Sunday, November 28, 2010

Kiflice – Mini Cheese Rolls - Fresh from the Oven

Kiflice, although called differently in the different countries, are a very Balkan breakfast. They were chosen by Maja from Cooks and Bakes as this month's Fresh from the Oven challenge. Maja is a Serbian, i.e. she is a neighbour of ours.

After having Chelsea buns, which are a typical British breakfast, last month, it was interesting to see a typical Balkan one.

I always tend to overfill those rolls so there is always some leakage but I love them with extra cheese and can't restrain myself of overstuffing them. Here for the filling I used white brine cheese mixed with savory and a spoon of yoghurt as the cheese was a little bit hard.
I mixed the dough late in the evening and made the rolls the next morning for breakfast.

Overall, I found the dough recipe very very good and the baking with the additional butter makes the rolls crispy and crunchy.

Come and check out the Fresh from the Oven site to see how everybody did it.

Kiflice Recipe:
Makes 40 mini cheese rolls.

For the Dough:
  • 500 g all purpose flour;
  • 10 gr salt;
  • 20 gr fresh yeast (2 tsp instant yeast or 2.5 tsp active dry yeast);
  • 1 tsp sugar;
  • 250 ml milk;
  • 75 ml sunflower oil(or any other neutral vegetable oil);
  • 1 egg;
For the Filling:
  • 200-250 g cottage cheese (you may use feta or other fresh cheese);
  • 1 egg white (optional).
And More:
  • 1 egg yolk;
  • 1 Tbsp milk;
  • 100 g butter.
For the starter - dissolve yeast with some lukewarm milk in a cup, add a teaspoon of sugar and a tablespoon of flour, stir to get smooth batter. Set aside at room temperature, or near the stove top, to let the yeast activate and fill the cup.

Sift the flour, add salt. Add activated yeast, egg, oil and milk, then combine using a wooden spoon to get smooth dough. The dough seems like too soft and too sticky at the beginning, but don't worry, continue with kneading, and soon your dough should start to separate from the bowl, and thicken. It is not necessary to knead the dough by hands, the wooden spoon works just fine. Grease the cling film with oil, cover the bowl, and set aside for at least an hour, at lukewarm place, to let the dough doubles in size.

Crush the cheese using a fork. Add some salt if it tastes neutral. Stir the egg white in, if the cheese is too crumbly. Filling shouldn't be runny, but thick and compact, thicker than the cream cheese.

Re-knead the dough, divide into 5 equal parts, shape them into balls. Each part should make 8 rolls, so you'll end up with 40 rolls, which should perfectly fit the regular oven pan, if lined in 5x8 order. Flatten each ball by hands over the floury working surface, then use a rolling pin to roll the dough out in a circle, a few millimetres thick. Use a sharp knife to cut the circle into 8 triangles. Take one triangle, stretch it in the air with your hands, to get it extended as much as you can, gently. Put some filling at the triangle base, then fold the edges of the base(look at Maja's blog for more instructions), to avoid the filling leak out during baking. Roll. Arrange the rolls at the pan (5x8).

Lightly beat the egg yolk with a tablespoon of milk, then brush the top of each roll with the mixture. This is used to prevent forming thick crust, and to improve the colour of baked rolls. Sprinkle with some sesame seeds, if you like.

Arrange the small pieces of butter between the rolls, then bake in the oven preheated to 180°C for about 20 minutes.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Apple Crostata

November Daring Bakers' challenge was to make a crostata, and the first we thought about was apple one, since we were loaded up with apples from Ivan's uncle front yard.

The challenge was hosted by Simona from Briciole. I planned to post it earlier today but we were invited to have a tea with our friends Dessie and Nikolay and we had a wonderful lazy day with honey cookies, apple cake and brioche rolls made especially for us from Dessie's mother.

Apple Crostata Recipe:

For the Pasta Frolla:
  • 90 gr powdered sugar;
  • 235 gr cake or all purpose flour;
  • a pinch of salt;
  • 115 gr cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces;
  • grated zest of half a lemon;
  • 1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten in a small bowl
Whisk together sugar, flour, lemon zest and salt in a bowl.

Rub or cut the butter into the flour until the mixture has the consistency of coarse crumbs. You can do this in the bowl or on your work surface, using your fingertips or an implement of choice.

Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten eggs into it.

Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients, and then use your fingertips.

Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball.

Shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator and chill for at least two hours. You can refrigerate the dough overnight.

