This morning I am gearing up for another session of baking, with periodic breaks to rest a problem leg. Fortunately, I have a couple of appliances with automatic functions that don’t require my constant attendance. Thanks to my Thermomix, my DLX mixer, and automatic rice cooker/steamer, and my bread machines, I can get around having to stand for long periods, something my doctor has forbidden.
Today it’s going to be stollen. I love stollen and am trying a new recipe that uses the Splenda/Sugar baking mix instead of all sugar. I’ve used the Splenda Brown Sugar baking mix in two different cookie recipes with excellent results. This is great for diabetics and for others who want to limit their sugar intake.
Here’s a hint that may also be appropriate for this time of the year.
Dried fruits, if stored for too long (amazing how those packages can hide in the back of a cupboard) become quite hard and appear to be ready to toss in the trash. DON’T! That stuff is expensive!
Hard dried fruits can be brought back to life with steaming.
You don’t need a fancy electric streamer, a colander over a pan of boiling water will work okay but having an electric one that shuts off automatically or switches to “Keep Warm” is especially handy and the simple ones are inexpensive. There are even stackable ones with multiple trays to accommodate different items in each level.
How many times have you purchased more “Fruitcake Mix” or candied cherries (red & green), citron and citrus peel than you needed and by the time the next season for baking with it arrives, it has become a hardened mass? Steaming can recover it completely.
If you have dried fruits that are supposed to be infused with liquor, a brief session of steaming, prior to immersing them in the liquor, will hasten the action and give you a better result.
After the water is boiling, it should take from 10 to 25 minutes of steaming to fully reconstitute dried fruits, depending on the size and density and how far gone they are. Check with a skewer to see if it penetrates the fruit easily and it has become somewhat translucent. The change is obvious.
You can also steam dried coconut, even the grated type (use a muslin liner for the steamer tray) to recover it. A few weeks ago I was grocery shopping and the woman in the checkout line ahead of me mentioned she has just thrown out two bags of flake coconut that had dried out too much to use in a recipe so she was purchasing more. It was too late to help her with the stuff she had tossed, but I told her about the steaming method so that wouldn’t happen again.
I steam almonds when I am going to skin them because they are easier to handle than when blanched in boiling water.
After roasting chestnuts, I put them in the steamer until they have been peeled. I think it makes it easier to get all the interior membrane off that way.
I also steam dried chiles, dried mushrooms and etc. It’s surprising how many uses I find for the steamer.
Now it’s time to get busy with my projects for today.
I couldn’t find the dough hook for my Kitchenaid mixer so had to use the DLX instead.