The ghost of Christmas baking past


I was looking for a Stollen recipe. I’ve just about given up on Christmas baking – there were years when I used to make my own Panettone – delicious, and the recipe long lost – and there were years when I used to make both my own Panettone AND my own Stollen – recipe also lost – maybe it was the same newspaper clipping – and once I made about eight Stollens. But those days are long gone.

But last year the Lidl Stollen just wasn’t very nice. I already know that I hate the over-sweetened Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, etc, ones; they’re trying to be cake. Delia and others even introduce it as ‘something for those who like a lighter fruit cake’. It’s not a fruitcake! It’s a bread. But anyway. So I was raking through my old red two-ring binder looking for recipes, and I didn’t find them, but I did find an undated Christmas baking list from about 1996 or so.

Here it is:

  • Stollen
  • Daddy’s raisin bread
  • Plain biscuits in shapes with icing sugar glaze (I have a massive tin of cookie cutters, including the ones my grandmother probably let my infant Dad use with his chubby little baby hands)
  • Speculatius x3
  • Lemon clove biscuits x2
  • Egg yolk biscuits
  • Butterballs x3 (these are essentially chopped almonds, or were they ground, and butter and icing sugar, rolled into calls, baked, and rolled in more icing sugar.)
  • Gingerbread: deer medallions, and shapes to hang on the tree
  • Danish Peppernuts – i.e., good old Pfeffernüssen (I was using the frankly incredible Great Scandinavian Baking Book)
  • Almond crescents
  • Panettone

PHEW! Can you believe it! And that was before the pumpkin pie, which just counts as part of dinner. Cleverly, though, because I was at my powerhouse finest, I put the source of the recipe for each in the right-hand margin, like a saint. I had completely forgotten about this Scandinavian baking book, even though it’s been sitting on my shelf all these years, so now I’m looking through it as if for the first time, and frankly I want it all. There’s even a Finnish salmon pie with boiled eggs, for when you finally get tired of Norwegian apple pie, Danish vanilla wreaths, and Swedish tea rings.

I’ve been thinking about the Pfeffernüssen a lot, as it goes. Also the butterballs. One reason I made three batches of those was that one was for my Aunt B, and I’m not sure she’d remember them now but she used to love them.

Well – and now I have some shopping to do. The Stollen recipe I did find is from the NY Times, and if you click the picture at the top you will find yourself there. I’m only going to double it, I think: good for presents. And of course I’ll add marzipan. I think I’m going to brave Lidl to try and get cheap German raisins and cherries.

Meanwhile, the day has got completely out of hand, and I also have poetry books to read for review etc, and I will be doing that on the bus.


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