Those words are all ones I've used to describe my family's traditional "Christmas Bread." As mentioned in my last post, I've got Scandinavian heritage. Well, I've also got quite a bit of German in me as well....
To the best of my knowledge, the christmas bread started with my German Great-Grandma, Irene.... Both my grandma and mom have grown up with it as well. It is a staple at every Christmas Eve dinner. Think white bread, spiced with cardamom, and filled with vile candied fruit. Somewhat of a "fruit cake meets white bread" combo. Gross. Really, who meant for cherries to be green after all?
I've tried, really I have. I keep wanting to like Christmas bread (it seems to be the "cool" thing to do), but alas, it stays terrible each time I try it. Nearly everyone in my family, except myself and my Dad (who didn't grow up on the stuff) like it....
Well, this year, I decided to try something different. I wanted to make my own version of christmas bread, only one that would taste better (at least to me). Granted, the recipe needs tweeking, but in my humble opinion, it was better than the traditional bread.
I took the scandinavian danish dough, spiced with cardamom, that I learned to make this past semester and left out the lamination process.
I added better candied fruit, which I brought back from Whole Foods (although I'd like to make my own next year, or at least my own candied citrus), along with some Marzipan, just because I like marzipan and it worked so well in the brioche I learned to make in class.
I spread the fruit and marzipan over the dough, then rolled it up and allowed it to rise more, before portioning it into cute little paper cups and baking it.
Now, there are a couple changes I would make in the future, which is why I probably won't give the recipe at this time.... Even though the candied fruit I bought is much better than the regular kind one finds in the grocery store, I prefer the taste of the cardamom-rich bread without too much candied fruit. I might add a bit more fruit next time, and for sure more marzipan (mmmm).
I also had some yeast issues. My original recipe, the one made in school, called for "fresh yeast" but I knew there was no way I'd ever find fresh yeast around here. So, I switched to dry active but I'm not entirely sure if my conversions from fresh to dry active were accurate. I think I need a bit more yeast next time. The bread ended up extremely dense and really lends itself better to toasting than simply eating on its own.
Even though my family members (the ones who really really like the old version of Christmas bread) thought this version was very different from the "normal" kind, I like it! And this way, I'm able to feel like I'm kind of participating in our family tradition of eating christmas bread, only now I'm not just choking it down. No joke, I really use to have to force it down when my grandma would make sandwiches on it after Christmas!
I wish everyone a wonderful christmas! I plan to post more about some of my family christmas traditions in the coming days as well. Currently, my Christmas is being spent a great deal quieter than usual because my hometown is experiencing a larger than normal snowfall, coupled with "near blizzard" conditions. So we're snowed in for the time being! We've even had to postpone our traditional extended family get together with my Dad's side due to the poor weather.... Oh well, more time for baking!