It’s autumn. Definitely. Although temperature-wise it almost feels like winter, we can’t just skip autumn. Strolling through the forest with a little fog between the trees, kicking leaves, picking mushrooms, breathing air which doesn’t smell quite as vibrant as summer’s neither as clear as winter’s air. Grey and dreary days creating a slightly melancholic mood. Staying at home while it’s raining, reading a good book with a cup of tea in your hands. Enjoying the last warm sun beams, watching the leaves turn into a colourful goodbye to summer. The year wouldn’t be the same if you left out those parts. And to come to speak of food: big pumpkins, juicy apples, sweet pears, the first kale and Brussels sprouts, Federweißer (a young wine, still brewing) and so much more. Autumn meals are not as light as summer dishes, they are richer with deep flavours, but not as rich as winter food. They are comforting mind and body.
One autumn star is pumpkin. I love both savory and sweet recipes. We get a lot of the Hokkaido variety here in Germany and a really good thing about it is that you don’t have to peel it. That makes it very easy to handle in the kitchen. So here’s a freshly tried out recipe, a sweet treat you can serve to a round of friends while gathering for tea time on a grey day. Striezel is a German/Austrian name for a yeast “braid”, often with a sticky filling consisting of ingredients such as sugar, butter, nuts, marzipan, spices or chocolate. I decided to use pumpkin and mix it with ground almonds, sugar, cinnamon and raisins. Sure it’s decadent but why not be a bit decadent from time to time?
For one Striezel you need:
- 180 g ordinary wheat flour (Type 405)
- 320 g wheat flour (Type 550)
- 30 g sugar
- 50 g margarine (and 3 tbsp more for brushing later)
- 20 g fresh yeast (about half a yeast cube)
- 280 ml oat milk
- a pinch of salt
Start with heating the oat milk to a lukewarm temperature, crumble in the yeast and stir until the yeast has dissolved completely. Combine both flour types, sugar and salt in a big bowl and pour the yeast mixture in the middle. Then use either a fork or a hand mixer to bring flour and liquid together. As soon as bigger lumps start to form, add the margarine and continue with kneading. It’s up to you if you’d like to use your hands at some point or if you prefer using the mixer throughout the whole process. Make sure you knead the dough properly, about 4-5 minutes, then dust with some flour, put a clean kitchen cloth over the bowl and let the dough rest for about an hour (until its size has doubled).
Meanwhile you can prepare the filling. You need:
- 100 g Hokkaido Pumpkin
- 70 g ground almonds
- 70 g sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 30 g raisins
Chop the pumpkin into finger-sized pieces. Cover the bottom of a small pan with water, bring to the boil and blanch the pumpkin until soft (10-15 minutes). Drain all of the water carefully and mash it immediately. Add the other ingredients and mix until everything is combined well. It should have a paste-like consistency.
When the dough is ready, roll it out into a rectangle (maybe 30 x 40 cm). Spread the filling evenly and roll the dough up, so you end up with a roll 40 cm in length. Cut it lengthwise with a sharp knife. Now you should have two open halfs. Twist them around each other 3 or 4 times. Then it should look like this:
Let the Striezel rest for another half an hour and preheat the oven to 175 °C. Before you put it into the oven, melt 3 extra tbsp of margarine and pour it over the Striezel. Bake it for about 30 minutes (maybe 40, check the colour of the Striezel: it should be golden brown).
The following is optional but gives it a really nice finish. Make an icing out of icing sugar, some splashes of oatmilk and 1 tbsp of jam. I used “Tannenspitzen Gelée”, a jelly made out of the top of fir tree branches. It has a really nice “woody” flavour and goes extremely well with the pumpkin and the nuts. I must admit I don’t have this exceptional jelly at home usually, it was a present of friends. So feel free to use any other jelly or jam for example quince, apricot or apple. I suggest a yellowish coloured one, so the icing doesn’t get blue.
When the Striezel is baked, get it out of the oven and drizzle the icing over. It will make the top shiny and keeps the Striezel moist. Let cool (if you can) and cut into thick slices. I’d say it comes quite close to heaven…