Friday, January 28, 2011

Khrushchev dough

 It was our honour to host the first Fresh from the Oven challenge for this year. We chose to set our favourite snack and breakfast recipe. Besides it's very easy. But you have to forget everything you know about the dough when it comes to this one.

It's said that this was the favourite dough recipe of the Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev. Thus came the name – Khrushchev dough. He liked it fried as pirozhki but we usually make out of the dough little baked cheese rolls, similar to Maya's kiflice or croissants.

This is the strangest and irrational dough recipe but it always works.

There are two key factors about achieving a good dough that do NOT apply here:
  1. Never mix yeast directly with the salt. Exactly the opposite is what you have to do here. Since the salt kills the yeast when in direct contact we are using double amount of the yeast than we would usually use for this amount of flour.
  2. Leave the dough to temper for an hour or two after taking out of the fridge. Not here. Work with the dough directly when out of the fridge. It's essential for the dough to be cold, otherwise the butter will start to melt and absorb more flour which isn't desired.
We must specify that this isn't the original recipe, it's our version of the recipe. The original recipe uses margarine and the fat is in bigger amounts, but we don't use margarine and have always made it according to this version.

Notes: For mixing and kneading the dough, normally, we are using electric mixer equipped with the dough hooks. But it could either be used a wooden spoon. If needed at the end we are turning it a couple of times by hand, but to be honest I prefer not to touch it in order not to soften the butter too much with the warmth of my hands.
It have happened to me to decide to make the dough impromptu with butter directly out of the fridge. In this case it was enough just to cut the butter into small cubes (1 cm). Do not melt the butter.

Khrushchev Dough Recipe:
  • 40 gr fresh yeast (or 10 gr powdered dry yeast + 30 gr water);
  • 10 gr salt;
  • 250 ml cold milk(directly from the fridge);
  • 150 gr unsalted butter, cut in small cubes, room temperature(NOT melted);
  • 1 Tbsp sugar;
  • 500 gr all purpose flour + additional for the counter;
If using fresh yeast: Using an ordinary tablespoon rub the salt through the yeast block till it becomes liquid.

If using dry yeast: Mix salt and dry yeast, then add the water.

Add in the milk, butter, sugar and sift the flour on top. Mix with an electric mixer equipped with the dough hooks till all the ingredients are combined and soft dough forms. A wooden spoon could either be used. Cover the bowl with an airtight lid or plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight.

The dough becomes firm in the fridge (since the butter goes firm) but it does rise slowly. Although the original recipe says it doesn't, we are making it every quite often for more than five years, and it always rises, not as much as the other doughs but it rises nicely.

The next morning, dust the counter with flour, place the dough on top, roll it out and shape it as you like. Work the dough as soon as you take it out of the fridge. If needed divide it in two or three parts and place one part in the fridge while you are forming the other.

We've never freezed the dough but according to the Russian forums there's no problem of doing so after the overnight proofing in the fridge. When you want to use it, leave it overnight in the fridge to defreeze.

Sally's amazing creations

What to do with the dough?
Do take a peep into the creations of the other Fresh from the Oven members here.We are especially impressed of what Sally has done. (The photo above) Parsley and garlic sounds pretty rad.

Usually we are making small cheese rolls out of it (Like those on the first photo). For making them:

Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
Take the dough out of the fridge, divide it in two and return one of the parts in the fridge.

Dust the counter with flour and roll the dough out to 3 mm thick rectangle. Cut it lengthwise and widthwise to smaller or bigger rectangles. Place some grated feta, cheddar or whatever cheese you have in the fridge and roll the rectangles up to tight rolls. All kind of jams, preserves, nutella... could be used. Arrange them in a baking pan living some space between them since they rise in the oven. Brush the rolls with a mixture of egg yolk, a few drops of water and a few drops of vegetable oil.
Bake for around 15 minutes or until golden brown.

But there are many other treats that could be made with this dough. Baked or fried. Like doughnuts, sweet or savoury rolls, pizza, pirozhki, bread and whatever you like no matter sweet or savoury.

We are sending this post to YeastSpotting.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Matcha Black Sesame Entremet

The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe from accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert. And we loved it! Meeting challenges like this one was the reason we joined the Daring Bakers.

