Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cinnamon Roses

I was in a “play with dough” mood. Besides I wanted to try my hands on bread roses for a long time. And since it looked like as if the weekend's gonna be completely featureless and dull – Ivan was out of town and I was having a cold – it was just the perfect time for some dough work as a way to push myself off from the burning sensation in my sinuses. And this month's Fresh from the Oven challenge was more than appropriate for this occasion.

It was Claire from Things We Make who set the challenge to be cinnamon rolls.

I wanted my rolls to resemble tiny one bite roses but they proofed more than expected and appeared to be not so tiny ones. Never mind, I liked how they tasted, and especially their caramelized crunchy bottoms.

Note that these cinnamon roses are best if eaten while still warm since they are small and all those petals become dry very quickly. Maybe if there was icing on top, it would have helped to keep roll fresh longer but I hate how the sugar icing tastes. The roses could also be made bigger, thus they would be kept fresh and soft longer.

Cinnamon Roses
Makes: 24 roses
For the Dough
  • 300 gr all purpose flour, sifted;
  • 7 gr fresh yeast;
  • 150 gr buttermilk;
  • 25 gr sugar;
  • 25 gr melted butter;
  • 2 gr salt;
  • 1 egg yolk;
  • pinch of grated nutmeg.
For the Filling:
  • 50 gr soften butter;
  • 60 gr light muscovado sugar + more for dipping;
  • 1 tsp cinnamon.
Dissolve yeast in buttermilk. Combine flour, sugar, salt and nutmeg. Add in buttermilk, egg yolk and melted butter. Use your hand or stand mixer equipped with dough hooks and mix till dough forms then knead for 10 more minutes to develop the gluten. Cover the dough and leave it to proof till double in bulk.
Knock the dough back, give it a quick knead to let the gas escape. Roll the dough out to 2mm thickness. Using a 4,5 cm ring, cut 11 disks for each rose. Line up dough disks slightly overlapping each one. Spread on a nice layer of butter, then sprinkle some light muscovado sugar and cinnamon over the butter. Carefully roll up disks, making sure to not put any pressure on the edges, but do press in the center of the roll to adhere the disks. Use scissors to cut the roll in two. So now you have two roses. With your fingers, stretch out the rose's petals to burst the rose into bloom. Brush some soften butter onto roses and dip them in light muscovado sugar, then arrange them onto a lined with paper baking sheet spacing them 3-4 cm apart since they will expand during baking.< Bake into a preheated to 220ºC oven for around 20 – 22 minutes. Eat while still warm.

Here is an example of how dough roses are being made.

We've sent these cinnamon roses to Susan for her YeastSpotting showcase.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Povitica is a Central European holiday cake/bread also known as potica or nut roll. It is typical for Slovenia, Croatia, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary and its name means something like “rolled up”.
We were not familiar with this bread and it was fun making it (as well as eating it) while taking part at the October's Daring Bakers Challenge which was chosen by Jenni from The Gingered Whisk.

The bread turned out to be very delicious with all that cream inside. We made two loaves with different fillings – walnut one and poppy seed one. Although the poppyseed filling contains a couple of spoonfuls of the walnut filling, since we were short of poppy seeds.
We liked both of the fillings but we liked the poppy seed one a little bit more.

Povitica Recipe:
Makes: 2 loaves (using 20x10cm loaf pans)

For the Dough:

  • 610 gr all purpose flour;
  • 50 gr lukewarm water;
  • 10 gr fresh yeast;
  • 240 gr whole milk;
  • 60 gr butter;
  • 85 gr sugar;
  • 9 gr salt;
  • 2 eggs;
  • freshly grated zest of 1 lime or lemon.

Dissolve yeast in the water. Then mix in 50 gr of the flour. Cover and leave it to double, even triple in bulk.
In a saucepan heat milk together with the sugar and butter just until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Leave to cool to lukewarm.
In a big bowl mix together the rest of the flour, salt and lime zest Add the lukewarm milk-butter-sugar mixture, the pre-fermented dough and the eggs, and using a hand (or stand) mixer equipped with dough hook knead to form dough and then for 10 more minutes to develop the gluten. Cover the dough and leave it to double in bulk. The time depends considering the room temperature.(Meanwhile, prepare the fillings and butter 2 loaf pans 20x10cm.)
Knock the dough back. Give it a quick knead on a floured counter top in order to let the gas escape. Divide the dough in two equal parts (for making two breads). Divide each part in 3 balls – thus it would be easier to roll it out. Roll each ball out to a very thin sheet, so thin that you could see through it. Spread over a thin layer of the filling and roll the dough sheet up. Place the roll into a buttered loaf pan , fold it two or three times if needed. Proceed the same way with the rest of the dough.
Cover pan with plastic wrap or a clean towel and leave the to proof for 30 – 40 minutes.
Preheat oven to 180ºC. Brush the top of the loaves with milk and bake for 15 minutes, then turn down the temperature to 150ºC and bake for further 45 minutes or until done.
Remove loaves from the oven and leave them to cool as they are - in the pans – this would help the loaves to hold their shape.
Jenni's tip: It is recommended that the best way to cut Povitica loaves into slices is by turning the loaf upside down and slicing with a serrated knife.

