Thursday, 27 February 2014

Daring Bakers - February 2014!

This month our host was Sawsan, who is blogging over at Chef in Disguise!

She chose a lovely topic: Sweet Breads! And not just a plain bread... A braided bread, like art!
So challenging and oh, so fun! I liked the process very much!

Out of the two recipes, I chose the one for the chocolate filling, although slightly adapted.

Sweet Bread
adapted to my pantry!!!

300 gr evaporated milk
150 gr icing sugar
2 eggs
200 ml olive oil
250 ml warm water
13 gr dry active yeast
1 kg all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt

dough wash:
25 gr milk powder
45 ml warm water
15 gr icing sugar

100 gr sugar
50 gr melted butter
6 tbsp chocolate malted milk powder

* Preheat the oven to 240oC.
* Mix the milk, sugar, yeast, water and eggs in the mixer with the paddle attachment.
* Start adding the flour, one cup at a time.
* After the first 2 or 3 cups, switch to the dough hook and keep adding the flour.
* The dough will be rather sticky, but that's OK.
* Place the dough in an oiled bowl, form a ball and let it rest, until it doubles in size, in a warm place.
* Punch it down and divide it two parts. Put one back in the bowl and work with the other.
* Divide the dough in 4 parts and roll them in disks about 25 cm in diameter.
* Cut a piece of parchment paper, bigger than the disks.
* Place the first disk on the paper, brush with some butter and spread sugar and malted milk.
* Repeat for all the layers and finish with some butter on top of the last.
* Now for the tricky part: Braiding!

For this, I used the given design. I cut the dough and twisted the pieces.

TIP: Do you see this light blue fabric under my bowl? Well, it is my electrical heated mini blanket, which I use for sore muscles. I turned it on, placed my bowl on top and let it do its magic. It works miracles for yeasted dough!!!

* Mix all the dough wash ingredients and brush some on the bread.
* Let it rest for 15 min.
* Carefully take the bread with the parchment paper under it and place it on a baking tray.
* Bake for 5 min. on 240oC, then reduce the temp to 200oC and bake for 25 min.

While bread Nr 1 is baking, start working on that second dough piece.
* Punch it down, if it has risen again (mine did).
* Repeat the process. For this I chose a filling of my homemade apple thyme jam.
* Apart from the dough wash, I sprinkled some cinnamon on top as well!

I cut the lines as shown with a sharp knife. For the outer lines I twisted the dough "inside out". For the middle lines, I cut small lines starting from the middle of them and twisted the pieces (not shown, sorry...)

We loved them!G. loved the apple one and I devoured the chocolate one.

Fresh from the oven:

The first design is a lot more clear, because of the antithesis of the chocolate.

To clarify:
-I didn't use sweetened condensed milk, because I forgot to buy it and I simply couldn't go out to the store again.
-I used 2 eggs, not 3, because I always do that, reduce the eggs in a recipe by one.
-For the filling, I simply didn't use nutella in order to reduce the calories.

Next time I will make this recipe EXACTLY like it says. Even pour sweetened milk on top after it comes out of the oven. I must be so good!

As for the braiding, I enjoyed it so much, as it was the first time I did it!!!

Seriously, a very fun challenge! Thank you Sawsan!


Friday, 21 February 2014

Ioanna's name day! - Part 2

The evening of Ioanna's name day we had a party at home!

Food, desserts and drinks! Lovely! All her cousins were there, grandparents, aunts and uncles!

- pork roll with garlic and mustard.

- chicken with honey, which my mom made.

- pasta souffle with cheese, by my mother-in-law.

- pizza margherita with olives, by my sister.

- baked cauliflower with heavy cream and yellow cheese.

- Sausage egg and cheese quiche.

- Mushroom quiche.

- Baked mashed potatoes.

- Red wine pasta salad with feta and balsamic vinegar.

- Caramel apple trifle.

- Chocolate cheesecake.

- Fresh orange jello.

I really didn't have any time for pictures. I managed to take only these!

We almost didn't have any leftovers...

Everybody had an amazing time!!!!


Friday, 14 February 2014

Ioanna's name day! - Part 1

At the beginning of January we celebrate Ioanna's Name Day. It is a pretty important holiday for all, but ever more for us!

I wanted to make treats for her friends at school, so I decided to make chocolate cupcakes with a simple caramel buttercream, after Ioanna's approval of course... Store bought treats are not allowed, but I am not a fan of store bought anyway...

Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream
recipe adapted from here
 1 cup milk
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

* Preheat oven to 180o C. 
* Line a cupcake pan with paper liners.

* Whisk together milk, sugar, oil and vanilla and beat well. 
* In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and add salt. 
* Add this to the wet ingredients and beat until no lumps remain.
* Fill the liners to about 2/3. 
* Bake 18-22 min, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 
* Transfer to a cooling rack and let the cupcakes cool completely, before frosting.

 For the frosting, just beat together 200gr butter, 400gr icing sugar, 5tbsp caramel syrup and 2 tbsp milk. Once it is smooth, start making the adjustments you want (add milk or add icing sugar), until you get the desired concistency for piping.

Pipe it nicely on the cooled cupcakes and add sprinkles! You simply must top them with sprinkles!!!!

The cupcakes are very moist and I liked that there where no eggs, so I didn't have to worry about that.
The buttercream is sweet, the cupcakes semi sweet, so they pair up nicely!

The kids and the teachers really enjoyed them!


Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Surprise Christmas Cake!

This Christmas one of the presents I baked was a surprise inside cake! With a little Christmas tree!

I forgot to take pictures during the making of this cake..... but here is the finished product!

It is very simple to make, you just need a little more time than usual.
First I baked a sheet cake with I tinted green, as I wanted to make a tree.
Then, using a tree cookie cutter, I cut the whole sheet cake into small Christmas trees.
I made a chocolate cake batter, so that there would be a contrast and the Chistmas tree would stand out.
I lined the cake tin with parchment paper and smeared some cake batter. Then I places the little trees on top, standing and snuggly.
I filled every gap with batter on the sides and on top. You need to cover the tops of the trees. I didn't a very good job, so I had to cover the finished cake with a little melted chocolate.
I baked it normally, just make sure that the cake tester is inserted aroung the centre of the cake, because the actual centre is already baked!

I also made a version with a yellow star inside!

People loved it!!!! So cute!