Christmas Cake



The Germans call it Stollen, my family was from Romania and it was called (and bear with me, no one in the family is sure how to spell it correctly): cozinac (Ku - zin - ack). It's a sweet yeast bread made with lots of eggs and raisins (you can add currants and walnuts as well, but I generally make it the traditional way like my grandmother did -- with just raisins).



What you need:

1 1/2 cups of milk (start with 1 1/2 and add more if the mixture gets to thick).

A pound of raisins or currants, blonde or black.

1 - 2 cakes of Live Active Yeast (cake yeast, found in the refrigerated cabinet of the store) -- dry bakers yeast will also work. In lower altitudes I was able to get away with a single yeast cake, but up here at 5,000 feet you have to use two.

Lemon peel or flavoring

Orange peel or flavoring

Vanilla

6 eggs

1 1/2 cups of sugar (too much sugar reduces the fluff, too little sugar reduces the taste)

5 - 6 cups of flour (again, start with 4 cups and add flour until the mixture correct).

1 sticks of butter or margarine.

2 - 3 Loaf Pans (8" x 4" or 9" x 5")



Make it in a big pot, as this will rise and become two or three times the size. You really need a helper to supply the flour and extra milk as your hands will get very icky with the dough!

Scald the milk over the stove (heat it to just above 110 degrees, not to a boil). Add the butter to this, which will bring the temperature down and melt the butter cube down. If the mixture doesn't cool enough, add an egg or a little of the sugar. Once the temperature is very luke warm (about 85-90 F), add the yeast and mix with your fingers. Add the raisins and if you want, some walnuts.




Next add all the rest of the sugar and the eggs. Put in your flavoring. About a shallow teaspoon of vanilla and less of lemon and orange.



It's actually better to grate up a little orange and lemon peel into the mixture. Some lemon juice or orange juice can also be nice. Not a lot, mind you. The fragrance of just a little juice, flavoring or peel permeates easily! Some people add rum or almond flavoring. Hey, it's a recipe, once you make it this way, experiment and create your own concoction!



Mix in the flour. Start with about 5 cups and then add a little more if the mixture is too runny. This is not as firm as a bread dough, but not as liquid as a cake mix or batter. Somewhere in-between. It will stick to your fingers and drip down in clumps when at the proper consistency. Add milk to thin the mixture out if it get's too thick, add flour for thickness. Keep squeezing the dough with your fingers until thoroughly mixed.

Once the dough is ready, cover the pot with a cloth or towel and let it sit in a safe, dry, warm area (not more than 80 degrees of direct head). My grandmother used to put the pot near the heating vents when she made this in wintertime. Not too close and not in the oven. You don't want it to bake, you want it to rise.

It takes several hours to rise. If it doesn't rise, then you had a yeast problem. You can fix it. Get another package of fresh, dated yeast, mix it into a little warm water or milk (a few ounces) and pour that into the dough, kneed it thoroughly and then let it stand for more hours to rise.

Once it rises completely, pound it down, cut into loafs (this recipe makes about 3 medium 8 x 4 or two large 9 x 5 loafs). Grease your loaf pans and fill them about half way up. Let it stand again for several hours to rise in the loaf pans. (Yes, this is a project you should start first thing in the morning as it will take 3 - 4 hours to rise each time.)



Carefully move them into an oven at 350 to 375 degrees -- make sure the raised dough doesn't fall! Bake for between 45 minutes and an hour, until the top of a very dark brown.



Have a happy-happy and a merry-merry!

Our Holiday Special Issue continues with these offerings:

From this year (2002):
Holiday Festivals, Displays and Events - Bah Humbug! - Gift Ideas Under $10
Some Unique Mail Order Gifts - Staying In The Holiday Spirit
Holidays Around the World

From last year (2001):
Diwali - India's Festival Of Lights - Christmas Around The World
The Origin of Some Christmas Traditions - Picking and Trimming a Christmas Tree
Shipping Your Holiday Gifts - Oh Ye Disbelievers: The Fable of Saint Nick
Gifts She'll Love - Wreath - Stockings - Stollen -
Techno Gifts - CD Musical Stocking Stuffers from Then to Now - Every pick's a hit!




 






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