The Christmas time is definitely my favorite holiday. How wonderful is the feeling that unites people to celebrate life, love and peace! And how delicious are the Christmas foods too. In Brazil, one of the most tradicional dessert is the Panettone. This unique holiday bread, originated in Italy, has a sweet aroma and vanila flavor. It is perfect to serve with a cup of coffee or tea.

The tradicional Panettones have candied fruits and raisins, and it’s also my favorite too. But you can find all sorts of alternatives flavoured Panettones, such as coffee, coconut, limoncello and chocolat. The chocolat panettone is so popular in Brazil that it is called “Chocottone”.

I took the recipe from the same book that I used to prepare the Brioches (Crust and Crumb, Peter Reinhart). As I like very much candied fruits and raisins, I doubled the amount written in the original recipe. The author gives two importante advices to intensify the flavor. The first one is to put the candied fruits and raisins in a vanilla extract and rum. This will keep them moist too. The other one is to use buttermilk instead of milk. This will give the best flavor.

    Merry Christmas!

(From Crust and Crumb, Peter Reinhart)

Makes 1 very large loaf, several small loaves, or to 24 hot cross buns


¾ cup unbleached bread flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature


41/3 cups unbleached bread flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs, cold
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup golden raisins
½ cup dark raisins
½ cup rum
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sliced almonds or walnuts
½ cup candied fruit
1 large egg for egg wash (optional)

To make the sponge, stir together the flour and yeast in a mixing bowl. Stir in the buttermilk and mix till smooth. Cover the sponge with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours, till very bubbly.

If using dried fruit, soak it in rum and/or vanilla in a bowl while the sponge is developing.

To make the dough, combine all the other dough ingredients and the sponge in a mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook.

Mix the dough on slow speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 5 minutes. Add the fruit and nut mixture and mix for an additional 2 minutes, or until the dough is soft and tacky, registers about 80°F on a probe thermometer, and passes the windowpane test. Pinch off a small piece and stretch it slowly apart, gently pulling and rotating it. You are trying to stretch the dough into a thin, translucent membrane or windowpane. Add water if the dough is too stiff or flour if it is too sticky. To make by hand, knead the dough on a well-floured counter with floured hands for about 15 minutes, adding the fruit and nuts during the final 3 minutes.

Mist the dough with cooking spray, cover it with plastic wrap, and allow it to rise at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes, till it increases in size by 1 ½ times.

Use up to the full amount of dried and candied fruit and nuts, according to taste. For a single large loaf, grease a 9-inch round cake pan, and line the sides of it with a parchment collar that is about 2 inches taller than the pan. For smaller loaves, use smaller pans or simply make free-standing rounds. Form the finished dough into a ball and press it nearly to the edge of the prepared pan. Let it rise, brush with egg wash, and bake for about 60 minutes. When the loaves are baked, you may brush them with simple syrup made by boiling equal parts sugar and water for 1 minute. This will give the tops a shiny look.


Gluten-free Pistachio Cake with Pistachio Brigadeiro Filling

I love pistachio so much that I made a gluten-free pistachio cake to celebrate my 4th month of marriage and all the good things that happened until now.

The cake was very moistly and fluffy. This is a recipe that my dear friend Layla made recently. I thought very interesting to use potatoes to get a gluten-free cake. But instead the almonds and lemon zests, I used rice flour and pistachio paste. There is some pistachio paste available on the market, but I prefer everything fresh. You can easily do it with a food processor. Or, if you want to workout a little bit, you can use a pestle and mortal.

You may also note I’m a “brigadeiro” addict. Well, guess what I used to fill the cake? Pistachio brigadeiro. So delicious! I got the idea of pistachio brigadeiro from here. I changed the ground pistachio for pistachio paste and I added one more tablespoon of butter. Wonderful!

Everything was going well until the marshmallow fondant. It was the first time I worked with it. I decided to prepare it by myself because most of the fondants commercially available are not tasty. My dear friend Carol sent to me a recipe from Le Cordon Bleu very easy to make. The cake that she prepared with this fondant was very beautiful and delicious. After finished it, I accidentally put in the fridge overnight. Unfortunately, the fondant became brittle and not able to model. Even that, I could do some little roses and balls for decoration.

Homemade Pistachio Paste
(adapted from here)

500 gr shelled pistachios
125 gr white almond powder
250 gr sugar
7 dl water
1 teaspoon  almond extract

Pound the pistachios in a heavy mortar. This is heavy work and it takes a very long time to obtain a fine powder. Using an electrical kitchen mixer can help. Mix in the ground almonds. Add the almond extract. In a saucepan mix 7 grams (0.7 dl) water with 250 gr sugar. Use a copper bowl or heavy bottomed saucepan or mix constantly to avoid sugar burning on hotspots. Heat until the temperature reaches 250°F. Pour the scalding hot sugar over the pistachio paste and mix in quickly to prevent crystallization. We are drawing near to completion when the paste starts to look like baklava offal. Carefully add one teaspoon water at a time and mix thoroughly until you obtain a marzipan-like texture. Do not use too much water. Knead well with both hands to get a smooth, homogeneous mixture. Store in a plastic bag and freeze for best preservation.

