Monday, February 28, 2011

Challah Fresh from the Oven

Po ze le shuk, le mitvahim al a mehir!” (This is not a market and we do not haggle over the price!) - although I've never had the right occasion to use this phrase, this is one of the few things I can say in Hebrew (but can't write it). Don't ask where I know it from. Weird job experience.

This phrase came to my mind when I saw this month's Fresh from the Oven challenge. It was hosted by Dom from Belleau Kitchen and he challenged us to make Challah - a special braided bread eaten by Jews on the Sabbath and holidays. (We consider Dom as a real hero since he managed to keep his sourdough starter alive. The poor creature always dies in our home:()

We made the bread 3 times this month. Need I say we loved it? It's soft and rich and it's hard to restrain yourself from eating it to the last crumb.

We've made plaited breads before (look at our brioche and polenta bread) so this time we decided to plait it as a five strand braid for a change.

We are sending this to Susan for her YeastSpotting round-up.

Challah Recipe:
  • 450 gr all purpose flour + additional;
  • 225 ml lukewarm milk;
  • 50 gr melted butter;
  • 8 gr salt;
  • 1 tsp honey;
  • 13 gr fresh yeast;
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten;
  • 1 egg for glazing.
Sift flour and salt together.

In a large bowl mix milk, yeast and honey and stir to dissolve the yeast. Add melted butter and egg, then add the sifted flour and salt. Mix with an electric mixer equipped with the dough hook till all the ingredients are combined and soft dough forms. (It will be very sticky and will definitely need extra flour for kneading). Knead till smooth and elastic (a good 15 minutes) then transfer to the bowl, cover and leave to prove for 1 1/2 hours.

Punch the dough down, knead it quickly to let the gas escape. Divide it into 5 equal parts to make a 5 strand braid.

Place the braid in a lined with paper baking pan and cover with clean towel. Let it double in size. Brush the braid twice with lightly beaten egg and bake for 35 – 40 minutes in the oven preheated to 190º C.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Honey Panna Cotta & Florentines

Making panna cotta and florentines was this month's Daring Bakers challenge which was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen.

Ivan did a good job with the panna cotta part – it was very creamy and smooth on the palate. And he played a bit with the orange jelly to make a hole in it where to pour some sour cherry jam.

It was up to me to make the florentines and I had a nice idea for plating the dessert, therefore I wanted to bake the florentines in the form of big crescents. But it didn't work out the way I thought it would, so I had some extra large florentines (with no trace of crescent look).

Honey Panna Cotta with Orange Jelly Recipe:
Makes 6 panna cotta rings 5,5cm in diameter and 4 cm tall

For the Orange Jelly:
  • 140 ml freshly squeezed orange juice;
  • 30 gr sugar;
  • ¾ tsp agar agar powder.
Combine all and bring to a boil. Pour in 6 rings 3cm in diameter and 2,5cm tall. Let cool and remove the rings.
To make a hole in the middle – cut 0,5cm tall circle from the orange jelly ring. Using a smaller ring make a hole in the center of the bigger part of the jelly. Discard (eat) the piece from the hole. Paste the 0,5cm tall jelly circle on top of the hollow jelly ring. Place in the middle of a 5,5 cm metal ring.

For the Honey Panna Cotta:
  • 120 ml whole milk;
  • 360 ml whipping cream;
  • 70 gr honey;
  • 2 level teaspoons agar agar powder.
Mix all the ingredients and bring to a boil. Pour in the prepared rings over the orange jelly. Let cool. Turn upside down and remove the rings.
Fill the hole in the middle with home made jam (we used sour cherry jam).

Florentines Recipe:
  • 50 gr butter;
  • 50 gr granulated sugar;
  • 30 gr confectioners' sugar;
  • 30 gr dry cranberries, chopped;
  • 15 gr walnuts, chopped;
  • 15 gr rolled oats;
  • 30 gr candied orange and lemon peel, chopped;
  • 25 gr hazelnuts chopped;
  • 15 gr all purpose flour.
Melt butter and sugar, then add the rest of the ingredients and mix till combined.
Preheat the oven to 180º C. Line baking pan with silpat. Drop the mixture by teaspoons leaving enough space since the florentines spread out a lot.
It could be spread some tempered chocolate from the bottom side, but I prefer them this way.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Date Chocolate Orange Entremet

It's been so dull and cloudy lately that we needed something bright and sunny to bring the good humour in. Oranges and chocolate are my winter mood boosters, and dates – ok, I found them in the fridge, deeply forgotten from the summer, but they fit perfectly into the mood booster conception.