We decided to make matcha Joconde with black sesame pattern filled with two mousses – matcha and black sesame. But black sesame paste isn't available at the supermarkets here so we had to make it from scratch (recipe below). But I assume there is colour added to the store bought black sesame paste, because ours wasn't so black. In fact the paste was very dark in colour but the mousse got some purple/greenesh undertones. Despite this, the taste was ok.

For the Joconde sponge we adapted Astheroshe's recipe and for the matcha mousse and the sesame nougatine we adapted recipes by Evan's Kitchen Ramblings.

Matcha Black Sesame Entremet with a Sesame Nougatine Recipe:
Serves 6

For the Black Sesame Paste:
  • 100 gr black sesame seeds;
  • 30 gr sugar;
  • 250 ml water.
Toast the sesame seeds in a pan over the stove until fragrant. Add in the water and sugar and let simmer for 10 minutes. Leave to cool, then blend to achieve a paste consistency. Pass through a sieve. Store in the fridge.

For the Patterned Joconde-Décor Paste:
  • 30 gr unsalted butter, softened;
  • 30 gr confectioners' sugar;
  • 30 gr egg whites;
  • 20 gr cake flour;
  • 20 gr black sesame paste.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the black sesame paste. Add the egg whites and beat well. Fold in the sifted flour.
Line a baking pan with a silpat.
Pour the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a small plain tip and pipe parallel lines diagonally on the silpat. Then slide the silpat into the fridge for half an hour to set. Meanwhile prepare the joconde.

For the Joconde Sponge:
Yields 35 x 24 cm silpat
  • 42 gr almond flour;
  • 37 gr confectioners' sugar;
  • 12 gr cake flour;
  • 10 gr matcha powder;
  • 75 gr eggs;
  • 45 gr egg whites;
  • 5 gr white granulated sugar;
  • 15 gr unsalted butter, melted.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
Sift together almond flour, confectioner’s sugar, cake flour and matcha powder.
Whip the egg whites and the granulated sugar to firm, glossy peeks.
In a separate bowl beat the eggs until pale and fluffy. Add in the sifted dry ingredients. Mix until smooth and light. Fold in one third of the whipped egg whites to almond mixture to lighten the batter. Fold in the remaining whipped egg whites. Do not over mix.
Fold in the melted butter.

Take out the silpat from the fridge and pour the Joconde batter over the pattern Spread evenly to a thin layer. Bake for around 10 minutes, but watch carefully as the batter is very thin and it's easy to over bake it. Cool. Flip cooled sponge onto a parchment paper. Remove silpat. Cake should be right side up, and pattern showing. Trim the cake of any dark crispy edges. You should have a nice rectangle shape.

Prepare 6 rings – 5,5cm in diameter and 6cm tall. Cut 6 cellophane strips with the height of the rings and 20cm long.

Cut 6 strips from the Joconde sponge – 4cm tall and around 16,7cm long. It's better to measure out precisely the inner side of the rings so the sponge could fit tightly. Fit each Joconde strip to the bottom side of a cellophane strip, pattern side down facing the cellophane. Form the cellophane-joconde strip into a ring and enter it into the moulding ring. Gently push and press the ends of the sponge to meet together to make a seamless cake. The cake is very flexible so you can push it into place.

From the rest of the Joconde layer cut 6 rounds to fit inside the 6 rings and place each of them into the bottom of the rings but in that way that the bottom is encircled from the side layer. Place each mould to an individual cellophane strip or wrap it in cling wrap from the outside bottom side. Thus it would be easier to handle it. The mould is done, and ready for further action.

For the Matcha Soaking Syrup:
  • 1 tsp matcha powder;
  • 30 ml water;
  • 30 gr granulated sugar.
Combine matcha powder, sugar and water and heat until sugar and matcha powder has dissolved completely. Lightly brush the joconde with the syrup.

For the Matcha Mousse:
  • 320 ml milk;
  • 10 gr matcha powder;
  • 100 gr white granulated sugar;
  • 5 gr agar agar powder;
  • 240 ml whipping cream.
Mix together matcha, agar powder and sugar.
Bring the milk to a simmer. Whisk in the matcha-agar-sugar mixture and bring to a boil. Leave to cool but beware as agar starts to set at around 45ºC. Whip the cream until soft peaks and fold into the above mixture. Pour the mousse into joconde layered rings leaving 0,5-1 cm to the top.

