Monday, February 24, 2014

Cocoa Pate á Choux

One of my childhood favorites is képviselőfánk, or Pate á Choux, filled with vanilla creme... Hmmmm....
But.. while I like to bring those memories back with the pastries, I also like to experiment and make the old new, maybe even better.
I saw a recipe in a Homes and Garden, with rose cream filled chocolate puffs. I tried to bake them, and it turned a complete disaster.. What did I do wrong, or was the recipe or instructions bad, I have no clue, but I put the idea of baking them aside for quite a while.
At least a month ago I asked my friend, and blog co-author Asian Mist :), if she had a good recipe to share, and of course she did :).
Tonight I made the cocoa pate a choux slightly modifying the recipe I had, and they turned out gorgeous!
Here they come...

250 ml, 1 cup water
115 g or 1 stick butter
150 g, 1 cup all purpose flour
1 good pinch of salt
5 eggs
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp sugar


cream of your choice, some to come in next posts

Decoration tips
powder sugar
wiggles of white chocolate 

Preheat the oven to 220C or 425 F.

In a medium pot bring the water and the butter to simmer over medium heat. Sift in the flour and salt, and with a wooden spatula stir quickly. The flour will absorb all the liquid, and the dough will detach from the side of the bowl. Give it some more minutes, about 2, stirring continuously, to cook through.

Let it cool a bit, or transfer the dough into a mixing bowl.
Add the sugar, cocoa, mix, and now start adding the eggs one by one, incorporating each of them properly before adding the next one.
By the end, when all 5 eggs are nicely mixed in, the dough should be smooth, creamy and shiny, and sticking to the wall of the bowl.

Now spoon the dough in shape of small balls on a tray covered with parchment paper with the help of a tea and a tablespoon.
The balls should be about the size of a walnut, roughly 25 g for medium size puffs. For larger puffs scoop larger balls...

Bake the in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes at 220 C / 425 F. Lower the heat to 175 C / 350 F and bake for about 20 more minutes.

They are ready if they feel dry and empty, like some table tennis balls, if you lift them.
Let them cool.
They can be made in advance and stored for days in a cold, dry storage, covered with kitchen wrap.
What you do next, it depends on your plans and filling you're gonna use, but at this point just enjoy the view of these lovely puffs :D.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Korvapuusti - frozen raw and baked fresh

Nothing new under the sun, but I wanna share with you how to enjoy only the right amount of sweets a day, and have some goodies hassle free later.
When you make korvapuusti, or Dallaspulla for example, freeze the amount you don't need.
When to freeze them?
Raw, just when you would put them in the oven to bake, maybe 5 minutes earlier.. Meaning, if you would leave them 10 minutes to rise after they are cut, let them only 5 minutes and put them in the freezer.
When cutting, instead of placing them on a parchment paper covered tray, place them on a thin, straight support, like a wire rack covered with parchment paper, wrap with plastic wrap and put them in the freezer. When they get properly frozen, put them in a bag and keep them, obviously, in the freezer. They survive for weeks, even up to three months.

When you wanna bake them, just take them out of the freezer, place them on a tray covered with parchment paper. Heat the oven to 225 C, or 430 F, and bake them for 10 - 12 minutes.
They are soooooo good, even better than when you made them at first place, because now you skipped the hassle of preparation and could focus only on their taste..

Friday, February 14, 2014

Káposztás rétes - cabbage strudel

I have to admit I'm the salty type. I could live happily forever after without any sweet if I just had enough salty treats.
This is one of my favorites...
It goes well for an easy and fast dinner, as well as a more filling snack, and can be taken to a picnic. Who can ask for more?

Phyllo dough

Half a cabbage, about 1 pound

Cut the cabbage in fine slices, sprinkle with salt and paper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 400 C.
Roll out the phyllo dough, brush with oil the whole surface of the dough and spread the cabbage kinda evenly and roll it into a log.
form a spiral and place it in a tray.
Place it on the second lower shelf of your oven and bake for 20 minutes. If you like the cabbage more cooked lower the temperature and bake a bit longer.
I prefer it soft but still crunchy a bit..

Serve while still warm with cold sour cream.

Almásrétes - apple strudel

Life is full of little small stories, some said, some sweet, some happy, and one of these led me into baking strudels.
It all started with a nice old lady from the neighborhood, still in Love with his husband, and looking forward to surprise him with something special for Valentines day..

I liked my grandma's cabbage strudels, but never made them before, so I started a short but intense journey into learning how make home made phyllo (fillo) dough, and get just the right amount of sourness and sweetness into my filling.

It was surprisingly easy, and you will see more of them on the blog for sure.


