Monday, November 17, 2014

Piparkakku, latest variation



It is the time of the year, again, and I couldn't help but start to bake piparkakku, of course.
Every evening my dearest family is munching loads of Finnish gingerbread, even though I tried hard to save some from being eaten and have a chance to decorate first.. I suppose I will just have to make larger batches.
It all starts by "which shape can we eat?", but then they'll take them all. *Sigh*..
Apologies for the image quality, I'll try to shoot a better with areal camera later, but at least I got the recipe up early, and there is plenty of time to bake them before December.

Ingredients
250 g butter
1.5 dl dark maple syrup (a bit more than a 1/2 cups)
2 dl sugar (a bit less than a cup)

2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger (I always add a bit less as it is a very strong taste, so play with it as you wish)
2 tsp cloves, ground

1 tsp cardamom (powder)
2 small eggs
pinch of salt
1 tsp baking soda (kinda humpy)
 

500g all purpose flour

Melt the butter with the sugar, syrup and spices until just starts to bubble and is smooth, with both the sugar and butter melted. Remove from heat.
Start beating the two eggs, lightly until foamy, and add the butter-syrup-sugar mixture until well combined.
Fold in the flour, first about one third, mix until homogeneous, and slowly mix in the rest.
Put aside in the fridge for a night.

You can keep them in the fridge for up to 3 days, or freeze and bake at your own convenience.
If you freeze them, remember to remove it from the freezer about 3 hours before you want to use it, it takes minimum 2 hours to soften at room temperature.

Lightly flour the surface of the batter both beneath and on top, and roll it out thin, about 3-4 mm. As you roll add some more flour beneath, it is quite inconvenient to have the shapes stick to the bottom and come up in weird forms.
If you cut more than you can bake, put them in the fridge even for just minutes before they get baked, they will hold their shapes better.
Bake them at 400 F, 200 C, for 6-8 minutes in the middle rack.

I baked little Xmas trees from the cookies seen above on the right, and some Advent candle holders.
Not that we would be religious, but they just look so good as table decoration, don't they?
Place them in airtight containers, and they will be just as good even after 6 weeks. 
Happy baking!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Almond pie crust - mantelitaikina

Simple crust recipe for the typical Finnish sweet piirakka / pie.
I just love them with all sorts of fillings, so I am adding the crust recipes one by one, as they get to our table.
Hope you'll enjoy.

Ingredients
125 g butter
3/4 dl sugar (1/3 cup)
3/4 dl almond flour (1/3 cup)
3 dl (1 1/4 cup) flour

Mix well the butter with the sugar until creamy. Add the flour and almond flour, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

Ready to be used.
It is also possible to freeze and use when needed. It is ready to be used in about 15-20 minutes as you got it out of the freezer.
Enjoy!

PS.  If you use powdered sugar, you can just mix the ingredients without worrying about the creaminess.

Túrósbukta - cottage cheese buns



Long time since I baked the last yeast based goodie, so I decided today is the day when I should bake some.
No better choice for a fresh start than the cottage cheese buns. We just looove them!
As a bonus I found a new way to fold them at "Bucataresele vesele"... This provokes action!

I didn't use the recipe from "Bucataresele vesele" this time for many reasons, mainly because I wasn't sure how the dough with 3 eggs will look like, so I stick to my well working yeast dough. Next, when I have some inclination for experimenting I will try.

Ingredients
600 g flour
1/2 tsp salt
350 ml milk (maybe less is enough, you can try starting with 320, but with my Costco bread flour I have to add the 350 ml)
3 humpy tbps sugar 
1.5 tsp dry yeast 
1 egg
1/2 lemon zest
dash of vanilla extract
60 g melted butter or 50 ml oil 
1/2 tsp cardamom, optional

Filling

500 g cottage cheese (in US you'll need to place the cottage cheese in a gauze and squeeze the liquid out of it as much as you can you'll get a too runny filling to work with)
100 g sugar

2-3 egg yolks
1/2 lemon zest
dash of vanilla extract
3 tbsp grits
1-2 tbsp lemon juice

1 egg for brushing

Warm up the milk a little bit, sprinkle the yeast to the top, spread a good pinch of sugar on the yeast and sprinkle some flour. Let it trot for 10 minutes.

Start mixing in the remaining sugar, dash of vanilla extract, salt, egg, lemon zest and flour. Work the dough together for about 10 minutes with a food processor or with hands.

