Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Cookies and cream blondies and a TV show to eat them with

Cookies and cream blondies / Blondies cookies and cream

A couple of days ago I finished watching Hannibal and found it pretty even: it was a very good show from start to finish and I hope the second season stays that way; Cynthia Nixon will be joining the cast and there are rumors of David Bowie playing Hannibal's uncle – I mean, how cool is that? :)

No spoilers here, everyone knows that Hannibal Lecter is a killer and eats his victims, and the series is very graphic about that, which kind of eliminates the risk of wanting to eat something delicious while watching TV – I never forget the day my brother and I were watching The Fly and my father entered the room with his dinner, only to go back to the kitchen in a matter of minutes. :D

Having watched Breaking Bad, Broadchurch and Hannibal in a row, I decided to go for something lighter (so I thought), and Girls was the chosen TV show; However, after only two episodes I felt miserable with those characters, there was nothing funny about any of show. I felt so sad after that hour that all I wanted was something sweet – too bad these delicious blondies were long gone by then.

Cookies and cream blondies
slightly adapted from the always stunning Donna Hay magazine

250g all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
200g unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (175g) light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
200g white chocolate, melted
100g cream cheese
150g Oreo cookies, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Lightly butter a 20x30cm (8x12in) baking pan, line it with foil leaving an overhang on two opposite sides and butter the foil as well.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, add the vanilla and beat until combined. Add the dry ingredients and chocolate and mix on low speed just until combined.
Spoon half the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Top with spoonfuls of cream cheese, then sprinkle with the cookies, distributing the ingredients evenly. Spoon over the remaining blondie batter and spread to cover the cookies and the cream cheese completely.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden and cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool completely in the pan over a wire rack. Cut into squares to serve.

Makes 24

Monday, October 28, 2013

Spiced roast chicken

Spiced roast chicken / Frango assado com especiarias

As much as I love cooking and baking there are times I want to be somewhere else besides the kitchen –for those times, the oven is my best friend: with a bit of planning food can be cooked without the need of me being around it, which can be very helpful. Roast chicken is a staple at my house because both the husband and I love it and while it cooks in the oven I can do many other things (or nothing at all). :D

This recipe comes from a cookbook I acquired recently and it’s originally made with quails – the pungent flavor of the spices work beautifully with chicken, too, and the paprika gives the meat a golden, nice color.

Spiced roast chicken
slightly adapted from the delicious Do-Ahead Dinners: How to Feed Friends and Family Without the Frenzy

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons ground coriander/cilantro
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed to a paste
1 tablespoon honey
juice of 1 lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 chicken pieces

Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat, then add the spices and cook for a minute or so, stirring continuously. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then remove from the heat and add the honey, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Leave until completely cool. Place the chicken pieces in a ziplock bag, add the marinade, close and then massage the bag to make sure all the chicken pieces are covered by the marinade. Cover and chill overnight.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a 20x30cm roasting pan with a double layer of foil, then brush it lightly with oil. Arrange the chicken pieces on top of the foil with a little space between them. Spoon over any extra marinade left. Bake for about 45 minutes or until cooked to your liking.

Serves 2

Friday, October 25, 2013

Blackberry and almond upside down cake + a memory from long ago

Blackberry and almond upside down cake / Bolo invertido de amêndoa e amora

The first upside down cake I ever saw was a pineapple one made by Ofelia on TV – I believe it’s fair to say that she was the Brazilian equivalent to Julia Child and I loved her cooking show when I was younger (11-12 years old, to be more precise). Back then, her show was aired weekday mornings, while I was at school, but my brother would tape it every day for me – you might think he did that out of sheer kindness but in fact he did it because he knew that I would cook and bake all those delicious recipes as soon as I got home. :D

Many years later, when I started blogging, I saw Martha’s gorgeous cranberry upside down cake and fell in love with it, but unfortunately fresh cranberries do not exist here in Brazil. That image got stuck in my head, though, and after that I ended up making upside down cakes with other flavors, but I have to say: this blackberry version, a recipe from DH magazine, is the prettiest and tastiest of them all.

