Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Original Dobos tort - Dobostorta

Birthday… Huhh… My daughter turned 14! Can you believe that? I hardly can..
I have a young lady in the house instead of a kid. Scary, and it gets only worse... They will soon fly out of the nest before we notice! :(
For this special occasion I decided to bake 6 small “torts” rather than 1 big, we don’t eat more anyway. Well, I made a lot of head ache for myself with it, especially spreading the caramelized sugar on top. I find it so much easier to spread the caramel on a single cake layer rather than 6 small tort tops. 
The recipe below is the original recipe from Dobos C. József from 1885 and it is one of the most well known Hungarian delicacy's world wide. Though they say in the Wiki that the caramel layer keeps the tort from drying out, well, that's just simple b..it. If you put the caramel top on the cake long before serving, it will start soaking in the humidity from the cake layers and it will become porous, losing its shine and crunchy texture. So I advice you to assemble the cake in advance, even a day before, coated nicely with the cream, but put the top caramel layer on the tort only max couple of hours hours before serving.
Now that being said, I just kept the left over of the tort for a day, and the caramel looked great even after a day. However, I didn't put the torts in the fridge. Humidity will "kill" it for sure, but it seems without the extra humidity from the fridge will lasts perfectly.
Makes 16 medium slices of tort, 20 cm diameter (8 in).

Sponge-sheet recipe, makes six 20cm sponge cake layers
6 medium eggs (60g each)
100g sugar (makes about 1 humpy tbspoon/egg)
100g flour (makes about 1 humpy tbspoon/egg)
36g melted butter

The cream
4 medium eggs
200g powered sugar
235g unsalted butter
17g vanilla sugar
35g cocoa mass
35g cocoa butter
200g dark chocolate (60-65% cocoa)

I don't have either cocoa mass nor cocoa butter, so I just added an extra 50 g of extra dark chocolate (85%). For kids you might want to stick to the 65% cocoa chocolate, at least mine start complaining if it is too dark and bitter.
Sponge cake layers
Beat the egg yolks with about half of the icing sugar.
Melt the butter.
Mix the egg whites with the rest of the powered sugar and beat a not very hard foam. If you over-beat it will collapse before you can nicely spread it on the tray.
Carefully mix the two beaten egg yolks in the egg white foam, then lightly fold in the flour and last the melted butter.
Divided the batter into six parts and make 20 cm diameter circles on top of trays covered with parchment paper, or on buttered & floured trays (on they back!).
In a preheated oven to 210 C (410 F) bake for 10 min until light brown. Don't bake it too long or they will be too dry!

Place a 20cm template circle made from parchment paper on top and adjust them to perfect round if needed.

If you don’t have a large enough oven to bake them all at a time, which most of the people don't, I would advice to make the batter in three batches and bake only 2 cake layers at a time. While one batch is baking prepare the batter for the next. That's what I actually did..

When the cake layers are ready cover with a cloth, and prepare the cream.

Melt the chocolate over a steam bath, carefully not to spill water in the chocolate. Water is the worst enemy of the melted chocolate! Let it cool, but not harden. 
Meanwhile mix the butter with the vanilla sugar (or vanilla bean) until foamy. Set aside.
Lightly beat the 4 eggs, add the 200g sugar and warm it up, without boiling!, to about 85C. That's about when it is so hot that it feels burning for you finger if you stick it in the mixture, but as I said, it is not yet boiling. 
Turn off the heat, whisk the mixture until completely cool. Takes about 5-10 min.
Mix the egg-cream into the butter, adding small quantities at a time.
It will look like the cream "collapses", separates, but don't worry.
When smooth fold in the melted chocolate and you are ready to put your cake together.
Divide the cream into 6 portions, 5 will go in between the layers, and with the 6th you will cover the side of the tort. Don't assemble only 5!!! of the 6 layers.
Assemble the cake soon after you finish the cream, the soft, lightly warm cream will moisten the cake layers and make the cake more delicious. It is anyway a not so moist tort already, you don't wanna make it drier.

For the 6th layer you'll prepare caramelized sugar to coat.

Melt the sugar, only until very light brown. Pour in the middle of the cake layer, and with a knife or long and flat spatula spread the caramelized sugar evenly. If it hardens without you being happy with the smoothness, just put it in the oven at 100C and it will soften so you can adjust more.
With the back of the knife draw the lines where you will cut the caramel top making light grooves. You should make 8 to 16 slices. With the sharp edge of the knife cut the caramel layer into 16 slices, and cut the excess sugar off from the edges.

Decorate the side of the cake with ground almond or hazelnuts (however the original is undecorated, lightly coated with the chocolate buttercream), and place the top layer (caramelized) pieces nicely tight together to cover the tort. Enjoy!

OBS. Lessons I learned from my experience: don't over-bake the cake layers or it will be too dry, and you can start baking new ones :).
If you make smaller torts like I did, don't use the whole cream :), it will be too heavy. I think 2/3rds of the cream I added to the tort would have made a more harmonized flavor. Less is more..

Monday, April 29, 2013

Stuffed meatballs

Sunday lunch, a rather quick treat.
I planned for baking the sweat bread on Sunday accompanying the stuffed meatball for lunch, however 'thanks" to a sewage issue I ended up choosing a simpler treat to go with the main course: omenahyvä. Whoever invented omenahyvä need to be praised for combining simplicity and goddess in one dessert..

Stuffed meatball are not more complicated either, if you know how to make meatball, this is going to be a very little change from it.

Ingredients  (makes 4-5 large balls, 4 portions alone served with mustard, but serves about double amount of people with a side dish)
1 pound organic ground beef meat
4-5 organic eggs, hard boiled
~ 1/2 tsp black pepper
salt to taste
~ 3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp oil
1-2 teaspoons of minced sweet paprika (optional)
if you don't add paprika, consider adding rosmary

For preparing
breadcrumbs or grist
Oil for frying

Boil the eggs at low heat for about 10 min. Cool and peel.
In a small pan heat the 1 spoon of oil, and lightly fry the garlic cloves.
Mix well the meat with the spices (salt, black pepper pepper, garlic, red pepper), and divide the meat in 4-5 pieces, depending how many you are planning to prepare.
Flatten the meatball in you palm to about your palm size, a bit overrunning mine..
Place the egg in the middle of the meat, carefully fold the meat around the egg, and roll the ball until the surface is smooth.
Roll the meatball in breadcrumb or grist (optional).
Heat the oil (you can start heating before you roll the egg in the meat) to be quite hot, just enough to cover half of the balls.
Place the meatballs carefully in the pan and slowly rotating fry all the sides. I usually turn them around ones to have all the side just a bit fried, then continue frying them thoroughly.
You should have a nice golden brown color. Place the ball in a tray, preferably covered with parchment paper.
Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180 C, (380 F) and bake the balls for 15 minutes.

Serve while warm with mustard and fresh bread, or cut them in half and serve with potatoes sliced and baked in the oven.
You can also cool the meatballs and slice them thinly, serving them as part of a buffet with salads.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Search For The Fluffiest Tender Bun Is Over!

After mastering the Western bread-making technique, I started to embark on a new Eastern bread-making journey.  A journey back into my childhood with sweet and savory buns that were so soft, moist, tender, and fluffy that would put buns that are being sold in the US bakeries to shame.