Melt the butter, and last mix it in the dough. When the dough is elastic, leave it for 60+ minutes to grow to about double.
Meanwhile prepare the filling. Mix the egg yolks with the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla extract, and add it to the cottage cheese. Mix in the grits, and let it sit covered in the fridge until the dough is ready.
When the dough had risen nicely, cut it into two parts, and let it sit for 15 more minutes.
Heat up the oven to 400 F, 200 C and line two large trays with parchment paper.
Cut each half into 8 equal parts, and form the buns either in the traditional way (squares folded like an envelope) or in roses.


For the traditional shapes roll out the dough into squares, place a humpy tbsp filling in the middle and fold up the corners, pinch them together tightly, and place the buns on a tray lined with parchment paper.
For the roses, roll out the dough into circles and follow the image instructions from  "Bucataresele vesele". Again, place the buns on the tray, and let them sit covered for 5 minutes. Meanwhile whip the egg lightly with some water for the eggwash.
Brush the buns with the egg and bake them on the middle shelve for 17 minutes.
Let them cool on a rack covered with a kitchen towel for 10-15 minutes, and they are ready to enjoy!
Bonn appetite!

Crumbled biscuity tea cake


Guests? Relax.. This cake has some "sure to find in the party" ingredients, gets put together in max 10 minutes, and in an hour you just have to wait to cool a bit.
Bonus: kids can be totally involved into the making.
Holidays are for gatherings, and cookie munching anyway. :)
Hanging around the house and not doing much will definitely bring our youngest one, and mom, looking for the next cookie to be baked.
To make things worse, I found a German pastry, cookie, cake book given a long while ago by my mom, and I decided to bake as many of them as I can and of course find appealing.
Here is one easy tea cake, more like a butter biscuit coming in form of a cookie.

Ingredients
200 g butter
200 g sugar
500 g flour
1 egg
50 g almond flour
1lemon zest
dash of vanilla extract
1 tp baking powder
100 g sourish jam, like apricot, raspberry or plum. I chose plum 'cause I love it :)

Prepare a 26 cm round cake form by lining the bottom and sides with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 180 C, 350 F.
Mix the baking powder in the flour.
Mix the butter with the sugar until creamy. Add the egg and mix few spoons of flour. The batter becomes drier, and exchange the mixer to your bare hands to mix in lightly the rest of the flour, until a crumble like batter forms.
Divide it into two equal parts.
Add half to the bottom of the form, spread and kinda press lightly until the surface is a bit homogeneous and the jam can be spread on top. Spread the jam evenly.
Mix the almond flour to the remaining butter and leave some larger crumbles. Spread it on top of the jam.
Place the cake on the lower (or second lowest if you have 5 racks) level, and bake for 45 minutes.
Let it cool a bit on a rack, sift some powder sugar on the top, and enjoy with warm tea. Bonne appetite!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Raspberry cream cake


Before all, apologies for the picture quality... we were in kinda hurry to get ready for the party and got a lousy replacement phone in action to document the baking.. Anyway...
Birthdays! They are always a good opportunity to eat something sweet.. and at celebrations we can do it guilt free :).
The kids found a video of a berry cake, and there was no way I can avoid baking one. Well, it was the easy challenge, and I quickly jumped into accepting it.
Plus, it is a light(er) treat compared to the average cake.
To make it even lighter replace the heavy whipping cream-cream cheese mix with yogurt, and in general play around with various fillings..

Ingredients for a 12 portion cake
Sponge cake
10 eggs
water
12 tbsp sugar
12 tbsp flour
2 tbsp oil
1 lemon zest
dash of vanilla extract

raspberry jam o fill the spongecake roll

Cream filling
9 oz fresh raspberries
4 fresh blueberries (optional, replace with raspberries)
200 g, 7 oz sugar
gelatine for 2 quarts liquid, I used 3 bags of gelatine powder
1/2 pound cream cheese
6 large tbsp sour cream
1 quart heavy whipping cream (you can replace it with natural yogurt)
juice of 1 freshly squeezed lemon, left from the sponge cake
dash of vanilla extract

