Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cinnamon scented challah

Cinnamon scented challah

I was watching music videos on TV other day when I saw the ugliest creature ever. Really – at the moment he took off his shirt and opened his mouth I felt like running, running like there was no tomorrow.
A quick visit to a certain profile on imdb was essential to avoid being scarred for life. :D

Making something pretty also helps. I decide for this challah, inspired by the gorgeous one Jaden made a while ago. The recipe is from Zoe’s wonderful book.

Cinnamon scented challah

Cinnamon scented challah
from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Master Challah dough*:
1 ¾ cups (420ml) lukewarm water
1 ½ tablespoons instant yeast
1 ½ teaspoons table salt
4 large eggs, slightly beaten
½ cup honey
½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, melted
7 cups (980g) unbleached all-purpose flour

Filling and topping:
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
a small handful sliced almonds

egg wash: 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water

Mix the yeast, salt, eggs, honey and butter with the water in a 5-quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container.

Mix in the flour without kneading, using a spoon, a 14-cup capacity food processor (with dough attachment) or a heavy duty stand mixer, with dough hook. If you are not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.

Cover (not airtight) and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.

For the filling, mix together sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.

The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 5 days. Beyond 5 days, freeze in 1 pound (450g) portions in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks. Defrost frozen dough overnight in the refrigerator before using. Then allow the usual rest and rise time.

On baking day, line a baking sheet with non stick baking paper or buttered regular baking paper.
Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1-pound/450g (grapefruit-size) piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.

Let’s shape the challah: use the palm of your hands and roll the dough into a thick, even log. Cut the dough into 3 equal pieces with knife or dough scraper. (It’s easier to cut even pieces when the dough is not round). Roll each piece with your hands to stretch into a long 1 ½ in (approx. 3.75 cm) thick rope. Try not to just stretch it out by pulling, the dough will break. Easiest way is to place dough on counter and roll back and forth with palms of hands, starting in the middle and hands move out which stretching the dough a bit. Don’t worry about getting it to look pretty, just try to get each piece even sized.

Take one piece of dough. Use side of your hand to press and create an indent in the middle of the strand. Spread 1/3 of the filling in this indent.

Bring up the sides of the dough, encasing the filling, and pinch dough closed. Repeat with other strands.
Now, time to braid the bread: start in the middle and braid. Pinch ends, tuck under. Now braid the other side, pinch and tuck. Start braid from the middle (instead of top) so that it tapers evenly at both ends. Place on prepared sheet, over paper.
Cover with towel and let rest for 1 ½ hours; 20 minutes prior to baking, preheat your oven to 180ºC/350ºF.
When dough is ready, brush top with egg wash and sprinkle with almonds. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden.

* this amount of dough is enough to make four 1-pound (450g) challahs – you may keep the remaining dough in the fridge or freeze it (as explained in the recipe) and use as desired

Makes 1 challah

Cinnamon scented challah

Friday, December 19, 2008

Orange snickerdoodles

Orange snickerdoodles

I have been called a Cookie Monster by some of my blogging friends, but I believe I am not the only one – the lovely and dear Susan seems to love cookies as much as I do, because she’s hosting the second season of Eat Christmas Cookies!


I took part in the first edition of the event last year and so did many of talented people. There were several delicious entries and I am sure this year will be the same. To make things even better, Susan will give away one copy of Anita’s book. Yay! :D

My choice this time is snickerdoodles, but not the traditional ones - these are packed with a wonderful citrus touch. Yum!

Orange snickerdoodles

Orange snickerdoodles
from here

110g unsalted butter, softened
215g sugar
1 egg
finely grated zest of 2 oranges
200g all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar (215g) until light and fluffy. Add the egg and orange zest and beat for 30 seconds more. Finally add the flour and baking soda and beat until incorporated. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180ºC/350ºF; line two large baking sheets with baking paper.

Mix remaining sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Set aside.

Make balls using 1 rounded teaspoon of dough and roll them in the sugar-cinnamon mixture and place on prepared sheets, 5cm (2in) apart.
Bake for 10 minutes, one sheet at a time, or until they swell then crack. Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes then transfer cookies to a wire rack.

Makes 45

Orange snickerdoodles

Friday, December 12, 2008

Yoyo cookies with creamy passion fruit filling

Yoyo cookies with creamy passion fruit filling

A movie I simply adore was on TV yesterday – I believe it was the 7th time I watched it, no kidding, two of those being one right after the other, on the same day, when it was released.

Inspired by the two faces of that mirror, I bring you a buttery recipe with passion fruit, after the fresh one I posted Sunday. From a gorgeous passion fruit themed article on DH magazine #37.

Yoyo cookies with creamy passion fruit filling

Yoyo cookies with creamy passion fruit filling
from Donna Hay magazine

175g unsalted butter, softened
115g confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
265g all purpose flour, sifted
35g corn flour (cornstarch), sifted
1/3 cup (80ml) passion fruit pulp

125g unsalted butter, softened
150g confectioners’ sugar, sifted
¼ cup (60ml) passion fruit pulp

Preheat the oven to 160ºC/320ºF; line two large baking sheets with baking paper.

To make the filling, place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 6-8 minutes or until pale and creamy. Strain the passion fruit pulp through a sieve to remove the seeds. Add to the butter mixture and beat for further 3-4 minutes or until smooth. Set aside.
Make the cookies: place the butter, sugar and lemon zest in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 6-8 minutes or until pale and creamy. Add the flour, corn flour and passion fruit pulp and mix in slow speed until combined. Roll 1 rounded teaspoon of the mixture into balls with damp hands and place on prepared sheets – if the mixture gets a little sticky, refrigerate it for 15-20 minutes. Press each cookie with a damp fork to flatten. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until light golden. Allow to cool on sheets.
Sandwich the cookies together with the passion fruit filling to serve.

