Thursday, April 24, 2014

Flaounes - Cypriot savoury Easter cheese pies - We Knead To Bake 16

The past few months have been very eventful for me and my family. We have been busy earlier and reeling in the aftermath of a special life milestone. And that has kept me away from my little space, which seems to have become five years old, however irregular I have been. Through the past year I have not paid much attention to this space. I might have even skipped updating my virtual space, to the point of abandoning, but for the bread baking group with Aparna's guidance and my family's support to keep doing it.
This month, keeping with the Easter tradition, Aparna chose flaounes.
Flaouna or Flaounes (for plural) is a special festive food, traditionally eaten by people in Cyprus during Easter. They are made and eaten as food to break the Lenten fast. Typically made on good Friday to be consumed on Easter Sunday, these are cheese filled pastries garnished with sesame seeds. The cheeses are typically those produced locally and such cheese used in flaounes baked elsewhere are known as flaouna cheese. It is difficult to find the local produce elsewhere and hence a few substitutes are made. The taste and filling are unique of every village on the island depending on the cheese; sometimes each family has their own recipe.
Some of the suggested substitutes include Kefalotyri, Kefalogravier or Kaskavali (Greek and Cypriot cheeses). However, English Cheddar, Halloumi, Parmesan, Pressato, Pecorino and French Cantal can also be used.
I do not get any of the above mentioned where I live and have only found few French cheeses being sold in the local super markets. Moreover, we are not very fond of cheeses. We suffice with the home made cottage cheese and processed cheese sold by popular brands. Also I have removed the eggs from the recipe and have not used mastic and mahleb. Thus, mine are not authentic flaounes, having been filled with very non-traditional cheese mix. I have baked them with some cheddar, paneer and have spiced the filling with chilli flakes and dried mint. Whether traditional or not, these pies were great to bake and consume.




Flaounes (Cypriot savoury Easter pies)

Adapted from The Traveller's Lunch Box
(http://www.travelerslunchbox.com/journal/2010/4/12/finding-flaounes.html)


Ingredients:
For the dough:
 2 & 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon instant yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 & 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon mastic, ground in a mortar (optional) (it is a dried resin from a bush)
1/4 teaspoon ground mahleb (optional) (dried pits of a wild Mediterranean cherry)
1 egg ( substituted with 1/2 cup thin yoghurt)
1/4 cup milk
60 grams butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup (or less) lukewarm water (as required)

Oil for greasing the bowl and rolling the dough

For the filling:
1 cup grated cheddar (sharp tasting cheddar adds flavour)
1/4 cup grated mozarella cheese ( I used some processed cheese sold in small packs)
1/3 cups of crumbled paneer
2 teaspoon all purpose flour
1/4 cup semolina
1 tablespoon dry mint
1/2 teaspoon crushed chilli flakes
1/8 cup raisins (optional) ( I have not used)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 to 2 tablespoon milk

Sealing paste and garnish:
1 egg beaten (substituted with a paste made by combing 1 tablespoon flour with some milk, for sealing paste)
1/3 to 1/2 cup sesame seeds (not toasted)
A little amount of milk for brushing on top of shaped flaounes


Method:

Making the dough:
The dough can be kneaded either by hand or in a processor.
Place the flour, yeast, salt, sugar and the flavouring ingredients (if you have them on hand) in a bowl and mix.
Whisk together the egg (if using) or the yoghurt, milk and melted butter separately and then add this to the flour mix.
Knead the dough adding just sufficient water to achieve a soft, smooth and elastic dough. The dough should be just short of being sticky. Add water or flour accordingly and just as necessary. This is important to have the correct texture of the pies.
Apply oil on the inside of a bowl and place the dough in it after turning the dough over in the oil to coat well. Cover the bowl loosely and keep aside for about an hour for the dough to double in volume.
Deflate the dough when ready and place in a large container, cover loosely and refrigerate for about two hours. The dough will develop well in refrigeration, hence remember to use a large bowl.
The dough can stay in the refrigerator overnight also, in case you want to bake the pies in batches.