Bake the sponge cake.
Prepare a large tray. Line baking paper in the bottom, and lightly butter both the paper and the sides that
In a larger bowl beat the 10 egg whites with water equaling 2 eggshells filled.
Start beating the egg whites, when lightly beaten add gradually half of the sugar (6 tbsp) and the water.
Beat until soft peaks form, but do not over beat.
In another bowl mix the egg yolks with the other half of the sugar (6 tbsp), add the 2 tbsp of oil, mix lightly into the egg whites. Add the lemon zest.
Last, sift in the 12 tbsp flour, gradually and lightly mixing it into the eggs.
Bake at 180 C, 350 F for 12 minutes.
Remove from oven and roll it up with the help of the parchment paper. Keep it tight for 15 minutes until cools down slightly. Slowly roll it out and spread a thin layer of jam on the sponge cake. Roll it back, and let it sit for another 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile prepare the cream.

Lightly beat the cream cheese with the sour cream in a smaller bowl. In a larger bowl beat the whipping cream and mix in the cream cheese-sour cream mixture, vanilla extract, lemon juice, adding the gelatin at the end.
How you prepare the gelatin depends on the type you have, but it should be enough to make 2 quarts of liquid rather jelly-ish. I lightly warmed up 5 tbsp cream, added the gelatin powder and mixed it into the cream-cream cheese mixture.

Prepare a round bowl, about 3 quarts, with plastic wrap all around.
Slice the sponge cake in thin slices, about 1 cm (3/8") thick and cover the sides of the bowl tightly with the slices. Leave some for the top.

Poor some cream mixture into the bowl, hitting every now and then to make the cream fill in the gaps between the sponge cake slices. Add a handful of raspberries, poor more cream, more berries, more cream.. and so on.., approximately 3 layers of berries between 4 layers of cream.

Fill it almost to the top, leave place for the bottom to be layer of sponge cake.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
Before serving remove from fridge and decorate with a handful of raspberries and mint leaves.
In our family it was a hit among the kids as it was creamy but not too sweet, and the jam and fresh raspberry and lemon gave an extra kick.
Bon apetite!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Brownie cheescake - sajttorta brownie


It looks like I'm Americanizing my baking, which will be the case with some pies coming soon to our table, but this brownie ironically had been on our menu for years.. not less than 10 years.. OMG.. time really flies.
The recipe came from a fellow social network addict back in 2003, living in France, loving cheese, and chocolate I suppose :).
It has two types of cheese, so no wonder why the recipe made it to France :).
It is a nice way to get your kids eat cottage cheese and ricotta, if they are not mad about them in any form already, like mine.
The recipe is sooo easy, the challenging part is to let it sit for a day in the fridge.. nooohoohhooo way :D. Ok, this time might work as I finished it at 9 in the evening, and I keep fingers crossed that nobody wants to dill their belly with sweets for the night.

Ingredients
Cheesecake
250 g ricotta (farmers cheese, cottage cheese will do it)
150 g farmers cheese (cottage cheese, maitorahka :))
4 tbsp powder sugar
small dash of vanilla extract
2 eggs
120 g heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp flour

Brownie
200 g butter (2 sticks)
300 g dark chocolate (or semisweet chocolate chips)
6 eggs
200 g powder sugar
ash of vanilla extract
150 g flour (1 cup, or 250 ml)
pinch salt

Prepare a deeper tray, 5 cm - 2 inch, by lining parchment paper on the bottom and buttering/ flouring the sides. Preheat the oven to 180 C, 350 F.
 Prepare the cheesecake. Mix the ricotta, farmers cheese, sugar, vanilla, 2 eggs (adding them one by one and working them well in the batter), at the end add the whipping cream and flour. You'll get a yogurt like liquid batter. Scoop it into a piping bag.

Melt the chocolate with the butter over water bath or in the microwave.
In another bowl mix well the eggs with the sugar and vanilla. Add the melted chocolate, flour and pinch of salt to the butter-sugar mix.
Scoop the butter in the tray, and dip the top of the piping bag in the batter. Start gently pressing, while slowly moving the bag in zig-zag, or as you like until you empty the bag. The cheesecake does not have to be visible on the top, it just happened that as I managed to poor it the way it looks.
Bake for 35 minutes on the middle rack. Let it cool, and refrigerate it for 4 hours, or better a day.
Serve cut in roughly 4x4 cm, 1.5x1.5" cubes.. be an guard, and grab some before it is gone! :)
Bone appetite!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Lohikeitto - Finnish salmon soup


