27 December 2011

Happy Birthday King Jesus!

Birthdays are big with us.  Currently we have 10 birthdays a year in our home, and some months up to three birthdays, which make it very exciting celebrating months!

Thus the days preceding Christmas day, the birthday of the King of kings, I was desperately seeking the Lord for fresh ways to share with our family the true meaning of Christmas.  A way to celebrate the Birthday of all birthdays and familiarize it to our children. I longed to separate Christmas from everything common and commercial and make it a special God honoring event!
God is faithful!  A few days before Christmas Ann Voskamp shared 10 Ways To Celebrate Christmas Morning.  As I opened the posting, I could feel the anticipation, the knowing something special was going to happen. Rightly so - the first way just naturally fit into our birthday tradition.  A Birthday cake for the King - with a twist - for breakfast!  
Christmas day in our home is very, very relaxed. 

We visit with family on Christmas Eve, but on Christmas day, we are just together as a family, enjoying each others company, getting little ones back in their familiar routine, after sugar spikes and a few very busy days. But I often felt we are so relaxed and relieved after all the Christmas celebration, we missed out on sharing the true meaning of Christmas.  A birthday breakfast feast would be the perfect way to create a special atmosphere, honoring the King of kings and spark conversations with the children around the true meaning of Christmas!
Heidi-Mari and I immediately started to plan our special Birthday Breakfast Feast for the King of Kings.  The whole festive season we wanted to bake a Panettone, an Italian Christmas cake and a favourite of Christo. We already had the ingredients, but just couldn’t find the time to bake it.  So we decided on a Panettone for the birthday cake.  

The breakfast feast, with the birthday cake would be completed with a very special Mango and Pineapple smoothy, 

wheat free muesli, with organic Bulgarian yoghurt, flavoured with fresh fruit and honey, french toast, espresso and forest berry tea.

Heidi-Mari made a new overlay for our table cloth, and I had the most beautiful flowers, Christo treated me with at the Cape Flower Market a few days before Christmas.  

The cake, colourful decorated with cream cheese frosting and fresh berries, and our self painted nativity scene would be the center piece on the table.

We laid the table with our best cutlery, after our guests left on Christmas Eve and went to bed exhausted, but with great anticipation!
On Christmas morning little children woke us up in great excitement, it was time to open the presents. They enjoyed every moment of it and while they played with their new cars, Heidi-Mari, CJ and I did the final preparations for our breakfast feast!
What a blessed morning we had around the breakfast birthday feast! The birthday cake and nativity scene wasn’t only the center piece of the table, it was the center of conversation.  Never before did we experience a Christmas morning so filled with the grace and love of God, sharing the true meaning of Christmas on a level each one of our family could relate to and understood.
The rest of the day was filled with peace and relaxed conversations.  
This is only the beginning of a tradition of a breakfast birthday feast on Christmas Morning!  I can’t wait to see what the Lord is going to add to this, over the following years, as we seek to bring Him honor on Christmas Day!

I would like to share with you our special birthday cake recipe and enter it in Heidi-Mari’s Fortnightly Baking Fun Challenge.  

The theme for this fortnight was Colour and our special birthday cake not only looked colourful, but also filled our day with special God honoring colour!

Panettone is a traditional Italian bread usually served at Christmas time.  It gets much of its flavor from butter.  It also get flavor from the candied fruits it contains.
Makes 1 Panettone
2 ⅓ cups all purpose flour or 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons spelt flour
¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons milk, barely warmed
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 egg
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup cold butter, sliced
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
¼ cup diced dried apricots, steeped in just enough water to cover
¼ cup dark raisins, steeped in just enough water to cover
¼ cup golden raisins, steeped in just enough water to cover
¼ cup diced candied orange peel (see recipe below)
Candying Orange Peel
Lightly candied orange peel makes a delightful and intense flavoring for dessert soufflés, biscotti, panettone, and cakes. 

To make 1 cup: 
  • Peel 3 oranges in rough strips.  You’re not zesting the oranges, but taking off the whole peel, including the pith, all the way down to the flesh of the orange.  
  • Put the peels in a saucepan with enough water to cover and bring to a boil.  
  • Boil for 10 minutes, drain off the water, add fresh water to cover and boil for 10 minutes more.  Drain off the water. 
  • Add 1 cup of sugar and 2 cups water to the saucepan.  
  • Bring to a slow simmer over low heat and simmer very gently for 40 minutes.  
  • If the syrup evaporates too much and you notice that the liquid is very thick and syrupy, add ¼ cup water and continue simmering over very low heat.  
  • The peel is done when the white pith is translucent and waxy looking.  If you’re unsure, bite into a piece - it should be sweet and not bitter.
  • Let the peel cool in the syrup.  
  • Pour peel and syrup into a clean jar, making sure all the peel is covered with syrup.  
  • You can use immediately or store for months on a kitchen shelf. (We candied ours last year and stored it in the fridge.)
Method for Panettone:
  • Combine the flour, warm milk and sugar in a bowl.  
  • Sprinkle the yeast over the mixture and let soften for 3 minutes.
  • Add the egg and mix for another 3 minutes.
  • Add the salt, mix and cover with an upturned bowl or plastic wrap, and let rest for 20 minutes.
  • Add the butter and the orange zest.  
  • Knead the dough by hand for about 7 minutes or with a standup mixer fitted with the dough hook on medium speed for about 5 minutes or until all the butter has been absorbed and the dough is smooth and shiny and you can pull it up into a translucent sheet or ‘window’ (the windowpane test).
  • Turn the mixer to high speed if needed to get the dough to slap against the sides of the bowl.
  • Drain the dried fruits (very important) and mix them and the orange rind into the dough.
  • Cover the dough with plastic wrap pressed against the surface fo the dough.  
  • Let rise at room temperature for about 3 hours, or for about 1 hour and then overnight in the refrigerator (what I did) until it increases in volume about 50 percent.
  • Press down the dough, shape it into a ball, and push in any protruding fruit to prevent it from burning.  
  • Place the dough in a paper ring so it will hold its shape. You can buy traditional paper holders or improvise one with some brown paper and scotch tape - like I did.
  • Cover the dough with plastic wrap touching the surface and let rise for about 2 hours at room temperature, or until doubled in volume.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F or 190 degrees C.
  • Bake for about 1 hour, or until golden brown on top and 185 degrees F or 85 degrees C in the center.  
  • If the top starts to brown to much before the panettone is done, cover it with aluminum foil. 
  • Let cool on racks.
250g cream cheese (plain and smooth)
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and sugar in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for about 10 minutes or until smooth.
Spread the panettone with the frosting.
Decorate with fresh berries.

I would love to hear your fresh, new ways of celebrating the Birthday of Christ the King! Please feel free to share in the comments below.

With much love

Then the angel said to them,
"Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings
of great joy which will be to all people.
For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior,
Who is Christ the Lord.
And this will be the sign to you:
You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths,
lying in a manger."
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host
praising God and saying:
"Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"
Luke 2:10-14

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