Blackberry and almond upside down cake
slightly adapted from the always amazing Donna Hay Magazine

450g frozen blackberries
1 ¼ cups (250g) granulated sugar, divided use
125g unsalted butter
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
slightly heaping ¼ teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
½ cup (50g) almond meal
2/3 cup (160ml) buttermilk*

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a 20x7cm round cake pan (do not use one with a removable bottom or the juices will escape), line the bottom with a circle of baking paper and butter the paper as well.
Place the blackberries on paper towels and let them thaw slightly while you make the cake batter.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter, 180g of the sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, almond meal and buttermilk and beat on low speed just until incorporated. Set aside for a moment.
Cover the bottom of the baking paper with the blackberries and sprinkle with the remaining sugar (70g). Spoon the batter over the berries, then bake for about 50 minutes or until golden and risen and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan over a wire rack for about 2 hours or until just warm. Carefully invert the cake onto a serving plate, remove the pan, then the paper.
Serve it on its own or with whipped cream.

* homemade buttermilk: to make 1 cup buttermilk place 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a 240ml-capacity measuring cup and complete with whole milk (room temperature). Wait 10 minutes for it to thicken slightly, then use the whole mixture in your recipe

Serves 8-10

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Salty-nougat fudge brownies and the end of the best TV show ever made

Salty nougat fudge brownies / Brownies com amendoim e Snickers

Many, many years ago I watched the series finale of my favorite TV comedy and that left a bitter taste in my mouth: to simply put it, I did not like it at all. To this day I cannot believe how something so brilliant could end up so poorly – it seemed like everyone creatively involved in Seinfeld suddenly got lazy about the whole thing (or fed up, I don’t know).

Up until weeks ago that was the only series finale I remembered watching (maybe Friends? I’m not sure), and, a bit traumatized, I hoped with all my heart for Breaking Bad to have a fantastic finale, something worth all the greatness and genius that had permeated each and every episode since the very beginning. As I expected, Vince Gilligan did not disappoint: it was the best series finale for the best TV show ever made. No loose ends, nothing thrown carelessly at the audience, and some superb acting – Jeff Daniels and Bobby Cannavale should mail their Emmys to Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, respectively. :)

As I go on watching other TV series – currently Hannibal and The Blacklist – I have the feeling that nothing on TV will ever be as amazing as Breaking Bad. As for baking, for a long time I had the feeling that no brownie recipe would ever match Alice Medrich’s cocoa brownies, but it has finally found some solid competition: these super fudgy brownies, with bits of peanuts and Snickers bars, are one of the most delicious creations ever made in my kitchen.

Salty-nougat fudge brownies
slightly adapted from the delicious The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook: 100 Delicious Heritage Recipes from the Farm and Garden

225g (8oz) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped – I used one with 53% cocoa solids
¾ cup (170g) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 large eggs
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (116g) light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1 cup + 2 tablespoons (160g) all-purpose flour
1 cup salted roasted peanuts
2 (52g/1.86-ounce each) Snickers bars, chopped – make sure the pieces are separated from one another before adding to the batter

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Lightly butter a 20x30cm (8x12in) baking pan, line it with foil, leaving a 5cm (2in) overhang on 2 opposite sides, then butter the foil as well.
In a medium heatproof bowl set over (not in) a pan of simmering water, over medium heat, add chocolate and butter. Stir to melt. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs, sugars, vanilla, and salt to combine. Stir reserved chocolate, then flour and mix to combine. Fold in the nuts and candy bar. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth the top.
Bake until brownies are set around the edges and a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out with some moist crumbs attached, about 30 minutes. Remove pan from oven and let brownies cool in the pan over a wire rack.
Cut into squares to serve.