Phew, what a day.. 9 fires in San Diego, Santa Ana blowing crazy the whole day tormenting the trees, and some 38C in shade.
Nothing like baking, or even cooking, time, but I promised to bring lunch for our teacher, and nothing less but Finnish Salmon soup.
Salmon soup is a kinda big win 'cause is ready in 25 minutes, plus prep, (which is much better than cooking goulash), and gets equally many compliments (almost) than the goulash.. Almost, not because it's worse, but because has quite some half-half in it, which is not the easiest meal for a stomach :)

All in all, it is totally worth making it!
Start by hitting the stores for fresh salmon. I went for a combination of sockeye salmon and wild salmon file, which gives an extra kick to at least the looks ;), and the rest of the ingredients is most probably laying in your pantry.

Ingredients
400-500 g, 1 pound salmon
4 medium carrots
6 medium potatoes
2 onions, or 1 American onion (for some reason they are extreeeeeeemly buge)
200 ml half-half, cream (ruokakerma ;))
bay leaves, salt, black pepper
dill, 3-5 tbsp, depends on your preferences
water

Take a medium sized pot, minimum 3 liters.
Clean the potatoes, onion and carrot. Chop the carrots in thin slices, and cut the potatoes in not too small pieces, about 2x2 cm, or 1x1 inch.
There are two choices how to start cooking:
1) Put the potatoes, onion, carrot and add water until covered plus 3 cm, 4 inch.
2) Chop the onions. Add 3 spoons of oil, I prefer sunflower oil, heat it up, add the finely chopped onions, and fry them until golden. Add a generous dash of water, and continue simmering until it is reduced back to oil only. It caramelizes the onions and gives it a smooth texture and taste. That's what I did... Next add the finely slices carrots, and potatoes, stir just couple of times, and then fill with water until all covered, plus the 3 cm, 4 inch.

Either way, now add the spices: a tsp of salt, large pinch of pepper and 2-3 bay leaves.
Cook for 15 minutes, until it is almost fully cooked.
Meanwhile cut the salmon in generous cubes, 4x4 cm, or 11/2x1 1/2 inches.
Add the salmon and add finely chopped dill, leaving some for serving.
Adjust the water level, saltiness and amount of black pepper if needed, the potatoes will most probably soak up some.. If you like a less thick soup add more water, but in general is best as is, a bit more thick than the average Hungarian soup.
Cook for only 5 more minutes. Add the cream, wait until it starts bubbling and remove from the heat.
Serve with a pinch of fresh dill on top.
Bon appetite!

Ps. It can be served even cold, or colder, which makes it more appealing in this hot weather.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Matcha-white chocolate rice crispies


Leftovers today.. Making it double, matcha snack with green tee... Uhh, this cake just made me realize how much I miss matcha mochies, matcha ice cream, and anything matcha from my, too few, days in Osaka and Kyoto. Now that I have my treasured matcha powder in the pantry, I will have to make things with moooore matcha, and mooore matcha :D.
I have greatly over estimated the brick needs for my cake and ended up with ingredients for just another almost same size Minecraft cake.
I munched on the bits through the whole week, just to give opportunity to my handyman to ask "dieting again"? How kind..

Yesss.. I was "dieting", and I'm kinda happy these are the last bits, 'cause it will help to keep my sugar intake under control, but I had to take the opportunity to snap a picture. Last opportunity.

Simple snack, ready really quickly, and edible by adults and kids alike, not to mention lactose intolerant friends, too.

Ingredients (makes enough :D, ok, a 30x40 cm tray, about 2.5 cm thick or 12"x16"x1"), you might want to make half for the family only
350 g white chocolate

50 ml organic blue agave syrup (add more if you like it very sweet)
5 tbsp condensed milk
1 stick butter
1 tbsp matcha powder, flat or humpy, up to your matcha preferences. If you are unfamiliar with the taste of the green tea powder add less, it has a bittery taste.
300 g rice crispies

Cover the bottom of the tray with parchment paper, leaving the two shorter ends longer, so it would be sticking out from under the rice crisps to be easier to remove them.
Melt the chocolate over a water bath, stirring only occasionally. When melted cut the butter pieces and drop them into the chocolate, leave it to melt, and combine in. Add the agave syrup and stir lightly.

