Alsatian Christmas Bread

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Christmas Bread….this one sounds perfect for this time of year but I had some serious doubts that my tasters would enjoy this one… a dense log full of nuts, dried fruit, and spices, but no butter, wheat flour, sugar, or eggs and left to ripen for days to months after it is baked. Hmmm…

I decided to halve the recipe and make only one log.  Our recipe tells us the only real required dried fruit is pear and the rest are interchangeable with what you may have on hand or prefer.  I went to my local produce store and looked in the bulk bins to see what options I had.  No pears to be found.  I was about to go with what I could find but happened upon a pre-cut and packaged variety of dried fruit right about the size I needed.  It ended up being perfect.  It had the required dried pears, and also apricot, peach, and apples.  I omitted the raisins and added cranberries.

The dried fruit is left to macerate in a warmed up mixture of apple juice, anise, cinnamon, clove, ginger, cardamom and black pepper.  Once the fruit is drained fully, the almond flour is added to bind it together and allow you to shape it into a tight roll.  It is then baked, cooled, and set on the counter wrapped in parchment and foil to ripen for as long as you prefer.  I let it sit for 2 days and then sent out the text that it was ready.

Mixed reviews, but honestly I am surprised that some did really enjoy it.  It is rather bland with there being no sugar in it, so most suggested it would taste great with something with it…jam, jelly, whipped cream.  I think we are all glad I made it and they had the opportunity to taste it, but as some said…it wasn’t going to break into the top 10 haha!  I don’t see myself baking this one again, but thankful for the chance to give it a try.

Merry Christmas!

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Speculoos

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Previous to my baking experience with this group, my knowledge of Speculoos would be contained to hearing about cookie butter at our local Trader Joe’s market.  It is apparently quite the rage…although I have not tried it.    I haven’t made these cookies before, but I feel like they are very similar to other cookies I do make.

Basically, these are Christmas in a cookie…brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves.  They smell heavenly while they are baking!

Our directions give us two options, to shape the dough into logs and cut round cookies or to roll and cut out with cookie cutters.

My first log I cut rounds, coating them in egg wash and sanding sugar.  They tasted fantastic but I wasn’t thrilled with the look…so the remaining two logs I rolled out and used my Christmas tree cookie cutter and topped the cutout with sugar.   I didn’t get as many cookies that way, but I was much happier with how the cookies looked!

Since I had so many cookies, I sent out the text to my usual tasters but I also had enough to bring to bible study the next day.  These were a hit all the way around.  Friends at bible study were asking who brought them and then, where I bought them so they could buy them for their holiday gatherings.  If that isn’t an endorsement for the recipe, I don’t know what is!

This one is a keeper!

Merry Christmas and Happy Baking! 🙂