Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Stollen- Dec. '10 Daring Bakers Challenge

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book, Bread Baker’s Apprentice.........and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

I had indeed heard mention of the fruit and nut based yeast bread known as stollen before being introduced to it as our Daring Bakers Challenge for December. Yet, really I didn't know much about it. And, certainly I had never attempted to make it. So, I waited and made the stollen on Christmas Eve morning and shared it with family that evening. But, I realized I didn't have much information to include with my stollen. So, later, my curiosity got the better of me and I did a bit of research. Here is what I found:

The History of Stollen
"First made in Dresden, Germany around the 1400s, stollen bread was made and shaped to represent the baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes. Stollen bread was made without butter or milk and was a rather tasteless pastry. Still, it was a popular Christmas pastry for its religious significance, and from 1560 onwards, stollen bakers would deliver one or two 36 pound Christmas stollen to the Saxon king yearly.

Because Advent was a time of fasting, there was a ban on the use of butter in baked goods. Oil was used as a replacement, but made the stollen bread bland and flavorless. In 1647, Elector Lord Ernst of Saxony and his brother Albrecht appealed to the Pope to lift the butter ban explaining that oil was expensive and hard to come by (never mind tasteless!). The Pope lifted the ban to make the Christmas stollen bread for the Prince and his family, but did not lift the ban for the general public until 1691.

With the use of butter, stollen bread became more popular and the recipe started to sway from the original, tasteless pastry to a sweeter one containing candied and liqueur-soaked fruits and nuts. Now, only 150 bakers are allowed to make the official Dresden Stollen, complete with the seal of the city’s famous king August the Strong. However, bakers all over the world have their own spin on both the original and the more modern recipes for German stollen bread, and bake the dessert not only at Christmas, but also year round."
Information courtesy of this website.

Very interesting history and symbolism of stollen. The recipe provided made about 4 small loves of stollen and a medium sized "wreath." Since it makes such a large amount it is really nice for gifts. Of course you could make this any time of the year. Its very good. I feared I would not love it since I have the same aversion to fruit cake that most do, but this is not fruit cake. It contains fruit, but its not the same texture or taste at all.

Thank you to Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking for a great Daring Baker's Challenge this month.

Stollen Wreath

Makes one large wreath or two traditional shaped Stollen loaves. Serves 10-12 people


10 tablespoons unsalted butter (can use salted butter)
½ cup sugar
¾ teaspoon salt (if using salted butter there is no need to alter this salt measurement)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
2 teaspoons  vanilla extract
1 teaspoon  lemon extract or orange extract
5½ cups all-purpose (plain) flour (Measure flour first - then sift- plus extra for dusting) *
2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons)  active dry yeast
1- 1/4 cup  buttermilk
¾ cup chopped dates
1 cup  firmly packed dried cranberries
1/3 c. dried apples, chopped
6 tablespoons  rum
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath
Confectioners’ (icing) (powdered) sugar for dusting wreath
Note: If you don’t want to use alcohol, double the lemon or orange extract or you could use the juice from the zested orange.
*You can substitute half of the all purpose flour with whole wheat pastry flour.

Layer all the ingredients (in order) into a bread machine. Select the dough cycle. After the dough is finished, place in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator overnight or up to one week.

When ready to bake:
1. Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.
2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
3. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
4. Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches (40 x 61 cms) and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick.
Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder. Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan. Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle. You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape.Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough.
Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.
Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, should register 190°F/88°C in the center of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.
Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the top with melted butter while still hot.
Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter.
Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first.
The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar.
Let cool at least an hour before serving. Coat the stollen in butter and powdered sugar three times, since this helps keeps the stollen fresh.

If you would prefer, you could also shape the dough into oval shaped loaves. Bake for the same amount of time until mahogany colored.
 May be frozen for up to 4 months.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Blackberry Wine Cake

As children, we spent our Christmas Eve night at my Granny’s house, out in the country.  There are some wonderful memories that come to mind of my brother, my cousin and myself sneaking to have a look at the Christmas gifts under Granny’s seemingly huge tree while no one was watching. Or, so we thought.

 Of course, there is also the memory of the three of us singing Christmas songs. Lots of repitition of Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer. (Hey, don’t judge. It was the 80’s. And that was THE Christmas song of all Christmas songs back then. LOL!).  I think someone even recorded our little performance and later in life we realized we sounded like Alvin & the Chipmunks on speed.  Oh the memories….