The following recipes arrived from over ten years of countless experiments with failed recipes from cookbooks and online researches.

Cheers to good food!

Savory Roll Dough - Makes 12 buns
(Water-Roux is basically 1 part bread flour to 5 parts water)

Water-Roux Paste
25g bread flour
125ml water

For the water roux
Combine flour and water in a small saucepan and cook over low heat. Stir continuously until it has thickened to a paste (hint: American yogurt consistency or when you stir you can see the bottom of the pan, an indication that the roux is ready). Remove from heat.  The water roux can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator after cooling for 1 day if not used immediately.

325g bread flour
150g AP flour
30g milk powder
45g sugar 
1 teaspoon salt
6g instant dry yeast
2 eggs, lightly beaten
100ml lukewarm water
75 g softened butter at room temp

For the Bun Dough:
Dissolve yeast in water (5 min).
Combine dissolved yeast with bread flour, AP flour, milk powder, sugar, eggs, water roux, and salt into the mixing bowl. Mix ingredients to form a slightly sticky, soft dough that will pull off the sides of the bowl.  Add extra water to dough as needed but only 1 tablespoon at a time if dough is too dry.  (it should take appx 10 min with a mixer).  Then incorporate softened butter to the dough and mix until dough is smooth and elastic and passed the window pane test.

Form the dough into a round boule, covered and let rise in draft free warm area until double (40 min to 1 hour depends on the temp in your house).
Conduct a finger test by inserting your floured finger into the dough and as you pull out your finger, the indentation of your finger should remains, a good indication that your dough has risen properly.  If the indentation springs back, the dough is not risen enough, continue to proof longer.

When the dough has risen properly, punch down the risen dough, divide dough into 12 equal portions and form them into balls.  Let the dough rest for 10 min then final shaping the dough according to your recipe.  Covered it lightly and let rise until almost double in sizes.  Brush on with egg white and bake at 350 degrees until lightly brown.  Cool completely before serving.

Sweet Bun Dough
Makes 24 buns
420g bread flour
120g AP flour
40g milk powder
84g  sugar
1 teaspoon salt
10g instant dry yeast
60g egg, lightly beaten
170g lukewarm water
168g water roux
44g butter, softened

Water-Roux Paste
50g bread flour
250g water

Same process as the savory dough.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Voisilmäpulla - Finnish "butter eye" bun

Tomorrow I visit my son's class to make a short presentation about Finland. Nah.. No culture can be truly experienced without tasting some of its culinary flavors, isn't it? :)
Plus, I'm sure the kids' won't mind. ;)

I chose to bake the voisilmäpulla because of two very simple reasons.
1) It doesn't contain much of anything to cause allergies, so even if there are kids allergic to nuts, this should be fine (not gluten or egg free though..)
2) I promised to bring some to the Vappu celebration at the Finnish house in Balboa park, and it is always nice to have a first trial with a less critical outcome.

Good enough reasons to bake, don't you agree?
I haven't made them ever here, neither in Finland, though of course I ate them at several famous "two o'clock Finnish coffee times" at Nokia.

The dough is the simple pullataikina, and I'm sure you will be fine with the half portion. Of course you can go for the whole portion and double buns, which of course I did, as there are 28 kids plus teachers, so 32 buns is the absolute minimum needed.

Ingredients (makes 16)
1/2 portion bun dough
60 g butter (1/2 stick) (for the middle)
50 g sugar (for the middle, add more if you have a sweet tooth)
1 egg for brushing

Ingredients (makes 32)
full portion bun dough
120 g butter (1 stick) (for the middle)
100 g sugar (for the middle)
1 egg for brushing

Prepare the dough. Let it rise for about 45 minutes, should grow to ~ double.
Divide it into two, make a thick roll and cut it into two, and again in two, to make all together 8 kinda equal portions. Repeat the cutting with the other half. Now take the small pieces of dough and work them in a smooth ball.
Place them on a tray with parchment paper, cover with a cloth and let them rise for additional 30 min.
Meanwhile take the additional butter out of the fridge and cut it into 16 (or 32) equal pieces.
Preheat the oven to 435 F, or 225 C.
Brush the top and side of the buns with the lightly beaten egg, press a hole in the middle and push one portion of butter in each hole.
On top add a small teaspoon of sugar. If you like them sweet add a larger teaspoon.

Bake the buns on the higher middle shelf for 10-15 min.
Place them on a rack for 1/2 min, and then cover with a cloth to keep the crust soft.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Edible piparkakku gift box or "cake"

The piparkakku seems to be everybody's favorite. The teacher talked about the piparkakku house for weeks after she eventually ate them :).
Today was her birthday, so we baked, and glued, and decorated, and I thought I'm going to share some home made present tips, for piparkakku lovers.
It is a lovely surprise "cake" for those who don't like creamy stuff, and it is long lasting too, so you can prepare it well in advance.
At school all the kids thought it is a cake and were looking forward to be cut and shared :).

Prepare the dough from piparkakku recipe. You need about 1.5 times portion. If you bake double, you'll have some cookies as well to put in the box.
Take two sheets of white paper, draw the template and cut out the pieces of the house .
You'll nee three sizes of rectangles:
- bottom and top: 16 cm x 24 cm, times two
- side walls: 8 cm x 14.5 cm, times two
- back and front walls: 8 cm x 24 cm, times two
- 4 small bars, two shorter ones that fit the short edges, and two longer ones that fit the longer edges of the top

1/3 - 1/2 cup sugar, for gluing them together with caramelized, hot sugar.

Roll out the dough about 4 mm thick. Use parchment paper on top and beneath to make your life easier.

Bake the shapes, adjust the edges while hot, if needed, by placing the paper templates on top of the cookie and cutting them around quickly before the cake hardens. 
Decorate with icing, and let them dry overnight.

Heat the 1/3-1/2 cup sugar, let it melt and caramelize until gets some light golden color. Reduce the heat, and start gluing the sides. I had to use a spoon to pour melted sugar along the lines where I needed to glue the parts together because I didn't find a large enough bowl to dip the part's edges in it.
If you have larger bowls and want to use those to dip the walls in the caramel and glue them right away, you might need to melt more sugar.
Glue first the two longer side walls perpendicular to the bottom. Hold them for ~30 seconds straight, don't shake or move them unless you have to, and if you have to, do it VERY fast right after you placed them on the bottom part, because the sugar will harden immediately.
Next the two smaller side will go in between the two longer ones. Try them on first before dipping them, or pouring any sugar anywhere.
I placed them first neatly in, and only then poured sugar from the top and inside to glue them together with the bottom and the side walls.
They might not fit perfectly, in that case use a bread knife to "saw" tiny parts off. They will be maximum 1-2 mm, so you really need to SAW them, rather than start cutting, or you'll brake the pieces.

Measure the thickness of the walls, and on the BACK side of the top cover  glue the four bars, leaving a space about the size of the walls between the bars and the edge of the box top.
I forgot to take a picture of the back side of the top, so I made you an image. The bars are same thickness, I just had issues adjusting it to look exactly the same in the pic. The bars are needed to stop the top from sliding off the box.
You can also glue small bars to make corners. Just have something to stop the top sliding.