For the Black Sesame Mousse:
  • 160 ml milk;
  • 35 gr white granulated sugar;
  • 50 gr black sesame paste;
  • 2 gr agar agar powder;
  • 90 gr whipping cream.
Mix together agar powder and sugar. Bring the milk to a simmer. Whisk in the agar-sugar mixture, then add in the black sesame paste and bring to a boil. Whip the cream until soft peaks and fold into the above mixture. Pour over the matcha mousse till the top of the rings. Reserve in the fridge.

For the Sesame Nougatine:
  • 12 gr glucose;
  • 5 gr water;
  • 32 gr unsalted butter;
  • 37 gr granulated sugar;
  • 12 gr black sesame seeds;
  • 12 gr white sesame seeds;
  • pinch of sea salt.
In a small saucepan over medium heat combine glucose, water and sugar. When sugar and glucose melt, add in butter and salt and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Stir in the sesame seeds and mix well. Quickly pour mixture on silpat then put another silpat on top and roll out thinly. Chill in the fridge until set. Preheat the oven to 170ºC. Remove the top silpat and bake for 10-15 minutes until bubbles appear. Leave to cool and break into pieces. Store into an airtight container and use for decoration just before serving.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chocolate Macarons with Italian Meringue

The first time we tried to make macarons using the Italian meringue method was 5 years ago as soon as we got back from Le Salon du Chocolat in Paris, where we attended a demonstration of how Pierre Herme's macarons are being done. I said “tried” for a reason here, as instead of macarons we made something more like a big fat and fluffy cookies. But there was a significant difference between those cookies and our first attempts/failures in the French meringue macarons. Our French meringue macaron failures resulted in feetless and cracked shells, as for the Italian meringue macaron failure – the result was neither feetless nor cracked but rather fluffy cookies. I think the main problem was that the almonds we used were very coarsely ground.

We've written before about making macarons in a humid climate and how challenging this could be. With all the dehumidification, dehydration and drying needed. Well, if living in a humid climate one could not escape of these steps neither with the French nor with the Italian meringue methods when it comes to macaron success. But I find that the Italian meringue leads to better results in a humid environment, or at least in our humid environment. Of course we are still drying the almonds and the egg whites in the oven on a defrosting function for a couple of hours before using. And no matter the air dehumidifier works all the time the macaron shells still need to rest for at least 2 hours to form a skin.

But despite all the humidity issues I think the Italian meringue method forms a thicker batter. This time we even had nipples on the macaron shells(that aren't very desirable but whatsoever).

As a base recipe for the shells we used Pierre Herme's chocolate macaron recipe which we got from the demonstration we'd attended (the same is featured in Macaron).

But as we were short in almonds and had only 128 grams of them, we had to adjust the recipe but still kept Monsieur Herme's proportions.

Italian Meringue Chocolate Macarons Recipe:
  • 51 gr cocoa paste or 100% dark chocolate;
  • 128 gr ground almonds;
  • 128 gr confectioners' sugar;
  • 47 gr aged egg whites;
  • +
  • 128 gr granulated sugar;
  • 32 gr distilled water;
  • 47 gr aged egg whites;
Sift the confectioners' sugar and ground almonds into a large bowl then add the first portion of egg whites. The recipe says no need to mix it, but we are mixing it.

Melt the 100% chocolate in the microwave taking care not to burn it.

Make the Italian meringue. In a saucepan combine water and granulated sugar and bring to a boil. When the syrup reaches 115ºC, in a separate bowl, start beating the second portion of egg whites to soft peaks. Once the syrup reaches 118ºC, pour it slowly on to the whites, beating all the time. Keep beating till the mixture cools to 50ºC. Remove the beaters.

Fold the Italian meringue into the confectioners' sugar-ground almonds-egg whites mixture. Then fold in the melted chocolate.

Line 2-3 baking pans with paper or silpat.

Pour the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (we use № 7) and pipe about 3 cm large rounds leaving 2cm space between them. Tap the pan on the counter several times to bring up any air bubbles.

Let the macarons rest to form a skin. At the end they should not be tacky on touch.

Preheat the oven to 160º C. Bake for around 12 minutes. During baking quickly open and shut the oven door twice to let the steam escape.