Butter and dust with flour a 22,5 cm pie dish. We used a 20 cm baking pan and had some extra dough enough to make a small apple galette. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface then line the pie dish with it. Pinch the pie crust with a fork. Add the filling.

For the Filling:
  • 3 big apples, peeled, cored and cut into slices(I don't know what kind of apples we used but these beauties were pretty big.);
  • juice of half a lemon;
  • 1 Tbsp corn starch;
  • 70 gr mascarpone (or cream cheese);
  • 35 gr dark brown sugar;
  • 25 gr granulated sugar;
  • 1 tsp cinnamon;
  • ¼ tsp ginger;
  • ¼ tsp clove;
  • 15 gr butter.
Preheat the oven to 180º C.
Combine lemon juice and corn starch and pour over the apples. Toss them to distribute the liquid evenly.

In a small bowl, combine the two types of sugar, cinnamon, ginger and clove.

Spread the mascarpone evenly over the pie crust. Sprinkle half of the sugar mixture over the mascarpone and arrange the apples on top. If there is any lemon juice left, discard it. Sprinkle the rest of the sugar over the apples. Dot with the butter on top.

Bake for approximately 50 minut. If the top starts to burn, cover it with a baking paper.
Leave the crostata for at least 4 hours before slicing, thus all the juices from the apples will set.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hibiscus Macarons with Mascarpone-Butter Cream

Our friends Ann and Becky sent us a huge bag of these beautiful enormous dry hibiscus flowers from Egypt. This is the best hibiscus tea we've ever tried – profound and intensive flavour, deep rubious colour and concentrated flowery acidulous taste. But it would be a sacrilege to use these gems for just making tea. Candied flowers, hibiscus jelly or reduction sound quite tempting too, but first of all we decided to use two of their main characteristics – nice deep colour and this flowery acidity - and made some hibiscus macarons.

Hibiscus tea contains 15-30% organic acids and this acidity combines in a perfect harmony with the sugary sweetness of the macaron shells. Besides it gives this completely natural purple colour.

Since the macaron shells are sourly sweet, they pair well with a rich cream as a butter-mascarpone one.

Hibiscus Macarons Recipe:
Makes... (these were so good that we ate a good amount of them before even pairing them and forgot how many they were)

Note: For the meringues we used the following proportions - 1,3 gr almonds / 2 gr sugar per every gram of egg whites.
All the ingredients were weighed out after dehydrating.

  • 110 gr egg whites (3-days aged);
  • 20 gr granulated sugar;
  • 143 gr blanched almonds;
  • 220 gr powdered sugar;
  • 15 gr dry hibiscus flowers;
In a mortar grind the dry hibiscus flowers to a fine powder. If needed sieve it as there are not so fine particles that remain.

In a food processor grind the almonds till coarse semolina size. Add in the powdered sugar and grind finely. Add the hibiscus powder and pulse 2-3 times to blend. Sift the mix to remove any clumps.

In a large bowl begin beating the egg whites on a low speed. When they are foamy gradually add the granulated sugar. If necessary increase the speed to medium (but not high). Beat till glossy meringue.

Remove the beaters. Add the almonds/sugar mixture in two or three times and fold carefully until homogenous.

Line a baking pan with paper. Pour the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (we use № 7) and pipe about 2cm large rounds (we prefer even smaller “one bite” macarons) leaving 2cm space between them. Tap the pan on the counter several times to bring up any air bubbles.

Let the macarons rest for 30 – 45 minutes to form a skin. At the end they should not be tacky on touch.

Preheat the oven to 150º C. When the shells are no more tacky on touch, bake for around 10 minutes or until they seem done.

Remove from the paper and let cool on a wire rack. (If not using immediately, store the shells in an airtight container.)

Mascarpone-Butter Cream Recipe:
  • 50 gr butter (room temperature);
  • 100 gr powdered sugar;
  • 150 gr mascarpone.
Combine sugar and butter and beat until creamy and fluffy. Add the mascarpone and beat until homogenous.

To assemble: Fill a pastry bag with the mascarpone-butter cream and couple the macaron shells with a good twist of cream. Store the macarons in an airtight container in the fridge. Let them rest for 24 hours before eating.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Gluten Free Chocolate Cookies

We admit it, we aren't great gluten free baking fans, but it's so trendy recently, that makes us curious to try it.

Besides we wanted to surprise our friend Svetla who became gluten intolerant after her first pregnancy. Now she is pregnant with her second child and she is craving more than ever for cookies and crackers. So we examined several gluten free recipes in quest for the perfect one. But considering that when it comes to food Svetla is a really picky eater we decided it would be better to make a recipe specially for her. And here it is.