Makes 24

Monday, October 21, 2013

Raspberry jam rolls and "Hannibal"

Raspberry jam rolls / Pãezinhos de geleia de framboesa

After some thought, I decided to put Game of Thrones aside and go for something more interesting: between Bates Motel and Hannibal I ended up choosing the latter, Mads Mikkelsen and the comments left on my blog in Portuguese being the reasons. I’m halfway through the show and loving each and every minute of it: the dark atmosphere, the music, the writing and the great acting are amazingly combined and what a surprise it was for me to see Scott Thompson in a drama series (I loved The Kids in The Hall back in the ‘90s, wouldn’t miss it for the world).

I’m not a fan of Anthony Hopkins and after watching Manhunter I found Brian Cox a much better Hannibal Lecter; now I think Mads Mikkelsen is giving those two a run for their money. :D

One of the latest DH mag issues I received features one basic sweet yeasted dough turned into several different recipes – they look so beautiful I felt like baking them all, but started with the jam one since it was what I had in my fridge. It was, indeed, a great way to start: these rolls are really simple, yet very delicious.

Raspberry jam rolls
slightly adapted from the always gorgeous Donna Hay Magazine

1 ¼ teaspoons dried yeast
2/3 cup (160ml) whole milk, lukewarm
55g granulated sugar
450g all purpose flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
100g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
200g raspberry jam
icing sugar, for dusting

Combine the yeast, milk and a pinch of the granulated sugar in a large bowl and set aside until foamy. Add the flour, remaining sugar, cinnamon, salt, eggs, vanilla and butter and mix with a wooden spoon until combined. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic (I used my Kitchen Aid with the dough hook for the entire process). Shape into a ball, transfer to a lightly buttered large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Butter a 12-cup muffin pan. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and roll it out onto a 60x25cm (24x10in) rectangle. Spread the jam over the dough leaving a 1cm border. Starting with the longest side facing you, roll the dough tightly to enclose the filling. Cut the roll into 12 slices and place each one of them, cut side up, into the muffin pan. Cover and set aside to prove again for about 40 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
Bake the rolls for 25-30 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Cool in the pan over a wire rack for 10 minutes, then carefully unmold and transfer to the rack. Dust with icing sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 12

Friday, October 18, 2013

Frangipane ripple lemon cake and directors I avoid

Lemon ripple lemon cake / Bolo de limão siciliano com mesclado de frangipane

The posters for “Nymphomaniac” were released days ago and everyone is talking about them; I have zero interest in watching the movie because I did not like “Antichrist” and “Melancholia”. Many people I know tell me I should watch “Dancer in the Dark” because they’re sure I would love it but I really don’t feel like it – those other two movies made me quit Lars Von Trier, if not for good, for a real long time. The same happened with Michael Haneke – I felt so sick and miserable after watching “Funny Games U.S.” that up to this day I haven’t watched “Amour” yet – and several people I know have told me that the movie is great and that they’re sure I would love it, but I guess I’ll wait another couple of years to do that as I have the feeling I’ll cry my eyes out with Emmanuelle Riva.

While I’ll avoid those directors’ films like the plague, there are others whose work drawn me immediately (can’t wait to watch “Girl Gone” and “The Wolf of Wall Street”, for example). And when it comes to baking the feeling is the same: I shy away from Jamie Oliver’s baking recipes most of times (that banana bread scarred me for life), while I’ll gladly try any recipe by Martha Stewart – they work every time and taste great. Here, I’ve paired Martha’s lemon cake with another baking force’s frangipane filling, the amazing Flo Braker, and it was a match made in food heaven: the cake turned out delicious and moist. One piece of advice, though: just make sure both the bowl you’re mixing the batter in and the Bundt pan are big enough because this cake is huge. :)

Frangipane ripple lemon cake
adapted from two great sources: Martha Stewart's Cakes and Baking for All Occasions

Frangipane filling:
1/3 cup (33g) almond meal
½ cup almond paste – I used homemade, recipe here
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
1 large egg
¼ cup (56g) unsalted butter, softened

3 cups (420g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon table salt
1 cup (226g/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 ¼ cups (450g) granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 3 large lemons
1/3 cup (80ml) fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons limoncello (optional; if using, add another tablespoon of flour to the 3 cups listed on the recipe)
6 large eggs
1 cup sour cream*
confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Make the filling: in a food processor, combine the almond meal, almond paste and sugar and process until well mixed. Add the egg and butter and process until smoothly blended. Cover and refrigerate while you make the cake batter (my food processor is broken, so I made the filling using an electric mixer).

