Some years ago I heard a programme on Radio 4 about traditional Christmas foods and saffron sweet breads were mentioned. Perhaps in the shape of Jesus like the Belgian tradition of Cougnou? It is all very vague but I have each year since then been making these little loaves and every year I forget to blog them. However this year I’m on it. I’ve been all over my usual vegetarian festive foods removing the eggs and dairy. Here is my vegan version of the baby Jesus swaddling breads.
300ml soya milk
A fat fingered pinch of saffron
1tsp caster sugar
200g plain flour
300g bread flour
50g caster sugar
Barberries for the eyes and mouths
3tbs soya cream or soya milk
1tbs maple syrup
Warm the soya milk and scatter the saffron threads onto the warm milk and watch in delight as the golden dye colours the liquid.
Once the liquid is bright gold add the teaspoon of caster sugar and the yeast and leave to get all foamy.
In a separate bowl sift the flour and add the sugar and salt.
Now pour on the liquids and stir together to form a dough. This dough will need to be kneaded for 10 minutes on a floured surface. Then pop back into a clean oiled bowl and cover. Leave to rise for about an hour. Or until double in size.
Punch back the dough and begin weighing out the pieces to make the swaddled Christ. I make a baker’s dozen with the head and bodies weighing 20g each and the swaddling wrap 35g.
Put the head and the body together and then wrap the head in the swaddling band.
Then coil the band across the neck and around the body underneath by lifting to wrap.
Coil it up until the band runs out.
Next use a chop stick or skewer to poke eye holes and a mouth hole.
It is essential that the barberries are pushed quite deeply in the dough to stop them rising out and falling off as they cook.
Here I tried using slithers of cranberry but I felt the smile was too much so I went back to a barberry mouth for my second batch.
Place them on lightly oiled trays and cover with a cloth. Pop the oven on to 180C 350F gas mark 5. Mix the soya cream and maple syrup and brush it over the bums but not on the faces. Bake them for 10-15 minutes.
I like to spay mine with edible glitter. Then I like to wrap them up and cycle off to see friends and deliver them Baby Jesus Breads. Merry Yule and gay tidings to you all.