27 March 2013

Paasbrood (Dutch Easter Bread)

I literally do not know where time has gone this year... seemingly a minute ago it was Christmas and the long days stretched out before me. I would get home from work and lazily make some dinner, photograph it, eat it cold (one of the side effects of food blogging) then still have time to do... I'm not entirely sure what, but there was time for it anyway. Now it's Easter... I mean really, Easter? How on earth did that sneak up so quickly. The days are suddenly noticeably shorter and will only get shorter still in a couple of weeks when daylight savings ends. After the blur that has been the year so far the four day Easter break couldn't come soon enough, four blissful days of sleep and red tulip Easter eggs, of lazy breakfasts around midday and if the weather holds lying in the park eating more red tulip eggs.

My sister and I had little Easter baskets that were filled with shredded green cellophane (carefully packed away each year yet somehow getting less and less), the weirdly appealing sweet smell of that cellophane is indelibly linked to Easter for me, the fluffing and arranging of eggs in the cellophane was such an important part of the Easter ritual. On Easter Sunday we would race into the kitchen where we had left our baskets the night before, cellophane primed and welcoming, to find shiny foil covered bunnies and speckled candy coated chocolate eggs nestled into that bed of pale green, strewn with jelly beans. Leading from the baskets were muddy "bunny footprints" across the table, onto the linoleum floor and to the door, made by my magical mum dipping her fingers in a cocoa/ water mix and "hopping" them in little bunny patterns (knowing full well she would be the one cleaning them up later).
When I was little I was quite a fussy eater, amongst many other things I hated marzipan, I hated dried fruit and I especially hated dried fruit in bread.  I did love butter, red tulip eggs and being fed bite by bite sitting on my Dad's knee until I finished my dinner - just one bite for "Tante Jet, one for Tante Foekje, one for Om Henk" and then bites for a vast number of Dutch Aunts and Uncles who unbeknownst to me at the time do not exist. I have grown up considerably since and eat most things (bivalves and bloated sultanas aside) and actually like marzipan, dried fruit and especially raisin toast slathered in butter. In honor of my real Dutch relatives and those additional fictional ones I have made Paasbrood (Dutch Easter Bread) which I will happily eat without coercion. Paasbrood is a yeasty fruit loaf (usually made with candied peel though I prefer and have used zest instead) with a log of almond paste through the middle. Eaten straight from the oven you can either eat the eye of almond paste first followed by the bread, or smear it evenly across your slice for even coverage, or eat all of the bread around it first savoring it until the very end - the choice is yours and probably quite telling of your character. (I eat it first, much like I used to eat every egg in my basket then gaze longingly at my sisters basket with her eggs all lined up and counted for weeks after Easter). 
The bread itself isn't very sweet with just the faintest waft of cardamon and cinnamon. It does take several hours from start to finish as the bread needs to rise twice but each process is quite simple so get a good book and a timer and you're all set.

(recipe adapted from Taste.com)

  • 1/2 cup warm milk
  • 2 teaspoons dry active yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups plain flour, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • zest of one lemon, finely grated
  • zest of one orange, finely grated
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked
  • 30 grams butter, melted
  • 1 cup mixed raisins, currants and dried figs (figs cut into 1 cm pieces)
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar, to sift over the warm loaf

Amandelspijs (Almond paste):
  • 2/3 cup almond meal (as fine as you can get)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

  1. Combine warm milk, yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar in a small bowl and set aside for approximately 10 minutes or until it becomes frothy (this will depend on the temperature at the time, if it's cold it may take longer to activate) NB: if your yeast doesn't froth at this point it is probably too old and won't make the bread rise later
  2. In a large bowl sift together flour, cardamom, cinnamon then add the finely grated lemon and orange zests
  3. When the milk mixture is ready add it to the flour bowl, along with the beaten egg and melted butter
  4. Combine with a spoon first then turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes - until you feel it in your upper arms!)
  5. Lightly oil a bowl at least twice the size of the dough, put in the dough and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place to rise, about 1 hour - it should be doubled in size
  6. While the dough is rising, make the Amandelspijs by combining the fine almond meal, egg yolks, lemon juice, vanilla and zest in a bowl, using your hand knead it together until well mixed and smooth
  7. Split the almond mixture into two and form it into logs 10 - 15 cm long,wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to firm up
  8. Once your dough has doubled in size knead the dried fruit into it (this can be quite hard but add about 1/4 cup at a time and knead, then add more
  9. Dive the dough into two, roll each into a rectangle 10 x 15 cm long, place one of the almond paste logs into each then roll it into a log, pinching the edges so the almond paste can't escape
  10. Gently twist the two logs together, pinching the ends together and place on a baking paper lined baking tray (you don't need to move it again before you cook it), cover well with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for 1 hour to rise
  11. Preheat oven to 200 C, bake for 10 minutes at 200 then reduce the heat to 180 and bake for a further 20 minutes or until golden brown and it sounds hollow when tapped
  12. Remove from oven and carefully slide onto a cooling rack (if any of the almond paste has oozed out be careful - it is molten hot and can burn), allow to cool for 15 minutes then dust with 1/2 cup of icing sugar
  13. Allow to cool for a further 15 minutes (it is hard to cut earlier) then transfer to a serving board, sprinkle on more icing sugar and serve cut 
  14. Prettige paasdagen!

No comments:

Post a Comment