Now, the cake: preheat oven to 180°C/350°C. Butter and flour a standard 12-cup Bundt pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat butter, granulated sugar and zest on medium-high until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; mix in lemon juice, vanilla and limoncello (if using).
With mixer on low, alternately add flour mixture in three parts and sour cream in two, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until incorporated (do not overmix).
Remove the frangipane from the refrigerator. Spoon about 2 cups of the cake batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly. Spoon half of the frangipane in dollops over the center of the batter, and then spread it over the cake batter avoiding the center tube and sides of the pan. Spoon half of the remaining batter evenly over the filling. Spoon the remaining frangipane over the batter, spreading it evenly. Spread the remaining batter over the top and spread evenly.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 55-60 minutes (if cake browns too quickly, tent loosely with aluminum foil). Let cake cool in pan 20 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely. (To store, wrap cake in plastic, and keep at room temperature, up to 3 days.) Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.

* homemade sour cream: to make 1 cup of sour cream, mix 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream with 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice in a bowl. Whisk until it starts to thicken. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 1 hour or until thicker (I usually leave mine on the counter overnight – except on very warm nights – and it turns out thick and silky in the following morning; refrigerate for a creamier texture)

Serves 10-12

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Chilli con carne meatballs, a.k.a. the day my husband ate cilantro

Chilli con carne meatballs / Almôndegas chilli con carne

I thought it would take another trip to China to turn my husband into a foodie, but apparently we didn’t have to go that far: New York City did the trick. :)

After tasting several things for the first time at the great places we had lunch/dinner in the city that never sleeps he was convinced that yes, there is so much delicious food out there just waiting to be discovered, and yes, my suggestions are worth trying. :D

Back from vacation I suggested these meatballs for lunch and then patiently waited for the request to swap the cilantro for parsley - much to my surprise, it never came and the hubby brought home the bunch of herb himself. :D

This recipe comes from "Jamie's 15-Minute Meals", and since I don’t time myself around the kitchen I have no idea how long it took me to cook this meal (I served the meatballs with rice), but I can guarantee it was fast.

Chilli con carne meatballs
slightly adapted from the delicious Jamie's 15-Minute Meals (I bought mine here)

400g lean beef mince
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
a few drops of Tabasco
1 heaping teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon table salt (or to taste)
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
3 jarred red peppers
½ small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove (for the sauce)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
700g passata
pinch of sugar
handful fresh cilantro + some extra leaves to serve
1 x 400g can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed (I used 200g pinto beans I had cooked previously)
4 tablespoons fat-free natural yogurt
1 lime

In a medium bowl, combine the beef, two cloves of garlic, Tabasco, garam masala, salt and pepper and mix with your hands. Divide the mixture into 4, then with wet hands quickly shape each piece into 4 balls. Heat a frying pan over high heat, add a splash of olive oil, then place the meatballs in the pan, tossing regularly until they’re nicely browned.
Using a blender, blitz the peppers, onion, the other garlic clove, paprika, passata, sugar, cilantro and a good pinch of salt and pepper until smooth. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan, place it over medium-high heat and stir occasionally. When the meatballs are nicely golden, add them to the sauce, cover partially and cook over medium-low heat for 8-10 minutes or until sauce is thicker and meatballs are cooked through. Add the beans to the empty frying pan and cook them for 2-3 minutes over high heat. Remove from the heat, then stir into the sauce (I preferred to serve them separately). Check the seasoning.
Serve sprinkled with cilantro leaves, the yogurt and a spritz of lime juice.

