Nevermind shopping days until Christmas – I’m counting down the baking days before Christmas. There are some things that can only be made during the holidays – mince tarts and shortbread December is an excuse to make rich breads with eggs and butter, loaded with dried fruit – like a yeasted fruitcake you can slice and toast and spread with butter and eat with your coffee.
I’ve made stollen for the past few years, but thought I’d take the leap over to panettone (a quick trip from Germany to Italy) once I realized that those Weck jars I’m in lust with are oven safe up to 450F, and thus perfectly stylish vehicles for small, buttery loaves. (One batch of dough stretches much further this way than the typical two loaves of stollen folded over themselves.)
Every year I intend (at least) to bake vast quantities of fruited loaves on Christmas Eve, then hop in the car and deliver them to people I like, thinking that they might then wind up nibbling them under the tree on Christmas morning. This year I was inspired to bake them early, sharing them in a Herald story and have been nibbling on them all month.
The wee jars are just another reason to give them away, really, but if you can’t get your hands on some, you could go the traditional coffee can route, or make individual ones in buttered muffin tins, or bake the loaf like you would stollen, in a big oval, one side lapped over. Or shape and bake them like hot crossed buns, then dust with icing sugar on top.
And then wrap yourself in the holidays, snuggle with your loved ones, celebrate the people in your life and eat well. And thank you for being here! You’ve been the best part of my year.