It's the first day of December.
Looking back to the childhood, December always ment expectations. Expectations of warmth, kindness, visits, feeling good, having fun, but most of all, the arrival of St. Nicholas. He brought presents - oranges, dry fruits, walnuts and sometimes also some toys.
St. Nicholas day is celebrated in many European countries on December 6th and it's a special day of gift-giving for children.
In Slovenia, St. Nicholas is called Miklavž, and he is accompanied by angels and devils which are called parklji corresponding to the Austrian Krampus.
Boy, I was afraid of Krampuses! As I lived in a village, local boys dressed up into Krampuses, yell as loudly as they could and went knocking from doors to doors. Sometimes they would sneak into the house and search for the kids who "misbehaved". I was always hiding under the bed and closing my ears until the screaming passed.
Nowadays, I don't expect anything from December. But I just can't wait for the days to be longer again, starting on the winter solstice. It's when my New Year starts.
Let's sneak into what St. Nicholas brought this year for you - it's the recipe for corn Sourdough Krampus - so delicious, coming directly from heaven!
Sourdough corn Krampus
Yields: 4 big Krampus breads or 6-8 smaller ones
Sourdough starter for these sourdough Krampus breads was mixed in the evening, left to rise overnight and mixed into the dough in the morning. The dough was left to rise untile doubled in volume, then shaped, left to rise again until proofed and baked.
TIP: you can also prepare the dough in the evening, leave it to rise until doubled in volume overnight (make sure, you don't overproove it!) and bake the breads in the morning.
50 g water
50 g whole grain rye flour (or any other flour)
1 tablespoon of your active sourdough starter (I used rye starter)
* add more starter to the dough if you want it to ferment faster
100 g finely ground corn flour
100 g boiling water
220 g slightly warm milk
400 g white wheat flour (or bread flour)
9 g salt
ice cubes for creating steam in the first minutes of baking
1. In the evening, prepare your starter. Mix 50 g of whole grain rye flour, 50 g water and 1 tablespoon of your active starter. Cover and leave to ferment overnight until nicely puffed bubbly, and active.
2. In the morning, first prepare the corn flour - pour the boiling water over it, mix well and leave to cool. Once cooled, prepare the dough. Dissolve all of your starter in milk, add wheat and steamed corn flour, and salt. Mix well and then knead the dough for 5 minutes so it becomes elastic, soft and workable (left photo below).
3. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl and cover the bowl with cloth or wrap to prevent the dough from drying out. Leave it to rise until doubled in volume. It took my dough 5 hours, yours might take more or less, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.
4. Once the dough is ready, transfer it to unfloured working surface, lightly dust some flour over the top of the dough and shape it into ball. Cover the dough with a cloth or wrap and leave to rest for 10 minutes, so the gluten relaxes. In this way, the shaping will be easier.
5. After 10 minutes, divide the dough into 4 parts. Take each part (one at a time) and first elongate it to a rectangular shape. Use your scissors or bench knife to cut into the bottom part of the dough to shape the legs. You can leave them as they are or you can roll each leg with your hands a little bit.
6. Cut into the upper part to make the horns. Finish the horns by rolling and thinning each part with your hand. Next, turn them on the inside on outside. If the dough feels sticky, wet your hands with little water and then try again. You can use your imagination to shape the Krampus bread in any shape you like.
7. Brush your Krampus breads with water and decorate them with raisins (make eyes), pumpkin seeds or ground anise to give them an extra sweet taste - it goes well with corn flour.
8. Transfer the breads to a lightly floured parchment paper and cover them with a plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out. Let them rise for about 90 minutes or until they pass the poking test. Make an indent with your finger and observe the reaction. If the indent comes back quickly, leave them to rise more. If the indent comes back slowly, your breads are ready to be put in the oven.
9. At least 30 minutes before the dough is ready to be put in the oven, preheat your baking stone (or a tray, if you don't have a baking stone) and a separate baking tray that you put on the lower rack to the highest temperature of your oven.
10. When ready, load the Krampus breads with a parchment paper on a pizza peel and slide it on a baking stone. Throw 10 ice cubes on a baking tray, close the oven door and lower the temperature to 230°C (446°F). Bake for 20 minutes or until nicely baked golden crust. If you can't put all the breads into the oven at once, transfer the rest of them into fridge to prevent overproofing.
11. When baked, let them cool on a cooling rack and then enjoy with a cup of warm milk and jam.
What are your childhood memories of December? Let me know in a comment below.