German apple Kuchen with roasted apples and breadcrumb and nut topping. Kuchen, I recall, is what my Grandmother used to bake on Sundays, to be consumed, still warm, after lunch with a coffee.
Cheat's apple strudel with apple chunks and raisins wrapped in sweet tea bread dough. This is a cheat’s recipe. There’s no stretching and stretching and stretching and reading love letters through the dough involved.
The dough for these sweet apricot buns is very versatile. Try spreading it out, focaccia-style, in a baking tray and topping with fruit and crumble. Try putting lots of dried fruit on top, folding in half or rolling and baking into a strudel.
Sweet focaccia-style tea bread topped with blueberries and crumble. Ordinarily, thinking focaccia will bring to mind an image of flat, thin bread decorated sparsely with whatever, preferably savoury, preferably olives.
Austrian Buchteln, baked jam-filled doughnuts, pull-apart breakfast treats. Some special Sundays my Austrian grandmother would fluff up the dough, butter a tin, find a jar of plum preserve in the larder and magic them out of the oven an hour or so later.
Sweet triple cherry buns - with jam, dried and glace cherries. The dough is gorgeous. My grandmother used to make this type of dough, stretch it, focaccia style, into the bottom of a large baking tray, then put fresh soft fruit on top and cover the lot in crumble.
Cherry chocolate bread, sourdough brioche with a mix of white chocolate chips, glace cherries and almond flakes. Bread making is funny like that – complete black magic and hocus pocus when uninitiated.
Braided chocolate brioche, not too sweet and perfect for breakfast. The braided bread is quite a challenge for me, the messy baker. I’m absolutely no good at tidy shaping. My challahs invariably have one end thicker than the other. Spacing of cookies suffers in giant quadruples melded together. And I am a lousy cake decorator
Christmas Stollen with homemade marzipan. Stollen tastes absolutely divine when still warm from the oven but it keeps very well. The German Christmas bread symbolised baby Jesus swaddled in clothing
Cinnamon swirls with raisins and maple syrup. Almost like Danish, only easier to make. Best straight from the oven. If you keep them – give them a two minute grill attention.
Colomba Pasquale - Italian Easter bread baked in the shape of a dove. I know that different parts of the world have different celebration cakes for Easter: Simnel, Roisinbrot, Kulich, and so many others.
Bun-e-ttone, a combination of panettone dough and hot cross bun flavouring, the best possible bake for Easter. I thought it would be nice to make one large and 11 small bunettones, after the Simnel cake fashion of featuring 12 or 11 marzipan balls
Easy kouign amann, butter pastry from Brittany. My recipe is a cheat’s kouign amann, easier to make and not quite as calorific as the traditional Breton pastry
St. Louis gooey butter cake made from scratch, with the best gooey buttery topping. The gooey butter is sold as breakfast pastry and there are two variants, fiercely defended by the respective factions. One: ready cake mix and a cream cheese topping sounds lovely and easy but the yeast base and buttery sugary goo on top appeals to me with the force of the original.
Cinnamon honey buns glazed with butter and honey, made from sourdough. Sure enough, honey buns recipes galore out there. And the most interesting fact about them is that they seem to be much valued prison currency and I’m not using any slang here.
The best hot cross buns with proper piped crosses and honey glaze. I start baking them in March, regardless when this movable feast will fall on, and I probably bake up to 50 in a season! Because there’s nothing better for breakfast in early spring than a hot cross bun.
Hot cross buns with raisins, dried apricots and citrus peel. Try this – by all means. It’s still a good bun and none you can buy in the shops are a patch on it. They keep rather well and only on the third day had to be toasted a little.
Julekake, Norwegian Christmas bread with raisins, citrus peel and cardamom flavour. Now this is what I call Christmas Day breakfast - and even better on Boxing Day, toasted and thickly buttered. Better than a brioche - firmer and more substantial, and not so rich.
Festive Krantz cake with chocolate and walnut filling - quite unusual. No idea what its name means and no, it’s not the same as Kranz – creamy ‘crown’ cake. I found my recipe in ‘Baking with Passion’ by Dan Lepard and Richard Whittington.
Muffin-shaped buns made from rich yeast dough, filled with home made marzipan. I baked them in a bun tin, a muffin tin will work just as well but they can be simply placed onto a baking sheet and will keep their shape.
Festive Stollen with sweet, spiced poppy seed filling. Poppy seeds make such a fantastic festive filling for breads, cakes and little bites that it’s a shame they are not more popular in the bits of Europe west and south of Dresden.
Boller - Norwegian raisin buns with cardamom flavour and a shiny glaze. What can be nicer for breakfast than a fresh from the oven – or toasted – buttered bun? Okay, a scone. Or a croissant. Or a full fry-up. Let’s leave it there.
Pandoro, Italian festive 'golden bread', the sweet buttery panettone's rival. Come on, Italians - just have both. I’m having both this year, although my pandoro is baked in a panettone tin - and my recipe is a somewhat hacked version of an Italian one.
Panettone - classic Italian Christmas sweet bread. Yes – it’s doable. A word of warning though: it’s a fickle, capricious beast in the truly Italian style, la donna è mobile and so is panettone.
Schiacciata di uva - Tuscan grape focaccia. The Italian and the French have a lovely way with flat dough – they salt it, stuff it with olives, ham, cheese, soft fruit, preserves, sugar - whatever you like. This one is harvest festive bread.
Easter Simnel cake made with yeasty dough, with marzipan layer inside and marzipan topping. This is Simnel cake made with yeast dough – it appears that the Victorian version was baked thus, unlike the modern variety which, basically, is just like the Christmas cake sans so much booze and fruit.
Sweet sourdough pull apart buns filled with jam. Impossibly sticky, and that’s before the icing. The jam puddle at the bottom of the tin. Pull apart sweet buns are a nightmare to eat but such bliss.
Traditional panettone, sweet Italian Christmas bread, made with natural starter. You have to be patient. You have to have patience, lots of it. Patience, grasshopper.
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