Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chelsea Buns Fresh from the Oven

For this month's Fresh from the Oven challenge Wendy of Notes from the Quirky Kitchen got us baking Chelsea Buns. Most of FFO members are English natives and everybody was familiar with these buns. Apparently this is something they teach the kids in the UK during the school cookery lessons and everybody from our baking group seems to have warm memories from that time. But we are Bulgarian guys and during our cookery lessons we were taught how to make things like tarator (a cold soup of yoghurt, cucumber, dill and garlic), so we haven't even heard about Chelsea buns. Actually I don't think we have some kind of sweet buns here. We have a few varieties of savoury ones but I can't remember of a sweet type.

After googling it we found that the perfect chelsea bun must to be rolled into a square spiral shape, although I'm not sure if we managed to do this right. No matter how square we tried to shape them they looked quite rounded, but whatever, they were still pretty good and finger licking. Of course we skipped the traditional glaze(as it's not our type of thing) and instead we glazed those buns with translucent quince jelly for keeping them shiny and served them with a puree of poached quinces. I know, I know, we've ruined the whole British classic, but it's really worth to try it.

Chelsea Buns Recipe:
  • 225gr strong white bread flour;
  • 25gr caster sugar;
  • 1/4 tsp salt (4 gr);
  • 25gr softened butter - this is for the dough;
  • 1 1/2 tsp fast action dried yeast (2 gr);
  • 1 medium egg, beaten;
  • 90ml warm semi-skimmed milk;
  • zest of one lemon;
  • 25gr butter really softened, but not melted - this is for the filling;
  • 65gr light muscovado sugar;
  • 115gr dried fruits (we used a mix of dry raisins, apricots, chokeberries and cranberries).
Combine the flour, sugar, lemon zest, salt and yeast into a mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the softened butter, egg and milk. Mix to make a soft dough.

Knead until smooth. Cover and prove until doubled in size.

Generously butter and line a 7” square tin.

Flour your work surface, and roll out the dough to a rectangle measuring about 12 x 9 inches. If you get the edges as square as you can it will help to make your buns look even.

Spread the softened butter as evenly as you can over the dough. Sprinkle the sugar and the dried fruits on top, and gently press it into the butter.

Now, roll up the dough along the long edge, as though you were making a Swiss Roll. Seal the edge. Turn the roll over so that the seal is underneath and divide the roll into 9 equal buns.

Place the buns, cut side down, into the buttered and lined tin, and leave to prove until the dough has doubled in size, and they have all joined together into one big Chelsea bun muddle.

Bake in a preheated to 180 C oven, for about 20 - 25 minutes. Once cooked, cool on a wire rack, and eat them as soon as you dare.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Doughnuts for October's DB Challenge

October has past so fast that I haven't even realized it yet. This morning I remembered we haven't made the Daring Bakers' challenge and it was already the posting date, so we've got down to work. Lori of Butter Me Up was the host of October's DB challenge and she chose for us some doughnuts recipes. We had some fresh yeast in the fridge so we decided to try Alton Brown's yeast doughnuts. And here they are – sizzling hot. The bigger, those with the hole and the classic doughnut look we filled with a savoury mix of cream cheese, pesto and olive paste – what can I say – there's nothing better than a savoury doughnut. And the small rounds are full with home made apricot jam.

And honestly, I'm never gonna make these again!

Ok, at least not very soon.

I just can't stop myself of eating them.

Hey, how this came to my hand?

And, oops, again.

Ok, this is the last one!

Not kidding, the last one!

Or maybe just after this one...

Yeast Doughnuts Recipe:
Adapted from Alton Brown
  • 180 ml milk;
  • 35 gm butter;
  • 7 gm active dry yeast (or 15 gr fresh yeast);
  • 40 ml lukewarm water;
  • 1 egg (beaten);
  • 28 gr white granulated sugar;
  • 5 gr table salt;
  • 1 big pinch of freshly grated nutmeg;
  • zest of one lemon;
  • 350 gr all purpose flour + extra for dusting surface;
  • Flavourless oil for frying.
Heat the milk just until warm enough to melt the butter.

Place the butter in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Set aside.