There was a lot of tomato sauce left when we finished eating the meatballs (I served them with rice); I kept it in the fridge and served over some pasta on the following day (the sauce tasted even better after one night in the fridge).

Serves 4

Monday, October 14, 2013

Lime poppy seed financiers and "Game of Thrones"

Lime poppy seed financiers / Financiers de limão e sementes de papoula

I was once someone who watched each and every TV show aired here in Brazil – even things like “The Nanny” and “The Single Guy” – but then life happened and I had to get one more job (since what I made with one wasn’t nearly enough). Fast forward several years, I no longer had to work mornings, afternoons and nights (thank heavens), but I’d been out of the loop of TV shows for too long and getting back on track surely takes time.

Because of all the buzz I decided to watch “Game of Thrones” – almost everyone I know loves and swears by the show – but after one entire season and two episodes of season 2 I’m still trying to get what the fuss is all about; yes, the cast is fantastic and everything looks realistically medieval (kudos to all the people involved), but the episodes to me are on the verge of boring (“Breaking Bad” has spoiled me for life, I’m aware of that). :) For now, the only reason I go on watching GoT is to find out what the heck happens on episode 9 of the third season (my timeline on Facebook nearly exploded when that was aired), but if the show goes on like this I might just read about the episode and get it over with (even though I hate spoilers). Right now I’m seriously considering leaving GoT for “Hannibal” or “Bates Motel”.

If I haven’t been able to get addicted to GoT I can’t say the same about financiers: I love baking (and eating) them, much to the point of making a cake with 7 egg yolks just to have egg whites left (the egg white stash in my freezer was rather low). These are perfumed with lime zest and are deliciously chewy, with a bit of crunch provided by the poppy seeds.

Lime poppy seed financiers
adapted from the always delicious Simply Bill

85g almond meal (finely ground almonds)
135g icing sugar, sifted
55g all purpose flour, sifted
pinch of salt
1 ½ tablespoons poppy seeds
finely grated zest of 2 large limes
5 egg whites
95g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
icing sugar, for dusting

In a large bowl, combine the almond meal, icing sugar, flour, salt, poppy seeds and zest. Stir in the egg whites until just combined. Stir in the melted butter and the vanilla. Cover and refrigerate the batter for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter and flour ten 100ml capacity mini cake or muffin pans.
Pour the batter in the pans. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden - the friands should spring back when touched. Remove from the oven and leave in the pan for 2 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool. Dust with icing sugar to serve.
Financiers are best served the day they’re made, but can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Makes 10

Friday, October 11, 2013

Hazelnut Gâteau Breton, Niki Lauda and Daniel Brühl

Hazelnut Gâteau Breton / Gâteau Breton de avelã

As a kid, I hated Formula 1 – back then most of the races took place in Europe which caused them to be aired here in Brazil in the morning, and it made me really mad that something so boring would be on TV instead of my beloved cartoons. :) However, there was a pilot that I found super cool: Niki Lauda – I thought it was amazing that someone so badly burned could be such an amazing driver and win that many races. I grew up admiring this guy and that was the reason why I went to the movies to watch “Rush” – much to my surprise, the movie is really good (I don’t like Ron Howard as a director) and Daniel Brühl is excellent as Lauda: the physical resemblance is amazing (there’s even a dental appliance to make his teeth just like Lauda’s), and as far as acting is concerned he’s on the top of his game. There’s Oscar buzz already for him as a supporting actor – I find he deserves recognition for the part but to me he’s co-lead (maybe they’re trying to set things up like they did in this year’s nominations, throwing Christoph Waltz as supporting when he was actually co-lead).

I loved “Rush” and I don’t even like car races, just as I loved this gâteau breton even though I don’t like dense cakes – this is a dense cake, indeed, but in a good way, and since it’s very rich one small slice goes a long way. I read somewhere that this cake tastes like a cross between a cake and a cookie and I think it describes it perfectly.

