Thursday the 1st of December, the first snow of the season...
Friday the 2nd of December, woke up to the real snow...
After I had a quick walk around our place, we had some mid-morning snack that had arrived earlier that morning:
This may not raise your Holiday spirits like roasting raw chestnuts on your own, but it's really handy to have them around; besides, we don't get raw fresh chestnuts in mid winter, so this was as good as I'd get as far as the roasting-chestnuts-at-home-as-a-winter-snack mood was concerned.
Friday the 9th of December, woke up to the second snow of the season on the second weekend of the month...
aebleskiver, a type of Danish pancakes, fluffy balls served or filled with berry jam.
I'd made a quick trip to Tokyo earlier that week, and brought a few things back home. These pancakes were one of the things I got from Bakery Andersen.
the whole place was extra pretty in its Christmas decorations.
Speaking of my Tokyo trip, another Christmassy purchase I made was these:
Henri Le Roux, from Shinjuku Isetan department store where they have the first of their Japan locations. The caramels, Orange Gingembre (orange-ginger) and Épices de Noël (Christmas spices), came in Christmas baubles for a bit of festive feel, while the little macarons sandwiches with flavored caramel fillings were flower-shaped, which wasn't exclusive for the holiday season, but still pretty.
Back to aebleskiver: I warmed up the pancakes and freshen them up with a dusting of confectioner's sugar.
I'd had my aebleskiver together with glogg (mulled wine), I thought I treated myself to a glass of warm glogg, even if it was in the mid morning.
This time, some of the snow remained for the following week in spots with less light, despite of the sunny and relatively warm days.
So probably I can't really say it was a snowy weekend, but at home I was busy letting it snow...
It was at the beginning of November and we were at a Starbucks for a coffee and a small bite when I first saw their stollen scone, one of their seasonal products. I tried one, not expecting anything much better than a spiced, fruited scone dusted with sugar. And I was surprised to find out it was pretty decent, and that it actually tasted like stollen. More than anything, I liked the idea of scones that taste like stollen so much I decided to try and make some on my own.
It took me a month to actually getting down to it, but since the beginning of December I've tried to re-create the stollen scones - or rather, create my version of them, trying a few different recipes and tweaking them here and there.
It turned out that they, according to the Starbucks website, contain ground almonds, cinnamon, and cocoa in the dough, and are mixed in with orange peel, lemon peel, raisins, and apples stewed with rum and brandy, as well as almonds, cashews, and walnuts.
I began by searching recipes for almond scones on the Internet. I did look up stollen recipes too, and actually there were a quite a few of them when I searched them in Japanese; pretty much all of them were apparently created inspired by the Starbucks stollen scones, just like I was trying to do. I've also checked several recipes for real stollen, to see what they usually have in them.
these recipes for almond scones, one with ground almonds and the other with almond paste. I have tried a few other recipes out there, too, but these two were the ones that I based my recipe on.
Started with these two recipes, I basically added a few types of spices in the dough and threw in a bunch of dried fruits and candied peel soaked in rum, along with some toasted nuts. I tried adjusting the amount of flour a bit, and also tried using butter milk instead of milk, etc. In any case, I slathered the hot scones right out of the oven with melted butter and dusted thickly with confectioner's sugar.
I must have baked these scones nearly ten times over the period of two weeks, often two batches at a time by halving the recipe and using ground almonds in one half and almond paste in the other. Every version turned out pretty good - as a spiced fruit and nut scone, that is. But some were more stollen-like than others. So I kept on with my little experiment to nail it down, even though I was a little unnerved by the rate at which butter disappeared in the house. I suppose it was lucky for me that nobody seemed to mind scones for breakfast and snacks almost every day.
In fact, these almond-based ingredients seemed to be a key to a stollen-ish flavor of the scones. For the almond paste part, I was a little confused over the difference between almond paste and marzipan; I ended up using German marzipan, which contains more almonds than sugar (two parts almonds and one part sugar), and is different from some other types of marzipan such as those used for rolling and crafting. This gave my scones an unmistakable almond flavor and a moister texture, not to mention an extra sweetness.
Ground almonds, meanwhile, appeared to make a slightly more bland scone compared to German marzipan. First I used regular raw almond meal, and then tried Sicilian almond meal I got from a specialty baking supplies store, and this made a striking difference to the finishing product - the scones made using this extra-flavorful almonds tasted almost like the ones with marzipan.
