Taking care of Christmas with some home-made goodie recipes

17 years ago

The first of the great “Eating Holidays” is behind us and it is time to gear up for the next.  With a little time and the proper inspiration you can take care of a lot of people on your Christmas list with some homemade goodies.  Nothing is as welcome as something that you make yourself and the rewards are many-fold.  You get a product that is a definite improvement on the pre-packaged items that are prevalent in the stores. Making a variety of items for gift giving and making them in quantity means that you will have “samples” of all of them for home consumption. It is just as easy to double or triple a batch and often it is an economical use of ingredients particularly if the recipe calls for an unusual ingredient that has to be specially purchased.
    Thinking about ingredients and while there is still time to do it, you might want to make some of your own candied fruit. Using homemade Candied Orange Peel in your fruitcake is a nice touch as the homemade peel is much tastier, and less expensive than the commercial type. The same recipe works well with grapefruit peel.  The strips of this finished peel make a nice holiday candy or you can dice the finished product to use it in your fruitcakes.

Candied Orange Peel
3 medium-large bright
skinned oranges
1 and 1/2 cups water
1 and 1/4 cups
granulated sugar
3 Tablespoons light corn syrup

 Directions:   Remove the peel from the oranges by scoring it in quarters and using a blunt knife pry the quarters off the fruit. Use the oranges for another purpose.
Scrape as much of the white pith from the inside of each piece of the peel. The edge of a teaspoon or a serrated grapefruit spoon works well for this.
Put the peel in a saucepan and add enough water to let the peel float. (This is NOT the water called for in the ingredients) Bring the water to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain the peel, add fresh water and simmer for another 10 minutes.  Drain the peel again, add more fresh water and cook again until the peel is tender when poked with the tip of a knife, about 15 minutes.
Remove from the heat, drain well and let cool until you can handle it.  When it is cool cut it into 1/4-inch strips. The easiest way to do this is with a pair of kitchen scissors. In a saucepan combine the 1 and 1/2 cups of water with the sugar and corn syrup.  Stir well and bring to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes and then add the drained, cut peel and cook at a simmer, covered, until the peel begins to look transparent, then remove the cover and continue to cook on a very low heat until there is only a couple of spoonfuls of the syrup left. Watch carefully toward the end to prevent burning.
Remove the peel from the saucepan, using a fork, and place on wire racks to dry. If you have a gas oven with a pilot the racks can be placed in the oven to hasten the drying or simply leave at warm room temperature. If you are going to serve the strips as a “candy” you should roll the strips in granulated sugar while they are still warm. If you are using it in cooking you should dice it after it has dried out.  It will keep for several weeks either in the refrigerator or in the cupboard.  This makes about 1/2 pound of candied peel.
Another candied ingredient that is better when made at home is Candied Pineapple. Takes a little time but it isn’t difficult.

Candied Pineapple
2 cans (20-ounces each) unsweetened sliced
pineapple or
pineapple chunks, canned
in pineapple juice
2 and 2/3 cups
granulated sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup

Directions: Drain the pineapple and save the juice.  Measure 1 and 1/2 cups of this juice into a large shallow pan.  A big skillet or sauté pan work well.  If you do not have enough pineapple juice then add water to make up the 1 and 1/2 cups.
Add the sugar and corn syrup to the juice, mix well and then bring to a boil, uncovered, over medium heat.  Cook until the syrup spins a short thread when drops are poured from a spoon, about 4 minutes.
Add the pineapple, which should fit into the pan in a single layer.  If you are using slices and they don’t fit in well then cut some into halves or quarters.  Cook the pineapple, uncovered, over medium-low heat, shaking the pan and basting the pieces often, until the pieces are translucent, about 45 minutes.  If the syrup begins to thicken too much then you could add about a Tablespoon of water and turn the heat down. You must watch it carefully after it has cooked awhile to keep it from scorching.
Take the pan off the heat and lift the slices out onto wire racks and let them drain over a cookie sheet until the dripping stops.  Don’t throw this syrup away as it is delicious to serve on ice cream or waffles.  When the dripping has stopped place the racks on a clean pan and dry the pineapple in a preheated 200’F. oven until the surface is no longer sticky, about 30 minutes.
Cool the pineapple and when it is completely cool pack it in airtight containers between sheets of plastic wrap. May be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator. This make about 1 pound of candied pineapple.
Stollen is a traditional holiday bread and this Christmas Stollen is one of the best. This recipe calls for candied pineapple so it would be a good chance to try out some of that homemade pineapple but you can buy it already done if you don’t want to make your own.

Christmas Stollen
Fruits and Nuts:
1 cup walnuts
3/4 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup currants
2 Tablespoons dark rum
1/2 cup diced candied
pineapple
1/3 cup diced candied citron
1/3 cup halved or quartered
candied cherries
Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
Finely grated rind of 1
medium-large orange
The Dough:
1 cup milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter or margarine
1/3 cup lukewarm water
Pinch of sugar
1 package active dry yeast
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Directions:  For Brushing the Dough: 4 Tablespoons melted butter and for The Finished Stollen: Confectioner’s Sugar.
Chop the walnuts coarsely and set aside.  Cover the raisins with hot water and set aside.  Mix the currants with the rum and set aside.  Prepare the pineapple, citron, cherries, lemon rind and orange rind and set aside.
Heat together the milk, sugar, salt, and butter until the sugar dissolves and the butter is melted.  Remove from the heat and cool to lukewarm, 110’ to 115’F.
Meanwhile add the pinch of sugar to the lukewarm water in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle the yeast into it.  Let the mixture stand until it is foamy. Stir in the milk mixture, making sure it has cooled to lukewarm.  Beat in 2 cups of the flour and beat until you have a smooth batter.  Beat in the eggs and mix well. Cover the bowl and let it sit in a warm  place until it has doubled in size, about 45 minutes.  It will be very light and fluffy.
Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts and then add enough more of the flour it make a dough you can knead but which is still quite soft.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth.
Drain the raisins and pat them dry with paper towels. Drain any rum left from the currants.  Combine raisins, currants, nuts, pineapple, citron, cherries, lemon and orange peel and mix well.  Add this mixture to the kneaded dough and knead again until the fruit s and nuts are well distributed throughout the dough.  Form the dough into a ball and cut it into 2 equal pieces. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
Pat each portion of dough into an oval about 3/4-inch thick, then fold the oval not quite in half lengthwise and pinch the tips to secure the fold.  Poke under the surface any fruit or nuts that stick out and pinch dough over them. Put each loaf onto a buttered baking sheet and fix up the shape if the moving changes it. Cover the loaves with towels and let them rise until doubled about 1 hour.
Brush the loaves with the melted butter and bake in a preheated 350’F. oven for about 20 to 25 minutes or until they begin to turn pale gold.  Brush again with butter, swap shelves for the loaves, turn the oven down to 300’F. and bake until they are golden brown and just firm, about 15 to 20 minutes more. Do not overbake. Remove from the oven, brush with any butter that is left and cool on the pans, on racks for 20 minutes and then remove from the pans and cool on the racks.
Sift confectioner’s sugar over the loaves or do this at serving time.  Wrap and store. May be made well ahead and frozen. If frozen, thaw in its wrappings and then freshen in a 325’F. oven for 10 minutes.
This makes 2 loaves.