Making the filling:
While the dough is on the first rise, prepare the filling.
Mix the sealing paste and keep ready.
Mix the rest of the ingredients except the milk, in  a bowl by whisking with a fork.
Since the filling will have to wait for the dough to develop, keep this aside and add the milk only before using it.
The filling shall be somewhat moist and like a stiff paste rather than wet and sticky.

Shaping the flaounes and baking:
Divide the dough in 8 or 10 equal portions, depending on how big or small you want the flaounes.
Spread a little oil on the work surface and around your rolling pin.



Take a ball of dough and roll it to a 6" diameter circle. Keep the rest of the dough covered thus preventing it from drying.
Roll the dough somewhat thin so that the pies are not like thick breads, at the same time not too thin that it cannot hold the weight of the filling in the centre and tear.
Mix the milk to the filling and get it ready.
In a flat bowl or plate, spread generously the sesame seeds. Lift the rolled dough and place it on the seeds, gently pressing the dough to be coated with the sesame seeds.
Take it back to the work surface and place a generous tablespoon amount of filling in the centre.
Spread the filling by lightly pressing it, leaving about an inch thick dough exposed at the edges.
To make the traditional square shaped flaounes, bring two opposite edges over the filling, leaving the centre open. Bring the other two opposite edges in a similar fashion making a square packet with the filling showing in the middle.
Seal the edges well by pressing them down with the tines of a fork and using the paste.
For the triangular shapes bring three edges over the filling, leaving a large portion of  the filling open. Seal the edges in the same manner as above.
Place the shaped flaounes on a greased baking board or on parchment lined one. Place them about 3" apart. Allow the dough to rise for another forty minutes.
Pre heat the oven to 190 degrees centigrade.
Just before putting them in the oven, brush the dough portions with milk and bake them for about 25 minutes until they are golden brown and puffed at the centre filled portion.
Remove from the oven and cool on wire racks to come to room temperature.
These are best served warm.
The above recipe makes 8 to 10 flaounes.
I halved the recipe and made my flaounes slightly smaller to get 6 of which I shaped three each of the square and triangular ones.
The flaounes keep well in airtight containers for two days. I could not use up all the six and put the last two in the refrigerator for another day.
Just warm them for a minute before consuming.
You might want to watch this video showing the procedure slightly differently.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_dIFIF3pY0

Please stop by Aparna's post for more details on the tradition and for checking those baked by the other members.




Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Bienenstich Kuchen - German Bee Sting Cake - We Knead To Bake 12

Sometime in December 2012, Aparna had put a query as to how many of us would like to bake along twelve breads that she had intended to do through the year. I was among the first few enthusiasts; I had no clue as to how I shall be doing such a regular experiment given the odds against me. I travel off and on, I live in countries where certain ingredients are rare to find are a few such I can name.
I was very inspired by the active participation and i am happy though I did not post my breads on time, I attempted all of them. This marks the end of season one and we baked a celebratory cake like bread for the festive season. I am happy to be part of the group through the coming year too.

This month's bread was more in line with the joy of the season. The Bienenstich Kuchen, also known as German Bee- Sting Cake is not really a bread, but a traditional German sweet yeasted cake that has a baked on topping of crunchy almond toffee-like layer and is filled with vanilla pastry cream. This is eaten as dessert or is served with coffee/ tea.
There are funny anecdotes on how this bread got  the name though the more plausible one is that it got the name from the honey flavoured topping. The bread is made with enriched brioche-like dough that is typical of yeasted cakes. It contains loads of butter, some milk and eggs (that I chose to skip in this recipe).
Some of the problems one may face are that the filling should be strong enough to take the weight of the upper layer. the other is cutting the slices/ squares without squishing out and making a mess. However, these can easily be tackled. The first, by stabilising the whipped cream with cornstarch. The second can be taken care by placing the lower layer on a serving plate, making a collar around it with double layer parchment. This shall be slightly taller than the finished bee sting cake. Spread the filling evenly. Pre-cut the top layer in desired slices/ squares. Place them gently over the lower layer to assemble it to look like a whole. Refrigerate for a couple of hours and when ready to serve, remove the collar and cut along the already marked slices.

