Autumn is here and with it the harvest season! And what would be more fitting than making (or baking in this case) a cornucopia!
A cornucopia, or horn of plenty, is a symbol of abundance and nourishment, often associated with Thanksgiving or the european harvest festival (Erntedankfest). It’s typically a horn-shaped wicker basket, overflowing with all kinds of fruits and vegetables. And that makes it the perfect table decoration for this time of the year! 🙂
Baking a cornucopia sounds harder than it is. The fact that I managed to do it speaks for itself, because I’m absolutely no baking pro. All you need is a nice recipe and a lot of tinfoil.
How it’s done:
I made my cornucopia with a recipe for a braided yeast bun. (or challah) But you can also make it with bread dough or some other kind of dough. As long as the dough can be braided, it should work out well. I used this recipe:
500 g flour
75 g sugar
8 g vanilla sugar
7 g salt
90 g butter
220 ml milk
2 egg yolk
21 g dried yeast
1 dash of rum (or rum flavoring)
Warm the milk and let the dried yeast dissolve in it. Mix flour, salt, sugar and vanilla sugar in a bowl. Add the butter (let it melt beforehand), the egg yolk and the milk with the yeast to the mixture. Grate a little lemon peel and add it to the dough with a dash of rum. Knead your dough and let it rise in a warm place for at least 45 minutes.
In the meantime you can start to make your tinfoil cornucopia:
1. Start crumpling one end of the tinfoil together in a pointed shape, that widens gradually. Tinfoil is really easy to manipulate. You can shape it almost as if it were dough.
2. After a while you can start to hollow out the horn shape. Just press your fingers lightly in the middle and flatten the edges of the cornucopia between your fingers. Little by little add new pieces of tinfoil to your cornucopia, until it has the desired shape.
3. To stop the pieces from falling apart, you can wrap the finished piece again in a layer of tinfoil. Try to keep the surface as smooth as possible. It will be easier to remove afterwards. For extra stability, you can fill your cornucopia with some more tinfoil.
4. Spread a little flour on your countertop and knead the dough lightly. Separate a piece of dough and leave the rest of it under a piece of cloth. Roll your dough into a strand. It should be about as thick as your thumb. Begin to wrap the dough around your tinfoil-horn. The dough should stick together on its own accord. If not, use a little water as adhesive.
While you are wrapping the strand of dough around the tinfoil, you should twist the strand as well. Add new strands of dough as you go along, and hide the ends under the dough (or press them together), until you reach the end of your tinfoil.
5. Divide the rest of your dough into 4 equal pieces and roll them into thin strands. Press the ends together and make a 4 stranded braid. (You could also do a regular braid, or skip this step altogether.)
6. Wrap the braid around the edge of your cornucopia. The dough should be thick enough around the opening to provide stability. Let your cornucopia rest for a little while and check if all dough pieces still stick together neatly. If a piece comes loose, use a little water to fix it.
7. Mix an egg with a little milk and brush it on your cornucopia. This should make a nice shiny glazing.
8. Preheat your oven to 180°C and bake your cornucopia for 10 – 15 minutes. Check if it gets brown evenly, and shift its position if necessary. Turn the heat down to 150°C and bake it for another 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it, and don’t let it get too dark. Take it out of the oven if it has a nice golden color.
Let your cornucopia cool down for about an hour or so, and then remove the tinfoil. Take your time with it. It is easiest if you do it piece by piece. Once your cornucopia has completely cooled down, you can fill it with fruits and seasonal decorations. 🙂
My cornucopia lasted for about 1 1/2 days until we couldn’t wait any longer and ate it. 🙂 It was sooo yummy! If you have the chance, use fruits and decorations from your own garden. Additionally I went on a few walks and collected nice things like chestnuts, hazelnuts, acorns, haws and a lot of colorful leaves. In my next entry, I’m going to show you how to preserve autumn leaves.