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

For the Filling:
  • 100 ml heavy cream;
  • 100 gr dark chocolate (we used Cacao Barry's Mexique chocolate);
  • 35 gr butter;
  • 50 gr candied citrus peel, cut in small pieces.
Combine cream and candied citrus peel and bring to a simmer. Set aside. Melt the chocolate (we are doing this in the microwave), but beware not to burn it. When the cream is around 50ºC, pour it over the melted chocolate and stir to obtain a smooth ganache. Add in the butter. Mix well.

Place a plastic wrap directly onto the ganache to prevent forming a skin and put in the fridge for half an hour to set.

Fill a pastry bag with the ganache and couple the macaron shells with a good twist of ganache. Store the macarons in an airtight container in the fridge. Let them rest for 24 hours before eating.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Chocolate Salted Caramel Cookie Bars

Remember these chocolate salted caramel tarts? They were worth licking the screen! Yup, they were that good! This time we've twisted the recipe a little and ended up with these chocolate salted caramel cookie bars.

Chocolate Salted Caramel Cookie Bars Recipe:
Idea taken from Marmiton 

For the Cookies:
Makes around 40 cookies
  • 250 gr all purpose flour;
  • 40 gr finely ground almonds;
  • 125 gr butter;
  • 1 egg;
  • 80 gr sugar;
  • 15 ml rum;
  • pinch of salt;
  • pinch of cloves;
  • pinch of cardamom;
  • ½ tsp dry ginger;
  • 1 tsp cinnamon.
Combine flour, ground almonds, sugar, salt and all the spices and mix well. Cut the butter in small cubes and rub it with your fingerstips into the flour mixture until small crumbs form. Add in the egg and the rum and knead just until combined. Don't overwork. Gather the dough together. Form it to a brick and wrap tightly in plastic wrap or put it in a well closed bowl and then in the fridge for an hour to set.

Preheat the oven to 180º C and position a rack in the center. Prepare a silpat or line the baking pan with paper.

Flour the counter and roll the dough out to about 3 mm thick. Cut out 2,5 x 8 cm rectangles. If there are any dough scraps left, gather and reroll them. Bake for around 15 minutes or until golden. Let 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 (or to taste).
Line a large flat pan with silpat or a sheet of baking paper.

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 saucepan from heat and whisk in the butter and the cream until smooth. Pour the caramel onto the prepared sheet and using an offset spatula spread it out to the desired thickness. If you haven't put salt till now, it's time to use it – sprinkle the salt crystals over the caramel sheet. Work quickly. Let it cool and set for half an hour. If needed you could force it in the fridge. Then using a pizza cutter, cut the caramel to 2,5 x 8 cm rectangles. Place a rectangle over each cookie.

Note: If the humidity is higher in your kitchen, or it's warmer, then you have to work with the caramel as quicker as you can, since it starts to spread itself over and even around the cookies. If this happens you could just fix it with your fingers.

For the Ganache;
  • 150 gr heavy cream;
  • 150 gr high quality dark chocolate, finely chopped;
Prepare the ganache prior to caramel in order to be ready for instant use as soon as you put the caramel rectangles over the cookies.

Bring the cream to a simmer. Melt the chocolate (we are doing this in the microwave), but beware not to burn it. When the cream is around 50ºC, pour it over the melted chocolate and stir to obtain a smooth ganache. Place the ganache in a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip – we used tip № 7, since this is the biggest we have, but № 9 or 10 will fit better. Pipe the ganache longwise over the caramel sheet of each cookie. Then coat with tempered chocolate immediately.

For coating:
  • 1 kilo of high quality dark chocolate, tempered – we used Cacao Barry's dark chocolate couverture, origin, Tanzanie
Place the salted caramel ganache cookies onto a wire rack and using a tablespoon pour tempered chocolate over them, sealing even the smallest holes to prevent caramel from leakage.

Not all the chocolate will be used. And at the end there will be a lot of it drained under the wire rack, that could be saved for further uses. But it's easier to work with bigger quantities.

When the chocolate hardens carefully remove the bars from the wire rack. Using a sharp knife trim the excessive chocolate from the bottom side – the one that has set while draining through the wire rack.