As we grew older and Granny did as well, she eventually moved back to the home that she had raised her family in many years before. I’m sure for my mom and aunt, this brought back lots of special childhood Christmas memories. It was also nice for the grandchildren to have a small glimpse at what their Christmases might have been like.
It was during these years, on Christmas Eve, I began recognizing that certain foods were seen only at Christmas. So, of course these foods created food memories for me. Isn’t it funny that whatever you grew up eating at holidays, almost always follows you into adulthood. It becomes something you crave every holiday.

 I can remember vividly 2 very specific things that my Granny made on Christmas Eve. One was Wassail, which I do not ever recall one person drinking, but it was there every year. I wonder now if maybe it was a food memory from Granny’s childhood?
 The other, my favorite, was Blackberry Wine Cake. Oh, Blackberry Wine Cake how I love thee…. it’s the same concept as a Rum Cake, just boozed up with a different alcohol. This can certainly be made a few days in advance, since it only gets better as the wine has time to strengthen and infuse. We always swore Granny used far more Blackberry Wine than was called for. Her only response was a smile. So, feel free to add a bit of extra wine in the glaze in lieu of the holiday season. Or, if you’re trying to behave yourself  and/or you’re going to be feeding this to small children that you do not want to intoxicate, you  can forgo the glaze and sprinkle with powdered sugar.


Blackberry Wine Cake 
  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
  • 1 (5 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 small pkg blackberry gelatin*
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup blackberry wine
  • confectioners' sugar for dusting
*Jello no longer manufactures plain blackberry gelatin. A company called Royal does make it but it is sometimes difficult to find. Jello has started making a flavor called Blackberry Fusion  that I used this year and it worked perfectly.


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan or tube pan.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together cake mix, pudding mix and gelatin. Make a well in the center and pour in buttermilk, oil, eggs and wine. Beat on low speed until blended. Scrape bowl, and beat 4 minutes on medium speed. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a serving plate and cool completely. Sprinkle top with confectioners' sugar.
Glaze(if desired)
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup blackberry wine
Mix together sugar and wine. Pour over warm cake.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Nutter Butter Santas & Free Printable Gift Tags!!

I’m nearly certain that the Grinch is after my Christmas spirit. Yeah, its true. I finally figured it out yesterday when my mixer died in the midst of my holiday baking. I didn’t burn it up or over use it. It just died.  Gave a whole new meaning to mix by hand.  

So, I’m mourning the loss of my mixer. And I’m pretty sure according to Mr. Sweets that there is a high probability that I have NOT been a good enough girl to get one from Santa this year. Huff, Pout, sniff….Oh all because of that one post I did about our anniversary. Mr. Sweets just won’t let it go. He thinks I was being a bit too spicy. Hmpff, sometimes I wonder after all this time if he knows me at all. Teehee!

 Oh, well. I’m just gonna go buy myself a mixer. Though I still have my Christmas spirit now, it is quite possible that it will have diminished after dragging a 2 yr old to the mall with just a little over a week until Christmas.  Those mall Christmas shopper people scare me!

So, today’s post is going to be very, very easy. You won’t even need a mixer, because there’s no baking involved. You start with a few simple Nutter Butters and end up with cute little Santas.  

And, if I do say so myself, these would also be very cute for your treat bags. 

So, here’s another free printable to make your bags extra cute. You can download the tag here.

Nutter Butter Santas


    • 2 (6 ounce) packages white chocolate baking squares, chopped(or almond bark)
    • 1  package Nutter Butter sandwich cookies
    • red colored crystal sugar
    • 32 Marshmallows or white chocolate chips
    • 64 miniature semisweet chocolate chips
    • 32 red M&M's


  1. In a heavy saucepan over low heat, melt white chocolate, stirring occasionally.
  2. Dip one end of each cookie into melted chocolate.
  3. Place on wax paper.
  4. For santa's hat, sprinkle red sugar on top part of chocolate.
  5. Press one marshmallow/white choc. chip off-center on hat for pom-pom, let stand until set.
  6. Dip other end of each cookie into melted chocolate for beard, leaving center of cookie uncovered.
  7. Place on wire racks.
  8. With a dab of melted chocolate, attach semisweet chips for eyes and a red M&M's, for nose.
  9. Place on waxed paper until chocolate sets.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Almond Snowballs and Free Printable Bag Toppers!!