* I was pretty generous filling the cookies and still got loads of filling left. I believe half the recipe would be enough.

Makes 28 sandwich cookies

Yoyo cookies with creamy passion fruit filling

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A big hug, flavored with passion fruit

A big hug, flavored with passion fruit - Passion fruit jellies with banana and honey yogurt

Blogging has several good aspects, and a very important one is meeting great people – and it doesn’t matter if they live around the corner or across the ocean.

The lovely Barbara is one of those people and she’s going through a hard time right now, battling cancer once again. :(

The equally lovely Bron and Ilva organized a virtual hug for Barbara and I’m glad to be a part of it. I hope she likes this fresh and simple dessert, full of fruity flavors.

Barbara, my dear, be sure that there are Brazilian fingers here crossed for you. I know you’ll kick cancer in the ass again.
You might be half a planet away, but are certainly close to my heart.

A big hug, flavored with passion fruit - Passion fruit jellies with banana and honey yogurt

Passion fruit jellies with banana and honey yogurt
slightly adapted from Australian Gourmet Traveller

350ml passion fruit juice*
175ml freshly squeezed orange juice
200g sugar
6 gelatin leaves, softened in cold water
200g yogurt
30g honey
thickly sliced banana, to serve
passion fruit pulp, to serve

Combine juices, sugar and 1 cup water in a saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves, then pass through a fine sieve. Warm ½ cup juice mixture in a saucepan over medium heat, squeeze excess water from gelatin, add to pan and stir until gelatin dissolves, then add remaining juice mixture. Cool slightly and pour into six 1 cup-capacity glasses and refrigerate for 4 hours or until set.
To serve, whisk together yoghurt and honey. Top jellies with a spoonful of yogurt, cover with banana slices and spoon over passion fruit pulp.

Note: to make passion fruit juice, blend passion fruit pulp in a food processor to crack seeds, then strain through a fine sieve. Twelve passion fruit yield about 1 cup of juice.

* I used concentrated bottled juice

Serves 6

A big hug, flavored with passion fruit - Passion fruit jellies with banana and honey yogurt

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Coconut madeleines

Coconut madeleines

I guess I’m really getting old. Things I did not care for now bore me to death.

I remember when bands and singers came up with a new album – there would be one song to be played (to exhaustion, sometimes) at radio stations, and the musicians would perform this song in TV shows and such. After a while, they would do the same with another song, and that is how things would work.
Now I turn on the radio and there are 10 Rihanna songs going on. If her managers – and Jay Z, for that matter – think this is going to make us love her, it’s not working, At least not for me, because I can’t stand her any more. I want her to take that silly, pretentious video – does she think she is Silverchair? – and go sing somewhere else. Maybe in a rainy place, so she can use her umbrella. :)

But there is something that never bores me – madeleines. And this time I made coconut ones.

Coconut madeleines

Coconut madeleines
from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey

2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (140g) unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup (140g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
pinch of salt
¾ cup (170g or 1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, melted an cooled
¾ cup (68g) sweetened shredded coconut

in a large bowl, using a large wire whisk, gently beat the eggs, egg whites, granulated sugar, and vanilla together until smooth.

Sift the flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt together into a medium bowl, then fold into the batter. Finally, fold the melted butter and coconut into the batter until completely smooth. The batter should look fairly thin. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours. After chilling, the batter should be thick and very firm.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 190ºC/375°F. Generously butter two madeleine pans and sprinkle with flour, tapping out the excess. Fill each shell mold with about 1 tablespoon of batter, depending of their size – I filled mine up to ¾ of their capacity, eyeballing it.
Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake until the madeleines are firm and golden brown with a small hump in the center, 10-12 minutes.

Transfer the madeleines to a wire rack, popping them out with the tip of a sharp paring knife, and let cool – it’s important to unmold them right after the oven because they might stick to the pan once cool.

Makes 24

Coconut madeleines

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Banana almond cake

Banana almond cake

I can’t believe I finally made this cake! The recipe had been in my kitchen forever. I was about to rename it “Fight Club cake”- I have tried to watch that movie hundreds of times but never got around to do it. I’ve rented it over and over again, but for a number of reasons I always had to take it back before getting to the end. I’ve tried watching it on cable, too, with no success. And the funny thing is that I absolutely love the director – one of the few guys that can make Brad Pitt play someone else other than himself – and Edward Norton is one of my true favorites. What’s wrong with me?? :)

It’s a pity that the cake is long gone. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll try watching “Fight Club” again. For the 8th time. :)

Banana almond cake

Banana almond cake

65g unsalted butter, room temperature
60g sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 ½ tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon rum
100g almond meal
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 tablespoon (packed) corn flour
2-3 large bananas
1 tablespoon lemon juice

juice of ½ lemon
1 tablespoon rum
½ tablespoons honey

confectioners’ sugar, to serve

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF.
Butter a 10x23cm* loaf pan and flour the insides, tapping out the excess.

Sift the almond meal and flour together three times. Set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar and beat well. Add the eggs, gradually. Add the cream and rum. Beat to incorporate.
Fold in the sifted ingredients with a rubber spatula. Pour into prepared pan.
Peel and cut the bananas into 3-4 pieces each; “stick” them into the cake batter, keeping the pieces standing – there should be half an inch of banana out of the cake batter, or so.
Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean.
Mix well all the ingredients for the syrup.
Leave to cool in the pan for 10 minutes; unmold and drizzle with the syrup.
Dust with confectioners’ sugar when serving.

* I used a 10x26cm pan

Serves 6

Banana almond cake

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