For the Walnut Filling:
It's a nice and very easy filling, but I find mum's walnut filling to be better, although a little bit more complicated.
  • 280 gr ground walnuts;
  • 60 gr milk;
  • 60 gr butter;
  • 125 gr sugar;
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa powder;
  • ½ tsp cinnamon;
  • 1 egg;
  • 1 Tbsp rum.
Bring milk, butter and sugar to a boil. Remove from the stove and add in ground walnuts, cocoa and cinnamon. Mix well to combine, add in the egg and rum and mix again. If the mixture thickens, add a small amount of warm milk.

For the Poppy Seed Filling:
Initially we intended to make this filling but the amount of the poppy seeds we had was too little, so we had to improvise and we ended up with this:
  • 85 gr blue poppy seeds;
  • 35 gr almond meal;
  • 30 gr finely chopped sultanas;
  • 30 gr milk;
  • 20 gr sugar;
  • 25 gr jaggery (melted);
  • 1 Tbsp rum;
  • 2 or 3 Tbsp from the walnut filling (actually we added what's been left after rolling the first loaf).
Heat milk and sugar in order to dissolve sugar. Then add in the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Twisted Baguette

It makes me feel cosy. That aroma that comes out of the oven while baking bread is what I'm talking about. That odour evokes images of perfectly crunchy crust. Have you ever thought about this – one could actually smell the crust. By the aromatic molecules coming out of the oven one could say if the crust is crunchy or soggy, if the middle is well balanced or the bread magic didn't worked out. Well, this one has definitely made it.

Whenever you see a nice looking(and tasting) bread on this blog you should know it is Ivan involved. Maybe it's because it's simply in his blood, since he is a third generation baker, but whenever Ivan makes bread it's like the bread gets alive. Not in the monstrous way though. But if there were a bread spirit, it would have filled the air of our kitchen. Oh, wait, maybe there is, since the whole apartment smells of this gorgeous baguette.(There were three of them, but... you see... some people, I won't give names... were very hungry. Oups.) And just to keep the game going on – it's twisted. You'll find it also on Yeastspotting.

Twisted Baguette Recipe:

For the dough we used our regular bread dough recipe. Usually we use less yeast than it is normally needed, but we like prolonging the fermentation process. This gives the bread a more complex flavour profile.
The water content varies and depends on the flour. The ability of the flour to absorb water vary according to the producer, the wheat quality, the grinding mode and the climate where you live. Considering we live by the sea and it's humid here, you may need to add more water.

For the Dough:

  • 500 gr all purpose flour (sifted);
  • 280 – 300 ml lukewarm water;
  • 8 gr salt;
  • 1 Tbsp sugar;
  • 10 gr fresh yeast.

For finishing:

  • 1tsp all purpose flour – 5 gr;
  • 8 to 10 times more water (in comparison with the flour) – around 45 gr;
  • white sesame seeds;
  • blue poppy seeds.
Dissolve yeast in 100 ml of the water. Then mix in 100 gr of the flour. Cover and leave it to double, even triple in bulk.
In a big bowl mix together the rest of the flour, salt and sugar. Add the rest of the water and the pre-fermented dough and using a hand (or stand) mixer equipped with dough hook knead to form dough and then for 10 more minutes to develop the gluten. Our hand mixer gives up very quickly so it's needed some hard hand kneading. Cover the dough and leave it to get doubled in bulk. The time depends considering the room temperature.
Knock the dough back and divide it into 3 equal parts from which to form 3 long logs.
For finishing – make scalded flour – bring the water to a boil then pour it over the flour whisking vigorously to prevent lumps from forming. The mixture should have a custard like thickness.
Usually scalded flour is being used to add some gloss and nice golden colour to the crust during baking. But in our case, we are using it as a glue.
Brush with scalded flour a lengthwise strip on top of each log. Then sprinkle exuberantly the brushed strip with white sesame seeds or just top. Tap it with your hands to assure the seeds are glued to the dough.
Flip logs on the other side and repeat the procedure, this time using poppy seeds.
Carefully twist each log several times. Place the three twisted logs on a floured kitchen cloths, leaving some space between them. Cover them and left the rest for 10 – 20 minutes for the final proof.
Preheat the oven to 220ºC with your stone in or as in our case – a sheet pan. Provide a steam source in the oven by placing a bowl of water in it. Transfer baguettes on the sheet pan and place them in the hot oven. When a crust starts to form (after around 10 to 15 minutes) remove the steam source and bake baguettes until golden brown.

