Archive for December, 2009

Mad about Vanillekipferl

Thursday, December 31st, 2009


I hope all of you had a lovely Christmas!

This year, H and I had a small Christmas Eve dinner party with my family. Learning from the experience we had last Christmas, we went with a bone-in store-bought traditional Christmas ham, a large roasted chicken (instead of a huge turkey which would have barely been touched and probably gone into a pot of rice porridge on Christmas day), salami and hawaiian pizza (yes, I know, not exactly a Christmasy sort of dish, but for some reason, my sister really wanted this), homemade Schwaebisher Kartoffelsalat (a German potato salad), tossed greens and a homemade apple pie.


H also made a huge pot of Gluhwein (mulled wine) with a bag of Gluhwein spices sent to us from H’s sister (thank you, N and H!) by way of his mum who was here for a visit a short while ago.

Back home in Germany, this aromatic hot wine would be enjoyed in the winter evenings with our familly, along with a huge assortment of Christmas cookies (Plaetzchen). These Christmas cookies would be lovingly baked in the weeks leading up to Christmas; believe me when I say it takes huge restraint (mostly on H’s part!) to resist all the delicious cookies just so there would be some left by Christmas day!

Vanillekipferl Closeup

Sadly, cookies, of the Christmas-sort or otherwise, don’t keep very well in our humid Asian climate, so I went with just one type to go with the Gluhwein - Vanillekipferl. These crescent-shaped cookies are a quintessential part (in my opinion, anyway) of any Christmas Plaetzchen platter and are made with ground almonds, butter, flour, sugar, egg yolks and scrappings from a vanilla bean.

I used the recipe here from Nicky of Delicious Days. The end result was a lovely crumbly, almond-ny, buttery cookie. I would have preferred them to be a little less crumbly and this would probably have been the case if we lived in a dry climate and left the cookies to sit for a few days in a container. Still, H enjoyed them immensely (can’t exactly say the same for the rest of my family), which was the most important part for me!

              3D Gingerbread Christmas Tree

I also finally got round to assembling the 3D gingerbread Christmas tree as a decorative piece for the dinner. I found that drying the humidity-softened decorated cookies in the oven does help. The dried decorated Christmas ornament cookies are now happily sitting in a container with a couple bags of desiccant. I wonder how long they’ll keep…

3D Gingerbread Christmas Tree

My next project is a macaron croquembouche, but before that, I intend to give myself a nice long rest to recover from the crazy hectic time that was Christmas. :)

Have a wonderful year ahead, everyone!

Mad about Christmas Cookies

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

              Christmas Cookies

With a full-time job, it’s been a little difficult keeping to my Christmas baking schedule. But I knew that I’d definitely be baking and decorating Christmas-themed gingerbread cookies this year, having given them a miss last Christmas.

Plus, I’d been longing to make these edible Christmas tree ornaments since I saw the beautiful designs on Joycelyn’s blog last year.

Christmas Cookies

These gingerbread cookies were baked and decorated over the course of 2 work day evenings and this past weekend. The challenge with cookie decorating in humid Singapore is, as I’d already blogged about previously, that the cookies turn soft very quickly while the icing air-dries.

I had high hopes for these cookies since they remained really crisp, even after 2 days in an air-tight container. But wet December weather finally decided to reappear right after I’d laid down the first layer of royal icing; the poor cookies didn’t stand a chance against the damp, although I have to admit that the royal icing did dry beautifully.

Christmas Tree Cookie

Still, I managed to capture a few decent shots of the ornaments and Christmas tree this morning despite the afternoon rain. I’m particularly happy with how the Christmas tree cookie turned out, given that this is the first time I’ve worked with sprinkles and sanding sugar.

Many thanks go out to Joycelyn for sharing generously sharing her gorgeous decorated cookie design ideas!

Gingerbread Kids

These gingerbread kids are a slight variation of the ones I made 2 years ago. There’s still a 3D gingerbread tree waiting to be assembled, but there just isn’t enough time on the weekend to do everything I’d planned. And then there are the vanillekipferl to be baked. Things aren’t looking too great for the macaron “croquembouche” at the moment. :(

But I’m not complaining; I’m really pleased with what has been accomplished in the kitchen this weekend despite the weather and everything else that’s going on this time of year. With that, I leave you with a photograph of my favourite design of the lot.

Happy holiday baking, everyone!

              Christmas Cookies

Mad about Apple Pie

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

              Double Crusted Apple Pie

While considering whether to have a Christmas dinner party this year, my sister brought up the possibility of having an apple pie on the menu again this year. While no decision has actually been taken on the dinner yet, I thought it would be good to give the apple pie recipe a trial run. The reason for the trial run: last year’s pie, which had been disasterous on two counts.

The first being the pie crust. I’d gone with a recipe that used shortening. I had great hopes; after all, the recipe promised a very flaky yet tender crust. The crust turned out to be so tender and flaky that it practically disintegrated to mush once it was cut into the pie filling.

The second disappointment was with the apple pie filling. While I had used my usual apple pie filling recipe, the apples were entirely the wrong kind. I had bought the green apples from the wet market, thinking that all green apples were Granny Smiths. Apparently not. The green apples turned out to be the sort with a powdery texture - the entire opposite of the firm and crunchy texture of Granny Smiths, which are essential for apple pie fillings. Needless to say, the filling left a lot to be desired texture-wise.

                  Double Crusted Apple Pie

So for this year’s trial run, I used Sherry Yard’s Master Pie Crust, a recipe that I knew would be easy to work with and still give a perfect pie crust. For the filling, I used a combination of Granny Smiths and Royal Gala apples - this time making extra sure to check the label on each apple. I also covered the pie entirely with pastry instead of making my usual lattice top. I’m happy to report that the pie tasted great and I’m glad to have made it, dinner party or not.

I know I haven’t been posting as much as I’d like to this past year, but do stay tuned. I’ve got a Christmas baking schedule planned - the list includes decorated gingerbread cookies, vanilla kipferl and possibly a macaron tower (if I can either buy or make a proper cone, that is)!