Hazelnut Gâteau Breton / Gâteau Breton de avelã

Hazelnut Gâteau Breton
slightly adapted from here

1 ¼ cups (250g) granulated sugar, divided
½ cup hazelnuts, lightly toasted, husked - I used 40g hazelnut meal
6 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (226g/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
2 cups (280g) unbleached all purpose flour
pinch of salt
1 large egg yolk beaten with 2 teaspoons water (for glaze)

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 165°C/325°F. Butter and flour 23cm (9in) springform pan.
Combine 2 tablespoons of the sugar and hazelnuts in food processor; blend until nuts are finely ground but not pasty. Combine 6 egg yolks and remaining sugar in large bowl; whisk until well blended and slightly thicker, about 2 minutes (do not use electric mixer). Whisk in hazelnut mixture and vanilla. Gradually whisk in melted butter. Sift flour and salt over batter; stir just until blended (batter will be thick; do not overmix or cake may be tough).
Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top with offset spatula (layer will be thin). Brush top generously with egg glaze. Using back of tines of fork, deeply mark crisscross pattern atop cake. Bake cake until deep golden on top and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool in pan on rack 15 minutes, then remove pan sides and cool cake completely (can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap in plastic wrap and store at room temperature).
Cut cake into wedges and serve with whole strawberries or with warm strawberry jam.

Serves 8-10 – I made the exact recipe above using a 20cm (8in) cake pan

Wednesday, October 9, 2013



When I was little I hated panettone – all those crystallized fruits and raisins drove me nuts! My mom used to remove them all from the bread so I could eat it (mom was a saint, wasn’t she? :D). Years later the industry came up with the chocottone and that pretty much solved my problem. :)

Nowadays I love crystallized fruits and raisins and adore sweet breads studded with those ingredients. When I saw this kulich on Gourmet Traveller I couldn’t wait to make it, and it would be a good way to use the saffron I’d bought long ago and that was sadly sitting in my pantry – I tend to accumulate ingredients, I believe you’ve noticed that. :D
The saffron adds a nice yellowish tone to the dough, but I am sure the kulich would be wonderful without it anyway, so don’t let that stop you from making this great recipe.

slightly adapted from the always gorgeous Gourmet Traveller

7g (1 sachet) dried yeast
½ tablespoon granulated sugar
140ml whole milk, lukewarm
½ cup (55g) golden raisins
2 tablespoons dark rum
pinch saffron threads
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
4 egg yolks, room temperature
360g all purpose flour
¾ cup (105g) icing sugar, sifted
50g almonds, coarsely chopped
50g candied orange peel, diced
1/8 teaspoon salt
100g unsalted butter, softened
1 egg, lightly beaten with a fork, for brushing
icing sugar, extra, for dusting

Combine yeast, sugar and 100ml of the milk in a small bowl, stirring to dissolve, then stand in a warm place until foamy (5-10 minutes).
Meanwhile, combine raisins and rum in a small saucepan over medium heat until rum starts to boil. Remove from the heat and set aside until raisins are plump (4-5 minutes), strain liquid into a bowl (reserve raisins), then add saffron, vanilla, yolks and remaining milk to rum, whisking to combine.
Combine flour, icing sugar, almonds, candied orange and salt in a large bowl, make a well in the centre, add yeast mixture, rum mixture and reserved raisins. Stir to combine, add butter and, mix with your hands to combine. Turn onto a well floured surface, knead until smooth, dusting with extra flour if dough is too sticky (5-6 minutes) – I did the whole thing using a stand mixer with the dough hook.
Place in a lightly buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap and stand in a warm place until doubled in size (1-1½ hours).
Divide dough into two, roll each piece into a 50cm-long cylinder. Twist two cylinders together, join ends to form a ring shape, place on a large baking sheet lined with baking paper. Cover with a tea towel and stand until risen (35-40 minutes).
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 120°C/250°F. Brush kulich with the beaten egg, bake for 15 minutes, increase oven to 180°C/350°F and bake until golden and an inserted skewer withdraws clean (25-30 minutes), then cool on a wire rack. Dust with icing sugar to serve.