Bienenstich Kuchen - German Bee- sting Cake



Ingredients:
For the pastry cream filling:
250 ml milk
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons vanilla flavoured custard powder ( I used corn flour, vanilla essence and a hint of yellow food colour)
200 ml cream
1 tablespoon corn starch


For the Dough:
1/2 cup milk  ( 1/4 cup as given in the recipe and 1/4 cup to substitute for one egg) (or more, I needed 1 tablespoon more)
100 gram butter at room temperature
2 cups/ 260 grams all purpose flour
2 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast

For the Honey-Almond Topping:
50 grams butter
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cups almonds slivered


Method:
The Custard Filling: (This can be made the previous day and refrigerated also)
Keep aside 1/4 cup of milk.
Add sugar to the remaining milk in a saucepan. Bring this to a boil over medium heat stirring frequently.
Meanwhile, add the corn flour, flavour and the food colour to the set aside milk to achieve a lump free batter.
Add this to the boiling milk in a steady stream, whisking continuously to avoid lumps.
Take the pan off the heat when the custard becomes thick and allow to cool. If you find lumps and the custard is not smooth, run the hand blender through it and get the desired consistency.
Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate it till required.
When you are ready to fill the cake, whip the cream until soft peaks appear. Add the cornstarch and whisk further to achieve stiff peaks. You may want to place the whisking bowl and the blades in the freezer for a while before you do this. It helps in getting the proper consistency.
Take the custard from the fridge, whisk to make it smooth and gently fold in the whipped cream.
You might want to refrigerate this again to keep the filling thick.

The dough:
Heat the milk until hot, but not boiling.
Cut the butter in pieces and add to the milk, stirring until the butter melts in the milk. Take off the heat and allow it to cool a little. You shall want it warm to add to the dough,hence let it not cool too much.
Place the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in the food processor bowl and whisk. (Add the eggs, if using)
Add the butter and milk mixture while it is warm and knead till it forms a smooth and soft broiche like dough that's just short of sticky. The dough should come away from the sides of the bowl and be easy to handle.
Shape the dough in a ball and place in a bowl. cover loosely and allow the dough to rise well for about two hours. The dough will not exactly double but would have risen well.
Deflate the dough and shape again in a smooth ball. Place it in a 8" (I had used my 24 cm/ 91/4" tin) round spring form pan that is lined with parchment. It is important to line the tin as the topping will melt and ooze a bit while baking, making it difficult to unmould.
The bread amy not fit fully in the pan and it is okay to have it not touching the sides.
Let it rise for another 45 minutes or so until it looks puffy.

The topping: (prepare this while the dough id on the first rise and allow to cool)
Melt the butter, sugar, honey and vanilla in a small pan over medium heat. Keep stirring and mixing until the mixture bubbles up. Let it cook for three minutes or so until it gets a nice beige colour. Add the almond slivers and toss them until well coated. Take the pan off the heat and let it cool a bit. As it cools the mixture will thicken.


Baking the bread:
Once the dough has risen, spread the bits of the now thick, fudge textured topping on the top of the dough. Distribute it uniformly as possible.
Bake the bread at 180 degrees C for 25 to 35 minutes until the top is golden and bubbling. The cake tester sent through the centre shall come out clean. Let it cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Then gently loosen the sides and unmould the cake. Allow to cool completely.
When cooled well, slice the cake in two layered halves.
Spread the custard pastry cream over the bottom layer. As suggested above, use the collar and slicing the top tip, assemble the top layer over the lower one.
Refrigerate till ready to serve.
This makes 8 to 10 slices.

I had also meant to bake a thirteenth bread to round off the baker's dozen.  Life outside my blog caught on a fast track and I was kept otherwise busy. However, I did bake the pita bread from Aparna's blog only. I am guiding you to the recipe which is just a click away from here.



