A Tasting Circle Farewell 

  • Members of the Tasting Circle; Nina Scott and Katy van Geel are at far right, respectively. Tyll van Geel

  • Slices of apricot and cranberry breads. Katy van Geel

  • Katy van Geel with her Black Cake, Sephardic Challah and Stollen, from left to right. — Photo by Tyll van Geel

  • Stollen, a German-style fruit bread — Photo by Katy van Geel

  • Sephardic Challah — Photo by Katy van Geel

Published: 2/23/2017 4:35:44 PM

In early December, the Five College Learning in Retirement Tasting Circle met for the last time at Katy’s house. Hanukkah and Christmas were approaching, as Katy’s offerings reflected. We had a Sephardic Challah — a round tower, not braided, and sprinkled with whole spices (sesame, coriander, and poppy seeds); her version of Emily Dickinson’s Black Cake; and her Swiss grandmother’s Stollen. Coffee and teas were offered and accepted and the baked goods sampled.

To commemorate Hanukkah, Frieda Howards brought a menorah; she and Carol Jolly laughingly described how some Jewish families light it from right to left, and others the opposite, always amid heated discussions as to which is the right way.

To round out Katy’s lavish spread, Betsey Johnson also contributed apricot bread and a delicious cranberry bread from a recipe perfected by her uncle’s fifth wife.

A final note: the course is over, but we are still cooking for each other and sharing meals. Too good a group to let go!


Grandma Lise's Stollen


• 2 2/3 cups milk

• 2/3+ cup Crisco

• 1 tsp salt

• 1 cup sugar

• grated rind of one lemon

• 2 eggs

• 7-8 cups flour

• 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast



candied citron



Scald milk. While still hot, add Crisco. After Crisco melts, add salt, sugar and lemon peel. Let cool to lukewarm.

Beat eggs; add to cooled mixture gradually, stirring as you go.

Place 6 cups of flour in mixer bowl. Mix in the yeast. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients gradually. Mix until everything is smooth and incorporated.

Add another cup of flour and mix it in.

Add a bit more flour until the dough is quite dry, almost as stiff as bread dough, just a bit too sticky to knead at this point. Beat until smooth and springy. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk (2-3 hours).

Divide risen dough in two. Knead each half on a lightly floured board, just enough to flatten the dough to about a 1/2-inch thickness. Press the filling ingredients generously all over the surface.

Roll up like a jellyroll; pinch the ends. Place on a greased cookie sheet. Let rise covered with towels for about an hour, until doubled in bulk.

Bake about an hour at 350°. Stollen is done at an internal temperature of 200-210°. Immediately upon removing from oven, spread with cream or melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

Stollen is best the day after it is made.

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