I can promise, it's going to be a BIG hit :).

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Csirkepaprikás - chicken stew

A very typical Hungarian meal, and after preparing the basic version one can turn it into a variety of meals. Though it looks soupy on the pic in reality it wasn't. It looked so full of sauce because it was still boiling. When it cooled down the sauce settled, and was just enough to have a nice sauce.

Well, this is the BEST if has all parts of the chicken, not only meat but also bony parts like the wings, breast, etc. So, if you want THE best csirkepaprikás, take the effort and purchase a whole chicken, cut it into peaces, and use all the parts that have some reasonable amount of meat. We usually use the wings, tights, drumsticks, breast for the paprikás and leave out the most bony parts (neck, legs) to be used in a light vegetable soup, like kohlrabi, or the typical Hungarian meat soup.
I was a lazy bastard, so I chose the boneless organic chicken tights this time.

600 g boneless chicken tights, about 1 / person
200 g onion (2 smaller ones, or one huge - the only type that can be found :) here)
2 small, 1 larger yellow pepper, or 1 large tsp of minced paprika (use less salt!!)
1 large tomato
salt to taste
black pepper to taste
paprika powder, 1.5 - 2 flat tsp
2-3 bay leaves, depend on the size
1 bunch of fresh Italian flat parsley
4 tsp sunflower oil
Suggestions: you can leave out the bay leaves and add other spices. Just some to consider - caraway seeds, or few basil leaves (works perfect with chicken) or 1-1 whole cloves, or replace the parsley with celery leaves.. You can also add a tsp or two of Ajvar. 
Play with the tastes, cooking is a game of fantasy and not pharmacy :). 

Chop the onions and yellow peppers. In a 3 quart pot heat the oil, when hot add the onions and yellow paprika, let them fry until "glassy". I work with high heat at the beginning as it is faster, but don't go away from the pot, stir continuously.
Remove from heat, add the powder paprika, about 1 tsp / 250-300 g meet. (See below at OBS.)
Mix well, add some water, about 50ml, and put it back to boil until the the water evaporates and the sauce is reduced back to basically oil only (almost).
Add the meat, lower the heat immediately to about half. Stir until the pieces of meat will whiten, and it releases some juice.
Let it saute for about 30 minutes. In theory (and practice, too) the meat should release just enough juice not to need any water added, but keep an eye on it.
Peal the tomato, cut into small 1 cm (0.5 inch) cubes, and add to the chicken.
Saute for additional 15 min. Add half of the bunch of parsley leaves, preferably tied together with a thin, clean thread. Add 0.5-1 small glass of water if needed. You most probably won't, but who knows.
Saute for additional 15 min. Check the amount of sauce. Don't me mislead, even if it looks much, or enough, when it stops boiling it will be much less. If you like it saucy, add the half a glass of water.
Boil it together for 5 min.
Remove from heat and it is ready to serve.
Bon appetite!

The recipe above is for the basic paprikás version and I'm going to post some variations of it later..

Depends how you like it, or where you live, you might add a flat tsp or a humpy tsp. In Transylvania we used less parpika powder, in Hungary it is typical to add generously. I became used to the Hungarian "generous" version, as you can see in the picture :), but it doesn't mean this is any better then the other. In contrary. I had friends complaining about my generosity when it comes to paprika, so try first, and then decide. This is not a spice though which can be added easily later if found insufficient, and reason is that it needs to be soaked up in the oil to make the best combination.  The only way to add, if needed, is to remove some spoons of oil from the stew, mix it with the paprika, and add it back.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Pork ribs

I know, I know.. there were enough ribs today... But I had these ready, too, so I just couldn't resist taking a pic of it and posting you another tempting goodie for Easter Monday dinner, out in the sunny, fresh garden air. Especially in Finland at this time of the year :D. I'm soo mean.. but these will warm up your soul in the cold wintery days as well...
We had this for today afternoon, with the minor exception that it was a 4kg (8.5 pounds) serving :), so don't expect the recipe below to look like the pic above when it comes to quantities.

Ingredients (4 small portions to be served with a side dish, about 2 ribs - 2 bones + meat - per serving, it is about 2 restaurant rib portions)
1 kg, 2 pounds pork ribs
1/4 bottle beer
salt to taste (maybe 1/2 flat tsp per kg)
black pepper to taste (I'm very generous with black pepper in general :), so be brave when adding it)
1-2 humpy tsp minced, salted red paprika (they sell them at least in the Eastern European shops here), Édes Anna if you are in Hungary, but people usually make their own as well. You can also use Ajvar, and if you like spicy food, use the spicy version
Suggestions: instead of minced paprika you can prepare the ribs with BBQ sauce. In that case add only salt, black pepper and the beer, prepare & fry them in the oven according to the guidelines below, and for the last 15 minutes add some wiggles of BBQ sauce on top of the ribs.

Place the ribs in an oven-proof pan and broil each side for 5 min.
Put them back in the pan with the meaty side down, sprinkle with salt, black pepper, spread the red paprika paste on the ribs, (or Ajvar), pour the beer on top of everything and put it back to the preheated oven.
Cover with a foil and bake at 30 min at 200 C, 400 F.
Lower the heat to 150 C and fry them for so many hours as many kg the ribs.
Optionally!!! at 1/3rd of the time turn the ribs up side down, and at 2/3rd of the time turn them back to their original position. I usually take the effort to make this meticulous work because I wanna be sure that all tiny bits of the meat had the chance to fry in the sauce.
When ready remove the foil, turn them again with the meaty side up and broil them for 3-5 minutes.
Serve with mashed or oven potatoes, with some Dijon mustard on the side..

Easter lamb ribs

Today's lunch will be ribs. Pork ribs and lamb ribs.. Yummii..
Luckily the preparation is very short, only frying will take time.
I don't make big fuss about it, place everything in the pan and let the oven do the work, and the end result was pretty good last time. Of course I always assume that it was a LAMB and not some old tup. If you don't like the lamb taste, the meat should be marinated before, which is not part of this recipe..

Ingredients (4 portions, preparation time 2-2.5 hour, active 15 min)
750g - 1 kg (1.5 - 2 lbs) lamb ribs
5-6 carrots (I had an open package of baby carrots, so I used them up)
2 small rosemary branches
4-5 garlic cloves
salt to taste (~1 flat tsp), but it is really up to your preferences
black pepper, according to your taste
1/2 - 2/3 bottle of beer
1 tsp mustard powder, or 1-1.5 tbsp mustard

potato pure
oven potatoes
own sauce (see below)

Place the ribs with the meaty side down in a ovenproof pan. Broil at high temperature both sides until gets some nice color.
Place the carrot, garlic, rosemary around the ribs, sprinkle with salt, pepper and mustard powder.
Pour the beer on top, cover with foil.
Change the oven from broiling to baking, heat it to 200 C, 400 F, and let the ribs fry for 30-45 min.
Lower the temperature to 150 C, and fry them for additional time. I usually keep them at least as many hours as many kg the meat is, so in this case (2lb) for at least an additional hour (probably 1.5, 'cause we like it "well done").
At about 1/3 of the time I cut them into individual pieces, and at 2/3 I turned them to the other side. I just wanted make sure that all parts fried a bit in the sauce and are soft.
I decided not to broil them this time as they won't be consumed right away and I didn't want the meat to dry too much. If we did eat them served immediately, I would have definitely broiled them a bit to have a nice golden brown crunchy top.