Saturday, December 14, 2013

Khaliat Nahal - Honeycomb buns - We knead to Bake 9

With this post I would have caught up with the members of the We Knead to Bake group who have tried all of the eleven breads so far and shared them. We are all working on our twelfth bread for December and will post that on the set date as was with every month of the year, the 24th.
Our bread baking experience has inspired more members to join and we are also taking it into the year 2014. Aparna, our mentor has graciously accepted to guide us through. I am sure this has kindled your curiosity and you are looking forward to more wonderful breads.
By September, I did not have to excuse myself  from baking the bread as my house was fully functional and I was very much back in routine. Then we took our vacation and flew home; that followed by some important festivals and all that I forgot to post this recipe albeit even if not on schedule. During the following few weeks, my daughter suggested that we try various fillings and so this bread had become a regular feature.
Khaliat Nahal can be made with sweet as well as savoury fillings. What is special of this bread is that it is filled, baked and then covered with sugar glaze, typical of the Middle Eastern confectionery. the glaze is not for the savoury buns though.
The Arabic word Khaliat al Nahal translates to Bee's Hive in English. These buns are baked in a round pan, closely placed to bring out the shape that resembles the bee's hive. Traditionally, the filling for this bread is a small piece of plain cream cheese. I have filled them with cheese and sauté ed bell pepper for the savoury version. for the sweet version we did two different fillings, one that of sweetened grated coconut and the other of chopped dates with walnuts. The ideas are as varied and you may use any filling of choice.
The recipe given by Aparna would make 18 small buns and would have to be baked in a 9" round cake tin. I had halved the recipe and made both versions that I baked in smaller tins, each having 9 buns on my first trial. For the dates and walnut filling session I worked out so as to yield 12 buns and baked in a 71/2" round tin.

Khaliat Nahal - Honeycomb/ Bee hive buns



Ingredients:
(for 18 buns)
1 cup luke warm milk
11/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar for the sweet bread (omit for savoury bread)
1/4 teaspoon salt (for the sweet bread)/ 3/4 to 1 teaspoon salt (for the savoury bread)
40 grams butter, melted
2 tablespoons milk for brushing the dough
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds (optional for savoury bread)

For the filling:
Sweet cocnut filling ( For 18 buns)
1 cup of freshly grated cocnut
1/3 cup sugar (reduce if you do not like the buns too sweet)
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
1/2 teaspoon ghee/ coconut oil

Savoury filling ( this is for 18 buns)
3 medium bellpeppers
1/2 cup processed cheese
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 teaspoon garam masala

Sugar syrup/ Glaze
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
A pinch of saffron
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon lime juice




Method:
Melt 40 grams of butter in a pan and allow it to cool to room temperature.
For the sweet bread, place 2 cups of flour, salt, sugar and the melted butter in a bowl/ the bowl of your processor.
Mix them well.
Combine the warm milk and the yeast in a small bowl. allow it to proof for about 10 minutes.
Add this to the flour mix and knead either by hand or using the processor until you achieve a smooth and elastic dough. this dough shall not be sticky.
Add just as much required of the remaining 1/2 cup all purpose flour and knead to achive the above consistency.
Shape the dough in a ball and place it in a well oiled bowl, turning it around to coat the dough with oil on all sides.
Cover and allow it to double in volume for about an hour.
For the savoury bread, do not add the sugar to the dough. You may want to add a little sugar to the yeast for it to proof.
Proceed as given above and allow the dough to rise.
While the dough is rising, prepare the fillings and keep ready.

Place a heavy bottom or non stick pan on the stove. Add the sugar and the coconut and cook. the sugar will melt and the moisture in the coconut will allow them to combine well. Do not cook it until dry. Allow for it to stay moist, so that you are able to gather it in a soft ball.
Add the cardamom powder and give this a toss with the ghee.
Remove from the heat and keep aside to cool.


For the date and walnut filling, I chopped them both somewhat fine and gathered in a loose ball. 

Wash and chop the bell peppers in fine pieces.
Heat the oil in a pan. Stir fry the peppers in the oil and sprinkle very little water, if absolutely necessary.
Add some salt and the garam masala. Cook until the peppers are just about soft.
Remove from the heat. Allow to cool and mix with grated cheese. I had on hand Amul processed cheese which I grated and used with the above.

Once the dough has doubled, turn it on to your work surface. The dough will be quite manageable that you will not need flour dusting on the surface.
Roll the dough in a long strip and cut out 18 small equal portions.