I've said before that quite possibly one of my favorite flavors in baked goods is almond. Almond extract does not taste anything like an actual almond. At least not in my opinion. No, almond extract has a flavor all its own that creates bake goods with an incredible and unusual flavor. Most people can't quite figure out what the flavor is, but they know it tastes like something from a bakery. Of course, that's because lots of bakeries do use almond flavoring.  Its a perfect flavor for breads, icings, cakes and cookies.

These sweet little white snowballs are filled with almond flavor. I used both ground almonds and almond extract. Paired with a delicate shortbread, it is a combination that will grant rave reviews! Besides, who doesn't love anything coated in a bit of powdered sugar?

And, since I'm trying to be Merry and Bright and all in the giving Christmas mood. I'm including a little bag topper for you to download.

Just download, print, and cut it out. It will be perfect for riling up the Treat Bag Society :) You can download the bag topper here.

Almond Snowballs


  • 1/2  cup  slivered almonds
  • 1  cup  butter, softened
  • 1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 1  cup  powdered sugar
  • 2 1/2  cups  all-purpose flour
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • Parchment paper
  • 1/2  cup  powdered sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake almonds in a single layer in a shallow pan 6 minutes or until toasted and
fragrant, stirring halfway through. Cool completely (about 20 minutes). Reduce oven temperature to 325°.
2. Process almonds in a food processor 30 seconds or until finely ground.
3. Beat butter at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy. Gradually add vanilla and 1 cup powdered sugar, beating well. (Dough will be crumbly.)
4. Combine flour, salt, and almonds; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until blended.
5. Shape dough into 3/4-inch balls, and place 2 inches apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
6. Bake at 325° for 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets 2 minutes. Transfer to wire racks, and cool 10 minutes. Roll cookies in 1/2 cup powdered sugar.
Southern Living, DECEMBER 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tate's Bakeshop Giveaway Winner!!

I love giving things away!! I really do. People like gifts. And, people like you when you give them things. Its true...I know, it sounds a bit wrong, but its still true:) Human nature...

So, the Tate's Bake Shop Giveaway has come to an end. And, I'm ready to give the prize away. One of my Sinful Southern Sweets readers has won the following:
Tate's Cookie Gift Pack
Tate's Bake Shop Cookbook

Oh....and are you going to LOVE it!!
Alright, lets make this short,

Mammamoiselle, you won!!

Yea!!!! Congratulations, Mammamoiselle!! You're gonna love these cookies and cookbook!!

Off now to work on some more of my Christmas baking. I'll be posting a new recipe later. Also, I'll be posting a little printable bag topper freebie for all of you that want to rile up the Treat Bag Society this holiday season :)
Have a great day!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sprinkled Bakery-style Sugar Cookies

With just over 2 weeks until Christmas, I know everyone is scurrying around like crazy. Whether you’re scouting out the perfect Christmas gift or scouring the luggage stores looking for new luggage to get you home for Christmas, you should take a quick break to indulge in a little Christmas baking. As Christy over at The Southern Plate said it the other day on her blog, there is simply something 'Southern' about baking at Christmas time. I have made Christmas goodies of some sort during the holidays for as long as I can remember. Even people that don’t like to bake, seem to get in the kitchen during Christmas time.

The recipe posted today would be perfect to bake up and give as gifts because it makes lots and lots of cookies. It would also be perfect for a cookie swap.  If you don’t need lots of cookies at one time (who doesn't need lots of cookies at any given time?!?!?), the dough freezes very well. You can just slice it frozen and bake. Just add a few extra minutes to the bake time.

If you like sugar cookies, I think you will fall in love with these. They taste like the ones you would buy at one of the Mall cookie shops. The recipe is said to be a Paradise Bakery Copycat Recipe. I’m not familiar with the Paradise Bakery, but these cookies would certainly fit in at any bakery with the word “Paradise” in the name.

adapted from here

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 cups shortening
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten
4 1/3 cups cake flour**
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Sugar or sprinkles for decorating

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, mix together the sugars and shortening using an electric mixer. Mix on slow speed for 30 seconds, then scrape down the bowl with a spatula. Increase speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes. Slowly add vanilla extract and egg while mixing.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the mixing bowl, mixing on slow speed until just blended. Do not overmix.

