Mar 20, 2008

Profiterole or Cream Puffs

Profiterole 1

Profiterole, or cream puffs if you make them biger, are delectable French pastries made out of choux pastry and pastry cream(or some other filling).
Cut them, or fill them with a filling tool without cutting them, fill them any way you like, but you are always bound to have an ellegant dessert, and one much loved by kids! OK, kids all ages! Fine!!! :)))

Profiterole 4

I have been making these beauties since I was 14 years old. I started out with a recipe that called for oil, to then switch to margarine, and now to butter, so the choice is yours, you can substitute butter in the following recipe with margarine, or oil.

For the pastry:
½ cup water
½ cup milk
100 g butter (7 Tbsp) (if you chose oil, put 1/3 cup)
½ Tsp salt
1 Tsp of sugar
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
4 eggs
½ Tsp of baking powder

For the pastry cream (updated):
1 liter milk
5 egg yolks
4 Tbsp all purpose flour
3 Tbsp corn starch
10 Tbsp of sugar
½ Tsp vanilla extract
1 stick of unsalted butter or margarine

Combine water, milk, butter, salt and sugar, and bring to a boil. Take it off heat, quickly add baking powder, and flour, return to heat, and mix it vigorously. Lower the heat, and mix for a minute, no more.

Transfer to a bowl, add 2 eggs, and mix until well blended then add, one by one, the other two eggs, and mix until you get nice, silky texture. Now it’s ready to use, so you can pipe it onto a baking sheet, making sure they are separated about 1 1/4 inch, and bake @ 400 F until golden.

To make the cream, take 150 ml of the liter of milk, and mix it well with egg yolks, sugar, flour, corn starch, and vanilla extract. Bring remainder of the milk (850 ml) to boil, and then add the cream mixture to it, stirring continuously for few minutes. When it is separating from the sauce pan, transfer to a bowl, and let it cool down mixing it occasionally. Mix in butter, fill the pastries, and serve them cooled, dusted with sugar or drizzled with chocolate.
Note: Most other recipes I have seen don’t call for baking powder, but I have been doing it this way for soooo long, and I hate to exclude it, because I always get great results : )

Mar 18, 2008

Easter basket

Make your Easter basket and eat it too! I have seen this several times online, and in print. Particularly inspiring is the work of the lady that goes by the nickname Strufna, and she posts recipes and pictures on Podravka's website! She really is both, the artist, and a chef--- just love her creations!

This year a friend asked me to make her the Easter bread I always make, and I thought of making it special. I love baking so much, and I always try to make it look as good as it tastes! :)

Basically all you need is your favorite bread recipe, good will, and folk to eat it!!! :)
This is my first try, and I am making it again on Saturday (for the friend ---this one is for me, mhmmm, for breakfast). I am sure it will turn out even better, and then I'll post in detail about the process, and with better pictures of course, because I will do it in daylight :)
In the meantime, here are the pictures of how I did it tonight.
Happy Easter!

Easter basket 1

Easter basket making 1Easter basket making2Easter basket making 3Easter basket making 4Easter basket making 5Easter basket 2

Mar 15, 2008

Torta della Nonna- A Slice of Tuscan Sun

Torta della Nonna

Torta della Nonna(grandmother's cake) truly is a slice of Tuscan sun!!! I was restless since I first saw a slice of it from Diario di Cucina on TasteSpotting. Then , days later @ fior dizucca also featured on TasteSpotting, and that was it; I knew the first chance I get, I will bite into it! :)))
I have googled it, and there are two versions out there, the one with ricotta cheese (mhmmm), and this one, with lemony, vanilla dream in a torta!
It is everything I have expected, and much more!!! Just enough lemon flavor, the right touch of vanilla, and crowned with pine nuts! Just delectable! I love it!

Torta della Nonna slice

Both blogs, 'Diario di Cucina', and 'fior dizucca' have similar recipes, almost identical for the pastry, and for the cream I have followed the Diario di Cucina one. I might just post a recipe later, so that those of you who are interested in making it, wouldn't have to run back and forth from one blog to another.
I am just going to add a tablespoon or two of corn starch to make sure I get that really thick filling next time, because even though I have faithfully followed the recipe , I can't make a clean cut through the cream.