Flatten each piece in a circular shape, place a small amount of filling in the centre and cover with the dough. Roll this in small balls. Arrange them in a circular pattern in your baking dish eaving very little space in between.
Once all the dough has been filled, rolled back and arranged, cover the tray and allow the buns a second rise for bout 30 minutes to 40 minutes.
Brush milk on the top of the buns.
Bake this in a pre heated 180 Degrees C/ 350 Degrees F oven for 25 minutes until they are done and nicely golden brown on top.
Remove from the oven, cool and transfer on to a wire rack.
Make the sugar syrup ahead while you have put the dough for the first rise only, in order that the syrup is cool when you need it.
for this, put the sugar, water and saffron in a small pan and bring to a boil. turn the heat down and allow it to simmer until it thickens a bit.
Remove from the heat and add the juice of lime and the honey and mix well.
Allow this to cool completely.
Once the buns are on the wire rack and still hot enough, pour the sugar syrup over them. It will be easy if you place the wire rack with the buns over a plate to allow the syrup that will drip to collect in it.
For the savoury buns, if you are using the sesame seeds, sprinkle them on top soon after brushing with the milk just before they go into the oven for baking.
Check this post in Aparna's My diverse Kitchen and head to the other members' posts following the links.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Roasted peppers and tomatoes sauce with pasta

I had not heard of pasta and pizzas until my late twenties. Other cuisines were fairly unknown when I grew up. No multinational food giants ventured to do business in India then. Even in restaurants that prided continental or other cuisine, I had only come across fewer items on the menu. Then,few years of living in the Middle East was my introduction to foods that were unfamiliar until then. Friends would recommend certain restaurants and choice dishes. Nonetheless, our food choices remained limited for long. While pizzas were easily liked, we were still warming up to pasta and would give it a pass most times. Even with a great sauce, my husband felt pasta was bland.
To make pasta at home, I had never ventured so much so that my friends used to make pasta and invite my daughter to have some fun food with her mates. She was then thrown to living on pasta in her first year at university when we paid for a set number of meals from the dining services available. There she was introduced to varieties of sauces that go with pasta and found that she quite liked them too.
Thus, she picked up a 500 gram pack of the vermicelli from the super market to make it for us. We discussed the sauces and I decided to make one with roasted bell peppers, tomatoes with herbs and onions. We also made a mild peppery stir fry to accompany the dish. With few choice herbs, now it is a good meal to have once in a while.


 Roasted peppers and tomato sauce with pasta





Ingredients:
Makes three hefty servings
250 grams vermicelli/ angel hair pasta
Salt
Few drops of oil
1 teaspoon oil
1/2 teaspoon oregano coarsely crushed


For the sauce:
2 large red bell peppers
5 large tomatoes
1 big red onion
Paprika to taste
Salt to taste
1 small stalk fresh basil
2 tablespoons oil

For the vegetable stir fry:
1 each of a green bell pepper and a yellow bell pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt to taste
Paprika to taste

Method:
Cook the vermicelli in boiling water with a pinch of salt and a few drops of oil.
When it is done, drain the water by transferring the vermicelli to a colander.
Place under running cold water and cool it.
Place the red bell peppers on direct flame of the stove. Keep turning it on the fire evenly charring the outer skin.
Place the tomatoes, cut in halves in a baking tray. Put them in a pre heated 160 degrees C oven for about 15 - 17 minutes or until they are well roasted.
Remove the charred skin off the bell peppers and peel the tomatoes.
Make a puree of both the vegetables together.
Chop the onion as desired.
Heat oil in a pan. Add the onions and sauté until they are translucent.
Add chopped fresh basil into it and toss just until the oil coats the basil.
Add salt, paprika and the puree and cook on medium heat until it becomes a thick sauce.
Remove from the stove and transfer to a serving dish.
In a shallow pan, heat the oil for the stir fry and add all the listed ingredients.
Stir fry until the vegetables have cooked a bit while they still hold a bit of their crunch.

Remove from the stove.
In the same pan, heat the 1 teaspoon oil and add the oregano. Toss the pasta in this for a few minutes.


To serve, place the required quantity of pasta on the plate. Make a small well in the middle and add the sauce there.
Surround the pasta with the stir fry vegetables and serve.