Roll into small balls or scooped with an ice cream scoop. Roll in sprinkles/sugar. Place on baking sheet

Bake at 375 degrees F for 9 to 10 minutes. Cookies are done when small cracks appear. Ideally, the edges do not brown.

*I opted to use 1 c cake flour, 1 c. wheat pastry flour, and 2 c. all purpose flour-all flours sifted)


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Tate's Bake Shop Review, Giveaway Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe!!

 "If you're in the Hamptons and walk around the charming little Atlantic coast town of Southampton, you'll see a celadon-green Victorian structure with white shutters, framed in flowers, that seems to attract people like bees to a hive. It's Tate's Bake Shop, the fairytale culmination of a dream that got started when 11-year-old Kathleen King began baking cookies to sell at her family's farm stand not far out of town. Today, those amazing cookies have attracted a loyal following from coast to coast. Crispy and buttery, rich but not overwhelming, they simply melt in your mouth and just one is never enough!"

Above is the description of Tate's Bake Shop from the side of their cookie box. Isn't it inviting? I want to go walk around the charming little Altantic town of Southampton and stumble upon the beautiful Victorian  house that is attracting people like bees to a hive. I want to be one of people flocking to the little victorian house. Even more, I'd like to meet the woman that started as an 11 year old girl selling cookies on her dad's farm. That's a pretty neat story about Ms. Kathleen King. Maybe one day I'll get to Southampton and get to do all that, but for now....well, I'll settle for the fabulous cookies they send out by mailorder. And I do mean they are FABULOUS!

Tate's is renowned for their baked goods. Celebrities from coast to coast flock to Tate's. You may have seen mention of them in Everyday With Rachel Ray, The New York Times and The Boston Globe. Just to name a few.  Plus, they have a beautiful cookbook out. Guess who wrote the forward??? Ina Garten, aka The Barefoot Contessa. Yes, I'd say if you can get the Barefoot Contessa to take a moment to say a few pleasantries about your cookies, well, they must be some pretty spectacular cookies.

Tate's is especially known for their chocolate chip cookies. And for good reason. These cookies are about the closest thing to something your grandmother would have turned out that has ever been found in a package. They are very light, airy and crisp. Filled with ungodly amounts of butter for added comfort and the perfect amount of chocolate chips.

I was very humbled and excited when Tate's Bake Shop asked me if I would like to do a review of their cookies and cookbook. As you can tell, I only have great things to say about Tate's. Their baked goods would make a beautiful gift for anyone on your list. Here is a look at the Gift Pack I recieved:
Included: White Chocolate Macadamia Nut, Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

As you can tell, the packaging is beautiful. In addition to their baked goods, they also sent me a copy of their beautiful cookbook:
If you are a cookbook collector, you must get this. Every recipe in this book is divine! And they include the recipe for their famous Chocolate Chip Cookies. I'm going to share it with you, but still must get this cookbook:)

Tate's Bake Shop Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) lightly salted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (Nestlé can’t really be beat)
Preheat the oven to 350º.
Whisk the flour, soda and salt together in a bowl. In another large bowl, mix the butter with a wooden spoon to lighten it a bit and then mix in the sugars. Add the water, vanilla and eggs to the butter mixture. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined and then fold in the chocolate chips. Using two soup spoons, drop the cookies 2" apart onto two nonstick or greased cookie sheets. Bake for eight minutes, rotating the sheets after four minutes. Remove the cookies to a wire rack to cool, and repeat the process with the rest of the batter.

Now, since you've hung around. Let me also tell you what the very generous people at Tate's Bake Shop have offered. They want to give one of my Sinful Southern Sweets Readers a cookie gift pack and a cookbook!! What a great Christmas gift for one of you!!! For those of you that would rather not wait for the giveaway to end, Tate's Bake Shop has offered a 15% discount when you use the discount code "cookies" at between now and December 31, 2010.

To enter the giveaway to win a Tate's Cookie Gift Pack and Cookbook:
1)Be a Google Follower of Sinful Southern Sweets
2) Follow Tate's Bake Shop on Facebook
3) Follow Southern Sweets on Facebook
4) Follow Sinful Southern Sweets on Twitter 

Giveaway will end on December 10th at midnight. Winner to be announced Dec. 11th and chosen via Entries open on the US residents. Good Luck!!