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Holiday Breads

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HistoricFoodie View Drop Down
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    Posted: 14 December 2014 at 10:18
One of the things I like most about the holiday season is the diversity of celebration breads that appear this time of year. Seems as if every culture has at least one.

Sometimes, as with the French Fougasse, it’s the shape that matters. Fougasse is traditionally shaped like a ladder or a tree, and is served along with an array of 13 traditional desserts, particularly in Provence. Other times, as with the Italian Panettone the bread is more cake-like, and filled with fruits and other sweets. There’s usually a legend associated with the bread as well.

Three Kings, Epiphany, or Twelth Night bread is found wherever there’s an Iberian influence. In New Orleans it’s simply called King’s Bread; in Portugal it goes under the name Bolo-Rei.

Greece seems to have as many celebration breads as the rest of Europe combined. Personally, I’m most partial to Christopsomo, rich in the flavors of Christmas, and topped with a Bysantine cross and walnuts as a wish for good fortune.

Elsewhere we’ve talked about Swedish Lusse Brod. But we don’t want to forget Denmark’s fruit-filled Julekage

We all know about Stollen. Or think we do. “Stollen” is actually a foreshortening of the original name, Dresdner Christstollen. Originating in Dresden, its unique shape is said to represent the Christ child wrapped in swaddling clothes.

Although not confined to this season, no holiday table in Hungary is complete without a Poppy Seed Roll, nor is an Alsacian holiday celebrated without Kugelhopf; or does a Welsh celebration proceed without a Bara Brith. Barm Brack, the Irish version of Bara Brith, is more a planting and harvest bread. But more and more it’s showing up on Christmas tables.

And so it goes. What’s your favorite celebration bread, and why do you favor that particular one.
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And sae the Lord be thanket
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 December 2014 at 10:30
For the Beautiful Mrs. Tas, it's all about her grandmother's poppy seed or nut rolls, which her family called kolache (Koláče) - also known as makovník a orechovník:

http://foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/makovnk-a-orechovnk-kole-starej-mamy_topic2926.html
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Grandma Mead's rolls. They're just plain white homemade rolls, very dense and soft, but they're special. And delicious, especially when slathered with butter.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 December 2014 at 08:05

Someone asked if I had a favorite celebration bread. I do: Whichever one it was that I ate last. I’m not being facetious. Picking one specialty bread from the basket would be like choosing my favorite sausage of the world. There’s no way I could pick one.

There’s another problem as well. Although there are numerous breads traditionally served only for celebrations, there also are breads which, because they are difficult to make, time consuming, or use expensive ingredients, families reserve for special events. So, while they are not traditionally celebration breads, they become so in that family or social group.

One such is actually a type of bread called a couronne, or crown. This refers to the shape, which is a braided ring. Simple enough until you try making a filled one. Filled couronnes are made in both sweet and savory versions. In central Europe, particularly, they use fruit fillings.

Frankly, filled couronnes are a pain in the butt to make. But, for a special event, they’re worth the work, cuz your family and guests will rave. So, if you’re up to the challenge, here is a recipe and directions for making one of my favorites.

You can ring all sorts of changes on this bread. For instance, I’ve made it using dried apples and apple juice, and it was delicious.

Peach Couronne

3/4 cup dried peaches, chopped (note: dried apricots can sub)
2/3 cup orange juice
2 cups unbleached bread flour
½ tsp salt
3 tbls butter, chilled & diced
2 tsp (1 envelope) active dry yeast
½ tsp sugar
6 tbls lukewarm milk
1 large egg, beaten
Extra flour for dusting
2 tbls sugar
2 tbls cold milk (optional)

Filling:

6 tbls butter, softened
5 tbls light brown sugar
3 ½ tbls unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup walnut pieces
6 ½ tbls raisins
Grated rind of one orange

Put the peaches in a small bowl with the orange juice and let soak overnight.

Mix the yeast and sugar with the warm milk and set aside to bloom.

Mix the flour and salt in a medium sized bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour the yeast mixture and the egg into the well. Gradually work the flour from the bowl into the liquid to make a soft, but not sticky, dough. Turn out on a floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth, elastic, and satiny. Shape the dough into a ball. Transfer to a greased bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, about an hour.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling: Drain the peaches, reserving the soaking liquid. Beat the butter and brown sugar in a medium size bowl until fluffy. Beat in the flour, then the walnuts, raisins, orange rind, and peaches.

Punch down the dough. Turn out the dough onto a floured work surface and with a floured rolling pin roll out into a 12 x 19 inch rectangle. Spread the filling evenly over the dough. Roll the dough up fairly tightly from a long side, like a jelly roll. Gently roll the log back and forth, stretching it until it is 20 inches long.

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Carefully cut the dough in half lengthwise. Working with the cut sides facing up, twist the halves together. Lift gently onto a prepared baking sheet and shape the twisted roll into a circle, interweaving the ends to close the ring. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size, about an hour.

Bake the ring for 20-25 minutes or until firm and golden. Stir the sugar with the cold milk (or two tablespoons of the reserved peach soaking liquid) in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove the couronne from the oven and immediately brush with the hot glaze. Slide onto a wire rack to cool.
But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket
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