Gluten Free Chocolate Cookies Recipe:
  • 50 gr millet flour;
  • 60 gr rice flour;
  • 50 gr corn starch;
  • 30 gr dutch processed cocoa powder;
  • pinch of salt;
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder;
  • ½ tsp (2 gr) gum arabic(powdered);
  • 1 tsp (4gr) gum guar;
  • 125 gr butter;
  • 95 gr granulated sugar;
  • 55 gr jaggery(liquefied or finely chopped);
  • 1 large egg;
  • 50 gr raisins;
  • 50 gr milk chocolate chips.
In a bowl, mix the flours, corn starch, cocoa powder, baking powder, gum arabic, gum guar and salt until uniform, set aside.

Beat the butter, sugar and jaggery in a large bowl until creamy and fluffy. Beat in the egg. Whisk in the flour mixture, stir in the raisins and the chocolate chips until soft drop-cookie dough. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 170ºC. Lightly butter a baking sheet or prepare a silpat.

Drop by rounded tea or tablespoonfuls of the dough onto the baking sheet or silpat. Space the heaps about 3 cm apart. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes (depending on the size of the cookies), or until the top is dry and a little bit cracked but the insides are still quite soft.

Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, afterwords transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes: Right after taking out of the oven these cookies are really soft and fragile, but don't worry they will set up after several minutes when cooled.

You can substitute 1 tsp of gum xantan for gums used here.

You can substitute dark brown sugar or honey for jaggery but the jaggery gives a smoky flavour and prolonged aftertaste.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Chocolate Salted Caramel Tart

I had a great story to tell you about these tarts involving me and my sister in Paris, a scrumptious round of Camembert grillé and a crunchy baguette, a long walk on foot from my sister's tiny apartment at rue Miollis (15ème arrondissement) to rue Cail (10ème), samosas at Krishna and shopping spices at Ganesha, then on our way back dropping ourselves in a small local pastry shop (not as trendy as Hermé or Aoki, but with it's own charm) for these little salted caramel life boosters and a looong walk on foot (again) to rue Cler(7ème) for a late Friday night Mojito with friends. Yup, comfy shoes on our feet and large smiles on our faces – this is all we needed not to care about the rain nor the cool winter wind.

But the cursor was blinking nasty on the white page and although my head was full of stories, nothing was coming out of my fingers on the keyboard. After a week the page was still white and the cursor was still blinking as if laughing at me.

I like food related stories and memories. But this block went on too long and since obviously I've sank in a deep writer's whiteness and there is no story coming out of me, I'll be happy to hear your salted caramel stories.

Chocolate Salted Caramel Tart
Adapted from Vanilla Garlic
Makes 6 small 8-cm tarts or one big 22-cm tart

For the Crust:
  • 110 gr butter, softened;
  • 100 gr sugar;
  • 1 large egg yolk;
  • 130 gr all purpose flour;
  • 30 gr dutch processed cocoa powder.
In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in the egg yolk. Combine the flour and cocoa powder and add them to the butter mixture. Mix in until it just comes together. Roll out the dough or form it just pressing it with your fingers into 6 8-cm rings laid down on a paper lined baking tray. Fridge the tarts shells for an hour to set. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180º C. Prick the tart shells all over with a fork and blind bake until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

For the Caramel:
  • 125 ml water;
  • 400 gr granulated sugar;
  • 60 gr glucose;
  • 125 ml heavy cream;
  • 110 gr butter (if using salted butter skip the salt below);
  • 15 gr flaked sea salt.
In a saucepan, whisk together the sugar, glucose and the water and bring to a boil. Salt can be added at this initial step (skip if using salted butter), but I prefer to add it at the end in order to preserve the salt crystals. Cook without stirring until amber colour, if using a candy thermometer it should reach 180º C . Remove the pan from heat and whisk in the butter and the cream until smooth. Pour caramel into cooled tart shells and refrigerate until firm, around 4 hours.

For the Ganache:
  • 120 gr heavy cream;
  • 120 gr high quality dark chocolate (we used Cacao Barry's Tanzanie);
  • Sea salt or kosher salt for garnish
Bring the cream to a simmer. Then pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Wait for a minute, then stir to obtain a smooth ganache. Pour the ganache evenly over the tarts and refrigerate for further 4 hour. Before serving sprinkle with sea salt, but not before as it will melt away.

Tip: If you have any caramel left, wait till it hardens, then tear small pieces of it and dip them in dark chocolate.


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