Sunday, December 8, 2013

We Knead to Bake - Torcettini di Saint Vincent

This is yet another bread that is overdue by several months. We Knead to Bake group did this for April 2013 project. I had to be excused for I had moved home to another country then and had not settled in. However, I did attempt these soon after I had my home functional, yet did not find the opportunity to post. Now I am hoping to be abreast with all the members who were regular and thus this recipe is here today. I have yet to share another bread to be at par. I look forward to be part of the baking group which is continuing into 2014 also with many more interested members. I hope I shall be more regular.
Torcettinis are sugar crusted twisted cookies, made with a bread like dough with yeast. These are smaller versions of Torcetti, which mean small twists; they are made in pear/ teardrop shapes. The dough is made of flour, butter and yeast, shaped and then rolled in sugar before being baked.
A snippet information that Aparna shared with us is that these are synonymous with the town of Saint Vincent in Valle d'Aosta, a small mountainous region in North-Western Italy, even though they are well known throughout the Piedmont region.



The origin of these biscuits, as Aparna shares, is believed to be from Grissini (breadsticks) which were made from the leftover scraps of bread dough. The story goes thus: One Grissini baker had some left over butter that needed to be used up. On a momentary whim he added the butter to the last of his batches of Grissini dough for the day. to be able to differentiate these from his other breadsticks, he rolled them in sugar and made them like loops.Thus the torcettinis came into existence. They taste even better if lemon zest  or anise is added to the dough.
It is also legend that Queen Margaret, wife of King Umberto I of Savoy loved these biscuits so much during her stay in Valle d'Aosta that she ordered enough supplies for her servants to bake them in abundant supply.
These biscuits are mildly sweet and pair well with milk, chocolate drink, tea or coffee. They taste good served either warm or cold. You may store them in airtight boxes for a period.

Torcettini di Saint Vincent
(Adapted from A Baker's Tour by Nick Malgieri)



Ingredients:
Makes 24 Torcettinis

1/2 cup warm water at about 110 deg F
1 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast (or 1 teaspoon instant yeast)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lime/ lemon zest
40 grams unsalted butter, cold, cut in small pieces
1/3 cup of sugar for rolling the cookies in

If you are making chocolate torcettinis, remove 2 tablespoons flour from the above and replace with 2 tablespoons cocoa powder. Also replace the lemon zest with orange zest.

Method:
Dissolve the active dry yeast in warm water and allow it to froth for about 15 minutes.
Whisk the flour and salt well, whether using a processor or kneading with hands.
Add the lemon zest and mix; next add cold butter pieces and rub it in to the flour mix to resemble powdery crumbs. I pulse it in the food processor until they looked powdery.
Add the yeast in and work until the dough comes together in a ball. Take care not to over run your processor or over knead the dough.
Place the ball of dough in an oiled bowl, turn it to be coated with oil on all sides. Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise quite a bit. The dough will not double in its volume, but will considerably puff up in about an hour. You will find that the interior has acquired a honey comb like texture, if you pinch off a bit of the dough from top.
Press the dough down and deflate it. Cover with a cling wrap and refrigerate the dough. Leave it in the fridge for a minimum of an hour. It can be left in upto 24 hours.
Remove the dough from the fridge and lightly roll the dough into approximately a six inch square. Using a pizza cutter, cut out 24 equal pieces. This exercise is to get somewhat even sized pieces. You are free to pinch out portions too.
Roll each of the pieces in a 5" long pencil thick rope. Sprinkle sugar on the work surface while rolling these so the sugar will crust the rope uniformly. Make the rolled rope into a loop; cross the ends over.
Place the shaped dough on lined baking sheets leaving about 1 1/2 inches space between them.
Leave them for about 20 minutes allowing them a second rise. Again they are not going to rise much, but will look puffed ever so slightly.
Bake these at160 Degrees C for about 25 minutes until they are nicely golden brown.

 

Remove them from the oven and cool on wire racks.
Serve them warm or cool completely and store in airtight containers.