Overall the end result was quite good, although I find the orange mousse a tad sweeter for my tooth(however, Ivan thinks it's ok). Also the different layers are not at all even from all sides, but this is an issue I'm working on for a while(with almost no success). Agar sets really fast even at room temperature, so one have to work very quickly and I am a bit slow. The other problem – cutting the cake. Not only my slices are not equal but they are a total disaster. Don't want from a girl with astigmatism to make a perfect angle, or at least I always use this argument as an excuse although I know it's not true. (note to myself - need more practice). The piece you see – it was Ivan who sliced it(note to him – he needs more practice too). While he was trying to cut a descent slice I was devouring one of the not so descent slices. And had no complains at all.

From bottom to top: date cake; orange marmalade; dark chocolate mousse; orange mousse; orange jelly; orange tuile

Date Chocolate Orange Entremet Recipe:

Note: Working with agar agar is a little bit tricky, since the agar starts to set at around 40-45º C.
          Instead of orange marmalade we blended home made candied orange peels with some of the sugar syrup in which they were candied. But orange marmalade will do the same job.

For the Spongy Date Layer:
Adapted from here
  • 100 gr pitted and chopped dates;
  • 150 ml water;
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda;
  • 30 gr butter, at room temperature;
  • 45 gr sugar;
  • 1 egg;
  • 75 gr self raising flour.
      + 75 gr orange marmalade to spread on top of the baked date sponge.

In a saucepan bring the water and the dates to a boil, then add bicarbonate of soda and stir. It'll start to bubble since the bicarbonate of soda is an alkali and neutralize the acids of the dates. Remove from heat. Let cool then blend until smooth.

Preheat the oven to 180º C. Grease and line with paper a 22cm square cake pan.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs and beat well. Fold in the flour and the date puree until just combined.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 22 minutes. The cake should be soft and spring back when touched. Cool on a wire rack. Trim the edges and fit the sponge layer into a 20 cm square frame. Spread the orange marmalade into an even layer on top of the date sponge.

For the Dark Chocolate Mousse:
  • 85 gr dark chocolate 75% cocoa (we used Cacao Barry's Tanzanie);
  • 20 gr sugar;
  • 5 gr glucose;
  • 10 gr water;
  • 25 gr egg yolks;
  • 175 gr whipping cream.
Make pate a bombe - beat the yolks until very pale in colour. On medium heat cook the sugar, glucose syrup and water to 118°C. Drizzle the syrup over the yolks beating all the time. Beat until cool. The batter should be thick and foamy.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave, watching out not to burn it. Then fold it into the pate a bombe.

Whip the cream until soft peaks. Fold 1/3 of the cream into the chocolate-yolks mixture. Then fold in the remaining cream.

Pour the mousse over the orange marmalade layer.

For the Orange Mousse:
Adapted from Sadaharu Aoki's Valencia
  • 50 gr orange marmalade (blended);
  • 15 ml rum;
  • 135 ml freshly squeezed orange juice(it's ok if there is some orange flesh in it);
  • 3 gr milk powder;
  • 15 gr sugar (A);
  • 40 gr egg yolks;
  • 1,5 gr agar agar powder;
  • 20 gr egg whites;
  • 30 gr sugar (B);
  • 10 gr water.
In a small bowl mix orange marmalade and rum, cover and place in the fridge.

Make orange custard. Beat the egg yolks, sugar(A) and agar powder until light. In a small saucepan combine orange juice and milk powder and bring to a boil. Pour the hot juice in a thin stream over the yolks while beating. Transfer the mixture into the saucepan and bring to 85º C.

Make Italian meringue. Cook sugar(B) and water to 118º C. Beat the egg whites to soft peaks, then pour in a thin stream the hot sugar syrup and beat to glossy peaks

Mix the refrigerated marmalade into the custard, then fold in the Italian meringue.

Quickly pour the orange mousse over the chocolate mousse into a uniform layer.

