I saw an update on facebook recently that said ‘Christmas is a time when I feel homesick even when at home.’ It was a Eureka moment for me. Till I realized that everyone felt like that. If not for Christmas, then for Diwali. What is it about childhood that makes us spend it desperate to grow up? And what point is it that we suddenly start craving childhood again? The narrow gullis of Dilli, carol singing in winter, sneaking into my dads cupboards when he was away, eating chaat everyday, trailing my sister till she screamed, cycling my way to school, coming back from basketball on stormy romantic (only in my head) evenings, decking out my tiny lil sisters like pornstars… how come I didn’t realize how wonderful my life was back then?
But mostly, I miss home. And holidays at home. The big meals at Easter and Christmas. The fragrance of kilos of homebaked christmas cakes that took over the house. The over decorated madness which was result of my zealous festival spirit. And the laughter and excitement. That silly feeling of joy. For no reason at all. Except that it was christmas. Just because.
One christmas Mrs Selvam who was a family friend taught me and didi (Chris) to make wreaths. They then became a regular christmas feature. This time I made no holly/crepe paper or even flower wreaths. But I did make Stollen.
The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book………and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.
Stollen is a Swedish Christmas bread. Mine has candied citrus peel, dry fruits, almonds, walnuts and white chocolate. I have a feeling the white chocolate is not traditional (at all) but couldn’t resist sneaking it in to contrast the tangy fruits. The final outcome was a dream. The first time I used any machine to help me with bread baking (i used my new Nova hand mixer with the dough hook) and am amazed at how hard working I have been till now! The hand held dough mixing works wonders. So much for my snobbish traditionalist approach to food I have never seen in my life. Best of all, if there is one thing that this recipe has taught me, its that citrus peels can actually taste delicious. Another new learning with the Daring bakers!
I baked my Stollen last weekend and have been now lugging as much as I can bear to let go of, all around India. From Mumbai to Delhi to Kerala. Unfortunately I find that I eat it all up wherever I go. I gift it to someone and then start eating it right off their table. Like I am addicted to it and need a fix all the time. Toasted, with butter. Each morning. Nothing like home baked bread I tell you. mmmmmmmmmmmm. Even without Atul.
Meanwhile, this month has been a month of much introspection. I have discovered that the regular routine of long workdays and a secure relationship can make one a bit of a happy (or unhappy) zombie going through life. There is no time/will/energy/need to introspect. And before you know, aspects of your person that you need to keep in check have crept in and taken firm control. And I don’t just mean the 3 kg aspect of my person around my waist. I have also discovered that wailing and sulking notwithstanding, a month alone is not such a bad thing.
And because introspection never comes without gluttony, I have been cooking some…And feeling guilty as hell about not posting