Christmas Gifts for the Bread Baker

Hello my lovelies! Who knew I’d be handing out advice on gifts. I’m fairly careful to make sure that I clearly signal any food related gifts that I actually want or need. I have been given some terrible cookbooks by well-meaning folks in the past. So this advice is to be used in conjunction with a little snooping or subtle questioning to make sure you’re on the right track and not doubling up on items already owned. These are all things that I use regularly and love and recommend for good bread baking at home. They vary in spendy-ness so there is something for everyone in there. To be fair I don’t yet own the last item. But I’ll take donations… Or obviously put this list out as a hint if you are after some great tools to help with your bread making! The estimated prices are in NZD. These are all things that can be picked up in stores or online (with the exception of the second hand books which need a bit of online digging).

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Gluten Free Chocolate + Hazelnut Cake

 Prep Time : 15 Minutes | Cook Time : 30 Minutes | Total Time : 1 hour | Difficulty : Easy

Hello my lovelies! I love the base almond cake this recipe is a variation of. It has a lovely soft texture but can carry any fruit or spice you throw at it. I made it up recently with roasted rhubarb and it was fabulous. It makes gorgeous little spiced pear cakes. This is a small recipe – enough to make a dozen small cakes or a 7 inch round cake. If you have more mouths to feed you can easily double the recipe. This chocolate and hazelnut cake is naturally gluten free because we have replaced the original bit of flour with cocoa. Be warned if you want to make individual cakes they do tend to stick so be very careful preparing your pans. This is a simple and gloriously chocolatey and nutty cake. Moist and tender and full of flavour. There are instructions for a frangelico and chocolate sauce to drizzle over the top when serving but really this cake is fabulous on it’s own with a little yoghurt or cream. Frosting this cake would be a sugary waste of time. We want the dark chocolate goodness to shine through. This size will make a deliciously simple dessert for 6.

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Parmesan + Seed Breadsticks

 Prep Time : 15+ 15 Minutes | Cook Time : 10 Minutes | Total Time : 2 hours | Difficulty : Easy

Hello my lovelies! Entertaining season is upon us. We need snacks and things we can stash in the freezer to keep guests happy nibbling. These bread sticks are both. Chewy, moreish snacks that are easy to walk around with, dip in things and generally enjoy. The bit of twisting gives them a little pizzaz. We all need more of that. Especially at the holidays. Make a stack of these when you have time and pop them in the freezer. Thaw them in a 200C oven for 10 minutes for that fresh baked aroma and texture. Make some hummus or roasted carrot dip to go alongside. Super sorted.

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Pane di Mais – Polenta Bread

 Prep Time : 30 + 30 Minutes | Cook Time : 25 Minutes | Total Time : 5 hours | Difficulty : Bread

Hello my lovelies! This is a bit of a deep dive bread. An old recipe from Italy that I found while playing with traditional bread recipes. It is absolutely delicious and holds a lovely soft texture for days. It might seem like a bit of mucking around making the polenta first. But totally worth it. Modern fine polenta cooks pretty fast so it’s not a major drama. There are points where it might seem like there is not enough water but go with it. The dough ends up soft and pliable once everything is brought together and kneaded. Set aside a bit of time for this – it has three rises. If your house is warm the time will fly by. Impress your family and friends with it at Christmas. Use your leftover polenta to make polenta chips. Or just toss some parmesan and cream on top and eat it as a snack while you’re waiting for the ferment to rise…

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Rhubarb + Strawberry Shortcake

 Prep Time : 10+15 Minutes | Cook Time : 30+30 Minutes | Total Time : 2 hours | Difficulty : Easy

Hello my lovelies! I thought I better make you a rhubarb treat before I eat all the rhubarb. Sorry Halloween. Priorities. Rhubarb is the best. And it’s great friends with strawberries. And custard. So lets pile them all in together. We are cooking the fruit first so we can control the moisture. Strawberries and rhubarb both release a lot of liquid when they cook. We don’t want it making our shortcake soggy. We’re flavouring our shortcake with custard powder. Keeping it classy. And delicious. We’re adding some sliced almonds for crunch. Making sure we have a good mix of textures. These are easy to throw together. Put the oven on. Prep the fruit. While the fruit is roasting get everything else ready. Let the fruit cool, put it together and pop it back in the oven. A sprinkle of icing sugar and we’re done. Serve as fancy spring afternoon tea or add custard and promote these bars to dessert. May spring be with you.

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