For the Orange Jelly:
  • 220 ml freshly squeezed orange juice;
  • 30 gr sugar (to taste, depending how sweet are the oranges);
  • 3 gr agar agar powder.
Combine all the ingredients and bring to a simmer. Let cool a little bit but not too much since the agar agar starts to set at around 40-45º C. Pour a part of the jelly into an even layer over the orange mousse. Pour the other part into silicon bonbon moulds, to use later for decoration.

For the Orange Tuiles:
  • 45 gr butter;
  • 30 gr confectioners' sugar;
  • 25 gr glucose;
  • zest of 1 orange;
  • 30 gr all purpose flour.
In a small saucepan, mix butter, sugar, glucose, orange zest and bring to a boil. Remove from the stove and mix in the flour. Let cool.

Preheat the oven to 170º C. Line baking pan with paper or silpat. Drop small balls of the batter (the size of hazelnut) spacing them 10 cm apart. In this case, since we broke the tuiles to smaller pieces, we used one bigger piece of the mixture. Bake for around 9-10 minutes, or until golden. Let cool. Store in an airtight box till needed.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Matcha Pumpkin Seed Financiers

Natalie from Vin de Peche passed us a Stylish Blogger Award. So now we have to share 7 things you might not know about us. Where to start from?

  1. I've started to write the “about us” page maybe 4 months ago and since then I've written only one sentence. Our friend Nicky, who is a pro photographer took us some super good shots especially on this occasion. Maybe I'm too lazy and need a serious kick :)
  2. The thing that makes me extremely nervous about blogging is taking photos with this crappy camera of ours. I always tend to burn the photos, but you already know that. 
  3. My dream is to attend the 6 month French pastry art program at ENSP in Yssingeaux, France. Hope it'll come true one day.
  4. Ivan is driving me nuts with his crazy culinary experiments. Right now we have 5 types of mayonnaise + one meatonnaise in the fridge.
  5. I'm driving Ivan nuts every time he starts explaining some technical information and I'm not listening.
  6. Aromatherapy is my hobby and I'm making all my cosmetics at home. I'm seriously thinking to start another blog about that to have someone to discuss it with. I've even reserved a blog name - Weedy Mead.
  7. Our biggest culinary failure is making white brine cheese. Fingers crossed. Our sixth attempt is maturing and will be ready for tasting very soon. Hope it will be eatable.

I told you we have many types of mayonnaise in the fridge, meaning we have many egg whites left. So we are making an egg whites based recipe. The most of all I like the colour. Green was the desired colour we wanted to achieve in the matcha black sesame entremet we did for the DB challenge last month, but it wasn't green enough, neither black. However it was delicious, although pale.

This time we've used pumpkin seeds flour, which is green but we've reinforced it with some macha powder. And here's the vibrant green result, which I'm so proud of.

Matcha Pumpkin Seed Financiers Recipe:
Makes 6
  • 65 gr egg whites, room temperature;
  • 25 gr almond meal;
  • 30 gr pumpkin seed flour;
  • 30 gr confectioners' sugar;
  • 15 gr granulated sugar;
  • 50 gr butter;
  • 7 gr matcha powder;
  • candied orange and/or lemon peel.
Note: Pumpkin seed flour is a byproduct of pumpkin seeds oil making, where the seeds are defatted and ground to a fine powder. It's colour is naturally green.

In a small saucepan brown the butter. Strain it into a small bowl and leave to cool.

In a separate bowl combine together almond meal, pumpkin seed flour, confectioners' sugar and matcha powder.

Beat egg whites and granulated sugar to glossy peaks. Fold in the dry ingredients, then fold in the browned butter. Divide the batter amongst 6 silicone moulds. Top with a slice of candied orange/lemon peel. Place in the fridge for half an hour. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180º C. Bake for 18 – 20 minutes or until done.

For more sweets go to Lisa's event Sweets for a Saturday. And for inspiration for seasonal recipes go to Brittany's Seasonal Sunday.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Pain aux Raisins

One of the things I miss the most about Paris is Paul and more particularly their pain aux raisins (or L'Escargot). I've tried it in almost every Paul boulangerie in the city as well in many other pastry shops and can definitely say that the best pains aux raisins or at least my favourite are in Paul at Palais des Congrés. They are always warm and generously glazed, shiny and crunchy. (The thing I hate the most is to walk all the way through Paris to get to Palais des Congrés and see there are none of those little rolls left.)

