. Transfer to a small bowl, add rum (or juice) and mix well.

For the sponge, stir together flour, yeast and lukewarm milk until all flour is hydrated. Let rise at room temperature, until foamy and just ready to collapse.

The sponge is bubbly and about ready to collapse - just right!

For the filling, bring milk to a boil in a small sauce pan. Remove from heat and stir in semolina flour.Add poppy seeds, honey, salt, egg yolk, raisins and almond slices. Mix well. Add almond paste and combine. Cover and keep cool until using.
Place sponge, flours, honey, salt, milk, vanilla extract, butter and almond paste in bowl of stand mixer (paddle attachment), and mix at low speed (or mix by hand). Add hazelnuts and rum fruits, and continue mixing until everything comes together. Switch to medium-low speed (or continue kneading by hand) and knead for 4 minutes.

Fruity, nutty dough

Let dough rest for 5 minute, then resume kneading for another 1 minute. Place dough ball in oiled container with lid, and refrigerate overnight.

Remove dough from refrigerator at least 2 hours before using, to come to room temperature.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough into an 18 x 12 inch/45 x 30 cm square. (For smaller individual loaves, cut dough into 2 equal pieces, and roll them out separately, the short side should be about the depth of the baking sheet.)

Spread poppy seed filling over dough square, leaving the edges free

Using a spatula, spread poppy seed filling evenly over dough square(s), leaving the edges free (1/2 inch). Fold short sides in, then loosely roll up from long side. Place stollen, seam side down, on parchment lined baking sheet.

First fold the short sides in, then roll up from the long side

Cover stollen with plastic wrap,  and let rise at room temperature for 60 - 120 minutes, or until it has grown about 1 1/2 times its original size, and a dimple, made with your finger, stays visible. (If the stollen doesn't rise long enough, it might split open in the oven.)

Stollen: speckled from nuts and fruits (here a small one)

Preheat oven to 350ºF/175ºC.

Bake large stollen for about 60 - 70 minutes (smaller ones: 45 - 50 minutes), rotating them 180 degrees after half the baking time, for even browning. They should be golden brown and register at least 195ºF/90ºC on an instant read thermometer.

Stollen fresh from the oven

Brush with melted butter while still hot. Dust generously with powdered sugar. Repeat this procedure once again. This sugar coating doesn't only protect the stollen from drying out - it also covers a lot of sins, like cracks or blemishes in the crust!

Let the stollen cool completely on a rack. (I then usually cut larger stollen in halves.)

Brush with butter followed by a generous sprinkling of powdered sugar

Keep stollen cool, wrapped in aluminum foil. It takes a day or two to develop its full flavor. Mohnstollen keeps for at least 2 weeks.

Two who are happy about the snow - and don't have to shovel!

December 2016: Following suggestions by my family, I modified the ingredients for the final dough slightly, reducing the amount of whole wheat flour and adding a bit of milk and honey (therefore I removed the BreadStorm formula from the post.)

Submitted to Yeast Spotting

Submitted to Panissimo:  Bread & Companatico                                       
                                        Indovina chi viene a cena                                             


Sunday, November 24, 2013


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts

I like oats, and enjoy every morning my muesli with fruit and yogurt, or citrus-y oatmeal with raisins and apricots (thanks to Maria Speck and her wonderful book "Ancient Grains for Modern Meals".)

Whereas you can find rolled, steel cut oats or oat bran in many recipes, you will hardly see anything made with actual oat flour. I knew from experience that, in principle, I can treat oat flour like rye in mixed breads, since it doesn't have gluten. My German Feinbrot tastes great with oat instead of rye, too.

So I came up with a formula for a very "oaty" sandwich loaf, combining oat flour, rolled oats and oat bran in a nice fluffy, but hearty, bread that is also great for toasting.

The best of all husbands commented: "After eating this you will definitely feel your oats!"

Oat flour, rolled oats and oat bran


100 g oat flour
  27 g oat bran
100 g rolled oats (not quick cooking)
    4 g salt
198 g buttermilk

BIGA (*see note)
227 g bread flour
    1 g instant yeast
142 g water

all soaker and biga
 28 g whole wheat flour
   5 g salt
   4 g instant yeast
 19 g honey
 14 g melted butter (or canola oil)
egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash
rolled oats, for topping

*) If you prefer preparing the dough with stretch & fold (without a biga, described here), it's fine, since the dough rises overnight in the refrigerator. But do soak the oat flour, rolled oats and oat bran, otherwise you might get in trouble with the hydration of the final dough.

DAY 1:
In a small bowl, stir together all ingredients for soaker, until well hydrated. Cover, and let sit at room temperature.

Mix all ingredients for biga until they come together, knead for 2 minutes at medium-low speed  (or by hand), let rest for 5 minutes, and knead for another 1 minute. Place in oiled container, turn around to coat, cover and refrigerate (remove from fridge 2 hours before using).

Mix final dough at low speed (or with hand) until rough ball forms. Knead for 4 minutes at medium-low speed. Let rest for 5 minutes, then knead for another 1 minute. (Dough should be tacky, but not sticky.) Place dough ball in oiled container, turning it around to coat, cover, and refrigerate overnight*)

*) I like overnight bulk fermentation, because I can do most of the work in the evening before the baking day. But you can, also, let the pre-doughs ferment overnight, and do the mixing of the final dough on baking day.

