Saturday, July 28, 2012

Grape Must Bread

This month the recipe for the Fresh from the Oven challenge was quite intriguing – mosbolletjies(honestly I have no idea how is this supposed to be read), a.k.a. grape must buns. It was Tandy from Lavender and Lime who stirred our bread baking enthusiasm for new experiments. Tandy makes her own grape must so if looking for a recipe, go to her post. We, however, had grape must in the freezer. Last year during the wine making season we froze some crimson grape must for baking purposes and to use it as a natural colourant.

We made 2 small loaves of bread instead of buns and they turned out extremely delicious. Besides they had a naturally purple hue.

The round-up with everybody's mosbolletjies would be published on Utterly Scrummy Food For Families, so go there to see what the other FFO members have baked.

We are sending this loaves to Yeast Spotting.

Grape Must Loaf Recipe:
For 2 20x10 cm loaf pans
  • 20 gr fresh yeast;
  • 80 gr grape must;
  • 420 gr all purpose flour;
  • 8 gr salt;
  • 50 gr sugar;
  • 60 gr butter, melted;
  • 125 gr milk;
  • 1 egg.
Dissolve yeast in grape must and leave it to feed on must sugars for 10 – 20 minutes till you prepare the other ingredients.

In a bowl combine together dry ingredients - flour, salt and sugar.

In the bowl of the stand mixer, equipped with dough hook, combine all liquid ingredients – butter, milk, egg and the yeasty must. Add dry ingredients and knead for 15 minutes.

Cover the bowl and let the dough become double in bulk.

Give the dough a quick knead, shape and place the loaves in buttered loaf pans. Leave it to prove.

Bake for about 30 minutes in a preheated to 180ºC oven.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Apricot Frangipane Tartlets

Apricot season has come and gone but it was so short that I couldn't get enough of my favourite fruits. 3 years in a row the apricot trees in Vetren didn't give fruits, this is why this year I was overexcited about the apricot abundance. I was shuttling around under the apricot trees stalking for just fallen overripe fruits. This is exactly how I like them – overripe, just fallen from the tree, sweet and hot from the sun.

Unfortunately this was not the case with the apricots I used for these tartlets since they were store bought and were not ripe enough, but surprisingly their vapid taste mellowed and evolved after baking.

We paired those tartlets with autumn flush Darjeeling tea for its woody-fruity-honey flavour.

Apricot Frangipane Tartlets Recipe:
Makes: 8 - 10 tartlets 8,5cm in diameter

For the Crust:
  • 200gr all purpose flour;
  • 60 gr confectioners' sugar;
  • 1tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary;
  • 115 gr butter;
  • 1 egg;
  • 3 gr salt;
  • 1 Tbsp rum.
In the bowl of your food processor, equipped with the blade, place flour, sugar, salt, rosemary and pulse a couple of times to combine all. Add in cold butter, cut into pieces and pulse several times to make it into small chunks. Add in egg and rum and pulse several more times to combine.
Gather the dough, wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or even overnight.
Take the dough out of the fridge. On a lightly floured counter top, roll the dough out to 3mm and line 10 tartlet rings with it. Place the rings on a lined with silpat (or paper) baking sheet.

Note: Initially I made this dough for a completely different recipe but then changed my mind, thus there is no rosemary in the crust. Instead I added it to the frangipane filling.

For the Frangipane Filling:
the same as into the Quince Frangipane Tartlets

  • 115 gr softened butter;
  • 115 gr honey;
  • 100 gr ground almonds;
  • 2 eggs;
  • 60 gr heavy cream; 
  • 20 apricots, halved and pitted.

Place the butter, honey, ground almonds, and eggs in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Stir in the cream, do not whisk in order not to emulsify it or it will rise while baking.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC.