Serves 8-10

Monday, October 7, 2013

Whole wheat currant sablés

Whole wheat currant sablés / Amanteigados integrais com passas de corinto

My blog can’t be considered a very healthy source of recipes – yes, I’m aware of that :) – but I do like to use healthy ingredients and it’s not like I’m living on sweets (I’m not, I swear). :D

One ingredient I like using is whole wheat flour, and to be honest I would love to use it more often in my baked goods. My favorite recipe with this type of flour is Nigel Slater’s wholemeal apple and marmalade cake, followed closely by Alice Medrich’s wheat and chocolate pound cake – they’re both delicious. These sablés, also by Alice Medrich, are made with a combination of all purpose flour and whole wheat flour and turned out really good – not to mention they were super easy to make and gave me a chance to put my huge stock of currants to good use.

Whole wheat currant sablés
slightly adapted from Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich

1 cup (140g) all purpose flour
120g whole wheat flour
14 tablespoons (196g) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup (105g) currants

Whisk flours together until evenly mixed, then set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat butter with sugar, vanilla, and salt for about 1 minute, until smooth and creamy but not fluffy. Add flours and mix just until incorporated, then mix in the currants.
Divide the dough into two equal parts. Place each on a piece of parchment paper; shape dough into logs. Fold parchment over dough; using a ruler, roll and press into a 3.5 cm (1.4in) log – like Martha does here. Wrap in parchment. Chill in the refrigerator until very firm, about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F; line two large baking sheets with baking paper. Unwrap one log at a time (keep the other in the fridge). Cut into 5mm thick rounds; space 2.5cm (1in) apart onto prepared sheets. Bake one sheet at a time until cookies edges are slightly golden (10-12 minutes). Cool slightly on sheets, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 35 cookies

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Back from vacation with fresh orange pound cake with passion fruit icing

Fresh orange pound cake with passion fruit icing / Bolo de laranja com cobertura de maracujá

Hey, everyone!

After a couple of weeks on vacation I am back home, tired and immensely happy. I haven’t baked in a while but have a delicious cake recipe to share with you today, something I prepared weeks ago and that turned out really good. The passion fruit icing is completely optional: in fact, I personally liked the cake better without it.

Oh, and I’ll be answering your questions and emails over the next few days. :)

Fresh orange pound cake with passion fruit icing
adapted from the wonderful and delicious Desserts from the Famous Loveless Cafe

1 ¾ sticks (198g) unsalted butter, softened
1 ¾ cups (350g) granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 2 large oranges
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
2 ¼ cups (315g) all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
½ cup sour cream*
1 ½ tablespoons orange juice

2 cups (280g) icing sugar
2-3 tablespoons passion fruit juice, more if necessary

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter two 20x10x5cm (8x4x2in) loaf pans, line them with baking paper and butter the paper as well.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter, sugar, zest and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the yolks, beating well after each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt over the bowl, add the sour cream and juice and fold together by hand. Transfer the batter to the prepared pans.
Bake for about 45 minutes or until the cakes are golden and risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans over a wire rack for 10-15 minutes then carefully unmold onto the rack. Peel off the paper. Cool completely.
Make the glaze: sift the icing sugar into a medium bowl, add the passion fruit juice gradually, mixing until desire consistency. Drizzle over the cooled cakes.

* homemade sour cream: to make 1 cup of sour cream, mix 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream with 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice in a bowl. Whisk until it starts to thicken. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 1 hour or until thicker (I usually leave mine on the counter overnight – except on very warm nights – and it turns out thick and silky in the following morning; refrigerate for a creamier texture)

Makes 2 loaves (serves 6 each)

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