150 g bread crumbs
80-100 g butter
6 - 7 apples, I prefer Granny Smith, it should be something sour and with more consistency..
150 g sugar
1 lemon zest
1/2 lemon's juice
1 tbsp cinnamon
80 g grated almond (I just use my hand as a measure and spread about 2 handful on the apples)
100 g raising, soaked, optionally sprinkled with rum (flavor)

150 - 200 g butter, melted
50 g powdered sugar for decoration

First we prepare the dough. Check the Phyllo dough for details.

In about 80-100 g butter fry the breadcrumbs until golden brown. Set aside to cool. 

Meanwhile cut the apples into 8, and start slicing them in very thin slices, like 1-2 mm thick.
Put the in a bowl, sprinkle with the 150 g sugar, cinnamon, lemon zest, lemon juice, and mix it well.
Add the raisins as well.
I prefer to keep the almonds unmixed, not to get soft, but up to you, you can mix in the almonds as well.

Preheat the oven to 200 C,  400 F.
And now we start filling the pastry.
Sprinkle and very lightly brush the dough everywhere. Spread the breadcrumb all over the dough, evenly.
Place about 1/3 of the apples on one shorter edge, another 1/3 on the other shorter edge, but leave about 5 cm, 2 inches empty on both sides.

Now spread the remaining 1/3 in the middle of the dough, evenly. Sprinkle the almond slices all over on the top of the apples, again, kinda evenly.
Now cover the filling with the dough left on the sides, a little on the sides too, not to have the filling falling out, and we start rolling so, that the two halfs meet at the middle.
Arrange the dough in a straight line, and place it in your tray. at this point it helps if you had a roughly 60 cm wide dough, because it will fit nicely into your tray. Adjust if needed.
Brush with butter, place it on the lower second rack of the oven, and bake for about 30-40 minutes. Nooo, you can't just leave it there :).
When starts to get a nice golden color get the tray out just a little to reach the strudel and brush with butter.

Repeat 3-5 times in the next 10 minutes.
When nice and golden brown, remove from the oven, brush again with butter, and let it cool.
When cooler sift some powdered sugar on top.
Serve fresh, lukewarm, maybe with some vanilla ice cream.. Nyammm...

Phyllo dough

It deserves it's own post because maaaaaaany goodies will come with this pastry.
It might look difficult at first glimpse, but don't give up, it is actually much easier than you think.

300 g (2 cups) bread flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
125 ml (1/2 cup) warm

Prepare a kitchen table with a large table cloth, and sprinkle with flour.
Now, get the dough out from the foil, place it on the table, with a rolling pin roll it a little, and now start pulling the sides. I admit, I'm not using the rolling pin but just pull the dough until I get a large enough piece cover twice the back of my hand, and I start pulling, rotating, like the pizza dough guys :), until the middle gets more and more thin and transparent. than I do the same, slowly moving towards the edges. When the dough it to thin to rotate on my hands, I drop in on the table and start pulling the sides, to make the doug has thin, and as large as possible. Try to keep the shape of a rectangle.
When you have a size of at least 60x80 cm, and the dough is thin, cut the thick edges.

Now come the filling and the rolling, which will depend on what you make from this..

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Gluten free Karelian pies

Today I felt like doing some healthy (or fancy, or necessity, depends who you ask) stuff.
I decided to make gluten and lactose free Karelian pies, and not only, but have them for lunch with a cup of coconut milk, in the half shade of the patio.
They were good, they had a bit stronger taste and more rich color than rye, and they were sooo much more meticulous to make :(. The gluten in the white flour from "normal" pies is more forgiving and elastic, and the end result looks so much better than with gluten free flour...
However for those who can't eat gluten it is a fair deal.
However, the filling made with both almond and coconut milk were absolute gorgeous! I will seriously consider changing for coconut milk for our regular porridge.
Next, I will also experiment with other gluten free flour mixes for easier-to-work-with dough, milder taste and lighter color.

380 ml (1 1/2 cup) buckwheat flour
130 ml (1/2 cup) sweet white sorghum flour
200 ml water
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp sunflower oil

0.4 l sushi or short grain rice (it should stick together not like the Basmati rice for example)
0.5 litre (2 cups) almond or coconut milk (head for them to Costco for a good price)
1 litre (4 cups) water
1/5 tsp salt

For brushing
1 dl sunflower oil
1 dl almond oil

Cook the rice in the water for ~10 min, then add the almond milk, season with salt and cook under lid over very low heat for additional ~25 min, until the rice is soft enough but not over boiled. It should be a quite soft, easy to spread. Stir occasionally.
Let it cool under the lid, meanwhile prepare the dough. It can be made the day before, to shorten your preparation time.

