23 December 2011

Martha Stewart Living Christmas Cookbook

Christmas is here. And don't you wish you had some help with all that Christmas entails. Today, on Martha Stewart's blog, she featured a little party she had for her household staff at Bedford. All 17 of them.

You have no idea how much work I could get done with a staff of 17. I would be writing my blog (actually my blog writer would be writing my blog) and I would right now be asking for nice hot tea with a pumpkin scone from Starbucks. Since Starbucks no longer has pumpkin scones (that is another blog entry...) I would have my baker make and remake pumpkin scone until they were just like Starbucks. (Note to self: Have my secretary call Howard Schultz and give me that recipe.) But I digress...

After years of doing up Christmas in her magazine, Martha Stewart Living, Martha Stewart compiled a Christmas cookbook, Martha Stewart Living Christmas Cookbook. It is chocked to the gills with Christmas recipes, over 600 of them. Frankly, you do not have enough Christmases left on this earth to make all this stuff. So start now.

The recipes tend to be overcomplicated. And long. There is section of photos, but most of the recipes require the use of your imagination as to how they will look. Here is a recipe for that Italian classic, panettone. Martha likes to bake them in half-pound brown paper bags. But then again, Miss Martha has someone to go out an find half-pound brown paper bags. Feel free to get some of those little panettone cups from King Arthur's Flour.


Miniature Panettone

For Sponge:
1/3 cup warm water
1 envelope active dry yeast
½ cup all-purpose flour

For Bread Dough:
1/2 cup warm milk
1 envelope active dry yeast
2/3 cup sugar
4 large whole eggs
3 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, plus more, melted, for bowl, plastic wrap, and bags
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
2 cups mixed dried and candied fruit, such as currants, orange peel, apricots, and cherries, finely chopped
Grated zest of 1 orange
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting


1. Make sponge: Pour the warm water into a small bowl, and sprinkle with yeast. Stir with a fork until yeast has dissolved. Let stand until foamy, 5-10 minutes. Stir in flour, and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes.


2. Make the dough: Pour warm milk into a small bowl, and sprinkle with yeast. Stir to dissolve, and let stand until foamy, 5-10 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, 2 egg yolks, and vanilla. Whisk milk mixture into egg mixture.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and flour on medium speed until mixture is crumbly. With mixer on low speed, slowly add egg mixture; continue beating on medium speed until smooth.

4. Add sponge mixture; beat on high speed until dough is elastic and long strands form when dough is stretched, about 5 minutes. Beat in dried fruit and grated zests. Transfer dough to a buttered bowl, and cover with a piece of buttered plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.

5. Fold 12 paper bags down to make cuffs, about 3” deep. Generously butter the bags inside and out; set aside. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface; knead a few times, turning each time, until smooth. Divide the dough into 12 equal parts, and knead into balls. Drop balls into prepared bags. Place bags on a large rimmed baking sheet; cover loosely with buttered plastic. Let rise in a warm place until dough reaches just below the tops of the bags, 45 to 60 minutes.

6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, with rack in lower third. In a small bowl whisk together remaining egg yolk and the cream. Brush tops of dough with egg mixture. Using kitchen scissors, cut an X, centered, in the top of each loaf. Bake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F and continue baking until loaves are deep golden brown, about 20 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through. If they start to get too brown, drape a piece of aluminum foil over tops. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack; let panettone cool completely; dust with confectioners’ sugar.

I totally recommend this recipe, especially if you have twelve staff a-leapin! If not, buy yourself a panettone and stuff it into a paper bag. And to all... a good-nite.

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