Baking | Wholegrain Christmas Stollen with dried peaches + walnuts +orange peel … a healthier version of the Italian Tea Bread

“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight.”
M.F.K. Fischer

Wholegrain Xmas Stollen Wholegrain Christmas Stollen with dried peach + walnuts +orange peel… a healthier version of the Italian Tea Bread. I’ve been fascinated by the Stollen for long. Actually ever since I discovered homemade quark. Once I figured there was something as good as Austrian curd cheese, AND that I could easily make some at home, I naturally went around looking for ways to use it. Wasn’t long before I discovered the Dresden Stollen. Indulgent Italian holiday bread. I baked another recipe into a Stollen Bread Pudding.

Wholegrain Xmas Stollen I loved making it. Would love to make more batches but for the fact it 1s a 100% all purpose flour tea bread. The wholegrain bug I have been bitten by doesn’t allow me to go back that easily. The odd birthday cakes with APF are OK; they’re once in a while indulgent stuff. One look at Meeta’s Stollen the other day, and the craving set in. It was time for STOLLEN! More precisely, Wholegrain Christmas Stollen with dried peach + walnuts +orange peel… a healthier version of the Italian Tea Bread.Wholegrain Xmas Stollen’twas an experiment. Came out quite well. It’s inspired by Meeta’s favorite version, a Date Fig Quark Stollen. Mine is partially whole wheat, partially almond meal and partially APF. It’s not as light as my earlier APF Dresden Stollen, but we are certainly not complaining. This turned out yum if I may so so myself. Once you make your own quark { prep 2 days in advance}, or if you just buy it, it’s an easy bread to throw together.

Wholegrain Xmas Stollen dried peaches + walnuts +orange peelPacked with dried peaches that I picked up in Srinagar this summer, crystallised orange peel {that I made some time ago} and chopped walnuts, it’s a special Christmas bread. Couldn’t add raisins and such as the boy can’t stand them. I have an Xmas fruit cake to make too, and I think it’s gonna be a nut cake as things go. The nuts are still soaking….. que sera sera. Hope I get there in time!Wholegrain Xmas Stollen Either go Meeta’s  baking powder way, or my yeast route, both ways would work well. It’s been raining here in North India the past few days, so the dough didn’t get a chance to rise well. You might get a better ‘rise’ if the weather permits. Let me know if you make this. It’s delicious. Do wrap it and keep it for 2-3 days before slicing. It’s more moist once it matures for a couple of days. Mince sliced beautifully and was moist too.

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Dessert | Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly … Merry Xmas

“Christmas, here again. Let us raise a loving cup:
Peace on earth, goodwill to men,
And make them do the washing up”
Wendy Cope

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly … these were plenty fun to make and absolutely delicious {if I may so so myself}. Couldn’t think of a better way to ring in the bells, to colour our world with the red, white & green. They seemed so right!!

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas JellyThat they turned out goblet scraping good was an added bonus. Everyone, young & old, loved them. The kids begged for seconds. And thirds. Goblets, glasses, shooters. All fun!Tropical Coconut Milk Rice Pudding Remember my very recent the Tropical Coconut Milk Rice Pudding with Thai fruit? These jellies were what I had in mind initially, yet the rice pudding came first. This a little later. Both eggless and both held their own spot in the dessert world. While I fell in love with the colours of the former, the latter played some more magic. Kid sorta magic!

Tropical Coconut Milk Rice Pudding

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly Of course the Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly dessert is inspired. Inspired by the Strawberry and Vanilla Macaron Trifles I made in Dec 2010 adapted minimally from a Donna Hay recipe. They were absolute crowd pleasers then. The story the same this year as well.

Strawberry Vanilla Macaron TrifleThe magic lies in the beauty and simplicity of the fruit juice jelly with suspended fresh fruit within. One look at the dragon fruit, the black and white contrast, and the luscious strawberries in the fridge … and a small voice in my head said “Why not? Why ever not?”

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly So to keep with the flavours, I did a mixed jelly … litchi juice for the dragon fruit and cranberry juice for the strawberries. How good can good get? The result was fab. I know because I could hear the goblets being scraped clean. Thankfully there was plenty.

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly There is nothing like glassware to set jelly in. I used a variety of glassware just because I wasn’t in the mood for monotony. I used brandy goblets, stemmed glasses and a few shot glasses too. I think stemless brandy glasses would work well too. Or maybe these beauties from Urban Dazzle which are one of my favourites.

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly The dessert needs a little pre-planning. Since there are two flavours of jelly, one needs to set first, then the other follows. I was a bit impatient so the colours merged a little. No issues though. They still tasted brilliant. I think I managed one a little closer to how I would have liked them all to be.

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly Dressing up the jellies is the fun part. Pipe over some barely sweetened low fat pillowy soft cream {I used an Ikea funnel}, garnish with colourful fruit, add a sprig of fresh mint … and go HO HO HO!!