In a bowl mix the buckwheat flour with the salt, sorghum flour, and water. It should be a rather soft though, barely dry enough to separate from the walls of the bowl.
Knead them together, roll it in a ~5 cm (2 in) rod, and cut ~1 cm slices from the rod.
Roll the slices into small balls.
Half of the dough is enough to cut and roll at a time, or it will dry, and leave the dough you are not working with under a cloth all the time.
Now roll the small balls into circle-oval shapes (~10-12cm), quite thin, using a lot of buckwheat flour on and under not to stick to the table.
Place an oval shaped, flat scoop of rice in the middle (~7mm thick), leaving about 2 cm of though around the rice.
On the sides fold the dough on top of the rice, and start lifting with your finger the rest of the dough and kinda folding it on top of the rice towards the top. Turn and repeat with the other side until it looks BETTER like the ones on the picture. :D
Mix some oil with almond milk, about 2/3 oil - 1/3 almond milk.
Place the piirakka-s in the tray. Spread some oil-almond milk mixture on the piirakka, sides as well.
Bake them at 300 C, (550 F), for ~10 min on the top most rack, (or second top most), until bits on the top get a little golden-brown shade.
Meanwhile mix some more oil with almond milk, approximately half-half.
Remove the piirakka from the oven and spread the oil-almond milk mixture ALL OVER the piirakka, bottom, sides, top.
Place them under a cloth and let the piirakka soften.

Serve with chopped hard boiled eggs mixed with butter, scrambled eggs and many more...
We also placed a slice of ham & cheese on top, and let it in the oven for couple of minutes for the cheese to melt..

OBS. Cut the dough slices depending how big pirrakka you want. I cut about 22-25 g / piece dough and got a generous half-palm sized piirakka, one, with topping, would definitely be enough for breakfast for the kids.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Laskiaispulla - Semla

Uhh ohh... Baking season started!
Not with things I expected though but with a load of Finnish goodies, again.
This is a new one, never tried before, but I started baking with confidence because it is based on the pulla dough, my absolute favorite, so it can't go wrong, right?
I usually don't like baking big round buns, I'm always worried they will be raw in the inside, but I can now state that if I don't let the dough over-rise it should be fine.
I didn't ever eat laskiaispulla in Finland, maybe it was a mistake, maybe wasn't, because these turned out gorgeous and made a good entree :).
The soft bun-crumb wrapped in little bit crunchy crust, with a generous teaspoon of raspberry jam in the middle, accompanied with the airy whipped cream...  Hmmmm....

half portion pulla dough, makes about 16 buns

500 ml, (one pint) heavy whipping cream, 
1 tbsp  sugar 

strawberry jam (in the original version)
almond cream (marzipan cream)

1 egg + 1 (or two) tbsp water

I confess, I omit both traditional fillings like the almond cream and strawberry jam (except the cream, of course) and replace it with:
raspberry jam for a bit more sour taste, my definite favorite

Prepare the dough. After it has risen nicely, start picking off small portions, about 50 g/ball.
Roll them well to make a smooth round surface.

Preheat the oven to 425F, 225 C.
Place them on a tray covered with parchment paper, brush them with egg wash, and let them sit for another 15-20 minutes.

Brush them lightly again before putting them in the oven for about 12 minutes.
Remove them from the oven and let them cool completely.
Until they are cooling whip the heavy whipping cream with a tbsp sugar.
Cut the top, scoop a small hole in the middle of the bun, scoop a tsp of jam in the hole, covered the while surface of the but with about 1 cm whipped cream., place back the top which was cut at the beginning, and sprinkle the buns generously with castor sugar.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Hubby's favorite. And not only.

Ingredients (makes ~18 buns)
pullataikina, bun dough

Filling (version 1)
150 g butter
200 g vanilla cream cheese (a bit different than the Finnish vaniljarahka, but better than nothing)
1 bag organic vanilla pudding powder (prepared with 1/3rd of the suggested amount of milk)
1.5 dl milk
0,5 dl maple syrup (was too sweet for my liking, so I don't add it, but up to you)
1 vanilla bean seeds or vanilla extract
1 egg

Prepare the vanilla pudding with 1/3rd of the suggested amount of milk, adding the vanilla bean seeds. For home made vanilla pudding I will post a recipe soon, but this is how I shortened the work this time.
Prepare the bun dough. While it's rising prepare the filling.
Melt the butter and add all ingredients including the cooked pudding, cream cheese, and maple syrup if you choose to add. Let it cool until the butter firms again, stirring occasionally to prevent forming a skin.
Prepare a tray covered with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 225 C, 435 F.
Roll out the dough into a rectangle (~35x25), about 0.4 mm thick. Spread 2/3rds of the cream on top, and form a firm roll.
Cut about 2 cm thick peaces and place them on the tray.

Let them rise for additional 15-20 min, then brush them with the egg.
Divide the remaining cream on top of each bun and bake at 225 C (435 F) for ~15 min, until golden brown.
Enjoy while fresh!