Divide the frangipane among the tartlet rings, add a 4-5 apricot halves on top and bake for around 25 minutes until the top is golden.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Pistachio – Blackberry Entremet

Cleaning the freezer I found a bowl with the last batch of last year's blackberries, and I didn't even remember it was there, lucky me. Besides, we had a small jar with insignificant amount of pistachios – only 50 grams, but it was enough to throw an entremet.

The inspiration for this one came from Hidemi Sugino again, and to be more exact – his Sicile entremet. But as always I couldn't stick to the recipe and changed it liberally to suit my products. For the original look of the recipe, head to Evan's Kitchen Ramblings. What I'm sharing here is my personal interpretation.

Raw pistachios are a rare product in Bulgaria, let alone pistachio paste, not to mention it's prize. This is why I made my own pistachio paste using this recipe just scaling down all the products to match with the 50 grams of nuts we had.

Tastewise, this was one of the best entremets I've ever made.

For the Pistachio – Blackberry entremet I chose Long Jing – one of my favourite everyday teas – for its delicate slightly sweet flavour with vegetal and nutty hints and mild, almost non-existent astringency.

Pistachio – Blackberry Entremet Recipe:
Makes 6 entremets Ø 5,5 cm, height 6 cm

Pistachio Sponge:
  • 25 gr almond meal;
  • 20 gr millet flour;
  • 40 gr pistachio paste;
  • 2 egg yolks;
  • 10 gr butter, melted;
  • 2 egg whites;
  • 50 gr sugar.
Preheat the oven to 220ºC. Line a baking sheet with silpat and place a 20cm ring on top.

Sift together almond meal and millet flour, set aside.

Combine pistachio paste, egg yolks and butter and mix till homogenous.

Beat egg whites and sugar until stiff and glossy peaks, then fold in yolk-pistachio mixture. At last fold in the flour mixture. Scoop into the ring and make it even using a spatula.

Bake for approximately 5 -6 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. When cool, use a 4,5cm ring and cut out 6 rounds.

Sugar Syrup:
  • 30 gr sugar;
  • 30 ml water;
  • 10 ml rum.
Bring water and sugar to a simmer to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and add the rum.

Blackberry Mousse:
  • 110 gr blackberry puree;
  • 1,5 gr agar agar powder, mixed with 5 gr sugar;
  • 15 ml rum;
  • 25 ml water;
  • 40 gr sugar;
  • 1 egg white;
  • 120 gr whipping cream, whipped.
In a heavy bottom saucepan, bring the blackberry puree to a boil. Add the agar-sugar mixture(stir well to prevent lumps from forming) and bring to a boil again. Keep warm till needed.

Make Italian meringue – combine water and sugar and cook to 118ºC. Beat egg white to soft peaks, then pour the cooked sugar in a thin stream while beating all the time. Beat until stiff and glossy meringue forms.

Add the blackberry-agar mixture and the rum to the Italian meringue, then fold in the whipped cream. Work quickly. Pour into silicone moulds and freeze. I used a 12 cup silicone mould, dimensions of the cups – 4,5 x 2 cm.

Note: The recipe makes more mousse than needed but it's harder to work with smaller amounts.

Pistachio Mousse:
  • 225 ml whole milk;
  • 40 gr pistachio paste;
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract;
  • 40 gr egg yolks;
  • 40 gr sugar;
  • 5 gr agar agar powder, mixed with 10 gr sugar;
  • 225 ml whipping cream, whipped.
Combine milk, vanilla and pistachio paste and bring to a boil. (Since my pistachio paste was home made, thus a bit more grainy I used the stick blender to incorporate it more homogenously into the milk.) When boiling stir in the agar-sugar mixture and cook till agar dissolves.

Whisk egg yolks and sugar till pale, then slowly pour in, while still whisking, the boiling milk mixture. Return to the heat and cook to 82ºC.

Fold the whipped cream into the above mixture. Work quickly.

  • Make the mousse when you have everything else prepared since it sets very quickly – because of the agar as soon as the temperature of the mousse drops bellow 45ºC it commence to set.

