How about trying something different this year and explore typical Christmas cakes from around the world?

Christmas Treats from Overseas

With Christmas just around the corner, many of us are planning our Christmas celebrations with our families and friends. Gatherings and get togethers full of fun, drinks and of course food. An important part of these preparations is also deciding what are we going to have as the main centrepiece on our festive table and the main dessert – hmm, cake!

Traditionally, most of us would go for fruit cakes, pavlovas or yule logs, but how about trying something different this year and explore typical Christmas cakes from around the world.

German Christmas Stollen

stollen2Bursting with fruit and spices and a hidden surprise inside, stollen is a traditional German Christmas treat, which can be scaled down and made into individual pieces, ideal as Christmas gifts, or just make one large piece and use as a centrepiece for your table.

Ingredients:

  • 180g sultanas
  • 125g currants
  • 100g diced glacé orange
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Seeds of 1 vanilla bean
  • 40mL rum
  • 560g bakers flour
  • 15g dry yeast
  • 240g milk at room temperature
  • 85g sugar
  • 11⁄2 tsp cinnamon
  • 4g salt
  • 1 egg
  • 200g soft unsalted butter
  • 600g marzipan

Instructions:

  1. Place the fruit, zest, seeds of the vanilla bean and rum into a bowl and set aside.
  2. Mix 200g of the flour, dry yeast and milk together in a bowl and cover with cling film. Put in a warm place to prove until risen and bubbling.
  3. Place this ferment in a KitchenAid mixer bowl. Using the paddle attachment on a slow speed, add the remaining flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt and combine.
  4. Add the egg and mix to combine. Add the butter slowly, until incorporated. Change to the dough hook and continue on a medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  5. Add flour, a little at a time, if the dough is too sticky. Add the rum soaked fruit and mix well.
  6. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm spot to rise double in size – about 2 hours.
  7. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  8. Turn the risen dough out onto a floured bench and divide in half.
  9. Roll out each piece to a 17cm x 40cm rectangle then roll out the marzipan to form 2 x 40cm sausage shapes and place along the centre of the pieces of the rectangles of dough.
  10. Turn the dough over so the join is underneath. Lift onto a piece of baking sheet and curl into a circle. Pinch the ends together to seal.
  11. Leave the stollen to prove in a warm spot for 45 minutes until it has doubled in size, and then bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. Allow cooling on the sheet before placing onto 1 trivet to cool.
  12. Dust with icing sugar or glaze with icing.

Panettone

xmas_panettoneSimilar traditional fruit bread is the panettone, traditional Italian Christmas treat, just as with the stollen, it’s just perfect for gifting. Stollen is however traditionally prepared over several days, preparing ferment from scratch, macerating the fruits. Traditionally, this cake is also hung upside down during cooling so it doesn’t collapse and lose it’s beautiful height. The cakes are baked in a high sided metal or paper moulds, but if you don’t have a mould, you can just simply line a tall baking tin with baking paper. The shape might be a bit different, but they will still taste amazing.

Makes three 0.6kg loaves. The recipe is easily doubled or halved.

Ingredients:

  • 11⁄2 cups lukewarm water
  • 11⁄2 tablespoons granulated yeast (1 1/2 packets)
  • 11⁄2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1⁄2 cup honey
  • 8 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly, plus more for greasing pan
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 71⁄2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups mixed dried and/or candied fruit, chopped (golden raisins, dried pineapple, dried apricots, dried cherries and candied citrus just to name a few we’ve tried and loved in this bread).
  • Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water)
  • Sugar for sprinkling on the top of the loaf

Instructions:

  1. Mix yeast, salt, honey, eggs, melted butter, extracts and zest with the water in a 5 litre bowl, or lidded (not airtight) food container.
  2. Mix in flour and dried fruit without kneading, using a spoon, 14-cup (3.5l) capacity food processor (with dough attachment), or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle attachment) into a loose dough.
  3. Cover (not airtight), and allow to rest at room temperature until dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours, and put in the fridge. The dough should not be used it without chilling, as it might be too loose. The dough can be cept in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  4. When ready to bake, grease a Panettone or brioche pan with butter, cut off 1 third of the dough, dust with flour and shape in a ball, by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Place the ball into the pan, seam side down, cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for about an hour and half.
  5. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 190°C.
  6. Remove the plastic wrap, brush the Panettone with egg wash and sprinkle with the sugar. Bake in the center of the oven without steam for about 50 to 55 minutes until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped. The amount of dough and baking times will vary depending on pan size.

Tres Leches

Little bit further afield, in Mexico and the rest of Central America, the traditional Christmas treat is the pastel de tres leches – cake of 3 milks. Delicious sponge cake drenched in a mixture of milk, iced with sweet whipped cream and decorated with fresh fruit: strawberries, raspberries, mangoes or cantaloupes.

Check out Mbakes recipe as it looks gorgeous!

Justine Murphy

Justine is marketing director and co-owner of Kitchen Warehouse. She loves entertaining and will not refuse a good glass of wine.

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