I’ve been asked about Christmas breads as gifts recently so I put on my thinking cap. A lovely Christmas baking treat should be sweet and rich yet not too heavy and take the shape, of course, of something Christmassy.
To achieve this, I adapted a recipe for Austrian Kipferl. My grandmother used to bring home Kipferl from our local bakery; they are a delicious treat, using dough enriched with milk and butter.
Day 1 (evening)
- 100g plain flour
- 100g water
- A pinch of dried yeast
- Mix the ingredients together in a small bowl and leave to ripen at room temperature for about 20 hours.
Water roux (helps to make the bread tender and fluffy)
- 15g plain flour
- 75g semi-skimmed milk
- Put the flour and milk into a small saucepan.
- Whisk the ingredients together over a small flame and heat the mixture stirring continuously until it thickens.
- Take the pan off the heat and continue whisking for a further two minutes.
- Leave to cool, then place in the fridge for at least four hours. I usually put the water roux together at the same time as the poolish.
Day 2 (evening)
- Water roux
- 280g plain flour
- 80g semi-skimmed milk
- 20g sourdough starter (wheat)
- 1.5g dried yeast
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 9g salt
- 60g butter
- Combine all the ingredients (except butter and salt) and knead for 15 minutes.
- Add the butter and continue to combine for another 5 minutes.
- Finally, add the salt and continue to knead for a further 2 minutes.
- Place into a bowl, cover and rest for 60 minutes at room temperature.
- Then put the covered bowl into the fridge for 12 hours.
Day 3 (morning)
- 1 egg (for brushing)
- A few tbsp of coarse sugar
- Take the dough out of the fridge and keep it at room temperature for 2 hours.
- Divide the dough into 2 parts and shape into rounds.
- Cover with a tea towel and leave to rest for 15 minutes.
- For the cut-out bread –
Use a rolling pin to roll each dough piece into an oval shape, approximately 7 mm thick. Place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Using a dough scraper, cut out a Christmas tree shape.
For the pull-apart bread –
Shape 24 dough balls and arrange them on a second baking tray lined with parchment paper.
- Brush with egg wash.
- Cover (best to be done with another baking tray as a tea towel would stick to the egg washed dough) and leave to prove for 90 minutes at room temperature.
- 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 210°C.
- Brush one more time with egg wash, leave to briefly dry for 1 minute, then place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
Et voilà – two perfect Christmas treats for your festive friends!