The glaze is what distinguishes those pains aux raisins from all others. I can't define for sure what exactly the glaze is. Sometimes I could definitely say it's quince jelly, but the next time I try it I'm sure it's fig jelly, other time – apricot one. I'm not sure if my palate is deceiving me or simply they are changing the glaze all the time. But no matter what the glaze is, it's always in abundance and those are indeed the best pains aux raisins. We've tried to replicate them many times and I think we are finally very close or maybe we've just glazed them really generously. I don't know.

And when speaking about Paris, I wouldn't have loved this city so much if it wasn't my sister living there. For me Paris always means good time with Dessi. It's been awhile since Dessi and Frederic are totally into their new project Bakchich Baba. Both of them are yoga instructors and this is the next level displaying their philosophy about life according to their principles of sustainability and fair trade. For now Bakchich Baba is just a small shop for yoga materials, accessories, spirituality pieces, but every object there has it's own history and positive energy. Sis, we wish you good luck in your new initiative!

Currently Bakchich Baba presents the exposition L'Inde Sacreé at the organic and fair trade boutique Le Papillon Vert, 18 rue Mouton-Duvernet, 75014 Paris.

Pain aux Raisins Recipe:
Makes around 8-10

For the Raisins:
  • 100 gr raisins;
  • 40 ml rum;
Soak the raisins in the rum overnight. Drain from the liquid before using.

For the Pastry Cream:
  • 250 ml milk;
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract;
  • 2 egg yolks;
  • 50 gr granulated sugar;
  • 20 gr all purpose flour.
Combine yolks, sugar and flour and beat until pale.
In a small saucepan bring milk and vanilla extract to a simmer then pour it in a thin stream over the yolk mixture beating all the time. Return the mixture into the saucepan and cook to 85ºC (until it thickens). Place the cream in a bowl and cover tightly with stretch foil in order not to form skin. Leave to cool.

For the Pastry:
  • 250 gr all purpose flour, sifted;
  • 150 ml lukewarm milk;
  • 35 gr granulated sugar;
  • 4 gr salt;
  • 6 gr fresh yeast (or 2 gr powdered dry yeast);
  • 125 gr butter – for laminating the dough;
  • 1 egg yolk + 1Tsp milk - for glazing before baking;
  • apricot, quince or any other jam or jelly which is light in colour, or just simple syrup, for glazing after baking.
Combine flour, salt and sugar. In a large bowl mix milk and yeast then add in the flour mixture. Mix with an electric mixer equipped with the dough hook till all the ingredients are combined and soft dough forms. Knead the dough for a couple of minutes then cover the bowl and leave the dough to double in bulk (for an hour or two depending of the room temperature). Punch the dough down, knead it quickly to let the gas escape, form to a ball and place in the fridge for half an hour to chill.

Roll the butter out between two plastic sheets to form a small rectangle, then chill in the fridge.

Lightly dust the counter with flour. Roll the dough from the four sides forming a cushion mat in the middle. Lay the butter on that mat and fold the all four sides of the dough sealing the butter inside. Roll the dough out to an A4 size rectangle then fold it like you would fold a business letter. Rotate the “letter” short side down, roll and fold again. Cover in a bowl and place in the fridge for an hour to chill.

Repeat the rolling-folding procedure two-three more times with an hour interval after each procedure.

Lightly dust the counter with flour and roll the dough out to a rectangle(around 30x35 cm). Spread an uniform thin layer of pastry cream and distribute the raisins evenly. Roll the rectangle up starting from the short side. Using a sharp knife cut the big roll to around 3 cm wide small rolls and place them to a paper lined baking pan. Cover and leave to proof for 40-50 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180º C. Glaze the rolls with the yolk-milk mixture and bake till golden brown (around 20 – 25 minutes). While still warm, glaze the rolls generously with neutral in colour jam or jelly. We did that with the liquid left from the candied orange peel we made last month.

We've linked this post to Lisa's event Sweets for Saturday where you can find many more sweet goodies and we are sending it to YeastSpotting on Wild Yeast.


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