Torta della Nonna making 2

I love how easy, and fulfilling it is to make it, and how beautiful it looks; cheerful, and yellow; just perfect "show off" dessert!

Here is how I made it, almost entirely from Diario di Cucina , but with a lot of help from fior dizucca, because I couldn’t translate properly, and there is an English version on ‘fior dizucca’, and that helped to fill in what Google Translate has missed.

For pastry:
300 g flour 00
1 / 2 baking powder (8 g)
120 g butter
170 g of sugar
1 egg and 1 egg yolk
pinch of salt
rind of a lemon

For the cream:
3 / 4 liter fresh whole milk
rind of ½ a lemon
200 g of sugar
8 egg yolks
50 g flour 00
1 packet vanilla sugar (14g)
(Other recipe called for vanilla pod)

I have made the cream first; I always do that. So, put the milk, along with lemon rind, and vanilla sugar (or vanilla pod) in a large sauce pan, and bring to boil. In the meantime mix egg yolks with sugar until it’s white, and frothy, then add flour to it (I really would add at least a Tablespoon of cornstarch just to be sure you get a really think cream; I guess not having 00 flour meant a lot).

Stir the egg mixture to boiling milk, reduce heat, and continue mixing for a little longer than 10 minutes, making sure you don’t get lumps. Now take it of the stovetop, and transfer to a different bowl, and let it cool down, mixing it occasionally, as you are doing cleanup, and making pastry. When the cream is cooled down, put it in the refrigerator; the pastry should be sitting next to it! : )

So, when you were done cooking your cream, you made pastry basically by following the shortcrust pastry routine. Sift together flour and baking powder, and then mix in softened butter, lemon rind, then egg and egg yolk, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Form into a ball, and put in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

After an hour, roll out about 2/3 of pastry into a pan; pour in the filling, and remainder of pastry you arrange around the edges on the top. I have done flowers; I love to decorate my cakes. Sprinkle with pine nuts and bake for about 40 minutes @ 180 C (356 F)!
When completely cooled down, dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!

Mar 11, 2008

Raining apples...

Tired of apples yet? : ) Not me! You must think it has been raining apples here in MI! Almost!!! They have been my main ingredient in the past few desserts. I really love apples, and making apple dishes. See, I am just plain lazy when it comes to eating an apple, or in a way, I just forget. But, I do remember to bake, cook, fry them, and what not!

I use them in any way possible, and here is another recipe for an easy apple cake. I have being carrying this recipe around for over 10 years, and I forgot exactly who gave it to me.

Apple bundt cake

It is a wonderful, aromatic, decadent cake; not dry at all, easy to make, and sure to please even those “first borns” in your family (I am reading “The Birth Order Book”, by Dr.Kevin Leman, courtesy of my lovely neighbor).
I now make it in a form of a bundt, and I see there are many similar recipes for this cake here in the USA, so it should really be called:

Apple Bundt Cake

You’ll need:
6-7 medium apples
4 eggs
For next 3 ingredients use the metric side of your measuring cup:
200 ml of sugar
200 ml of oil
½ liter of flour
1 Tsp of cinnamon
1 Tsp of unsweetened baking cocoa
1 ½ package of baking powder (21 grams)

Ok, so let’s get things moving! : )
Wash, peel, and grate apples, and set aside. Now, let’s start making the cake. First, divide yolks from whites, and mix the yolks with a mixer on high speed, slowly adding the sugar, till it’s nice and smooth. In a separate bowl, mix the egg whites until very stiff, and then add it to the yolks.
Apple bundt making-1Apple bundt making-4
Now, mix in oil, then flour (which you have premixed with baking powder), and mix well. Add apples, but squeeze most of the juices out of them in your hands. Drink the juice (hopefully your hands were clean : )! Cheers!
Apple bundt making-5Apple bundt B4 oven
Add cinnamon and cocoa, and keep folding until all well blended. Transfer to a greased, and floured bundt pan, and bake @ 405 F for about 30-40 minutes, depending on your oven. You’ll know; you’ve baked before! ; )
Now, enjoy a piece! :)
Apple bundt slice