You can also cut the ribs into pieces only at the end of the baking time and place the pan back for 5 min, broiling each side of the ribs. Broiled individually will be more crunchy, but you can also broil it in one piece, and cut it only when you place them on the plates, and the meat will be softer..

If the sauce got evaporated, add a bit of water at the end and put it back to the oven until the water boils, or just mix the carrots with some boiled water to make the sauce.

Remove the ribs from the sauce, throw the rosemary away. Place the rest of the zest with the carrots and garlic in a food processor and make a fine, cream like sauce. Adjust saltiness if needed, and you can also add an additional tsp of mustard, pinch of black pepper, etc.

Enjoy with potato pure accompanied by its own sauce and/or lingonberry :), or any of your favorite "sweet" sour salads, like plum preserve or beet root for example.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Keksz szalámi - biscuit salami

Biscuit salami is a cheap, and easy to make sweet.
I liked it very much when I was a kid, but we didn't have too many options, so I thought that was the only reason, as it is not some gourmet dessert one would brag about... Well, most of the best things aren't ;).
However, when I made it for the kids, I was very surprised to learn that they LOVE it.
They were asking for it for a while, so I decided to make some for Easter.
Given that I wasted two cakes so far in the past two days, *sigh*, it was easy decision to jump into something that can not be wasted.

Kids like the simple version. I like the one with cranberries. I hope hubby will like the one with the coconuts..
Today I divided the dough and made one simple, one coconut, one apricots (no cranberries :( in the "baking" drawer), and one butterscotch version. I wanted one with white chocolate chips, but I didn't manage to locate it in my well organized khhhmmm storage, and the butterscotch chips looked like a good alternative.

500 g (1.1 pounds, 2.5 packages) biscuits (Maria biscuits)
250 g butter (2 1/3 sticks), if you wanna make it lighter add less butter, maybe 200 g butter only
200 g sugar
200 ml milk
50 g dark cocoa powder (well, here one cocoa is worse than the other, so I decided to add 75 g of Hershey's cocoa which I found in the store, and which is not the worst, but yeah, pretty bad..). From Fazer's gorgeous cocoa powder, or any dutch cocoa, or even Szerencsi kakaó is enough if you add 50 g.
1 tsp vanilla extract

Optional add on-s
coconut shred, 2-3 tbsp
coarsely crushed nuts, one type or mixed nuts
any dry fruits, the sour ones are best like cranberry, apricots
chocolate chips

Crush the biscuits, they do not need to be finely crushed. It looks even better if you take one small portion and crush it just barely, and mix them to the rest, a bit more finely crushed, biscuits.
Next, you have two choices.
1) Put the milk with sugar in a small bowl and warm it up until reaches boiling point, and boil them just a little, ~ 1-2 min. Add the butter and mix until melted.
Add the vanilla extract and pour the mixture over the biscuits. Mix well, and let it cool down just a little.

2) Add the sugar in a small pot, caramelize the sugar, don't burn it!!, add the butter, mix until melted, and finally add the milk. Boil them together until the caramelized sugar is nicely blended in the milk-butter mixture.
Add the vanilla extract and pour over the biscuits. Wait until cools down a little.

Now, whichever you chose, you are almost ready. I always caramelize the sugar, but I agree, it is much easier if not caramelized.
At this point you can mix in all the other ingredients: cocoa powder (mix until smooth), biscuits and add on-s you decided to have, carefully not to overdo and make a too dry butter which won't stick together.
You can divide the batter and have different things mixed in the two parts.

When the batter is a bit cold and more solid, use some clear plastic wrap, cut a 40 cm piece, and place about 1/2 of the mixture along the longer side in the shape of a roll.
Roll it up, nicely, pinch the two ends of the wrap, and holding the ends of the wrap continue rolling until you get a nice,  tight roll.
Refrigerate overnight.
Cut in thin, 0.5 cm (1/5-1/4 in) slices.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Baked avocado topped fresh/toasted bread

Fresh bread always brings out the bright side of people, and there it was, waiting for me on the table.
I had a very nice experience last time with the fresh avocado/balsamic vinegar combination, so I thought let's try something new, with avocado, pepper and salt. We live in California, or what? :)
I found a recipe on the California Avocado and decided to give it a try..
It is a baked avocado, with an egg & bacon in the middle, scooped on a slice of fresh bread. I intended to make it for breakfast, but I think I can settle with it instead of lunch too :).
Baked (warm??) avocado would have been weird at first look hadn't I eaten grilled avocado in Helsinki.. Hmmm.. Really good memories.
For a vegetarian meal leave the bacon out and add some semi-hard cheese crumbles on top (Halloumi cheese would be perfect I imagine).

Ingredients (makes 1 or 2 servings, depending on you appetite)
1 large avocado
2 small eggs
salt to taste
fresh ground pepper
2 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled
~4 slices of bread

Preheat the oven to 215 C (425 F). 

Cut the avocado in two, remove the seed,  and scoop (if wanted) some more avocado out to make the hole bigger. Place the avocado in a small, oven proof container to help keep it straight.
Use a plate to crack the egg(s), and with a spoon carefully scoop the egg in the avocado half. Repeat with the other egg and the other avocado half.
You can crack the egg directly in the avocado, I just found it easier to make sure it won't spill all over. Plus, the egg was bigger than the hole, so I had to leave some egg white out.
Sprinkle some salt & pepper on top, and finally add the crumbled bacon.

Bake them for 15 minutes (I even broiled it for 5 minutes, but it might not be needed). You can adjust the baking time depending on how you like your eggs, more or less cooked. This will be a semi-hard egg, with the egg white cooked, and the egg yolk partially cooked, still runny in parts.
Serve immediately on top of a fresh bread slice, or on top of a toast, depending what you have at hand. Salt to taste and sprinkle some more fresh ground pepper if desired.
Bon appetite!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Easter wreath - Húsvéti kalácskoszorú

Easter is knocking on the door and I confess, I'm in very festive mood. Not only had summer arrived to SD, which definitely brings even more energy with the lengthy sunny hours, my knee is in the track of recovery and makes me fly of happiness, but with my agoraphobia I rather stick to baking. :)
Well, at least this challah wreath gets posted in time to be tried and, if liked, baked for Easter, not like my Runebergin torttu which got baked in time, but the post arrived a bit late..
I made two versions of the challah, one with walnuts and one with poppy seeds. I'm a poppy seed person, so I would definitely go for that :) for Easter, but the walnut version wasn't bad either. It reminded me of kürtőskalács. Ajajjj... I would definitely prefer the kürtőskalács baked over fire... but let's not be unfair, and let this challah enjoy the spotlight this time.