PS. You see those tiny red and yellow tomatoes on the background - they are from our balcony. And these are of the few that those nasty caterpillars left for us.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Caramelized Chocolate Mille-Feuille with Strawberries

Do you feel that wind, do you smell it, do you taste it? That wind that autumn brings along her way.
The wind changes with seasons, with moods and thoughts. You could ride it sometimes, you know, or at least you think you could do so. But you could never tame it and it would never be yours.
I like it to be in my hair although sometimes I have this creepy feeling it could blow me away. Sometimes the wind teases me and tickles my ego, makes me think I could run with it or even better - I could outrun it. And then it changes its direction, all of a sudden. Bam. You stand still there in dismay and this is not your path any more, or was it ever? For a moment that looks so long you are lost in all the thoughts in your head. But then you are able to feel it again. This elusive but mesmerizing feeling that the wind calls you in attempt to seduce you once more. And you obey and start chasing after it one more time. And running along your way you feel safe again. With the wind on your side. With the wind in your hair.
It's only not to forget that it does not belong to you. It can't be tamed. But it could be a good friend of yours. No matter it would change its directions most unexpectedly. Bam. Just like that. To test you, maybe. Whether you can still feel it's breath. But it will be nearby, be aware. It will be there. Again in your hair.

Of course, the above has nothing to do with the recipe today. These were just some thoughts of mine from these rainy melancholic days which I needed to share. Or maybe, there is a linkage stronger than you thought as mille-feuilles are so fragile and brittle as if built by the wind.

Chocolate Mille-Feuille with Strawberries Recipe:
Makes 6

For the Caramelized Chocolate Pâte Feuilletée
Adapted from Pierre Hermé's Larousse du Chocolat

  • 140 gr all purpose flour;
  • 60 gr cold water;
  • 2 gr salt;
  • 23 gr butter (melted and cooled);
    • 140 gr butter;
    • 17 gr cocoa powder (we used Dutch processed);
      • granulated sugar for caramelizing – 1- 2 Tbsp.
      Combine flour and salt, then add water and melted and cooled butter. Mix with your hand or stand mixer equipped with dough hook until dough forms, then a further more couple of minutes in order to develop the gluten of the dough.
      Form the dough as a rectangle, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for an hour.
      Meanwhile, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter till smooth but still cold. Then add in the sifted cocoa powder and mix until it's totally absorbed. Wrap in plastic, trying to form a rectangle smaller than the one from the dough. Chill in the fridge.
      Lightly dust the counter top with flour. Roll the dough rectangle 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 then fold it like you would fold a business letter. Rotate the “letter” short side down, roll and fold again. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for an hour to chill.
      Repeat the rolling-folding procedure 5-6 more times with at least half an hour interval after each procedure. When all the folding is done, the dough could be refrigerated overnight or used the same day.
      Preheat the oven to 230ºC.
      On a lightly floured counter top, roll the dough out to a rectangle with thickness of approximately 4mm. At this point we divided the dough in two – one for Ivan and the other one – for me to work with.
      Ivan did as the recipe said – placed his whole sheet of pate feuilletee on a lined with paper sheetpan. As for me – I've cut mine to equal rectangles first. But honestly, I find the whole sheet method gave better results.
      Sprinkle sugar over the pate feuilletee, place it in the oven and reduce the temperature to 190C. Bake for around 8-10 minutes (depends if you bake a whole sheet or small rectangles) after which place a cooling rack on top of the pate feuilletee to prevent it from rising too much. Thus way, bake for 8 to 10 more minutes.
      Remove from the oven. Augment the temperature to 230C again. Place a sheet of parchment paper over the pate feuilletee and flip it over helping yourself with another sheetpan. Remove the top parchment. Now the sugared side should be toward the bottom. Place in the oven again and bake for further 3 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
      Cut into equal rectangles. After all these baking procedures you see why it was easier to bake one whole pastry sheet instead of already cut rectangles. Besides, after cutting, the whole sheet made better, somehow flakier section.

      For the Pastry Cream:
      • 500 ml milk;
      • 1/2 vanilla pod;
      • 3 egg yolks;
      • 100 gr granulated sugar;
      • 40 gr corn starch;
      • 25gr butter.
      Dissolve starch into a little bit of water. Combine yolks, sugar and starch mixture and beat until pale.
      In a small saucepan bring milk and scraped vanilla pod to a simmer. Remove the pod and pour milk 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). Cool in an ice water bath and when the temperature drops to 60C, stir in the butter Cover tightly with plastic foil in order not to form skin. Leave to cool completely before using it.

      For the Strawberries:
      Ivan wanted to use whole strawberries but since these were huge he had to cut them in quarters.
      I went on with strawberry jelly:
      • 260 gr pureed strawberries;
      • 30 gr sugar;
      • 3 gr agar agar in powder.
      Bring strawberry puree up to a simmer. Combine the sugar and the agar agar powder and add them to the puree. Stir while simmering for a couple more minutes till all the sugar and agar are dissolved. Pour into a 10cm ring laid over a silpat or parchment paper. Leave it to set. It will set even at room temperature since the agar starts to jellify at around 40C.
      When the jelly is firm, use a 1,5cm ring to cut rounds. Then cut each round in two.

      To assemble:
      Lay a caramelized chocolate pate feuilletee rectangle, pipe some pastry cream and arrange strawberries or strawberry jelly. Repeat and finish with a pastry rectangle. Dust some icing sugar on top.


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