Given that red is the top Christmas colour, the sight of red peppers at the market inspired my choice of dish to take to a meeting of library volunteers.
With goats cheese and olives, and a pizza base chosen from one of my many books on bread, this festive bread went down really well.
At that same party I sampled a delicious stollen, and even the first mouthful sent me into raptures....it was home made, phew! I called my bread guru Vicki and received her guidance on how far ahead to make the loaf and her experience of making them. After consulting my books, I decided to follow the recipe set out in Andrew Whitley's Bread Matters exactly, and using his method of rolling the sheet of marzipan up with the dough.My timings for the different sections was longer, maybe it is cooler in my kitchen. The loaf is light and delicious and it is hard to tell that half of the flour is stoneground wholemeal. I made this stollen five days before Christmas and it is wonderfully moist and still fresh five days afterwards.....just the smallest of pieces left now!
He gives such exact measurements, including those for the marzipan, that all is used up!
This year I did not make my own traditional cake, but bought one which a friend made. Mr S is busy eating that, but I must admit my own home made is much better, but I also prefer Stollen.
As soon as the Stollen was cool enough a thick layer of icing sugar was sifted over it, to give that traditional look. That day I also baked some treacle and date loaves, which just have a slight sweetness and are excellent with cheeses, chutneys and celery.
On Christmas Eve, just before the light failed I climbed a ladder to pick red roses from the pergola and other greenery to decorate the table. The roses have lasted over five days. We had Jean over for dinner on Christmas Eve, but sadly Jenny was not able to make it.
For Christmas morning breakfast I made my pumpkin bread the day before, which again was a great success. The best preserve for this was the Quince butter, although Mr S just prefers it plain.