In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the lukewarm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes then pour into the large bowl of a stand mixer and add the milk and butter mixture, first making sure the milk and shortening mixture has cooled to lukewarm.

Add the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, lemon zest and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment of your mixer (if you have one), combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined.

Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well.

Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. If you do not have a dough hook/stand mixer – knead until the dough is smooth and not sticky. (We used a hand mixer and then kneaded by hand).

Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled in size (1 to 2 hours).

On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 9 mm thick. (Make sure the surface is well-floured otherwise your doughnuts will stick to the counter).

Cut out dough using a doughnut cutter or pastry ring, or drinking glass and using a smaller ring for the center hole. Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 185°C.

Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time. Cook until golden brown from both sides.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chocolate Molten Cake with Caramel Heart

After returning from the countryside last week the whole kitchen was full of fresh vegetables and fruits waiting their turn to be processed, pickled, cut, frozen, cured, etc. Plus, we finally received the long expected wooden doors for the new kitchen cabinets that Ivan and his father made. And now there's a lot of work to be done since the doors are not even polished. We wanted the doors to be wooden, painted in white but the wood structure to be visible and looking like old piece, and all this done with eco friendly materials. Oh, it's complicated, thus no carpenter agreed to take the order, so now we are trying to make it by ourselves. But it's a lot of work and our home is a total mess, but at least it smells like a pine forest.

So we haven't baked much lately, barring a pumpkin pastry with home made phyllo dough which although ashamed I have to admit that I forgot in the oven way too long, and, let say it that way, it wasn't appropriate for publishing.

Besides watching all the past series of Top Chef Just Dessert in two days makes you crave and yearn for baking. It was time to brake the baking silence and to indulge our sweet crave as well.

Chocolate molten cake is something we make when we long for a quick and easy warming chocolate treat. We are keeping a jar of the caramel sauce within easy reach in the fridge. And usually we are making only a fourth of the recipe which makes enough for two small ramequins. And usually at the end I'm licking the plate and if Ivan isn't watching me I'm licking his plate too, yup, it's that good.

Chocolate Molten Cake with Caramel Heart Recipe:
Serves 6 – 8 depending on the ramequins size

For the Caramel Heart:
  • 40 gr sugar;
  • 20 gr glucose;
  • 90 gr heavy cream;
  • pinch of sea salt crystals;
  • 1gr gum arabic + 20 gr water (optional).
Dissolve the gum arabic in the water then add to the heavy cream.
Make a dry caramel of sugar and glucose then pour in the heavy cream. Be careful as it's very hot and bubbles. At the last moment add the sea salt.
Put in a jar and refrigerate for at least one hour or until neaded.
Gum arabic develops the consistency but it's use is optional, so if not available omit it.

For the Molten Chocolate Cake:
  • 100 gr butter;
  • 160 gr dark chocolate (we used Cacao Barry's Mexique chocolate);
  • 4 eggs;
  • 60 gr confectioner's sugar;
  • 40 gr cake flour;
  • 20 gr corn starch;
  • butter and cacao powder for the ramequins.
Preheat the oven to 200º C
Butter and dust with cacao powder 6 ramequins (ours are small so the mixture makes enough for 8). Espresso cups could either be used.

Sift together the dry ingredients – sugar, flour and starch.

In another bowl whisk the eggs just enough to break and homogenize them.

Melt the butter and the chocolate. Let cool then mix in the eggs. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined.

Fill till half the ramequins with the chocolate mixture. Place a teaspoon of the caramel in the middle then top up with the rest of the chocolate mixture. Bake for 10 – 11 minutes. Plate and garnish with caramel ornaments and sea salt, if desired.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Plum Jelly and Yoghurt-Aniseed Mousse on an Almond-Walnut Dacquoise Base

We've spent last weekend in Vetren – a small village near Silistra. Ivan's parents had built their summer house there several years ago and now they live there from april till november. This was a great milestone in their life that changed them thoroughly. Hoeing the garden, planting fruits and vegetables, nipping off tomatoes' side shoots, mowing the grass, weeding, cultivating the soil – all this was a total outfield for them. But now they have a compost heap in the backyard all kinds of fruit trees, berries, herb beds and veggies. There are two huge flower beds in the front yard and a lovely meadow, where I love to walk barefooted. It's a really trim garden.