500 g bread flour (1.1 pounds)
50 g sugar (100 ml, a bit less than 1/5 cup)
250 ml milk (1 cup)
1 tbsp dry yeast or 40 g fresh yeast (1 cube)
150 g butter (1 1/3 stick)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla essence or 1 vanilla bean
1 grated lemon peel (or orange)
0.5 dl milk to brush the crust at the end, optional, it makes the crust softer, and the crumb a bit heavier, but you can choose to use a little, or not at all, of course, it is optional
pearl sugar/brown sugar (optional) to sprinkle on top

50 g butter, melted
200 g minced walnuts
100 g sugar
100 g poppy seeds, minced (you can try 200 poppy seeds as well, to me it looked too black to add the same amount of poppy seeds than walnuts, but I bet there are people who like it with looots of poppy seeds :) )
70 g sugar, 80 g if you are have a sweet tooth :)

1 small egg

In the lukewarm milk let the yeast trot for 5-10 minutes, with a large pinch of sugar.
In a larger bowl mix the flour with the sugar, salt and vanilla beans.
Melt the butter (add the vanilla essence if you are not using vanilla beans).
Pour the melted butter in the flour, mix well, add milk and work it very well together in a smooth, airy dough.
Or, pour everything in the blender and let it work for you for ~5 minutes.
Cover the dough with a cloth and let it stay for ~45 minutes until rises to double size. If needed leave it for an hour (even more). It is probably the most critical part to have the dough risen properly.

Roll out the dough to about 40x30cm, spread the melted butter on the dough and sprinkle the sugar/walnut-poppy seed filling on it, and roll it up.
Cut ~2 cm thick slices towards the middle, but not completely 'till the middle, and lightly turn them on their side.

Use 1 egg to brush the challah well all over, sides, and turned pieces.
Let it sit for 10-15 min.

Preheat the oven to 225 C, 435 F. Bake at 225 C (435 F) for 25 minutes until golden brown.
Remove from oven. You can either cover it with a cloth for couple of minutes until cools down, or if you want a softer crust use 0.5 dl milk and brush it all over. It won't take the shine away, and it will be absorbed right away.


Sunday, March 10, 2013


Two days after the operation and I was already "starving" for some tidbits. Not sweet, as you might have guessed I'm not the biggest fun of sweet stuff, except the ones with yeast and just a little sugar :).
So, for 8th March I asked hubby to make lángos instead of buying me flowers. Recipe coming soon, promise. We had them with sour cream with LOT of garlic.. Yummm...
Today however, four days after the operation, I just couldn't hold myself back from some cooking/baking.
We had székely káposzta for dinner (another versatile Transylvanian goodie worth cooking, I'll try to write down a recipe for it soon), but after dinner I still wanted something fried, something like lángos, but different. "Sweet".
I decided to go for some m'semen with honey.
I'm not a frequent cooker of Arabic meals, but the m'semen stole my hart long, long time ago.
In Finland I made it differently, without yeast, mainly because I didn't find the right semolina flour, but also because that's the traditional one. However I have to say the ones with yeast are much, much lighter, and better.

Well, here not finding something is luckily not an issue, with so many nations living together you'll find basically everything, and I had my semolina waiting in the storage for a while..
And here it goes, the lovely layered m'semen with honey, and it's my absolute favorite accompanied by strong mint tea with honey (not so sweet as they serve it in the Arabic kitchen) and pine seeds. Watch the video for easier instructions and good music.

Ingredients (makes 10 m'semen)
2 cups flour (bread flour)
2 cups semolina flour
1.5 tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast
~ 2 cups lukewarm water, you'll need a bit less than the full 2 cups, add it slowly

1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup oil

In a larger bowl mix the dry ingredients, and start adding the water until the dough clings together but it still feels sticky. Should be a soft, light dough.
Knead it for 5-10 minutes, knead it well together in a smooth dough. You'll feel how it softens under your fingers while the flour absorbs the water.
Let ir rise for 30 minutes, it will grow to ~double size.

Melt 1/3 cup butter, add 1/3 cup oil.
Roll a bit the dough and pull 10, about same size, balls apart. Flatten and fold to make the layers.
Use the melted butter-oil mix to oil the table, and, with oily hands, start flattening the balls until they are so thin that they start to ravel.

Then fold them from the sides towards the middle in three (or four), to make a streak. Fold both ends towards the middle, and then fold the half streak in two (basically fold in 3 again, starting from the two ends). Flatten it a bit and you'll get nice squares. Between each folding oil your hands or even the dough. It is advisable to have oily layers (don't add to much though or you'll find it difficult to fold) as they will separate nicely the dough layers and they will look gorgeous.

With oily hands start flattening the squares until you get squares of a size of a small plate.

Heat a pan, sprinkle with the butter/oil mix leftover and start frying the m'semen like you fry palacsinta (crepes). The pan should be hot enough to make the m'semen grow nicely, however not too hot to burn too fast. I adjusted my heater to somewhere between half and 2/3rd capacity.

They need very short frying, maybe about 1 min/side, or less.

Enjoy while still warm/fresh with honey, maple syrup and mint tea.
Hubby, who has even less of a sweet tooth than I do, had them as is.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Spinach - cream cheese soup

I bought for the tort Milanese one extra bunch of fresh spinach which was already cooked, waiting for ... something. Not to mention the big bunch of chives left unused. The amount was too small to make anything proper with spinach, but felt sorry for throwing it away. Faith (there are no coincidences :D) made me lift an old Koti&Keittiö from the shelf to relax before going to bed, and I found a soup..
Well, I found almost this soup, but I changed some spices to reflect the Hungarian taste or nobody would bother eating it in the family. In addition, the recipe was calling for feta cheese, but I had only cream cheese in the fridge.
Here is what I came up with, an almost Hungarian spinach soup, with less spinach and cream cheese.

Ingredients (makes 4-6 portions, ready in ~40 min)
300 g fresh spinach, about 1 large bunch
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp white flour
1 l milk
1 tsp salt
1 clove(s) garlic, very finely chopped, optional :)
pinch of black pepper
pinch of nutmeg
150 g cream cheese (I added ~6 tbsp cream cheese)
1/2 small bunch of chives (1 large tbsp chopped chives)
1 tbsp fresh chopped Italian parsley

If you ask me, this asks for a dash (or two) of white wine :). I like creamy soups with vinegar or lemon zest, but this soup somehow didn't ask for neither of them but rather a little bit of dry white wine. I added about 50 ml. You decide how you like it, this is absolutely optional.

fresh bread, croutons, toasted bread cubes

Rinse the spinach and in a small pot with boiling water boil them for about 5 min. Drain, chop it a bit finer.
In a larger (2 litres) pot melt the butter, saute the garlic (if any) for some seconds, add the flour and fry until gets a very light golden color. Basically make a so called rántás. Poor in the milk mixing continuously, and cook it until the top starts bubbling.
Add the spinach, chives, spices and cream cheese, and boil it together for additional 10 minutes.
I mixed the cream cheese in a bowl with some soup until became smooth before adding it to the soup, just to make sure I won't have bigger cheese balls left.
Adjust thickness with extra water if wished. Adjust saltiness with the 1 tsp salt, or as much you feel is needed.
Serve with some fresh bread, or toasted bread cubes.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Half portion pulla dough

This is half of the original Finnish pulla dough.
The other was a bit too large portion for an afternoon treat and I adjusted the amounts to a bit smaller quantity.

