These dates arrive and even those of us who haven’t turned on the oven since last Christmas start baking with enthusiasm… which is usually not accompanied by good results. Let’s say that the dose of good will is much higher than that of culinary knowledge (except in honorable exceptions). Making a recipe to make one of the quintessential Christmas sweets doesn’t seem difficult… it’s just following the steps, right? And then, take out of the oven and eat. And that’s it. Well no, from the manufacturing process itself until the moment we put a bite of our creation in our mouths we are committing atrocities. Here are some:
Italians throw their hands up when they see how we desecrate one of their national prides. And we are not referring to the fact that this sweet bread is already sold in all supermarkets in its industrial version (sometimes very far from orthodoxy), yes. not to the misdeeds we inflict on him at home. «The first mistake we make with panettone is that when making the dough, as it is very sticky and uncomfortable to work with, we tend to be tempted to add more flour. Of course, this way it becomes easier to handle, like a plasticine, but then it will look bad because we have changed the proportions,” says pastry chef Leire Eguilondo – the soul of Misschocole – who in her workshops insists on students not to fall into this vice of ‘plasticizing’ all the dough. to save work. “It is true that the panettone dough is very complicated: it contains solids (the little fruits) and fatty parts and is very soft,” she admits. Therefore, on a scale of one out of ten of baking complexity for beginners, she gives this sweet the maximum note. “It’s difficult for a homemade one to turn out well, to be honest,” she adds. But not impossible.
Another big mistake we make with panettone? We take it out of the oven and let it cool as it is, as if it were a cake. “It is not! When taking it out of the oven it is very important that we turn it over and let it cool like that. As it is a sweet bread that is very airy on the inside, you cannot put it face up because the ‘top’ (that upper part like a little hat) is heavy and since the inside is so soft… it falls flat!”, reveals the pastry chef, who has two locations in Bilbao. Now many of us are beginning to realize why our attempts have ended in disaster. Any other aberration committed against panettones? Well yes, already finished and everything (or even if it is purchased and perfect) we can ‘kill’ it when serving it. And with a knife. «You don’t have to cut it like a cake! The first thing is to take a serrated knife, not one of those sharp ones, so as not to crush it. And with movements from front to back, without pressing, we break a portion… remember that you have to be careful not to lower it,” she emphasizes.
For those of us who do not have much experience and prefer more or less guaranteed results (or, at least, edible), Leire Eguilondo proposes the traditional roscón de Reyes, which on the aforementioned complexity scale is “at a five.” Of course we can always make a mess, although in this case the product is not as delicate as panettone and withstands the usual mistakes quite well. But there are a couple of them that are especially bad and that we should not commit: adding extra flour and not respecting the kneading and rest times “to achieve a good dough, which is the key for a sweet to come out well.”
She instructs her students to make the roscón two by two “so that when one gets tired of kneading, he can pass the baton to the other.” At home we find it very important to weigh every last gram of the ingredients so that things turn out well, but in reality, it is less harmful to spend a few grams with sugar or flour than to not work the dough for the required time. “That is the main mistake we make with the roscón and the reason why it later ends up dry or caked, which is normal,” she reports.
We are going down the difficulty scale and climbing up the clumsiness scale. If we don’t dare with the panettone (almost understandable), or with the roscón (because we don’t want to be upset), but we like the idea of making some easy Christmas sweets (more than anything so that the house smells like home and the little ones enjoy ), the ideal are cookies, which we can decorate or cut out to make them look very Christmassy. There are many recipes (very similar) and it is very difficult for them to go wrong (difficulty score, a 1), but the pastry chef gives us three tips so that the cookie is not a formality and that the result is richer than other years: «In The cookies are important to respect the proportions (not so much the mixing), they improve a lot if we add a pinch of salt and also if we make them a little less so that they do not dry out… Oh, and with all due respect to veganism, with “butter instead of margarine gain flavor.”