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly

Have a safe, delicious and fun holiday season. Joyeux Noël dear readers, Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas 2013

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Baking | Wholewheat Doily Cookies & Chocolate Pretzels for the Great Cookie Swap 2013 #fbcookieswap

Gingerbread men,  Doily Cookies & Chocolate Pretzels for the Cookie Swap 2013Wholewheat Doily Cookies & Chocolate Pretzels … it’s the time of the year when the bells begin to jingle and there are hungry cookie monsters on the prowl. With the cookie season in full swing, this year I have literally abandoned plain flour for whole grains. This year, there was another reason to bake cookies – a fundraiser called the Great Cookie Swap 2013, which a bunch of us got roped into thanks to sweet Charis via Roshni!

Gingerbread men,  Doily Cookies & Chocolate Pretzels for the Cookie Swap 2013 I’ve been watching it take shape over the years, attempted to enroll once. We never did find enough folk to make a ‘team’ in India. This time was different and we made a beginning. With India now on the map, hopefully we get a whole bunch of food bloggers joining in next year. If you wish to be notified about the swap next year, do sign up here

Gingerbread menThe cookie baking experience was a whole lot different this year thanks to the event. The swap made it special. For a change I was baking for a cause, and guarding my loot from the cookie monsters! From a dozen that were normally available for them to munch, there were just a couple on offer!

Cookie Swap 2013We had to bake a dozen cookies for each of 3 surprise recipients, who wouldn’t know until the bell rang that cookies had arrived. I was fortunate to get my first secret batch from RiddhiCook By The Book. Her cookies were delicious! That set me in the mood and I headed straight for the kitchen.

Cookie Swap 2013I wanted to bake everything for everyone, but then got real. Couriering can prove to be harsh on cookies, the logistics a little dicey. I narrowed down to whole-wheat cinnamon ginger cookies and whole-wheat chocolate pretzel cookies. I had recently made dozens of whole-wheat gingerbread men for a home for homeless girls and really enjoyed that experience.

Gingerbread men,  Doily Cookies & Chocolate Pretzels for the Cookie Swap 2013 I decided to bake fluted cookies for the swap since gingerbread men are fragile. Then the daughter joined in, found some doily cookies on Pinterest and pestered me to make them. I did but with whole-wheat gingerbread cookie dough.

Doily Cookies for the Cookie Swap 2013She wasn’t a 100% impressed though as wanted finer lacier cookies. I was happy with whole-wheat deep flavoured ones. I think the doily idea is stunning, and would definitely work more beautifully on sugar cookie dough etc. This was something new learnt, and immensely enjoyed. It certainly was a WOW moment!

Gingerbread men,  Doily Cookies & Chocolate Pretzels for the Cookie Swap 2013 The chocolate pretzel cookies I used to make often when the kids were little. Haven’t made them in years. To my delight, the minute tray #1 popped out of the oven, the daughter whooped in delight, “Yay pretzels!! You haven’t made them in years. I love them“. The son reacted similarly!! Happily enough, there were plenty for the two of them too.

Gingerbread men,  Doily Cookies & Chocolate Pretzels for the Cookie Swap 2013 The pretzels too underwent a wholegrain makeover. The kids loved them like before. I still wonder why I didn’t think of these things earlier. They tasted crunchy good and chocolaty with whole wheat flour too.

Gingerbread men,  Doily Cookies & Chocolate Pretzels for the Cookie Swap 2013 I love the idea of a bakers dozen, and stuck in a cute gingerbread man to accompany the cookies. Each box had a special happy man in there too. I hope my cookies surprised my secret recipients.

The GREAT FOOD BLOGGER COOKIE SWAP brings together food bloggers from around the world in celebration of all things scrumptious. The premise is this: sign up. Receive the addresses of three other food bloggers. Send each of them one dozen delicious homemade cookies. Receive three different boxes of scrumptious cookies from other bloggers.

This year they have again partnered with COOKIES FOR KIDS’ CANCER, a national non-profit organization committed to funding new therapies used in the fight against pediatric cancer, which claims the lives of more children in the US than any other disease.

 I really enjoyed doing the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap‘. From deciding what to bake, to waiting impatiently for the surprises to arrive, to waiting for posting date, it was n enriching experience.

The Great Food Blogger Cookie SwapThank you Riddhi @ Cook by the Book for the wonderful Zesty Whole-wheat Pumpkin Seeds Oatmeal Cookies, Sangeeta @ Healthfood Desi Videshi for the addictive savoury GF Lentil Cookies {with loads of my favourite flavours}, and Roshni @ The Vanilla Bean for the delicious Lavender Crisps.

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2013My cookies to Sangeeta and Himanshu reached quite early, but Riddhi in Bangalore wan’t that lucky. Got a call just this afternoon from the courier that the package came back undelivered. Sangeeta’s cookies also apparently reached Riddhi very late. Will mail some later as she is travelling this month!

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

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