Ingredients (makes ~16 buns)
250 ml milk (1 cup)
1 tsp (1 bag) dry yeast, humpy
1 egg
100 ml sugar (a bit less than 1/2 cups)
75 g butter (2/3 stick)
1 tsp minced cardamom seed
1/2 tsp salt
~500 g () all purpose (bread) flour,  750-800 ml (3+ cups) depending on the type of flour used
1 tsp vanilla sugar or the seeds of 1 vanilla bean (optional)
1/2 orange or lemon zest (optional), depends what goes better with your filling, but if you don't have cardamom you should definitely add some, even 1 whole orange's or lemon's zest

1 egg
1-2 tbsp water

Warm up 1 dl milk to ~hand warm, sprinkle in the yeast, a pinch of sugar, and a pinch of flour, and let the yeast to trot for couple of minutes.
Add to the rest of the milk, whisk in sugar, egg, salt and cardamom.
Stir in slowly the flour until you get a dough that starts not to stick anymore neither to the walls of the bowl nor your hands.
Melt the butter, knead it in the dough, and continue kneading until you get a smooth dough.
As usual, you should "work" some air in the dough, to be light.
Let it rise for 45-60 minutes, to about double size. Might take even longer, depends on your room temperature.

Depends what you'll do the rest might differ from here onwards at every recipe. In general, after you divide the dough further to work with, it will need to be kneaded once more, and let an additional 15 minutes to rest, before making the final shapes and baking.

Tort Milanese

Tort Milanese.. Yummii. I saw it when I was watching the Michel Richard video for puff pastry, and I knew I have to make this.. If for nothing else than for the gorgeous colors of the layers. I eat with my eyes :).. However the truth is that I fell in love with it because of the grilled bell pepper. I just LOVE grilled pepper..
The family said the taste was good, but complained of me making too American food :D, as this, in their opinion, was a typical pie. You see, I'm doomed not being allowed to make anything but Hungarian dishes to please the whole family, or maybe Finnish for the kids.
I agree, is not very typical Hungarian to have all these flavors combined in a a pie, but it looks great for a cold/light warm starter, or one of the dishes if you entertain and don't want to serve warm meals or cook on the spot. It is very filling, can be the main dish of a buffet.

Ingredients for 8 (I guess 10 is better guess for people with our appetite :) )
~500 - 600 g puff pastry
2 large red bell peppers, grilled, peeled (though the recipe says 1 pepper, IMHO you need at least two peppers to have a properly covered layer of paprika)
450 g spinach, saute (instructions below)
6 scrambled eggs (instructions below)
ham (~150 g - 200 g), I used smoked beef pastrami, but the smoked flavor is not needed if you are not a huge fun of it like me :). Use pork ham, turkey ham, or none at all for a veggie version.
Swiss cheese, ~150 g- 200g
1 egg for top spread / gloss
20-22 cm tort form (I have a 26 cm only and prepared regular amounts of spinach & egg, which resulted in not so thick layers, but it was OK.., if you use the smaller one you'll have nicer separated layers)

450 g (1 pound) fresh spinach
2-3 tsp olive oil
2 cloves fresh garlic
0.5 - 0.7 dl cream (5-7 tbsp)
some butter (1 tsp) for the spinach
spices: fresh ground black pepper, salt (1/2 tsp)

Saute the garlic in 2-3 tbsp olive oil, add the washed and squeezed spinach. Add a humpy tsp of butter,  and add couple of dashes of cream, 5-7 tbsp.

Scrambled eggs
6 eggs 
1 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 tbsp chives, finely chopped
few leaves of tarragon
pinch nutmeg

Heat the oil, lightly mix in the eggs (it looks nice if you can see stripes of white and yellow instead of a homogenous light yellow), at very low heat mix in the chives, parsley, sprinkle with salt, (optionally black pepper), nutmeg. Remove from fire before it is hard, will have time to bake in the oven and is better if juicy.

Grilled paprika
If you have gas cooker grill the paprika, if not then put the oven to broil at high temperature, and turn to both sides after skin is black. Put the paprika in cold water, remove skid, and cut the paprika in 4 slices for easier handling.

Puff pastry
Roll out the 2/3 rd of the puff pasty dough in about 35 diameter. Grease a 22 cm tort form with butter. Roll out the though in about 35 cm diameter circle, arrange the dough nicely in the tort form, so that it overruns the side of the form with just ~2 cm not to fall back in the form. Roll out the remaining 1/3rd in a 25-26 cm circle, same size as your tort form + 05.-1 inch extra, and place on a plate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate both.

Prepare spinach, scrambled eggs, grilled paprika and cool all. When they are ready and cold, start assembling the tort.
Preheat oven to 175 C, 350 F.
Mix the 1 extra egg with a bit of water, and put aside.
Remove form from fridge with the puff pastry and start layering the filling. Spread half of the scrambled eggs, followed by half of the spinach, ham, cheese, paprika, remaining spinach and remaining scrambled eggs. Cut the extra dough if needed (leave ~2 cm - 1 in), tuck in the extra dough on top of the filling, use the egg mixed with water to spread a little on the dough.
Cover the top with the puff pastry circle prepared for the top. Cut the edge of the bottom pastry, and kinda glue the top to the bottom dough by pressing gently down the sides.
When the dough stick firmly together make a cross shaped cut in the middle, to let the steam leave while baking.
Decorate the top with shallow cuts, without cutting through the pastry.
Put the tort in the oven and bake for about 1 hour and 15 to 30 minutes.
Remove and let it cool for 3-4 hours. If you cut it too early the layers will fall apart. Enjoy!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Red smoothie

Summer arrived to SD. Today we had 31C, and everybody was in a sleepy mood when coming from school.
Who wants to eat some heavy cooked lunch, especially before a 1.5 hour gym class?
We decided to have a light snack, with ancient grain crackers (Costco) topped with french pork pate with truffles (Sprouts), accompanied with a red smoothie.. Hmmm... Wasn't a bad choice at all.

Ingredients, makes ~0.5 litres, 0.1 quart
10-15 raspberries
1 large, 2 smaller strawberries
1/5 (half) banana
100 ml cranberry juice (not from concentrate)
4-5 tbsp organic vanilla yogurt
1 tsp maple syrup, optional
4-5 large ice cubes

In a food processor mix all the ingredients for 5-10 sec. Serve immediately. It is so filling, that if you choose to have it on its own as a snack you won't be starving, for sure.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Tippaleipä - csurgatott fánk - dribbled donuts

Phew.. What a project.. After such a long skiing brake you missed something healthy, didn't you? Well, I did :D.
So, I decided to engage in a long planned project, the donuts known in the Transylvanian kitchen as csurgatott fánk = dribbled donuts, and in the Finnish as tippaleipä = drop bread.

I found two good looking recipes and of course I did them both. I remembered there was no yeast in my grandma's csurgatott fánk, so I started with the recipe without yeast. Next I wouldn't bother trying the other, but you can have them both, and decide for yourself (the one with yeast coming soon). You won't thank me for neither of them though :D, I'm afraid, unless you like food made with lot of fuss, or you are Finnish, missing the taste of home on 1st of May..
It doesn't necessarily last long but it is tricky to learn to dribble the batter properly, remove the forms, turn, and avoid burning yourself ALL at the same time. I'm born blond, you know what I mean :D.
OK, it is not soo dramatic, but practice is practice, and I need some more.. 