Friday, December 6, 2013

Apple Fudge

There is this fruit vendor who sets up shop outside the Indian store I frequent. she does not have much in her ware but whatever she gives me is good. She has the ability to persuade you into buying something or the other every time I go there. I may try to ignore, but she will walk into the store and plonk herself until I am done and follow me out, directing me to her shack. Her grapes and apples are truly good and we end up purchasing them, however reluctant I am. I end up having extra apples or grapes that threaten to go bad.
One of the days some staff in my husband's office were wanting him to get home made fried snacks for their self appointed 3:00 PM break. He took some pakoras, but they were wary; they sniffed them, took tentative bites etc., that my husband decided that he will not entertain such requests anymore. Again when it was Deepavali and they knew that I would be making sweets and savoury, one or two voiced out their demand. I was not willing to labour in my kitchen, but my daughter suggested that we make something that they will recognize by taste. Thus we worked a bit on taking the apple pie filling to the fudge level. This recipe was thus the result of such an experiment.
We sent it to other friends along with all the treats i made and the feedback was good.
I have used 4 large apples, powdered jaggery, cinnamon, powdered almonds and roasted and powdered semolina. This has the texture of badam halwa with a fruity taste. For this post, I give half the recipe of my original.

Apple Fudge/  Apple Halwa

Ingredients:
2 Large semi sweet, crunchy apples
1 cup powdered jaggery
1/3 cup powdered almonds
1/2 cup semolina, roasted and powdered almost fine
1/3 cup ghee
2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
Few strands of saffron
2 tablespoons cashews roasted and broken for garnish



Method:
Wash, peel, core and grate the apples. This when measured was little short of 4 cups.
Place the jaggery in a heavy bottom pan. Add a little water and warm this solution. Once the jaggery is completely dissolved, strain to remove scum.
Mix the semolina and cashew powder and keep aside.
Place the jaggery solution in the pan and boil it down to a soft ball syrup.
Add the grated apples and cook until they are well cooked and soft. You may want to mash them a bit.
Add the cinnamon and cook for a further five minutes.
Add two tablespoons of the ghee and stir in the cashew- semolina mix. Give a brisk stir to avoid any lumps that may form. Break lumps, if any and continue cooking.
Add ghee at intervals and cook the above until they come together in a fudge like texture and the ghee forms a film over the top.
Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Roll out the mixture in small balls and serve.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

We Knead to Bake - Kanel Snegle/ Kanelbullar

Kanel snegle are Europe's counterparts of the American cinnamon rolls. Originating from Sweden, they are probably the original version. They are less sticky and less sweet than the cinnamon rolls from across the Atlantic. Given the spices that are added these rolls are aromatic. they are soft and moist perfectly pairing with coffee or tea, be it for breakfast or an evening snack. Kanel snegle are shaped as snail shells and the kanelbullar are shaped buns.

The Swedish Kanel Snegle/ Kanelbullar is less about sugar and more about the spices in it – cardamom in the dough and cinnamon inside the Snails/ Buns. To call them Snails (coiled shape)or Buns (twisted and rolled up) depends on how we shape them. Scandinavian celebratory breads tend to be all about spices and warmth so you will find a lot of their breads scented with cardamom. Cinnamon, cloves, aniseed, etc.

These Cinnamon Snails/ Buns are found all over Europe with slight variations in recipe and the shapes as  Franzbrotchen, Korvapuusti, Skillingsbollen, etc

Kanel Snegle/ Kanelbullar are traditionally made on the 4th of October every year in Sweden to celebrate “the Day of the Cinnamon Bun” but can be found in bakeries all through the year. There are different ways of shaping this confectionery;  I have made the typical “snail” shape which much like that of the regular Cinnamon Roll, and the “twist”. 
The traditional filling in these buns is just butter, sugar and cinnamon, but there are versions that also use almonds with this filling. They usually come baked in white paper cases and the filling stays intact that does not spill out.
There are a few videos on youtube about how these are shaped/ rolled.
The typical Kanel Snegle is shaped just by rolling the dough with the filling spread over the surface like a swiss roll and cut across. They look like the shells of the snail and hence the name.
There are other innovative ways to shape these buns and here I have done two of those.I have spread the filling over half of the dough, folded in two and cut out strips, which I have twisted and elongated before rolling them in a circular  bun. The more complicated is to do the above
and cut out the strips, and cut them further to resemble the trouser pants. Each of the legs of these are individually rolled and then both are swirled into buns. One can get more innovative as they can with the shaping.