Gluten-free Pistachio Cake

200g butter, softened
200g golden caster sugar
4 eggs
100g rice flour 
250g mashed potatoes
200g pistachio paste
2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
How to prepare: 
Heat oven to 360°F/fan 320°F/gas. Butter and line a deep, 20cm round cake tin. Beat the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy, then gradually add the egg, beating after each addition. Fold in the cold mashed potato (make sure it doesnt have any potato lump), pistachio paste and baking powder.
Tip into the tin, level the top, then bake for 40-45 mins or until golden and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Turn out onto a wire rack after 10 mins cooling. 

Pistachio Brigadeiro

100g pistachio paste
1 can (395g) sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoon unsalted butter

Mix the condensed milk, butter and pistachio paste in a saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly – when the bottom of the pan starts to show and the mixture is a bit thicker, remove from heat and fill the cake.


Petite Brioche with Cramberry Jam

"Let them eat brioche." Those famous words were supposedly said by Marie Antoinette on her death. It is difficult to know if this is true or not. But the only true on this story is this rich buttered bread is a fantastic delight.

I bought the book “Crust and Crum” from Peter Reinhart to improve my bread recipes. I was determined to make croissant but, to my disappointment, there wasn’t a croissant recipe. Well, to comfort me, that was only one thing that I should cook: something with a lot of butter. In other words, BRIOCHE!

He explains very well how to make a good Brioche. The quality is in the amount of butter.  In France they make two types: rich man’s and poor man’s brioche. The only difference is the proportion of butter. The poor man`s brioche has 33%, while the rich man`s has 75%. Of course I made the rich man`s…

The brioches can also be shaped in different forms. One of them is the petite brioche à tête, a small roll with a topknot, which is my favorite. Well, I didn’t have the appropriate mold, but my desire to brioche was so big that I decided to improvise with a cupcake pan. I got a golden color brioche and soft-as-satin feel that dissolved in the month. But if you are going to make petite brioche à tête, you can find the molds at most of gourmet kitchenware shops.

The question now is: what should I use for filling the brioches? I decided to make a cranberry jam. I have an attraction for these little red berries, not just for the jam but also for the juice, candies, cakes and drinks. The jam is very easy to do. You just need cranberry, sugar and orange juice.

Enjoy it…

(From Crust and Crumb, Peter Reinhart)

Makes 3 loaves, or 4 dozen small rolls, or Petites Brioches à Tête

1 cup unbleached bread flour
1 tsp instant yeast
½ cup lukewarm milk (90F)

3 ½ cups unbleached bread flour
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
5 large eggs, cold, plus 1 large egg for egg wash
1 ½ cups unsalted butter, softened


To make the sponge, stir the yeast into the milk in a mixing bowl. Add the flour and stir till smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the sponge to ferment at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours. It will become very bubbly.

In a mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, salt, 5 eggs, and sponge. If making the dough by machine, mix it on low speed for about 2 minutes, till smooth dough is formed. Cut the butter into 3 pieces and beat in 1 piece at time at medium-low speed till each is absorbed. Continue beating at the same speed till the dough is smooth, about 6 minutes, it will be very soft and sticky.

To make the dough by hand, gradually combine all the ingredients and beat vigorously with a wooden or metal spoon for about 10 minutes, to make a smooth, wet dough.

 Mist the top of the dough with spray oil, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and place the bowl in refrigerator overnight ( or for a minimum of 5 hours). The dough will firm up considerably as it retards.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and shape it, while it is still cold, into loaves, rolls, or molded petites brioches à tete. If making petites brioches à tete, grease the molds well with cooking spray or with melted butter and flour.

Mist the top of the shaped dough with cooking spray, cover it with plastic wrap or enclose it in a plastic bag, and let rise at room temperature for about 2 hours, or till nearly doubled in size.

Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375°F for a large, full-size brioche, 400°F for smaller loaves. Beat the remaining egg till smooth and brush it on the tops of the brioche, taking care not to let it drip down the sides of the molds. Bake 35 to 45 minutes for loaves, 20 to 25 minutes for small rolls or petites brioches à tetê, until a rich, deep gold.
If using molds, remove the rolls 1 or 2 minutes after the come out of the oven, taking care not to tear them (use a small knife to loosen them from the side walls).

Cool the brioche on a rack for 20 to 40 minutes, depending on size, before eating.

Cranberry Jam

yield: Makes about 2 cups
active time: 15 min
total time: 1 hr

1 (12-oz) bag fresh cramberries (not thawed; 3 1/2 cups)
2cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1 cup water

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes (jam will continue to thicken as it cools).
Force jam through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding skins and seeds. Cool, stirring occasionally.


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