Gingerbread Houses 2012

Fondant was used to cover the house
I had never made a gingerbread house before I moved to Japan. I always made cookies at Christmas but had never challenged an entire house.

I will post the recipe I use for the gingerbread in the coming days.

Santa and the snowman
at the front 
We like cute houses in Japan

The door and window are hard candy which was
melted in the oven


Chocolate Cinnamon Christmas Cake

Let's start the Christmas season
 It is already the middle of December and I am just starting to bake for Christmas. The month is slipping by too fast.

This chocolate cake has cinnamon and red wine in it which gives it a nice zingy taste.

The recipe is originally from Christine Ferber who is  best know for her jams.

This cake is quite quick to put together - about 30 minutes total. You can either bake in two small pans or just one large one.

125 grams softened butter
125 grams sugar
5 grams cinnamon
75 grams dark chocolate (about 60%)
50 grams red wine at room temperature
125 grams flour
75 grams almond powder
5 grams baking powder
5 grams cocoa powder
125 grams egg

1. Mix the softened butter with the sugar and cinnamon using a whisk. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, almond powder, baking powder and cocoa together.

Wine and chocolate are ready to mix
Use a small whisk to combine together
2. Melt the chocolate over a pan of hot water. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the wine in portions and use a small whisk to mix together. Put over hot water again if the chocolate becomes chilled.

3.  Add the egg to the chocolate in portions  using a small whisk. Add in the butter mixture in portions. Add the flour mixture and mix together well with a spatula.

4. Put into pans that have been coated with butter and flour. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 20 - 25 minutes.
Use a Kugelhopf pan if you have one since the pan also makes a nice design for the cake.

Cakes ready for the oven
Cake just out of the oven

Baked in a kugelhopf pan


Easy Delicious Dinner Rolls

Bread is ready - bring on dinner!
Finding a dinner roll recipe which is easy but packs a lot taste is difficult.  Parker House rolls are a traditional roll so I made a few changes to the basic recipe to reduce the butter but keep the soft texture.

This roll is made with milk instead of water which gives it a rich flavor.  Adding a whole egg to the recipe also adds the right amount of softness.

This recipe makes about 8 rolls of 50 grams each.

210 grams bread flour (sifted)
4 grams instant yeast 
3 grams salt
22 grams butter
120 grams milk (room temperature)
1 egg
extra butter for brushing on top

Add the butter to the dough
1.  Mix the milk and egg together. In a bowl, combine the flour, yeast, & salt. Add the milk mixture and use a dough scraper to mix. 

2. Put the dough on a flat surface to knead for about 10 minutes.  Roll into a ball and cover with a bowl for about 10 minutes. 

3. Remove the bowl and then add the butter to the dough. Use the dough scraper to cut the butter into the dough. Knead the dough until the butter is well mixed. Dough should be soft but not sticky.

4. If the dough feels stiff, add a little milk and knead again.

5. Roll into a ball and put in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for about 90 minutes.

Dough is ready to start the rising process
6. After the bread is finished rising. Put on the kneading board and cut into 50 gram pieces. Flatten each piece & roll each into a ball and let sit under plastic wrap for about 15 minutes (bench time).

7. Flatten & re-roll each ball. Put on a baking sheet. Brush each ball with butter. Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm place.

8. Rise for 30 minutes. Bake at 200 degrees Celsius for 20 - 25 minutes or until browned.

Measure all ingredients before starting
Brush with butter before the 2nd rising
Use a small rolling pin to make a crease in the middle
Bread just out of the oven
This bread has just the right amount of softness