Thanks to the tip of using a ketchup bottle I found on Kotikokki, I didn't end up dribbling the whole kitchen with the batter while frying the dribbled donuts, but I managed to do other stupid things, no worries. At the end of the frying my kitchen deserved some "under construction" labels, with oil all over the floor and fried!! dribbled donuts spread everywhere. The doggie thanked me for them, though...
If I add to this, that the csurgatott fánk - tippaleipä - donuts are MUCH more oily than the Hungarian szalagos fánk or csöröge as it gets in contact with the oil on a bigger surface,  you'll immediately understand why I needed a glass of cold dry wine right after.

The csurgatott fánk has a more thick batter than the crepes, or palacsinta, and the end result surprise - surprise, tastes a bit like the palacsinta :), and the one with yeast tastes like the szalagos fánk, without the softness.

While csöröge and fánk is served during the carnival season (my granda made them in the summer), tippaleipä is served in Finland on 1st May with some fermented lemonade (to me it always tasted like bodzalé).
I might look for a proper recipe for Sima, too, later..

3 eggs
1 tsp sugar, humpy
1 1/2 dl whole milk
3 1/4 dl pastry flour
1 flat tsp salt
1 tsp finely grated lemon peel. A MUST (I would add a bit of zest, too, maybe 1 tsp)
optionally some vanilla sugar

Oil and deeper pan for frying
An empty  ketchup bottle, and some round cookie forms. If you don't have any save some metallic cans that stand the heat and cut them to max 4-5 cm, about 2 in. Be careful with the edges!

icing sugar
Sima - Finnish fermented lemonade, and is a must to have on 1st of May :)

Prepare some plates covered with kitchen paper.
In a bowl mix the eggs, don't whisk. Mix in the sugar, the salt, the lemon peel, lemon zest, the milk, and last the flour. Cover it and let it sit for 15 min. Mix it again a bit and poor the batter in the ketchup bottle.
Heat the oil, as for the fánk or csöröge before. Have about 1 inch or a little less then 1 in of oil at the bottom of the pot, pan.
The oil should be quite hot, bot not too hot.. for me it worked at a little bit more than half of my scale.
Drop the forms in the oil, and start SLOWLY dribbling the batter in the forms, with small circular or wiggly moves to evenly but wiggly have about 1.5 cm (0.5 in) batter at the bottom of the forms.
DO not poor too fast, let the batter fry a bit before the next layer of batter drops on top of it. Next I would make them wider and thinner, maybe max 2 layers of batter wiggles on top of each other, to look more like these, but I need to buy some right sized beef meet cans before :).

Fry until the bottom is golden, them remove the form, turn the csurgatott fánk - tippaleipä - donuts to the other side and fry until you are happy with the color and stiffness of the donuts. It doesn't take more than a ~ 1 minute for both sides if the oil is the right temperature.
Remove the ready csurgatott fánk - tippaleipä - donuts, carefully not to fall apart, to the plates, and let them cool down.
Sprinkle with icing sugar, and serve with Sima (in Finland..), with bodzalé in Hungary, or simply alcohol free (or not ;) ) dry apple cider.

Some of my csurgatott fánk - tippaleipä - donuts were crispy, some more tender. I need to exercise more to make all of them crispy, but doesn't matter how they are, you need that sparkling whatever you choose to ease the oiliness/sweetness of the donuts :D.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine owls/harts

Time for Valentine day. Not that I would be a big fun of the circus going around it :), but I like to take the opportunity and celebrate just about everything. With cooking. Or baking. Not to mention that we were asked by the teacher to bring in decorated hart cookies, not less than 24. Huhhh... huuhhh.. I mean, I'm gonna make owls as well :D. Huhuuu!
I decided to use my Xmas vanilla crescent cookie recipe to make the Valentine harts (for the kiddos) and owls (for the teachers). I made slight modifications to the recipe to make the cookies a bit less soft, not because they are bad that way, but rather because I want them to be harder, not to brake right away in the kids' hands.
The shape idea came from the ArtCorps lessons where I saw some great owls recently, and accidentally I stumbled over a double-hart shaped cutter at Marshalls.. A while ago I saw a pic of an owl cookie somewhere, and just combined the three things together..
Tadaaaam.... and the friendship owls were born. And I'm dead tired 'cause it is over midnight and I just got the last tray out of the oven. Tomorrow still decorating the harts.. Ayayayyy...

300 g pastry flour (you can use half whole grain as well)
200 g butter
80 g icing sugar (if you make the owl and don't use icing, you can add 100 gr sugar)
100 g almond flour (ground almond)
1 tsp vanilla aroma (optional)
1 egg

colored icing, you can find how to make your own here

Mix the butter with sugar until creamy (and vanilla, if you add any), mix in the egg, add the almond and the normal flour, and work it well together in a soft dough. Place it in the fridge for about 30 min. The butter will harden again to make it easier to work with.
Roll it out thin, about 3-4 mm and cut it with your favorite cookie cutters.
Place them on trays covered with parchment paper. Bake them for 10-15 minutes at 175 C (350 F), depends how golden you want them.. My oven is not heating up very well, so I baked them for 17-18 min..

Prepare the icing in your favorite color, for Valentine white, pink and red are working just fine. Decorate the harts with dots, lines, etc.

For the owls, pinch the top of the hart a little, cut the bottom of the owl not to be so pointed (optional), cut \small circles (1 cm) of the though, place two of them on the upper part of the harts (for eyes) and place a mini chocolate chip in the middle of the circles.
If you make a round owl make small cuts on the bottom as feathers. Place an un-peeled almond for the beak.
Sprinkle them with the vanilla sugar while still hot.
Be careful, for the first half a minute/minute they are fragile, not so fragile though as the vanilla crescents.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Csöröge - "rattling" donut

This time I wanted to make the csöröge, or forgácsfánk, for the children's carnival in the House of Hungary.
This is the REAL csöröge, without yeast, and the easiest way is to go to Varga Gábor's recipe and try it out. Well, mine is almost as his recipe, (I don't have my Grandma's and I use this one as it works very well), but it is only almost his recipe because we've always made it with a bit of rum, or rum essence.
Today I missed to add the rum, well, I could listen to my daughters endless complains.. and I deserved it, agree... I sprinkled them in exchange with a tiny bit of cinnamon while rolling out, but it just generated even more complains.. See, hard work and good intention always pays off :D.

It is very easy to make and, for those who don't speak Hungarian, here is the English version. I had to steel temporarily Gabor's picture because, in the heat of frying the csöröge and the fánk for the kids, I forgot to take any picture of the ready pastries.. Shame, shame..
We had double portion and they looked at least as good as these ones, if not better (yeah, I know, I'm very modest :D), but next time..

250 g pastry flour
150 gr sour cream
50 gr butter
1-2 tsp icing sugar (depending how sweet you like it, it's gonna be sprinkled with icing sugar as well)
1 pinch salt
3 egg yolks
1 tsp rum (essence)
(optionally you can also add a bit of grated lemon peel or cinnamon) 

~ 1 l sun flour oil for frying

icing sugar
jams (apricot, raspberry, anything you like, basically) 

In a bowl mix the flour with the salt, then crumble it with the butter. Start mixing in the rum, egg yolks, the sour cream and the icing sugar.
Knead it very well together, not just little bit, it has to be a sooth dough. If it is smooth enough, when you fry them it will kinda form layers like a puff pastry, though not so nicely separated.
The dough should be kinda "hard", though I still consider it quite soft compared to a home made pasta dough (now see, that IS hard). Anyway, should be hard enough to be very easy to roll out with little flouring. If it sticks to the table you might want to work in some more flour, but it shouldn't be needed.
Put some oil to heat, quite hot like you would make French fries.
Roll out the dough very thin, maybe 3 mm thick, maximum.
Cover some plates with kitchen paper.