  • On the photos it appears as though there are 2 different types of outer mousse. In fact, I divided the pistachio custard in two and mixed one of the halves with half of the whipped cream, in order to keep the other half of the custard warm, in a water bath, to prevent setting. I did all the divisions by eye and apparently they were not very correct – one of the pistachio custard halves got creamier than the other, although tastewise there wasn't a great difference. I don't recommend this step since it wasn't very useful, besides there is always a chance to end up with colour variations in the mousse.


Blackberries and pistachios.

Honey Glaze:
  • 100 ml water;
  • 1 tsp honey;
  • 1gr agar agar powder, mixed with 5 gr sugar.
Bring water and honey to a boil. Add agar and bring to a boil again.

To Assemble:

Arrange six rings, Ø 5,5 cm, height 6 cm, on a tray. Place a pistachio sponge round at the bottom of each ring. Brush the sponge with some syrup, but don't be over exuberant because the sponge will absorb some moisture from the mousse too.

Fill the rings with pistachio mousse to ½ full, then place the frozen blackberry mousse in the middle of each ring, press it to almost sink into the pistachio mousse, then cover with the rest of the pistachio mousse. Place in the fridge to set.

Decorate with blackberries and pistachios, then glaze using a silicone pastry brush.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cardamom – Safflower – Jaggery – Walnut Cookies

I had a strange incident. Several months ago I was in the bank and the teller asked me to write some data. Instinctively I looked around in a search for the keyboard, but instead she handed me a pen. I know it was something completely normal but apparently I've become so used to my laptop that I feel the keyboard as an extension of my hands. I remember those first days when I was writing articles on my paper notebook, then I've been rewriting them on the PC in order to send them to the editors of various magazines with the hope they would get published.(At that time I was writing mainly about aromatherapy, natural cosmetic products and the ways one could make them at home, but apparently nobody was interested on those matters since they were not yet popular enough.) When they finally started to publish my materials (although on completely different subjects) I had to get rid of the writing by hand habit for timesaving reasons. Soon there were no more pens and paper sheets here and there, no notebooks, just cables, memory cards and my new and beloved best friend – my laptop. Even as a journalist, when I take interviews or make reviews, I rarely take notes just because I always have my portable recorder at hand. Apparently my life has become really dependent on the high-tech appliances. Or maybe it's just the time we live in.

I thought I was an old fashioned girl and in my heart I really am. Then why the computer plays such an important role in my life?

I took a decision to commence writing by hand more often. There is no need to systematize every tiny note or thought on the computer. Firstly, I felt odd, mainly because there was no spelling corrector, but now I'm enjoying it, a lot (no matter how stupid this may sound).

I made these cookies several months ago, while I was planning our trip to Paris. This is why I used as a background of the photos my Paris plans notebook. The notebook was a present from my sister, from her last travel to India, and I reckoned it was in unison with the ingredients and flavour of the cookies.

Tea: Massala chai goes really well with these cookies as well as ginger flavoured black tea.

Cardamom – Safflower – Jaggery – Walnut Cookies Recipe:

  • 185 gr all purpose flour;
  • 7 gr safflower;
  • 10 cardamom pods;
  • 75 gr walnuts;
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract;
  • 75 gr confectionner's sugar;
  • 85 gr jaggery, melted;
  • 120 gr butter, cut into 1cm cubes;
  • 1 large egg.
Take the tiny black seeds out of the cardamom pods(discard the outer shell), place them in a mortar, add the safflower and grind them to a powder.

Place flour, sugar, walnuts, cardamom and safflower powder in a food processor (equipped with the metal blade) and pulse till walnuts are ground to a fine meal. Add in butter and pulse till crumbles form, then pulse in the melted jaggery and the egg.

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 log (4 cm in diameter). Wrap the log in plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Line a baking pan with paper or silpat. Slice the log into 0,5 cm thick rounds, arrange them on the baking sheet leaving 2 cm space between them and bake until golden brown.


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