Mine looked like a disaster, the chocolate looked like it fall into pieces due to the syrup, I suppose, so no worries if it happens to you too.
Add the condensed milk and the matcha powder, mix well. It becomes kinda gooey, which is great!
Now add the rice crisps, and combine until the rice crisps are covered with the chocolate mixture.
Pour the mixture in the tray, and place it in the fridge for about 2 hours.

Remove, cut in squares, and enjoy.. There is really not too much to say anything else about it :).

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Light chocolate muffins/mini cakes


So many things going on right now.. Number one priority is the house, but no matter what else is on my plate I still have a family to feed. And they like goodies..
On top of all there is Easter, and making plans ahead wouldn't hurt.. so I kinda try.

I decided to make some Easter egg nests, and combine some idea prototyping with a "light" chocolate/baking therapy to accompany a hot rum tea on a late afternoon. One additional reason for choosing muffin was the cooooooold weather, it is not the most convenient to bake yeast based goodies when I can't heat my kitchen.

Instill don't have my triple chocolate muffin recipe, which was THE best, but I thought I'm gonna use my friends' recipe as a base.
I didn't haven measuring cups at hand so I just threw things in the bowl, but cupcakes are NOT rocket science, so one can hardly go wrong if there are enough moisturizers.
The original recipe I used is from Ripaus ja hyppysellinen, without the cream, 'cause I just simply don't like creams unless absolutely needed.
I used mini cake forms because they reminded me of little nests, and I will use these as a bases to decorate for Easter.

Ingredients
200 gr grated chocolate, preferably on the darker side, or roughly 1 1/2 cups small semi sweet chocolate chips. It would be even better to mix and match dark and milk chocolate chips, or even white one.. next time.. 
1 1/3 stick butter (150 g)
1 1/2 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
2 eggs
3-4 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar, can be humpy
2/3 cup yogurt
1 tbsp oil, something with no flavor

Preheat oven to 430 F, 225 C. Prepare about 18 smaller (not the mini though) muffin forms any eay you want. I like to lightly
Mix butter with sugar until creamy. Mix in the eggs, one by one, blending in each properly.
Mix the dry ingredients, except chocolate and start adding them to the buttery mix. Mix in the yogurt, the tbsp oil,  and last just fold in the chocolate.
Divide the dough in the baking form, filling about 2/3.
Bake for 15 minutes, and let cool.
Next, you can do as whish, decorate with melted chocolate wiggles, add butter cream, castor sugar..
I will most probably make various decorations before Easter, for Easter, so check back if interested..
Bon appetite!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Coconut wreath


It is just a month or so and we will be busy coloring eggs, baking cookies and cooking/baking large hams to eat with friends and family while getting soaked in water, or perfume, on Easter Monday.
With Easter knocking on the door, I was thinking to try Easter wreath varieties well in advance, so I can experiment, and others have time to experiment as well.
This recipe is almost a nobrainer, destined to be a success due to the "pulla" (cardamom bread) dough, flavorful brown sugar and coconut. OK, waistline damage alert for today, but sigh...

Ingredients
1/2 portion pulla dough

Filling
~4 tbsp coconut flour (finely grated coconut)
~4 tbsp brown sugar
2-3 tbsp lemon juice
1 lemon zest
25 g butter (quarter stick), melted

1 egg and 1-2 tbsp water, for the egg wash

Prepare the dough, let it rest as it is given in the dough recipe.
Preheat the oven to 225 C or 430F.
Roll out the dough to about 30 cm x 60 cm long.
Spread a thin layer of melted butter on the dough, sprinkle with the coconut and the brown sugar evenly, so that the coconut and sugar soaks in the butter. This will make sure your filling is not going to fall out when you cut the slices. Grate the lemon zest evenly on top of the filling and sprinkle with the lemon juice.
Roll it up along the longer edge evenly, pull towards the ends if needed while rolling. Cut ~2 cm thick slices, not thicker though or it will grow out of hands.
Pull them towards the sides, one to the left, the other to the right, laying them evenly on top of each other.

                       


This is how it looked at the end, and this is how I actually planned to bake it. To my biggest disappointment however, my large tray wasn't clean, and laziness kicked in, ending in making a round wreath by curling up my braid on the smaller tray.
You should just place it on a baking tray (need a larger one)
Brush the top with the egg wash all over the sides and the top, and sprinkle lightly with brown sugar (or for an even more sophisticated look with pearl sugar).
This is how mine actually ended up, looking not so bad either, but next time I'm gonna make the straight version, too.
The taste was delicious, with the brown sugar and coconut taste blended with the cardamom.., and it will definitely be one of the family's favorite filling.
Bake in the preheated oven on the middle shelf for 18-2ö minutes. Let is cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting it in slices and serving.