In the hot oil fry the csöröge for just ~30-40 seconds each side.
They should be light golden brown, not too well fried because they are very thin. If you fry them for too long they will become dry and hard.

Remove the ready csöröge to the plates, the paper will absorb the excess oil.
Sprinkle with icing sugar while still warm, serve as is, fresh, or with apricot or raspberry jam, and a tea, or better infusion. Yummii.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Runebergin torttu

Shell I be 100% honest with you? Shell I? I NEVER ate Runebergin torttu in Finland :D. Never.
I just didn't like the icing ring on top, besides, I never bought factory made cakes or torts (except the frozen goodies to bake them home..)
And I guess I just missed the detail that Runeberg ate them accompanied with punsch, not to mention they are soaked in punsch ahahahahaaaa, you see, they immediately started to look sooo much more attractive :D.

Now, far away from home, hehe, I thought I should definitely make some Runeberg's tort for Sunday to celebrate Runeberg's päivä coming on 5th February.
Just need not to forget to buy some ingredients for a punch. I might even skip the torts (which have to be 100% alcohol free, *sigh*), leave them to the family, and stick to the punch.. This is why I love cooking/baking: is full of possibilities ;).

The cake is better if has some time to mature together with the rum/punch, and the jam has time to develop "skin".
The recipe comes from Kinuskikissa.

Ingredients (12-16 pieces, depends on your muffin form size)
100 g piparkakku groats (gingerbread groats if no piparkakku available)
IF you used gingerbread groats, like I did, add to the batter 1 tsp cinnamon and 1 flat tsp minced cloves
2 1/2 dl almond flour (100 g)
300 ml whole wheat flour (180 g)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder (original recipe says 2 tsp, but I felt the taste in the cake, so I reduced the amount a little for you)
1 tsp minced cardamom seeds
1 tsp vanilla sugar
250 gr butter
300 ml sugar
4 eggs
2 dl cream, or half-half, can be replaced with 2 dl orange zest, 1.5 dl lemon zest, 2 dl apple juice or half punsch-half some juice
couple of almond essence drops (optional)

For soaking (optional)
1 dl water
1 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp punsch, rum, or almond liqueur
OR 2 tbsp lemon/orange zest (non-alcoholic version)

raspberry jam
icing: 1.5 dl icing sugar, 2 tsp lemon zest,  2 tbsp water (you can add a bit, like 1/4 tsp, of corn starch to dry faster..)

Grind the piparkakku (gingerbread) in a fine groats.
Mix the piparkakku groats, whole wheat flour, baking powder, almond flour, vanilla sugar, and cardamom seeds (as well as the cloves and cinnamon).
Whisk the butter with the sugar until spumy, add the eggs one by one, mixing continuously, add the cream (or lemon/orange zest) and mix in the flour mix. I made it with both orange zest and half/half, and I liked more the one with orange zest.
Preheat the oven at 200 g (400 F).
Scoop the batter in silicon muffin forms, and bake them for 20-25 min.
Let them cool for ~10 min, remove them from the forms.
Cut the raised top of the muffins to make it even as it's going to be the bottom of the torts.
Meanwhile prepare the soaking mix from water, sugar, and  almond liqueur (or lemon zest) or punch.
Warm up the water, add the sugar until well dissolved. Let it cool. Add the liqueur.

Dip the top of the torts in the liqueur mix, keep them for ~5 seconds, turn them with bottom down on plates. (If you want dip the bottom as well, I thought the top is enough for me, it will moist the bottom as well anyway.)
Scoop a tiny bit out of the middle of the top, (to make more space for the raspberry jam, but is optional, you can just scoop some jam on top) and start decorating.
Scoop ~1/2 tsp raspberry jam in the middle hole.
Mix the lemon zest with the icing sugar until is firm enough like a typical icing. Use a pipping bag with a small hole in the corner and make small rings around the raspberry jam.
Enjoy further soaked with punch, this time directly from a mug :D.

If you choose to bake a whole tort, (like I did with half of the batter), bake it at 350 F (175 C) for ~60 min, poking it occasionally with a toothpick. It should fill a 26 cm round baking form.
And of course I couldn't help, I eat some, even without alcohol.. They are actually pretty good, I will make some more for the Saturday's Finnish school as well. This time I'm gonna try with apple juice and lemon zest :).

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Pannukakku - pan-cake, but not pancake :)

My daughter was asking for pannukakku, another Finnish cake..
I have a kinda so-so relationship with it, not overly excited about, but good for a dessert every now and then, especially when I didn't have to make it. Well, I have to make it now :). If you speak Finnish, just go ahead and visit my friend's friend's blog here Ullan Leipomuksia.
If you don't, here is the recipe translated for you.
I like the crispy top so I adjusted the quantities a tiny bit to my tray, which is a bit smaller (20cmx30cm) than the average Finnish tray, to make a thinner pannukakku.
It is a less labor intensive alternative to palacsinta, crepes.

Ingredients (serves 6-8, preparation time 50 min, active 10 min)
3 dl cake flour
1 dl sugar
1 flat tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla sugar (add essence in US)
1 flat tsp salt
6 dl milk
2 eggs
75 g butter, melted

Mix the dry ingredients and start adding milk, whisking to get a smooth dough. If I add half of the milk to the flour and whisk well, only then add the rest, works fine for me, it won't be lumpy.
In a separate bowl whisk lightly the egg whites (no need to beat them, just have them lightly white to brake down the viscosity of the whites), add the egg yolks, and add the eggs to the batter.
Last whisk in the melted butter.
Let it kinda mature together, just like "palacsinta" batter, for 15-30 min.
Poor the batter in a deeper tray,  ~1 cm thick layer should be on the bottom of the tray. Thicker is good, as well, it will however have a thicker layer of white, more dense batter in the middle and might need slightly longer baking.
You can choose whether you use the tray as is, or water it and "stick" a parchment paper to the bottom. You can use a wider wooden spatula to get the pannukakku out, so whichever you choose don't worry about scratching the tray.
Preheat the oven to 225 C (435 F) and bake on a middle shelf for 30-40 minutes (depends on the size of your tray) until the top is light golden-brown..
It will rise 'till almost (or 'till) the top of the tray, and when you remove it from the oven will collapse to about its original size. Don't panic, that's how it should be :).
Look for a lighter top than the one on the pic, my hubby managed to over bake it while I was at the girl's party downtown :).

Enjoy cold or while still slightly warm with:
strawberry marmalade
whipped cream/whipped vanilla cream
fresh berries
ice cream
a combination of the above

Original recipe for a standard Finnish tray
4 dl cake flour
1.5 dl sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla sugar
1 tsp salt
8 dl milk
2 eggs
100 butter, melted