Hot Cross BunsBy Marjorie Perotti-BrewsterHot Cross Buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday, but actually most bakeries in the United States make them starting on Ash Wednesday and bake their last batch for Easter Sunday. There are several versions of this Easter treat, some have no fruit, others have raisin, and some, like these from my Father's recipes have raisins, orange peel and citron. The cross on the top is generally made from a slurry of mixing flour and water, which I don't think is great tasting, so my father always made the cross on top using his custard recipe, which I have included.
Hot Cross buns have a history that goes back centuries. We tend to think of them as an Easter pastry, but have origins that go much further back to pre-christian times. A very early version of of the buns were baked to celebrate Eostre, a Germanic Goddess of Fertility. The symbolism for the Christian version has the cross on the top as a symbol of the crucification, the spices used to signify the spices used in embalming and the orange peel reflecting the bitterness of his time on the cross. Classic PanettoneBy Marjorie Perotti-BrewsterThis Panettone recipe, of all my Father's recipes (so far that is) has taken the longest to develop. To my recollection, he never made this while we had our family bakery in Northern California, but did make it during his apprenticeship in the 1930's. Several versions appear in his journal. Some had the dough resting overnight in the refrigerator, some had three risings, others had two. There were small changes in the amounts of butter and sugar, but none were overly sweet and none had nuts. So, for home use, I find this to be the easiest, and can be made in a day. The extract - Fiori di Sicilia can be found in some specialty stores, but you can also find it on Amazon. It is an important component in this recipe if you want that hard to detect aroma and flavor you find in top quality imported brands. Another important ingredient is good quality peel. You may find very fine orange, lemon and citron at Italian delicatessens, or again, on line. I do apologize for the lateness in posting this recipe. If you don't have time to make it this season, I hope you give it a try for the next. Try it toasted, or as French Toast. It's wonderful!Peppermint Roll Cake with Mascarpone Cream FillingBy Marjorie Perotti-BrewsterPeppermint is such a great Christmas flavor, and this roll cake not only uses peppermint extract but peppermint candy canes. The cake is light and airy. The filling has a depth of flavor with the addition of the Mascarpone, while the White Chocolate Ganache is sweet and rich. The crushed candy canes sprinkled across the top, add a festive touch and a nice little crunch. Roll cakes are fun to make and can be easily changed by using different fillings and toppings. For instructions of how to make a cake into a "roll cake" go to the post "How to Make a Roll Cake" in the Tips & Techniques section of my website.Viennese Kugelhopf Easter Bread #IBy Marjorie Perotti-Brewster
This is the classic from my Father's 1930's journal. A Viennese Kugelhopf Easter Bread that is rich and buttery with plump raisins, candied orange peel and toasted almonds. You get a hint of the Meyer's rum, more an aroma than a distinct taste. You can serve it plain, dusted with powdered sugar, or drizzled with a glaze. It takes at least 24 hours from start to to finish, as it needs to rest in the refrigerator over night, and the two proofing times add up to about 5 hours. However, if you have the time, it is well worth the effort.Viennese Kugelhopf Easter Cake #IIBy Marjorie Perotti-BrewsterThis recipe is a simpler version of the Viennese Easter Bread, Kugelhopf. It's a bit like a rich pound cake with plump raisins, toasted almonds, and a hint of citrus. Moist and not too sweet it's perfect with morning coffee or afternoon tea, and makes great gifts for the host or hostess of your Easter meal. Try it using the Fiori di Sicilia in place of the orange extract. I can almost guarantee that you will never again be without of small bottle of this delightful essence.Simnel Cake – British Easter CakeBy Marjorie Perotti-BrewsterThe origins of the Simnal cake can be traced back to Mediaeval times, but it wasn't until the late 19th century that this British cake looks similar to the recipe given here. It was made to celebrate Mothering Sunday, which is the fourth Sunday of Lent. Mothering Sunday has nothing to do with our American "Mother's Day", but it is the day that you return to your original diocese to worship. You will notice that there are 11 small ball shaped pieces of Marzipan around the rim of the cake. These represent the 11 Apostles, leaving out Judas, as he had betrayed Christ. The cake is much like a fruit cake, with the addition of Marzipan and the apricot glaze. My Dad’s Christmas Fruit CakeBy Marjorie Perotti-BrewsterI know that many jokes have been made about fruit cake over the years, but if it is made correctly, using really high quality candied fruit, or in the case of this recipe made with a combination of dried and candied fruit it can be a delightful holiday treat. It's good with coffee, tea, some wines or port. Try topping a thin slice with a dollop of triple crème cheese. You might surprise yourself.Christmas Fruit & Nut BiscottiBy Marjorie Perotti-BrewsterThis Christmas Biscotti makes a great holiday gift. You can make the dough ahead of time, roll into logs, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze. They are crunchy with just a bit a chewiness due to the fruit. They are delightful served with coffee, tea, or your favorite dessert wine. Pfeffernüsse – German Peppernut CookiesBy Marjorie Perotti-BrewsterThis is one cookie that you don't want eat "just out of the oven" After coating the cooled, baked cookies with peppermint syrup and tossing them in powdered sugar, they need to be stored for at least 48 hours. During that time the syrup will harden, forming a crunchy shell and the inside will be spicy, moist and just a bit chewy. Place these in an airtight container and they will last for several months.Mincemeat CookiesBy Marjorie Perotti-BrewsterThese mincemeat cookies are just a bit chewy and just a bit cakey, and the maple butter glaze adds another flavor and texture component. They will last up a week, unless they get eaten before that time. Steamed Persimmon PuddingBy Marjorie Perotti-BrewsterSteamed Persimmon Pudding is a newer variety of steamed puddings that go back at least 400 years, with the first actual recipes appearing in the 1700's. Sometimes called Christmas puddings, or plum puddings, because they were made at Christmas time, and generally contained raisins, which were called plums at that time. Distinctly British in origin, the puddings were made using black treacle (in the USA we usually use molasses) suet, raisins, spices and laced with brandy or wine. These pudding can be made well in advance, and reheated before serving. Serve with whipped cream, hard sauce or Crème Anglaise. It's also impressive to dim the lights, heat a ladle of brandy, light it on fire, and pour the lovely blue flame over the top!Old World MincemeatBy Marjorie Perotti-BrewsterMincemeat has been around for centuries, and is still a holiday staple in England. This version from my Father's journal is vegetarian, full of flavors from raisins, citrus, applies, spices and brandy. For more information on the origin of mincemeat, see "Christmas Pie and Puritans" in the Tips and Techniques section of the site.