Christmas at the Homestead…and A Stollen Recipe

ChristmasWell, I suppose the stollen could  be served anytime. But we always had it on Christmas.

It’s a little fussy to make and takes a few hours, between rising, baking and frosting, but the results are worth it and SO good with coffee. The pic above is of a later years Christmas morning at the Homestead…the entire living room used to be filled like this when all of us kids lived at home. My poor mother would be wrapping until 2:00am most Christmases. 🙂

Here’s the stollen recipe; it’s from a 1965 edition of Family Circle Magazine, and my mother has been making this every year for my entire life. Once I got married and started my own family, I began making it as well – though mine never turn out as nice as Ma’s do!

STOLLEN
BREADS — Yeast

Bake at 350° for 35 minutes…makes 2 large loaves

1 cup seedless raisins
1 cup (8-ounce jar) mixed chopped candied fruits
1/4 cup orange juice
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
2 envelopes active dry yeast
OR: 2 cakes compressed yeast
1/4 cup very warm water
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
5 cups sifted regular flour
1 cup chopped blanched almonds (I use finely chopped walnuts instead)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons cinnamon-sugar (I use a lot more)

imageCombine raisins, candied fruits, and orange juice in a small bowl.

imageScald milk with sugar, salt, and 1/2 cup (1 stick) of the butter or margarine; cool to lukewarm.

Sprinkle or crumble yeast into very warm water in a large bowl. (“Very warm” water should feel comfortably warm when dropped on wrist.) Stir until yeast dissolves, then stir in cooled milk mixture, eggs, and lemon rind.

imageBeat in 2 cups of the flour until smooth; stir in fruit mixture, almonds, and nutmeg, then beat in just enough of remaining 3 cups flour to make a stiff dough.

Knead until smooth and elastic on a lightly floured pastry cloth or board, adding only enough flour to keep dough from sticking (this is the part that’s always tough for me…figuring out how much to knead it, because there are ingredients in the dough that prevent it from being “smooth” and so difficult to tell if it’s “elastic” yet. If the dough springs back a little when you poke it, then it’s good). 🙂

imagePlace in a greased large bowl; cover with a clean towel.

imageLet rise in a warm place, away from draft, 2 hours, or until double in bulk. I use my oven’s “proofing” setting, because it keeps it draft-free and just warm enough.

imageIt should look like this on the left when ready for the next step.

Punch dough down; knead a few times; divide in half. imageRoll each into an oval, 15×9; place on a greased large cookie sheet. Melt remaining 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine in a small saucepan; brush part over each oval; sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar; imagefold in half lengthwise.

Cover; let rise again 1 hour, or until double in bulk. Brush again with part of the remaining melted butter or margarine.

imageBake in moderate oven (350°) 35 minutes, or until golden and loaves give a hollow sound when tapped. While hot, brush with remaining melted butter or margarine; cool on wire racks.

When cool, frost and decorate. imageI use a basic white icing (butter, confectioner’s sugar, a little vanilla and a couple tablespoons of milk), decorated with cut red and green cherries.

It’s really great with coffee…and with just the white frosting, you could serve it anytime!

My Strange Way of Preparing a Turkey

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photo courtesy of Pillsbury

As promised in yesterday’s post, here’s a short post about a strange method of turkey preparation that is very old-fashioned but also really reliable for a moist, delicious turkey.

It was passed down from my great-grandmother to my grandmother, and then to my mother (who still roasts her turkey this way as well, when she cooks a turkey) and then to me.

My mother always called it “tucking in the turkey and putting him to bed”.

imageBecause we don’t use foil or a cooking bag, or anything like that. We use a portion of a clean but old-enough-to-be-cut-up bed sheet.

Yes, a bed sheet.

 

imageI should probably start by saying another way we’re weird is that once we stuff the turkey, we sew up with the edges of the cavity with waxed string and a needle. I’m pretty sure it’s one of the first lessons in hand sewing I ever had, watching my mother seal the stuffing into the bird each year. 🙂 I suppose it’s also what assured me that I could never go into the medical profession, LOL.

 

But back to “putting the turkey to bed”.

Once your turkey is stuffed and placed in the roasting pan, with whatever seasonings you want sprinkled over him, you take your portion of clean sheet and get it soaking wet (as in dripping) in hot water. imageSpread it over the turkey like so, and tuck in all the edges (that’s how you put him to bed 🙂 ).

Then take a little Crisco on your fingers and smear it all over the sheet. It will be a bit difficult, because the sheet is wet, and water and oil don’t mix too well. But trust me, it helps the skin beneath to brown beautifully, while keeping the turkey meat moist and flavorful. Pour some hot water into the bottom of the pan (pouring over the top of the turkey if you want), and put the whole thing into a low (325 degree) oven.

As the turkey cooks, keep the sheet as moist as possible by frequent basting with first the hot water from the bottom of the pan, and then, as time goes on, with the juices from the cooking turkey.

When it’s finished, the sheet will be browned and even crispy itself in places (to the touch…trust me, I’ve never tried to eat the sheet!), but once it’s removed, the turkey beneath is perfection.

It looks funny and seems strange, but it really works. Happy Thanksgiving to one and all! 🙂