Happy baking and Easter preparations :).

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Cream cheese - cranberry muffin


Muffins are new to the Hungarian/Finnish culinary scene.
Some of them are horrible, and I mist say to me is till a mystery how can people eat those full of butter frosting monsters one can encounter basically everywhere here.
There are a few exceptions, though, especially the home made ones. Our first success was a triple chocolate, recipe lost, but desperately looking for it..
To soothe the pain meanwhile, faith sent us  cranberry muffins made by a friend, and they were so good that they were gone in no time, so I obviously begged for the recipe.
I made slight changes to it, khhhhmmm... of course. The main reason is that the amount of sugar looked faaar to big for my European stomach. Second, because I had some shredded coconut I didn't know what to do with, so I had to make a good use for it in these muffins..
For me the cranberry is somehow associated with Xmas, but I had no kitchen back then, so here you go, cranberry dessert that's going to fill our NEXT Xmas table, but meanwhile our pockets on these beatiful and cool spring days :)

Ingredients (makes 24 normal size, 48 mini muffins)
1 cup butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese
1 cup sugar (original recipe called for 1 1/2 cups)
1 1 /2 tsp vanilla
4 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour (whole wheat flour would work great, too, if not better)
1 1 /2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups fresh (or frozen) cranberries
1/2 cup shredded coconut (original recipe called for chopped cashew nuts, to be tried next)

Preheat oven to 350F. Place 24 baking  cups in a tray and lightly spray them with oil.
Mix butter with sugar, mix in the cream cheese, and at the end mix in the eggs, one by one, mixing each well in before adding the next one.
Mix flour with salt and baking powder, lightly mix in the dry ingredients in the butter-cram cheese mixture. Don't overmix, just to have it kinda evened.
Fold in the fresh or frozen cranberries and coconut.
Scoop batter in the baking cups. I had some mini cups, so I got about 36 of them 3/4th full of batter.
Bake for 20/25 minutes. Let them cool a tiny bit, at least 5 minutes, than remove them to a serving plate.
They are a yummi and healthy-ish snack/dessert for the kids for school, or for you to enjoy.
Bon appetite!

Obs. Minimuffins need to be baked at 380F, and for shorter, like 15-18 min time. I managed to overbake them, slightly, so leave them lighter in color for a tiny bit more moist texture.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Oladuski - Russian pankaces


It was time for a Sunday lunch, or brunch, and I was out of ideas. The fridge wasn't too loaded either, so I was kinda almost desperate enough to leave and by some burgers when my friend posted a pancake picture on FB.
We love pancakes of all sorts, and this looked so simple that I barely finished reading the post when the batter was already mixed. I adopted the recipe from Chilly and vanilla. I wanted to make some changes only for practical reasons, to get easier to measure quantities and to add some sparkling water and be able to reduce the baking soda, as I'm not big fun of its taste..

The only problem I had was the size of the portion, well.. in our case it was far from being enough for the family, so I had to make it triple..

Ingredients (makes ~25 small pancakes)
500 ml, 2 cups kefir
50 ml, almost 1/4 cup  sparkling water (just throw a generous dash of sparkling water in) 
1 egg
150 g, 1 cup flour
40 g sugar, 1/4 cup
1 flat tsp baking soda (I added about half a tsp)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cup oil, I prefer sunflower oil for frying

Serving
condensed milk mixed with honey
jam
fruits with or without whipped cream
some salty topping like caviar, salmon, cheese etc. that foes well with a sweet pancake

Mix the kefir, egg, and sugar, add flour, and let it rest for 15 minutes. It is easier to work with the batter if the flour had time to soak in some liquid, but if you are in a hurry just skip it and continue with the next step.
Add the sparkling water, mix the lemon juice with the baking soda, the acid will make the soda bubble, and add it to the batter. Stir well and start baking..
Preheat a pan with 2 tsp oil. Reduce heat to medium, add a tbsp of batter and bake for ~3 minutes.
I added 3 portions at a time in my pan. The batter will flatten forming a small pancake of ~8cm (3-3.5 ").
Check the bottom, when nice golden brown use a flat spatula to turn it upside down. You have to be very fast, the batter is still soft. Fry the other side for ~2-3 minutes, and remove the pancakes to a plate covered with kitchen paper.
Clean the pan every now and then and add some additional oil.
Serve with sweet or sour topping, your choice.
It goes better with some sweet topping, but I actually made a mix of sour cream and grated cheese, added a dash of olive oil mixed with Cayenne pepper, mixed lightly, and served the pancakes with a tbsp of the sour cream-cheese-Cayenne pepper-oil mix.
Bon appetite!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Creamy beetroot soup ala Baltic style


