Christmas loaf with almond paste
Traditional Dutch Christmas bread is an essential part of Christmas breakfast or brunch. And of course you can make your own bread in your Big Green Egg. A Christmas loaf tastes even better when it is baked in your kamado. Master Baker Hiljo Hillebrand explains how to do this step by step. Make sure to use protein-rich flour, with a protein content of 13.5%. Gluten powder is a form of powdered protein that helps the flour hold together. It is easy to find online, just like the candied orange peel. So start gathering the ingredients right away, and get ready to light that charcoal!
- 250 g whole milk
- 75 g water
- 50 g fresh yeast
- 500 g high-protein T45 flour
- 400 g raisins
- 100 g currants
- 100 g roasted almonds and/or hazelnuts
- 100 g candied orange (4 x 4 mm)
- 100 g soft butter
- 65 g granulated sugar
- 50 g fresh egg
- 12 g salt
- 10 g honey
- 15 g gluten powder
- 2½ g orange zest
- 2½ g lemon zest
- 2½ g vanilla bean pulp
- 2½ g ground cinnamon
- 360 g almond paste
- 1 egg
- 50 g butter
- icing sugar (optional)
- For the pre-ferment, pour the milk and water into the mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Crumble the yeast over the bowl and stir it in until dissolved. Mix in the flour and let the pre-ferment sit for about 30 minutes so that the yeast can become active. In the meantime, make the filling. Start by putting the raisins and currants in a bowl. Then heat water in a saucepan until it reaches 40°C. Pour water into the bowl until the raisins and currants are completely submerged. Let them steep for at least 15 minutes.
- For the dough, cut the butter into cubes. Add all the ingredients for the dough to the bowl with the pre-ferment and knead on medium speed using the mixer’s dough hook attachment until it forms a smooth and elastic dough with a temperature of 26°C. You can measure the temperature with the Instant Read Thermometer. Of course, the dough can also be kneaded by hand.
- Drain the currants and raisins and knead them into the dough together with the other filling ingredients until the filling is well mixed with the dough.
- Divide the dough into two equal portions of roughly 450 g each and shape them into balls. Place them on their sides on your worktop, cover with cling film and let rise for approx. 20 minutes.
- Press the air out of the dough balls and then ball them up into points. Cover again with cling film and let rise for another 20 minutes.
- For the paste filling, divide the almond paste into two portions of 180 grams each and shape them into cylinders. Using a rolling pin, make a deep channel in each piece of dough lengthwise and place a cylinder of almond paste inside. Fold the dough over so that the paste is in the middle. Cover the loaves with cling film and let rise for 20 minutes. Ignite the charcoal in the Big Green Egg and heat, with the convEGGtor, the Stainless Steel Grid and the Baking Stone , to a temperature of 200°C.
- Beat the egg and brush the loaves with it. Place the loaves on the Baking Stone and close the lid of the EGG. Bake the loaves for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. The loaves are done when they have reached a core temperature of 94-96°C. You can measure this with the Instant Read Thermometer. If the tops of the loaves are browning too quickly while baking, you can cover them with a sheet of baking paper.
- When the loaves are almost done, heat the butter in a saucepan over low heat until the butter is melted and the protein has separated from the fat. Carefully pour the clear fat (the clarified butter) into a bowl, keeping the separated protein in the pan.
- Remove the loaves from the Big Green Egg and brush them with the clarified butter.
- Once the loaves have cooled, you can dust them with icing sugar if desired.
Want to make an Easter loaf? Then replace the water with saffron tea, which you can make by simply infusing water with a little saffron.
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