Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Christmas A to Z Letter K

Welcome Back to Christmas A to Z
K …is for Kolache, Kissing Ball and Kings
My first and earliest memory of holidays is associated with potica, sometimes called Kolache. As a child, I watched my mother carefully knead the dough, make the filling, and wait for the cake to rise, and I waited until it was baked. Either way it is delicious.

Potica, pronounced (paw-tee'-tzah), originated in Slovenia; a rolled-up cake made with a very thin yeast dough, filled with a sweet filling. The most common in Slovenia is walnut. Potica’s name comes from a Slovenian word meaning “to wrap up” or “to roll up”. Poppy seed, cooked apples, sweet farmer’s cheese, honey, raisin filling, cooked cherries, chocolate filling are just the sweet varieties. Potica is not strictly a Slovenian food. It may well have originated there, but it’s been enjoyed all throughout Central Europe, from Turkey up to Poland, Germany to Eastern Russia for going on 200 years.
My mother was Slovakian and her parents came from Hungary. In our home Potica was called Kolache. Maybe it is because it was known by many names in that region of Europe
Potica/Kolache Recipe
  1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast 
1/4 cup white sugar 
1/4 cup milk, lukewarm 
1 cup butter, softened 
6 egg yolks 
1 1/3 cups milk 
5 cups all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon salt 
1 cup butter, melted 
1 cup honey 
1 1/2 cups raisins 
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts 
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon 

Directions1.    In a small mixing bowl, dissolve yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 3 tablespoons of the flour in warm milk. Mix well, and let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

2.    In a large mixing bowl cream the butter with the remaining sugar. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the yeast mixture, remaining milk, 4 cups of flour and the salt; mix well. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
3.    Lightly grease one or two cookie sheets. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and roll Out to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness. Spread each piece with melted butter, honey, raisins, walnuts and cinnamon. Roll each piece up like a jelly roll and pinch the ends. Place seam side down onto the prepared baking sheets. Let rise until double in volume. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

4.    Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for about 60 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
Kissing Ball
Many Christmas traditions have been handed down to us from the Middle Ages, when the holiday of Christmas became more important than it had ever been. The kissing ball comes to us from that time when villagers would wind together twine and evergreen branches into a ramshackle ball shape. In the center of this conglomeration of evergreen boughs they would place a clay figure of an infant to represent the baby Jesus.

These "holy boughs", as they were called, would be hung from the ceiling along passageways in castles and big houses to render blessings and good luck to all who passed under the bough and the holy infant.
Do you hang a Kissing Ball at Christmas?

Many Christians around the world annually celebrate Epiphany, commonly known as Three King’s on January 6. The date marks the culmination of the twelve days of Christmas and commemorates the three wise men who traveled from afar, bearing gifts for the infant baby Jesus.
The Eve of Epiphany (the night of January 5) is popularly known as Twelfth Night (the Twelve Days of Christmas are counted from Christmas Eve until this night). The season for king cake extends from the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas (Twelfth Night and Epiphany Day), up until Mardi Gras, or "Fat Tuesday;" the day before the start of Lent.

The "king cake" takes its name from the biblical three kings. Traditionally, a small plastic or porcelain baby is hidden into the king cake. The baby symbolizes luck and prosperity to whoever finds it in his/her slice of cake. In some traditions, the finder of the baby is designated “king” or “queen” for the evening
Many bakers have recently been placing the baby outside of the cake, and leaving the hiding to the customer. There is a potential of customers choking on or swallowing the baby, and bakers want to stay clear of this responsibility.
I hope you will join me again tomorrow for more of the Christmas Celebration
Carolyn and the Bears

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