The flu decided to mess with me, and kept me in not so good mood for some days. With the sun shining is not so bad, but my energy level is halved, to say the least.
I baked fresh bread and promised accompanying fresh salad with it for dinner for the family, but maybe because of my flu-ish mood I wanted something warm, something liquid. I think European soups are the best food on Earth for whatever occasion, but especially for somebody sick..
Why European in particular? Because the "soups" here in US are so thick, they remind me of the Hungarian főzelék, which is of course great, it just has nothing to do with soups :).
I bought some, much more than needed, beetroot at the local Sprouts because the organic beetroot bunch was sold for a steal, $3 for 2 bunches, each with 3 tennis ball size beetroot.
I made a huuge amount of soup, but here I share with you the recipe for just a decent sized 4-5 person family.
With Easter coming, it is a food to keep in mind, it is a delicious way to use up all those hard boiled eggs you have left over or your hubby brought home from locsolás :).

Ingredients
2 tennis ball size beetroot
1 similar size potato, preferably the type meant for mashed potatoes
salt, pepper
1 small onion
water
500 ml, half quart natural, unflavored yogurt, I used Bulgarian yogurt
2-3 tbsp oil, use olive oil if you prefer
water, about 1 litre, 1 quart
lemon to taste

Serving

yogurt or sour cream to serve. If you wanna get fancy, and add to the taste, mix some finely grated horseradish in the yogurt/sour cream

hard boiled eggs, at least 1 egg/person
It can be also served with hot boiled or baked potato wedges
rye bread, or white bread, fresh or toasted, whichever you prefer

Peel the potato and the beetroot.
In a medium, about 3 litres, 3 quarts, pot add the oil, chop the onion finely, and over medium heat fry the onions.

Toss in the beetroot and the potato, let it simmer shortly in the hot oil, and add the water, just enough to have the content of the pot, eg. the beetroot and the potato covered. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
Let it simmer on medium heat under a lid, for about 20 minutes, until the potato is soft, and the beetroot is "crunchy"- soft.

Let it cool a little, and in a food processor blend until smooth, at least as smooth as possible..
If you prefer smother taste, choose a less sour yogurt instead of the Bulgarian yogurt. we are a sour-tooth family, I can never add enough vinegar or lemon, so we love the sourness of both the yogurt, and even some extra lemon juice.
Mix in the yogurt, adjust sourness with additional yogurt or and lemon. Serve with the sour cream/yogurt and the hard boiled eggs.
The most wonderful thing about this soup is that can be served hot or cold.
If you choose to serve cold, adds to the harmony of the taste if you serve with hot, fresh boiled eggs (or hot boiled/baked potato wedges), but don't stress about it, they are good cold as well.
Enjoy!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Cocoa Pate á Choux


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

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

Filling

cream of your choice, some to come in next posts

Decoration tips
powder sugar
wiggles of white chocolate 

Preheat the oven to 220C or 425 F.

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Korvapuusti - frozen raw and baked fresh


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

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

Friday, February 14, 2014

Káposztás rétes - cabbage strudel


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

Ingredients
Phyllo dough

Filling
Half a cabbage, about 1 pound

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

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

Serve while still warm with cold sour cream.

Almásrétes - apple strudel


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

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

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

Ingredients

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phyllo dough

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

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


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

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

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Gluten free Karelian pies


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

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

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


For brushing
1 dl sunflower oil
1 dl almond oil

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

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

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

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

Friday, February 7, 2014

Laskiaispulla - Semla



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

Ingredients
half portion pulla dough, makes about 16 buns

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

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

Brushing/shine
1 egg + 1 (or two) tbsp water

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

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

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


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

Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Dallaspulla


Hubby's favorite. And not only.

Ingredients (makes ~18 buns)
pullataikina, bun dough

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

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

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