Tempering the chocolate is essential here, as for the most chocolate coated threats. It gives shiny look, nice structure and a good snap sound when broken. So don't skip it!

Note for Cacao Barry's fans: Use dark chocolate couverture with a higher fluidity, such as the origins: Tanzanie, Equateur or Venezuela.
First we tried with Cacao Barry's Mexique and the result was a very thick coating. 

We've linked  this post to Lisa's Sweets for a Saturday round-up. Go check it to find a lot of other sweeties.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Stollen for a Happy New Year

It's this time of the year when everybody's making recapitulations of the past year, lists and plans for the new one. But I tend to never think of what I could have done but haven't. I never make planning lists just because the future is there, waiting for us and I prefer living it instead of planning it.

In Bulgaria, we have a tradition. On Christmas eve we are eating banitsa stuck with lucky charms. This year my fortune spell was “happy travellings” and Ivan got “new horizons”. Together these make the perfect lucky charm. This is exactly what I want, not only for the new year but for whole our life – the opportunity to travel, to see and taste new places, meet new people, try different cuisines and dive into different cultures. But this is not a plan, as plans never work with me. This is just my wish to the Universe. What's yours?

We have some work left from the past year since we haven't yet posted our stollen from the Daring Bakers challenges. Although we made it on time, we had no time to post about it, but we liked the recipe and it's worth sharing it. The last DB challenge for 2010 was hasted by Penny from Sweet Sadie's Baking and below is her recipe which we adapted a little bit.

Stollen Recipe:
Makes 2 big loaves
  • 60 ml lukewarm water (30 - 40º C);
  • 2 packages (14 grams) active dry yeast;
  • 240 ml milk;
  • 140 gr unsalted butter;
  • 770 gr all-purpose flour plus extra for dusting;
  • 115 gr sugar;
  • 55 gr honey;
  • 5 gr salt;
  • 6 gr cinnamon;
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten;
  • grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange;
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) very good vanilla extract;
  • 135 gr mixed candied citrus peel;
  • 200 gr raisins;
  • 60ml rum;
  • 12 red glacé cherries (roughly chopped) for the colour and the taste;(optional) or 50 gr dry cranberries;
  • 100 gr marzipan or more( depending on your taste);
  • Melted unsalted butter for coating the baked loaves;
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting.
In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the rum and leave to macerate a couple of days in advance or at least overnight.

Pour the lukewarm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.

In a small saucepan, combine milk, butter and honey over medium - low heat until butter and honey are melted. Let stand until lukewarm.

Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add vanilla extract.

In a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment, stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests.

Then stir in (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/butter/honey mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.

Add in the mixed peel, cranberries, soaked fruits plus any liquid if left. Mix with your hands or on low speed to incorporate. If using cherries instead of cranberries add them now, but be delicate with them or all your dough will turn red!

Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing with the dough hook) to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed. The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 8 minutes (6 minutes by machine). The full six minutes of kneading is needed to distribute the dried fruit and other ingredients and to make the dough have a reasonable bread-dough consistency. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough – a few raisins will start to fall off the dough onto the counter because at the beginning of the kneading process the dough is very sticky and the raisins will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn't enough to bind the outside raisins onto the dough ball.

Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Put it in the fridge overnight. The dough becomes very firm in the fridge (since the butter goes firm) but it does rise slowly.

The next morning, let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Punch dough down and divide in two or as many pieces as you like.

Roll out each dough piece into a rectangle about 5 mm thick. Roll out the marzipan to a thin or thicker rope (depending how you like it) and place it widthwise onto the rolled out dough Starting with the long side, roll the dough up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder. Transfer to the paper lined pan, cover with a clean towel and let proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.

Preheat oven to 180°C with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
Bake the stollen for around 40 minutes or until done. If needed bake for 25 minutes then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 15 more minutes. The bread should be baked to a dark mahogany colour and should register 88°C in the center of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the top with melted butter while still hot.
Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter.
Wait for 1 minute, then brush another layer of melted butter and again tap a layer of powdered sugar.
The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar.
Coat the stollen in butter and icing sugar three times, since this many coatings helps keep the stollen fresh. The more rum and the more coatings of butter and sugar you use the longer it will store.
When completely cool, wrap in cellophane or store in a plastic bag.
The stollen tastes even better in a couple of days.


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