Welsh Clay Pot Loaves

Welsh clay pot loaves-J

I have been baking “The no knead bread” for over a year now, and I make other breads that rank as high as that one, and now I have yet another one. Welsh clay pot loaves!
Recipe is from one of my baking books, “The ultimate book of baking”, nonetheless, and even though I had to make it with no herbs, and no garlic (boo-ho, I love garlic), the bread itself (never mind the pots) is awesome. I can’t play with herbs, and garlic when baking for my kids. After I put the dough in pots, I remembered I could have made one flavored “pour moi”! Oh, well, next time; soon for sure!

This dough would be perfect for many uses, especially hamburger or sub buns.
I loved the idea of clay pots too; as you may have noticed, I love combining art with cooking! I do some pencil drawing from time to time, and I love art of any kind, with favorite being renaissance era.

Anyway, back to cooking! : ) Here, I will share the full recipe, and you can adjust the herbs, and other optional ingredients.

Welsh Clay Pot Loaves

You'll need:
1 cup whole-wheat bread flour
3 cups unbleached white bread flour
1 ½ Tsp salt
1 package quick rise yeast (7g) or ½ ounce fresh yeast
2/3 cup lukewarm milk
1 ½ cups lukewarm water
4 Tbsp butter, melted
Beaten egg, for glazing
1 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp chopped fresh sage
1 garlic clove, crushed
Fennel or other kinds of seeds for sprinkling (optional)

Let’s make that awesome bread! Sift both flours, and salt into a large bowl, and make a well in the center. Mix yeast with a little bit of milk until blended, and then stir in the rest, and pour it all into the well, and sprinkle with some flour from the sides. Cover and let it sit in warm place for 15 minutes, to get things going : )

Now add water, and butter. This is also when you would add the herbs, and garlic. Mix it well, and knead for about 10 minutes on a lightly floured surface. Transfer into lightly oiled bowl, and cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm place for about 1 ¼ - 1 ½ hours, or until doubled (in my case it quadrupled : )

Clay Pot bread 004Clay Pot bread 006Clay Pot bread 075Clay Pot bread 078
Now, turn it out on a lightly floured surface, divide into 2 parts, and shape it into 2 clean, lightly greased clay flower pots (now, I wasn’t happy with this, I am going to line it with parchment paper next time, had trouble taking it out). Clay pots should be about 5 ½-inches in diameter, 4 ½-inches high. See, I am sure I could have made another one of those with the amount of dough I had, you be the judge when you make it, but have en extra clay pot handy.
Clay Pot bread 099
OK, well, now that the dough is in the pots, let it rest, covered with lightly greased plastic wrap for another 30 minutes or so. Preheat oven to 400 F. Then brush with beaten egg, sprinkle with some seeds, and bake for about 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy the bread and awes you will get when you present it to your friends and family! ;)
Clay pot bread-done 026-1
Oh, and DON’T WATER IT!!!! :)

Mar 10, 2008

Baked Apple Dumplings

I have added a new cookbook to my collection, and I love it! It is called Best-ever pastry cookbook by Catherine Atkinson, and you know what, it certainly is my best pastry cookbook so far.

I love making pastry, and this book covers every kind, from shortcrust, to puff pastry, to pate a pate, as well as many sweet and savoury fillings in over 135 great recipes. It is nicely detailed, and rich with illustrations in all of its 251 pages, I just love it!

I can’t believe I got this great find for just $5.99, plus tax. Mouthwatering pictures just make you want to hit the cooking stage and make some edible art.

As soon as I turned to page 150 I knew that would be the first recipe to try; baked apple dumplings, mhmmm! It is as delicious as it is presentable; yet so simple!
Never mind my pictures, couldn't wait till daylight to make this great dessert!