I love going to Vetren. Working in the garden, weeding, picking up fresh vegetables, swimming in the pool, reading or writing surrounded by pure nature. And it's so relaxing and refreshing. The only thing I miss there is internet but it's not that big deal after all. And even the huge populations of mosquitoes don't bother me when there is such a peace of mind.

Last saturday it was Ivan's mother birthday party and there was plenty of work to be done in the kitchen so we went a day earlier to give them a hand. Ivan helped his father with the baking of a whole stuffed suckling pig into the wood-fired masonry oven(for photos see the Facebook page), then he decided he could bake some bread there. We are baking bread all too often but this one was a totally different thing – flavour, taste, crust – everything was different and radtastically awesome(so it's understandable why it disappeared as soon as it was served).

It was our honour to make the birthday cake. With raspberries – freshly picked from the garden and free range eggs from our kind neighbour Iliika, who always sends us loads of fresh products. Unfortunately there was no time for taking photos, since the cake was quickly devoured as well.

But we have another cake to share with you - plum jelly and yoghurt-aniseed mousse on an almond-walnut dacquoise base with a coconut hint (wow, maybe it's easier to give it a name instead of writing such a long title).

We made these cakes the day before heading for Silistra and there was no time to write about them. But since they were goloptious they are worth sharing.

Plum Jelly and Yoghurt-Aniseed Mousse on an Almond-Walnut Dacquoise Base Recipe:
Makes 6  7cm mini cakes

For the Almond-Walnut Dacquoise:
  • 2 egg whites(room temperature) – around 60 grams;
  • 50 gr granulated sugar;
  • 25 gr ground walnuts;
  • 30 gr ground almonds;
  • 10 gr all purpose flour;
  • 15 gr coconut milk powder (it gives a slight coconut hint but it's not necessary to include it) ;
  • Butter and flour for the baking pan.
Preheat the oven to 150º C and place the rack in the middle. Line with paper, butter and flour 24x18 cm baking pan.

In a bowl mix the ground walnuts and almonds, flour and coconut milk powder. Set aside.

With an electric mixer beat the egg whites to a foam. Gradually add the sugar and beat till stiff and glossy peaks. Remove the beaters and carefully fold in the other ingredients. Bake for around 12 – 15 minutes.

For the Yoghurt-Aniseed Mousse:
  • 150 gr whole milk;
  • 1 heaped tsp aniseeds;
  • 60 gr granulated sugar;
  • 5 gr (1 tsp) powdered agar agar;
  • 300 gr yoghurt (we used 2%);
  • 180 gr whipping cream
Bring the milk to a simmer in a small saucepan. Add the aniseeds and leave to infuse for half an hour. Pass through a sieve, discard the aniseeds and bring the milk to a simmer once again. Combine the sugar and the agar agar powder (in order to prevent forming of jelly lumps) and add them to the simmering milk stirring constantly. The temperature should be above 85º C for agar agar to melt. When the sugar is thoroughly dissolved, remove from the heat. Add in the yoghurt and mix to combine. Whip the cream and mix it well with the yoghurt mix

For the Plum Jelly:
  • 800 gr pitted plums (we used Golden plums but any others plums(berries, pears, mangos, etc) will work too;
  • 80 gr granulated sugar (you can adjust it to your taste);
  • 10 gr powdered agar agar(if using sourer fruits more agar agar needs to be added);
  • 30 gr rum.
Puree the plums in a food processor, then pass through a fine sieve. Pour the plum puree into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Combine the sugar and the agar agar powder and add them to the plum puree.(the temperature again should reach 85º C for agar agar to melt) Add in the rum. Stir a couple more minutes till all the sugar is dissolved. Let slightly cool before using, but be aware since the agar agar starts to solidify at around 40º C.

To assemble:
Using a 7cm ring cut out 6 rounds from the dacquoise. Place all dacquoise rounds in their ring (here we used 3 cm tall rings) then pour over the yoghurt mousse leaving 0,5cm to the top. Place in the fridge for an hour to set. Then pour the plum mixture to the top of the rings. Again, place in the fridge to set. It's better to let the cakes rest several hours (or overnight) before eating.


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