Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hot Cross Buns

We've never made so many Easter breads like this year. Firstly we made Kulich to take along with us in the countryside as a present for Ivan's parents, then I helped mum with the baking of 5 loaves of Kozunak. Plus I'm on a gluten free diet (I hope it will last for just a couple of months) and have tried nothing of the above, unless you count the wonderful aroma that was in the air. So we had a good reason to skip this month's Fresh from the Oven Challenge. But then some of the FFO members rebelled and posted early. Dom, Claire and Sally, you naughty guys! Ivan saw their posts and the next moment his hands were already buried into the slightly sweet dough for hot cross buns. Many thanks to Sarah from Simply Cooked for hosting this challenge.

As a base we used Sally's recipe but adapted it a little for the needs of a single eater who loves buns packed with a double doze of dry fruits. Ivan made the buns and it was up to me to make the cross and I slopped it ugly with a spoon. I made the cross dough too liquid and it spread more than intended but it still looks like a cross, so it's not a great problem. I left one of the buns without the white cross and even liked it more like that. (it could be seen into the background of the above photo)

Hot Cross Buns Recipe:
Adapted from My Custard Pie
  • 270 gr all purpose flour (+ more for the working surface);
  • 60 gr whole milk (lukewarm);
  • 50 gr water (lukewarm);
  • 7 gr fresh yeast (or 2,5 gr fast action dried yeast);
  • 4 gr salt;
  • 30 gr sugar;
  • 1 egg;
  • 30 gr butter (melted and cooled);
  • 50 gr dry fruits (we used 100 gr – 20gr currants, 20gr sour cherries in rum; 30gr dry apricots, 30 gr candied orange and lemon peels);
  • ½ tsp grated lemon zest;
  • pinch of grated nutmeg;
  • 2 pinches of cinnamon;
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom;
  • 2 pinches ground dry ginger;
  • pinch of ground cloves.
For the Cross:
  • 25 gr all purpose flour;
  • ½ Tbsp sunflower oil;
  • 1-2 Tbsp water(or enough to make the dough into piping consistency).
To finish:
  • 1 egg yolk;
  • 1 tablespoon milk.
To Glaze:
  • 100 gr granulated sugar;
  • 50 gr orange juice.
The dough could be kneaded by hand but since it's sticky it's easier to use hand or stand mixer equipped with dough hook.
In a large bowl sift together flour, sugar, salt, lemon zest and all the spices. Make a well in the center and set aside.
In another bowl combine water, milk and yeast and leave for 5 minutes. Then add melted butter. Whisk in the egg.
Pour the liquid ingredients into the well of the dry ingredients and mix with electric mixer(equipped with dough hook) to form a sticky dough. Add dry fruits. Knead on low speed for 10-15 minutes. Cover the dough and leave to rise for about an hour, or until doubled in size.
Transfer the dough to a floured counter top and divide it into 6 equal pieces. Shape into rounds and dust with flour. Place on a lined with paper baking pan and leave to prove, covered with a linen tea towel for about 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 200°C and make the paste for the crosses by beating the water and oil into the flour until smooth. Transfer the paste into a piping bag with a small nozzle.
Beat the egg and milk together.
Make a cross with a sharp knife across the top of the buns. Brush with the egg wash and then pipe crosses onto the indentation. (This could be done with a spoon but one has to be more skillful than I am). Bake for around 15 - 20 minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack. In a small sauce pan bring sugar and orange juice to a boil. Brush the glaze over the buns.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Kulich - Russian Easter Bread

Easter is this time of the year when everybody in Bulgaria makes (or rather buys) Kozunak. In our family my mother is the great “Kozunak Master” but I'll write more about this into the next post. The point is, we don't make Kozunak since we don't “mess” with the Master. However, this year we decided to make a Russian Easter bread – Kulich. To be honest I don't see a lot of difference in the various Easter breads, no matter where they come from. But they are rich and extremely tasty.

Normally when cooled Kulich is decorated with white icing, which is slightly drizzled down the sides, but since I hate this icing taste we skipped this step and instead we sprinkled some sugar on top.

Since Kulich is a tall type of bread, it's better to place the rack on the lowest section of the oven. In order not to burn it's bottom, use a double bottom baking dish. (And beware not to forget it in the oven like we did.)

Kulich Recipe:
Makes one tall loaf (15 cm in diameter and around 15 cm tall)
  • 250 ml whole milk;
  • 1 Tbsp sugar;
  • 1 Tbsp safflower;
  • 2 Tbsp all purpose flour;
  • 30 gr fresh yeast;

  • 25 ml rum;
  • 270 gr dry fruits (we used 20 gr currants, 50 gr sultanas, 50 gr dry apricots, 50 gr candied orange peels, 50 gr candied lemon peels, 50 gr sour cherries soaked in rum);

  • 3 eggs(room temperature);
  • 2 egg yolks(room temperature);
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract;
  • pinch of salt;
  • 150 gr sugar;
  • 150 gr butter (melted and cooled);
  • 550 gr all purpose flour(sifted).
Soak dry fruits in rum for a couple of hours or better - overnight.

Bring milk, sugar(1 Tbsp) and safflower to a simmer (the milk will turn nicely yellow). Leave it to cool until lukewarm. Then mix in yeast and flour(2 Tbsp). Let it prove(bubble) for about 15 minutes.

