Traditions are a set of customs that are passed down through the generations. Germany is rich with traditions especially food traditions. Janine Washle from Cloverfields Farm & Kitchen has a strong German heritage. Many of their customs are kept alive through Christmas recipes. Germans celebrate Christmas throughout the month of December through the observance of Advent, St. Nicholas Day (December 6th), and the many parties leading up to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
December 24th is traditionally the day the Christmas tree is put up. Many families open presents in the evening. This day is also more of a family-oriented day with special remembrances of those family members who are no longer with us. The meal is typically a simple meal such as wursts, schnitzel, sauerkraut dishes, dumplings and a homey dessert along with a platter of Christmas cookies. Christmas cookies are baked early in the month and each week the variety on the cookie platter grows.
December 25th, Christmas Day, is a time to celebrate. On this day family is invited especially those from out of town. Then on December 26th, another special dining celebration is planned and this one includes friends and in-town family. No matter which dinner, everyone dresses up and enjoys a lavish meal celebrating the arrival of the Christ child. Friends and family may drop by so there is plenty to eat and drink. No self-respecting hostess would let the sideboard become bare. Savory and sweet offerings are readily available to satisfy the pickiest nibbler.
Many families prepare a Christmas goose as the main focus of the dinner table, but others may prepare a stunning roast like a crown of pork overflowing with dried fruits stuffing.
Desserts spare no calories rich with fruits, nuts, pastry cream, and whipped cream. Christmas breads are very popular some recipes dating back to the 15th century. Stollen is probably the most popular but two others that are very special are Zopf which means "braid" and Kletzenbrot, a rich yeast bread that contains an unusual dried fruit, pears. As legend has it, if you cut the Keltzenbrot before Christmas, you will grow donkey's ears!
(adapted from food.com)
2 cups dried pears, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 1/2 cups dried figs, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 cup dried prunes or 1 cup dried plum, roughly chopped
1/2 cup raisins or 1/2 cup sultana
2 tablespoons candied orange peel, diced
2 tablespoons candied lemon peel, diced
1/4 cup kirschwasser or rum
1 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 (1/4 ounce) packet active dry yeast
1 1/3-1 1/2 cups unbleached whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon vanilla (or seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean)
1/2 cup blanched almond, roughly chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, broken into large chunks
1/2 cup hazelnuts (some may be halved, leave others whole)
Place the dried pears, figs, prunes, raisins or sultanas, candied orange and lemon peel, and the spices into a medium saucepan with a cup of water, the sugar, and the kirsch or rum. Bring just to a boil over high heat, stirring often. Immediately remove from heat and cover; set aside to steep.
Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl dissolve the yeast in a half cup of the lukewarm steeping liquid, and let sit until bubbling (about 5 minutes).
Gradually stir the flour into the yeast mixture, adding a little more liquid or flour if necessary to make a firm dough. Wrap the dough with a clean tea towel, and leave to rise for 30 minutes.
Gradually add the nuts, candied orange and lemon peel, and the dried fruit and knead well into the dough. Form the dough into a loaf. Leave to rise for an hour again.
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Butter the baking sheet (or line with parchment paper), and bake the loaf for about an hour (50 to 60 minutes).
Let cool for 5-10 minutes before removing bread to rack. Allow to cool completely.
Wrap bread in cling wrap and then in foil, and place in a cool spot or the refrigerator to mellow for up to several weeks.
Allow bread to come to room temperature before serving. Serve sliced with or without fresh butter, as desired.
FREE RECIPE BOOKLET!
Cloverfields Farm and Kitchen also has a special German Christmas Recipe Booklet available by email. To ask for a complimentary copy, just email Janine Washle at email@example.com
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CloverFields Farm & Kitchen
Hardin Springs Area
Big Clifty, KY 42712
Janine Washle and her family live at the Cloverfields Farm and Kitchen in Big Clifty, Kentucky in Hardin County. CloverFields Farm & Kitchen, part of a century old farmstead, is our home and business. The McGuffin house, the original farmhouse, is a registered state landmark. CloverFields Farm has a prosperous farming history. They are continuing this rural story in their own unique way by the addition of CloverFields Kitchen a place to explore the past through food and merge it with our modern lifestyles.
CloverFields Farm is dedicated to the preservation of southern, especially Kentucky, food traditions. The kitchen is commercially-outfitted compliant with Health Department standards. In this kitchen I develop new recipes based on original ideas, inspirations from my culinary research, and most often according to what is in season.
On the farm, they make many gifts and specialty items. She is currently working on her first cookbook, but she also has a long resume developing recipes for several companies. She has also won several contests and cook-offs with her original recipes.