Either way, try to use the best quality ingredient you can find, such as pure almond paste and ground almonds made of marcona almonds from Spain or Sicilian almonds, as it will make all the difference. The same goes for other ingredients, especially butter - if you have some good European cultured butter, this is a recipe you'd want to use it in.
Admittedly, the ingredient list is rather long, but that's mostly because the recipe involves a variety of dried fruits, nuts, and spices. Once you have all of them ready, putting together the dough is a breeze, just like most scone recipes.
+ stollen scones
These scones are best eaten completely cooled, a few hours after baking or on the following day. The fruits should preferably be prepared the day before you bake the scones; alternatively, briefly heat the fruits combined with the liquor in the microwave, and leave them to cool before adding to the dough.
Please note that I measured most of the ingredients by weight, in grams; US standard measurements (i.e. cups) are given only as a guide.
Makes 12 small-ish scones.
- for the fruits and nuts
60g / 2oz (scant 1/2 cup) combination of raisins, sultanas, and/or green raisins
30g / 1oz candied orange peel, chopped
1 Tbs. rum
30g / 1oz (1/3 cup) chopped walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped
30g / 1oz (heaping 1/3 cup) sliced almonds, lightly toasted
- for the dough
210g / 8oz (1 2/3 cups) all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 rounded tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
25g / 1oz / 3 Tbs. soft brown sugar
56g / 2oz (4 Tbs. / 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and diced
60-90g / 2-3oz German marzipan, chopped, OR
60-90g / 2-3oz (2/3 - 1 cup) ground almonds (almond flour)
120ml (1/2 cup) milk, chilled
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
zest of 1/2 lemon
- for the topping
28g / 1oz (2 Tbs) unsalted butter, melted
Confectioner's sugar for dusting
|cubed German marzipan, Sicilian almond meal, and rum-soaked fruits
To prepare the fruits, combine the raisins and chopped candied orange peel with the rum in a small bowl, and toss well. Cover and leave at least for a few hours or preferably overnight.
Preheat oven to 400F/200C. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
To make the dough, in a large bowl combine the all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and brown sugar, and mix well. Rub in the cold butter until the mixture is the consistency of fine meal. Rub in the cubed marzipan until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs, OR stir in ground almonds and mix well.
Combine about 100 ml of the milk with the beaten egg, vanilla extract, and zest of lemon. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredient mixture and pour in the liquid ingredients. Using a rubber spatula, stir the mixture a few times. Add the soaked fruits and toasted nuts, and mix until just combined. The dough will be soft and a little sticky - if it is too dry, add the remaining 20 ml of the milk; if it is too sticky, add a little more flour. Do not overmix.
To bake the scones, divide the dough in half and shape them into balls. Pat each to form a round disk of about 2.5cm / 1 inch thickness. Cut each disk into six wedges and place onto the prepared baking sheet. If the dough is too sticky and difficult to handle, scoop out about one-twelfth of the dough (about 2 Tbs.) and place directly onto the baking sheet, and form it into more or less rounded shape. Bake in the preheated oven for 13-18 minutes or until the scones are golden brown.
To finish the scones, melt the butter for topping while the scones are baking. When they are done, remove the scones from oven, and immediately spoon the melted butter over them, about 1/2 tsp. per scone. Dust thickly with confectioner's sugar, and leave to cool completely.
Serve the scones at room temperature, with a thin dusting of some more confectioner's sugar.
recipe inspired by stollen scones from Starbucks Japan; partially adapted from this and this.
As I mentioned above, these scones taste best when they are completely cooled, rather than warm fresh out of the oven. So if you plan to have them for breakfast, it's best to bake them the night before. They keep for a few days at room temperature (stored in a ziplock bag), or longer if frozen, individually wrapped; bring them to room temperature before serving.
So these 'snow-covered' scones have been around almost every day for the past few weeks, with or without snow outside.
Earlier this week we had a bit of snow in the early hours of the morning.
And another weekend is here and we have snow forecast, though it hasn't started yet as of Saturday evening. So we may or may not have White Christmas, but either way we have these snow-covered scones on the table.
these and these, which I hoped to write about here, but it looks like my time is up as it is already Christmas Eve here. Maybe next year.
I wish you a very merry Christmas, and I hope you are all having a lovely time over this Holiday weekend, with or without snow. I am hoping to come back here before the end of the year, but if not, well, I wish you a very happy New Year too.