In a large bowl beat eggs, yolks, sugar, salt and vanilla extract (use hand mixer or just a whisk). Mix in melted butter, then mix in the yeasty mixture. Equip the hand(or stand) mixer with dough hook/s and add flour. Mix for around 20 minutes. At the end add dry fruits and rum and mix well to incorporate them. The dough is sticky, so it's not possible to knead it by hand. Cover the bowl and leave the dough to become double in bulk. Meanwhile line a deep baking dish (we used a 15 cm oven-proof double bottom saucepan) with paper (or better panettone paper cups). Transfer the dough into the paper lined baking dish, cover it and leave it to prove again for around 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200º C. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 180º C and bake for 50 to 60 more minutes. Remove from the oven and leave it to cool for 20 minutes in the baking dish, then take it out of the baking dish and place on a wire rack. When cooled decorate with icing.

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

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Apple Coconut Cakes

I don't know what type these apples were but they were huge. We had 5-6 kilos of them and the problem was they were plane and tasteless if eaten raw but if cooked or baked all of their aromas evolve to a blissful perfection. After eating loads of apple tarts, crostatas, pies, it's time for something different. Grated apple makes these cakes moist and flavourful.

Note: These mini cakes are gluten free but if you wish you could substitute cake flour for rice and millet flour. 

Apple Coconut Cakes Recipe:
Makes 6 8,5-cm cakes
  • 150 gr apple (grated);
  • 15 gr freshly squeezed lemon juice; 
  • 60 gr rice flour;
  • 60 gr millet flour;
  • 30 gr desiccated coconut;
  • 8 gr baking powder;
  • 5 gr gum arabica(optional);
  • a pinch of salt;
  • a pinch of ground cloves;
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom;
  • 60 gr butter(room temperature);
  • 2 eggs (room temperature);
  • 25 gr muscovado sugar;
  • 65 gr granulated sugar;
  • 15 gr rum; 
  • 1 or 2 apples, peeled, cored and cut tino whatever pieces you like, then tossed in lemon juice.
  • 1-2 Tbsp sugar to sprinkle over the apples.
Preheat oven to 180º C. Line a baking sheet with silpat. Butter and flour the inside side of 6 rings (8,5 cm in diameter) and place them on the silpat.

Toss grated apple in lemon juice. Set aside.

Sift together rice and millet flour, coconut, baking powder, gum arabica, salt, cloves, cardamom.

In a large bowl beat butter with the two types of sugar until light and fluffy. Add in eggs, one at a time. Beat in rum, then flour mixture and last – grated apple with lemon juice.

Divide the mixture between the prepared rings. Arrange apple pieces on top of the mixture and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake around 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tart Tatin

We made the tart from the photo more than a fortnight ago and I had no intentions to post about it since this is an extremely ordinary recipe. But we were overloaded with apples that if eaten raw were blind and crumbly but when cooked they were extremely flavourful. So this tart became something like our everyday tart.

Spices like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves could also be added but I prefer the potent simple apple taste. Sometimes we substitute muscovado sugar for a part of the granulated sugar but the colour of the apples gets a bit brownish.

This is not the traditional tart Tatin recipe since it's cooked only in the oven, but it appeared we do not have a pan that could be used both on the stove top and in the oven.

Tart Tatin Recipe:
  • 150 gr cake flour;
  • 20 gr desiccated coconut;
  • 3 gr salt;
  • 40 gr confectioners' sugar;
  • 85 gr cold butter(cut into 1cm cubes);
  • 1 small egg, lightly beaten;
  • 100 gr granulated sugar;
  • 45 gr butter;
  • 2-3 apples;
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Combine flour, coconut, salt, confectioners' sugar in the bowl of the food processor and pulse to combine. Add cold butter and pulse several times to make it into fine crumbs. Add egg and pulse just to combine but do not overwork the dough into the food processor. Gather the dough, form it into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Peel and core the apples. Cut them in whatever pieces you like, then toss them in lemon juice.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC.

Caramelize sugar in butter, then pour it into an even layer on the bottom of 20-21 cm round baking pan. Arrange apples on top of the caramel.

On a lightly floured counter top roll the dough out to a circle 0,5-1 cm larger than the baking dish. Place the dough circle on top of the apples and tuck in the ends. Punch the dough a couple of times with a fork. Bake for around 45 - 50 minutes or until done.

Remove baking dish from the oven. Leave it slightly to cool for about 5 minutes, then turn it upside down on a serving plate. It could be served while still warm.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Walnut Cocoa Nib Cookies

Yesterday, just before going to bed I saw this photo saying “Let's find some beautiful place to get lost”. This was exactly what I was dreaming about the last few days, or maybe even months. Wouldn't it be just great if we were able to go wherever our imagination takes us. With no fears for tomorrow, no thoughts for today, neither regrets for yesterday.

If you can't find a beautiful place to get lost in, you could surely get lost in those cookies. They are on top of our "cookies, we love" list.

Walnut Cocoa Nib Cookies
Makes around 28 cookies.
  • 100 gr walnuts;
  • 150 gr cake flour;
  • 150 gr confectioners' sugar;
  • ¼ tsp salt;
  • 90 gr cold butter(cut into 1cm cubes);
  • ¼ vanilla pod;
  • 15 ml rum;
  • 35 gr cocoa nibs.
Place flour, sugar, salt and walnuts in food processor (equipped with the metal blade) and pulse till walnuts are ground to a fine meal. Scrape the seeds of the vanilla pod and pulse them in. Add in butter and pulse till crumbles form, then pulse in the rum. Add the cocoa nibs and pulse just to distribute them evenly.

Gather the dough - it should be crumbly and sandy but it should hold together when pressed with hands. Touch the dough just to gather it, do not overwork it. Form the dough into a boudin (4 cm in diameter). Wrap the boudin in plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Line a baking pan with paper or silpat. Unwrap and slice the boudin into 1-1,2 cm thick rounds. Arrange the rounds onto the silpat leaving enough space between them, since during the baking they will become flatter and will spread a little. Bake for around 14 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Keep the cookies in an air tight container. They are better if eaten on the next day (like almost all kind of cookies).


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