Baked apple dumplings 2
What you’ll need for 8 dumplings:
Remember to adjust ingredients if you need less; I only made 3 dumplings.
8 firm cooking apples
1 egg white
2/3 cup caster sugar
3 Tbsp heavy cream
½ Tsp vanilla extract
1 cup maple syrup
Shortcrust pastry ingredients:
4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ Tsp salt
1 ½ cups (or 350 g) butter or white vegetable fat, diced
¾ - 1 cup chilled water

First make the pastry by sifting flour and salt into a large bowl and “rub in” the butter until it all looks like breadcrumbs; then ad ¾ cup water, and mix until the dough holds together. Mix in a bit more water if necessary. Make a ball and wrap it up in a plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 20 min.

About 5 minutes before you are ready to take the dough out of the fridge, set the oven to 425 F (220 C), and prepare apples. Peel, and core them.

Roll out the pastry thinly, and cut squares large enough to almost enclose the apple, brush with egg white and place apple in the middle. Combine sugar, cream, and vanilla in a small bowl, and spoon it into each apple. Make pastry rounds to cover the tops of apples.

Bring the sides of the squares up to enclose the apples, and make a snug fit by pleating the larger piece of pastry, if not holding, moisten the overlaps.
Apple tool Baked apple dumplings-making

Use the trimmings to create stalks, and leaves to decorate the dumplings. When all set, place them in a greased baking dish, and bake for 30 minutes @ 425 F (220 C), and then another 20 minutes @ 350 F(180 C).
Baked apple dumplings B4 oven

When done, transfer to a serving plate, and add maple syrup to juices in the baking dish, mix it, and pour over dumplings. Enjoy while still hot! Serve with ice-cream, and/or whipped cream!
Baked apple dumplings 3

This is the ultimate treat and comfort food on a cold winter evening, after we had another snowfall. Scrumptious, inside and out!!!

Mar 4, 2008

Apple cake, with whole apples

Apple cake inside

I have inherited this cake recipe from my late mother in law. She used to make this one often, and it’s one of my husband’s favorites. I have shared it with some other blogs/sites, but never in English. Really, it’s an apple turnover cake, but spruced up into a dessert that never fails to impress.
It is not too sweet, just enough for my taste, and it is rather refreshing, and perfect for hot summer days, although it seems to be disappearing just fine out of my fridge right now, and we have SNOW---AGAIN!!!

You’ll need:
5-6 medium apples (6 if you want one in the middle)
To stuff the apples:
A handful of ground walnuts
Some raisins

For the sponge cake:
4 eggs
4 Tbsp of sugar
4 Tbsp of oil
4 Tbsp of flour
1 package baking powder (13 g)

For the frosting:
2 packages of strawberry or rasberry pudding (Dr.Oetker or some other kind)
(or 6 Tbsp of corn starch with some red food coloring,
and strawberry flavor, or some other fruity flavor)
650 ml of milk (about 2 and 2/3 of a cup)
6 Tbsp of sugar
150 g of unsalted butter or margarine

Pudding I use.
First, make the frosting, because that way it will be cold by the time the cake is nice and chilled and ready for frosting. So, bring about 550 ml milk to boil. Use 100 ml to dissolve the pudding, and sugar, and then add it to the boiling milk. Reduce heat, and whisk fast for about a minute or two. Put in the fridge, or freezer, and let it cool down completely; mix every so often. When completely cold add butter, or margarine, cut up into slices, and mix it on high for about 5 minutes or until well incorporated. Put back to fridge until ready to frost the cake.

Frosting step 1Frosting step 2Frosting done

When your pudding is cooling, you start with the apples. First, preheat oven @ 405 F. Peel, core, and place apples in the round spring form pan, and stuff with walnuts and raisins (raisins optional). It doesn’t matter if you get walnuts and raisins all over the bottom of the pan, even better, it will all get baked into the cake, yummy!

Bake @ 405 F for about 20 minutes. In the meantime make sponge cake mix by mixing eggs with sugar, then oil, and flour with baking powder. Mix well and spread evenly over the apples, and put them back in the over and bake for another 20-25 minutes, depending on your oven.

Apple cake collage

Now that the cake is done, let it cool down completely, then flip it over on a platter, frost it with yummy frosting, and top with whipped cream. Decorate as you like; I have added some color to some of my whipped cream, just for more character! : )
Apple cake w/o frostingApple cake done
I wish I could post the aroma of this cake here, for all to sense, as it is amazing. I love this cake!