Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Safflower Buns with Prunes

Who would have thought that an exotic spice as saffron would be a staple in a traditional English recipe. The history behind this is an intriguing matter and should you want to know more about it don't hesitate to nip across to My Custard Pie. I love calling in at Sally's site for a regular pie of an extremely good and amusing read.

Saffron buns with raisins were chosen from Sally from My Custard Pie to be this month's Fresh from the Oven challenge. Through the saffron these buns represent the connection between Sally's present home Dubai and her home country England.

It's funny to know that saffron buns are also known as ‘revel buns’, but the more I like how they are called in West Cornwall - ‘tea treat buns’ as (quoting Sally) "they were often baked for events known as Tea Treats, which were organised by Methodist churches and chapels for the local community".

Unfortunately we had no saffron and I don't know why but raisins of a good quality are rare to find this season. This is why we opted for what we had on hand – safflower and the last of our home dried prunes.

We ate the buns with sour cream, sprinkled with flakes of sea salt.

Tea: We would suggest black tea for these buns but currently we are very short of black tea so we had them with Long Zhu - a very pleasant and mild Chinese green tea. Although almost any tea would be fine here.

Go to Purely Food at the end of the month where Claire will post the round-up and you can see how everybody coped with the challenge.

Safflower Buns with Prunes Recipe
Makes 10 buns
  • 300 gr all purpose flour;
  • 4 gr safflower, reduced into a fine powder (a mortar comes in hand here);
  • 5 gr salt;
  • 60 gr butter, melted;
  • 45 gr sugar;
  • 15 gr fresh yeast;
  • 1 medium egg, beaten;
  • 70 ml milk, lukewarm;
  • 50 ml water;
  • 100 gr pitted dried prunes, chopped;
  • 1 egg, beaten – for glazing.
Combine flour, safflower powder, salt and sugar. Set aside.

Dissolve yeast in the water and mix together with the milk, egg and butter in the bowl of your stand mixer equipped with the dough hook. Add in the dry ingredients and let the mixer knead the dough for 15 minutes, then knead in the chopped dried prunes. Cover the bowl and let the dough become double in bulk.

Give the dough a quick knead, divide it into 10 balls, shape them and arrange on a lined with paper baking sheet. Cover the buns with a towel and let them prove. We baked the buns in rectangular silicone muffin cups. The buns were supposed to be rectangular but they expanded way more than expected.

Glaze with egg and bake in a preheated to 190ºC oven for about 20 -25 minutes or until golden brown.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

New York Cheesecake

This cheesecake recipe uses no water bath and this is why I like it so much. Plus, I've made it at least a dozen times at home and the result is always satisfactory. We used to make it at the pastry course last year and I think this was one of their bestsellers since we had it on the to-do list quite often.

Tea: Because of the sour cherry jam the cheesecake goes well with smoked tea like Lapsang souchong – it gives depth of the flavour and profoundness of the taste sensation.

New York Cheesecake Recipe:

  • 460 gr cream cheese;
  • 120 gr confectioner's sugar;
  • 3 eggs;
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract; 

  • 400 sour cream;
  • 40 gr confectioner's sugar; 

  • home made sour cherry jam, or any other jam or jelly.

Place a 20 cm cake ring on a lined with paper baking sheet. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 170ºC. Use the “fan forced” function. Apparently every producer calls this function differently, sometimes it is named as “fan oven cooking” or “circulaire”. What I mean here is – use the fan function without the upper and lower heaters.

Place the graham crackers into the bowl of the food processor equipped with the metal blade and pulse several times until the crackers turn into crumbs. Add crumbs to melted butter and mix well to combine. Press firmly and evenly the buttered cracker crumbs at the bottom of the prepared ring.

Using a hand or stand mixer equipped with the paddle attachment beat the cream cheese and the sugar, then add in the eggs and vanilla and beat until homogenous. Pour over the pressed cracker crumbs. Bake for 20 minutes – this was the time we used to bake the cakes into the professional ovens, but in our home oven it takes 25 – 30 minutes. The cake should be set, just a little bit jiggly in the center and there shouldn't be any traces of browning on top(this is just for visual reasons). Let the cake cool completely before the next step.

Whisk sour cream and sugar and spread the mixture over the cooled cheese layer. Bake into preheated oven (the same settings as before) for 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool, then refrigerate for 6 hours before slicing and serving.

I prefer to add the jam at the last moment when the cake is already sliced and served.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Caramelized Phyllo Napoleons with Vanilla Pastry Cream and Raspberries

There are times when a certain dessert occurs to be a great hit amidst our friends and simultaneously extremely easy and non-demanding for completing. Here's one such case. Apparently everybody fell in love for the crunchy caramelized phyllo.

These Napoleons turned out also to be very photogenic and we just couldn't restrain ourselves of snapping a shot of them of any possible angle. So. please, excuse the exuberance of similar photos.

Tea: Any Japanese green tea would be relevant to this dessert. We enjoyed it with Tamaryokucha Imperial

Caramelized Phyllo Napoleons Recipe:

Idea inspired from Baking Obsession

Makes 6 mille-feuilles

Caramelized Phyllo:
  • 4 phyllo sheets;
  • 3 Tbsp butter, melted;
  • 4 Tbsp sugar.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Prepare another baking sheet and a sheet of parchment paper. Set aside.

Gently spread a phyllo sheet on the counter top. (Keep the rest of the phyllo sheets under plastic wrap to prevent them from drying.) Brush with melted butter and sprinkle some sugar on top. Cover with the second phyllo sheet, brush with butter and sprinkle some sugar. Repeat. Layer the fourth phyllo sheet, press it slightly against the other layers and using a 7cm ring cutter cut out rounds - it makes about 20 rounds.

Sprinkle a thin layer of sugar on the lined with paper baking sheet. Arrange the phyllo rounds on top of the sugared paper. Sprinkle some sugar on top of the rounds. Cover with parchment paper then place a baking sheet or other baking pan on top to press down the rounds. Bake for around 8 minutes or until golden brown.

Bake the scraps as well, they don't look like a great matter but they are delicious and could be used as decoration, although we ate them plain.

Vanilla Pastry Cream:
  • 2 egg yolks;
  • 300 ml whole milk;
  • 25 gr corn starch dissolved in a couple of spoons cold water;
  • 60 gr sugar;
  • vanilla seeds scraped from 1 vanilla pod;
  • 30 gr butter.
Combine yolks, sugar and starch and beat until pale.

In a small saucepan bring milk and vanilla 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). Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Place the cream in a bowl and cover tightly with stretch foil in order not to form skin. Let cool, then refrigerate for several hours or overnight.


Assemble just before serving.

Pipe vanilla pastry cream in the middle of a caramelized phyllo round then arrange raspberries to encircle the pastry cream. Pipe a drop of pastry cream in the core hollow of each raspberry in order to steady them. Repeat until there are 3 layers of caramelized phyllo.


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