Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas baking: almond bread

The lead up to Christmas can be such a wonderful time. I think I might even like it more than the day itself. Now I don't mean the shopping with the hoards or driving around on the chaotic streets. Hate all that. It's the Christmas decorating, baking and catch ups I love. When the tree is up and the stockings hung, the carols go on full blast and I mix bags and bags of flour and sugar with towers of butter! So far I've brewed up gingerbread, mini rocky roads, salted caramel fudge, cookies and cream fudge, date, raison and hazelnut liquor truffles and my old favourite, almond bread. My mum used to make this and I've been baking it for at least the last six years. I always make at least four loaves and give it away in clear cellophane bags tied with pretty ribbons (The wrapping is important! I also love wrapping presents nicely. What can be more exciting that opening a pretty package?). Almond bread is also great to serve to guests that pop in ** over the festive season. Great with a coffee or a bowl of cherries. 

Almond bread 


2 egg whites
½ cup caster sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 egg yolks 
1 cup plain flour
120 grams unblanched almonds


Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry.
Add caster sugar gradually while continuing to beat.
Fold in vanilla and lightly beaten egg yolks.
Sift flour and fold in with almonds.
Place in loaf tin that has been lined with baking paper.
Bake at 180C for about 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
When cool, wrap in a glad wrap and leave for 2 to 3 days.
Slice with a sharp knife as thinly as possible.
Place on a baking tray and dry in oven at about 120C until golden but not brown.
This should take an hour at most. Turn off oven and leave to cool.
Store in an airtight container. 

** A note on popping in. No one pops in when you want them too, do they? When the house is clean and something delicious has just come out of the oven, all your friends and family are no-where to be seen. The act of popping in seems to be dying off and I wonder if it's a generational thing. I admit that I like a bit of notice when having guests. I need time to pull off my ancient slippers with the paint splotches and wash all the baking dishes! But I have great childhood memories of family friends popping in when growing up, especially at this time of year. So, now that the cupboards are stocked with freshly baked goods, should I put the vibe out for a few pop ins?!?



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