Aparna had adapted the given recipe from various sources and tried it prior to sharing with us. These can be done with bread flour also, but we have baked them with all purpose flour. The recipe calls for preparing a starter to be made and refrigerated overnight. The dough rises in the fridge and will be used with the other ingredients while baking the bread.
These buns can be baked and kept in freezer where they keep well. All one has to do is microwave for few seconds before consuming and they are as good as fresh.


Kanel snegle/ Kanelbullar ( Swedish cinnamon snails/buns)
Ingredients:
For the starter:
1 cup warm milk
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 cups all purpose flour

For the dough:
All of the starter
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt if using unsalted butter (if using saled butter, reduce salt to 3/4ths teaspoon)
8 pods of cardamom powdered
2 teaspoons lemon zest
60 grams butter softened at room temperature
1/3 cup caster sugar

For the filling:
75 grams butter soft at room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar loosely packed or 1/3 cups caster sugar
2 teaspoons powdered cinnamon
1/3 cups coarsely ground almonds

For the topping:
1/4 cup milk for brushing
pearl sugar or large sugar crystals

Method:
Mix all ingredients for the starter in a somewhat sticky dough. Use a fairly large bowl (that has allowance for the dough to expand overnight) to store it in the refrigerator. Lightly oil the walls of this bowl and transfer the dough into it. Loosely cover the top and leave it in the refrigerator overnight.
The next day take the starter dough out and leave it out for 30 minutes to bring it to room temperature.
The kneading can either be done in a processor or by hand.
Tear the starter dough in large bits, place them in the bowl of the processor (or bowl). sift together the flour, cardamom and salt into the bowl.Then add the zest and sugar into the bowl and process until well mixed. Finally add the butter and knead to achieve a soft and elastic dough. You may need to adjust the liquid/ flour as required. i needed to add a few teaspoons more milk to achieve this.

I divided the dough in three parts at this point to make three shapes of the buns. I had seven of the snails and rolled buns each and six of the trouser legs shaped into buns.
Prepare the filling by mixing the butter, sugar and cinnamon. Cream it well by whisking with a fork.
Turn the dough you are working on onto a lightly floured surface and roll out  a rectangular shape. Spread the filling in a thin layer over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle the powdered almonds over this.


Gently roll the dough in a tight swiss roll shape. Cut out small portions of them. place them cut side facing top on the paper cases arranged in the baking tray.
Cover and allow it to rise for about 10-15 minutes. They do not rise much, just might puff up a bit.
Once they have puffed up, brush the tops with milk and sprinkle the sugar crystals on the top.


Bake them in a pre-heated 200 Deg C oven for 15 minutes. When done they shall look browned on top and will sound hollow when tapped. If they brown too quickly, reduce the oven temperature by 20 degrees and continue baking for the rest of the time.






To shape the buns, Roll the dough in a rectangle. spread the filling on the bottom half of the same. Fold the other half over this so as to cover and seal the filling. Cut the folded dough in even strips. Hold one strip in both hands and twist the dough while slightly elongating it. This will look like a rope. 



Place one end of this on a paper case and work the twisted rope in a spiral shape. Tuck the end under the bun.
Allow these to puff for 15 minutes, brush milk on top and bake them at 200C for 15 minutes.










To shape the Trouser leg shapes, Proceed as you did for the twists. Once you have cut the strips out, make another cut through the middle leaving a bit of the dough intact on the top. If you separate the dough at the incision, it will look like trousers.

 

Twist each of the leg separately. place the intact top part of the dough on the paper case and work the twisted trouser legs around in a coil shape. Tuck the ends underneath.
Proceed as with the other dough and bake them.

These buns fill your home with the heady aroma of spices while baking and the resultant buns are soft and moist.
The above given recipe makes 20 Kanel Snegle/Kanelbullars.
You may read more information and have a wonderful picture tutorial in Aparna's post from where I have followed the recipe and baked these.