DAY 2:
Remove dough from refrigerator 2 hours before using, to warm up.

Preheat oven to 425ºF. Grease sandwich loaf pan (I use a 9-inch one)

On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough into sandwich loaf, and place, seam side down, in prepared pan.

Brush with egg wash, score, and sprinkle with rolled oats, pressing the flakes gently into the dough (it's important to score first, otherwise the flakes obstruct the slashing.)

Mist with oil spray, cover, and let rise at room temperature, or until it has grown to 1 1/2 its original size, about 45 - 60 minutes.

Bake bread at 350ºF for 25 minutes, rotate 180 degrees for even browning, and continue baking for another 30 minutes. The bread should be golden brown, sound hollow when thumbed at the bottom, and register 195 F.

Remove bread from pan, and let cool on wire rack.

November on Mount Desert Island - quiet time in Bar Harbor

Submitted to Yeast Spotting

Re-written and updated post (originally posted 1/5/1202)

Submitted to Panissimo:  Bread & Companatico                                       
                                        Indovina chi viene a cena                                             
This month's Panissimo is hosted by Menta e Rosmarino


Saturday, November 9, 2013


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts


We like out local newspaper, the  "Bangor Daily News", because of its well written reports and excellent photos. It, also, often publishes interesting recipes, I made quite a few of them, and most turned out very nice.

Just before I went on my fall trip to Hamburg, I saw a muffin recipe that really piqued my curiosity.

I was looking for recipes with apples, because I still had a whole bag full of tiny apples gathered from abandoned orchards at the roadside. After making two apple pies, I felt I needed a bit of change.

First trial: good, but still a bit too sweet for my taste
Fia's Apple Cider Donut Muffins promised muffins that tasted like donuts.

I like donuts, (if they are not doughy, overly sweet mass products à la Dunkin), but I had never heard about a donut-muffin-hybrid. 

My first trial, with half the recipe amount - I didn't want to feed armies, after all - turned out pretty good, but needed a bit of tweaking. 

Though I had reduced the sugar, we found the muffins still too sweet. And the fruity aroma of the apples was overpowered by nutmeg, even though I had halved the amount here, too.

The consistency resembled donuts, and the crumb was nice and moist. But, nevertheless, I thought the muffins could do with a little more apple. 

When I'm on the phone with my son in Hamburg, I always gush about my baking. This time, I promised, I would bake something for him, in his own kitchen, during my visit.

Apple pieces for an extra moist muffin crumb
From my cousin Uta's garden I had brought some nice Boskoop apples, and my son likes donuts.

So what was more appropriate than making Donut Muffins?

With a whole large apple, even less sugar, and only a pinch of nutmeg, the muffins turned out so good, that Per and his girlfriend munched them down in no time. 

The original recipe contains cider, but I baked some with hard cider, too. Instead of all white flour, I substituted some with whole wheat pastry flour. 

The original recipe suggests dipping the muffins first in cider, than in cinnamon sugar. I found that sprinkling the sugar works better.


 125 g tart apples, peeled, cored and finely cubed (about 1 1/4 large apple, like Booskop, Granny Smith or Pink Lady)
1/2 cup/120 ml cider (or hard cider)
  57 g butter, softened (1/2 stick)
  45 g white sugar
  35 g brown sugar
   1 ½ eggs *)
  2 tbsp. vegetable oil
 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup/60 ml milk
130 g all-purpose flour
  35 g whole wheat pastry flour
¾ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
1 pinch nutmeg
¼ tsp. ginger
¼ tsp. cloves
cider for dipping (about 1/4 cup)
cinnamon sugar, for sprinkling

*) To halve an egg, place a cup on a scale, break the egg in the cup, and measure the weight. Then beat the egg lightly, and take half of it for the batter.

Preheat oven to 350ºF/180ºC. Grease 10 cups of a muffin pan.

In a small sauce pan, bring apple cubes and cider to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, until apple pieces are soft, but not completely disintegrated.

Whisk dry ingredients until well aerated
In a medium bowl, whisk flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices, until well combined and aerated.

Mix wet ingredients separately

In a mixer bowl, cream together butter and sugars, until fluffy. Add eggs, and beat, until well combined. Mix in oil, vanilla and milk, until well blended.  

Dry and wet ingredients are briefly mixed

Add flour mixture in 2 portions. Mix only, until all just comes together. Then fold in the cooked apples with the juices.

At last fold in apple pieces with the juices

Distribute batter evenly over the 10 muffin cups. Bake muffins for 15 minutes, until they are lightly browned, an needle comes out clean, and the tops feel elastic if you press them lightly with your finger.

The batter fills the cups to 3/4
Let muffins cool for 5 minutes in the pan. In the meantime, place cider and cinnamon sugar in two cups or small bowls.

First dip muffins in cider, then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar
Remove muffins from the pan, and place them on a wire rack (set it over a baking sheet or large piece of paper for easier clean-up!) First dip each muffin top quickly into the cider, and then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Per's little kitchen was well equipped for Mom's baking