Yeast Dough & The Book That Made Me Do It

yeast dough title image

Earlier this year in the post on baking challah I’ve told you about my weird fear of yeast dough. That was the very first recipe I tried and to my geniune surprise, I was successful right away. Looking back at it now, I just can’t comprehend what I was so anxious about.

If you follow my Facebook page you have seen how since then I started conquering the once-dreaded yeast dough kingdom one pastry at a time, and I’m proud to say not one batch ended up in the bin so far. This makes it even harder for me to understand my former concerns.

Playing my own therapist, I’ve come to the realization that the core problem was both my grandmothers being famously good at baking. Just bear with me, I’ll explain!

I think it’s that they made it look so simple. Effortless. Like adding yeast to flour and a few other simple ingredients to make a living, breathing dough was something so basic no explanation whatsoever is needed.

Also when I was inquiring about a recipe, they usually said there is not really a recipe. My child, this is but the simplest thing. When asked how much of this or that, the answer either was some, you’ll feel it or a few spoonfuls (but with that specific spoon inherited from this great-grandmother or the other).

I don’t remember them measuring ingredients by the gram, and the dough wonderfully came together and has risen perfectly anyway, every single time. Decades of practice and experience was on their side, something I lacked. So I just gave up on yeast. Funny how I made soufflés, crème brûlées or pâte à choux over the years without ever doubting myself, but a dough that needs rising? Not me.

Besides something snapping around Easter, there was also an impulse purchase that gave me a push in the right direction by insisting yeast dough is not rocket science (news flash: it really isn’t), and that was the cookbook Limara Péksége (Limara’s Bakery) by Tóthné Libor Mária.

limara peksege cookbook cover

Public Service Announcement: Although it is not available in English, I believe non-Hungarian readers would also enjoy the review of this book.

Marcsi is a wife and mother of two who „… was an average housewife with an average kitchen” until her mother gave her a bread machine one Christmas. She says she’s obsessed with homemade breads and pastries ever since, and that was when she found her real passion.

Starting her blog in 2008, she simply wanted to create a platform for her recipes and was shocked to see it become so widely popular in such short time. And while Limara Péksége might not be the shiniest blog out there design and visuals-wise, each and every recipe is guaranteed to work.

With her immense knowledge acquired over the years, Limara is creating genuine content for us time after time. She gets loads of feedback in her comments, is invited to every major gastro-themed event in the country, does tons of interviews and workshops and is a judge for numerous baking contests.

The idea of a book was originally suggested by her readers. Her first volume, published in 2014, (2 more came out since) is a collection of her best, foolproof bread and pastry recipes she has perfected over time, a compilation of her favorites.

In the beautifully styled and photographed hardcover (credit to Réka Kövesdi), you’ll learn about ingredients, the 12-steps of bread baking, and get a guide of the essential equipment along the recipes. Marcsi also included her tips, plus detailed photos and graphics to help you with the trickier parts of the process.

limara peksege cookbook quickview

After you’ve learnt the basics, it’s time to start baking. You’ll find Marcsi’s mouthwatering, tried and true recipes for breads, challahs and doughnuts, crescents and buns, sweet and savory fortified doughs, puff pastry with yeast and last but not least, scones and pretzels.

I love how straightforward the book’s style is, encouraging you to forget your reservations and just do it. It’s all about showing you how simple baking really is, without unnecessarily overcomplicating anything. When I make something from Limara’s Bakery, I feel like Marcsi is reassuringly holding my hand along the steps.

You can get a sneak peek of the book on the publisher’s website here.

My copy has become the Nr. 1 on my shelf for home baking and is now full of post-its with my notes. Watching dough come to life is magic in itself, and when the smell from the oven makes the fam gather in the kitchen, well that is true bliss.

Looks like I needed to turn 30 to fall head over heals for yeast dough, but it was well worth the wait. No stopping me now.

Love,

Fruzsi

*Disclaimer: The aforementioned publication was featured on My Chest Of Wonders with the author’s permission. The review of the book represents my genuine and unbiased opinion, I do not earn a commission after purchases, nor am I being compensated in any other way.*

“Making dessert dough” photo featured in title image © freepik

Friday Finds

The first Sunday of Advent is already upon us. I wish you a candle-lit next two days filled with peace, love and the smell of baking cookies.

Contemporary holiday decor with eucaliptus (via Sheerluxe):

contemporary christmas decor

Don’t forget:

confucius quote motivation

A pile of comfort in grey hues (via Pinterest, source unknown):

grey knits

The magic of baking (photo by Renée Kemps):

baking process

Time to put the bird feeders out (robin in snow, photo by Ross Hoddinott):

robin in snow

Happy weekend!

Fruzsi

Pyrography & Wood Burning Tool Review

pyrography title image

Hi guys! Ever since I’ve started my Pinterest account I have an awful lot of DIY ideas that are, as I like to say, pinned for later. I bet you know that category because you have been filing stuff under it too: projects you’d love to do some day but never really seem to find the time for.

One such craft I always wanted to try is pyrography. Also known as wood burning, it is the art of decorating wood and other materials with burn marks using a heated, metal tipped tool.

I’ve had the Crelando Woodburning Iron Set for almost 2 years now and it never came out of it’s box yet. Of course back then I literally begged the Fiance to get it for me, swearing I’d start using it right away. Anyone else relate?

Aaaanyway, I took a few days off from work last week so I finally had time (and the mood) to give it a go and set about doing some wood burning in a most determined fashion.

First, the tool. It’s basically a heated pen deriving from soldering pens and about as cheap and low-end as it gets with a $9.99 price tag. Comes with 14 tips and a metal safety stand. The heat is not adjustable, simply on/off and warms up in 5 min or so. Instructions say it works on cork and leather as well, although as of now I can only tell you my observations with wood.

woodburning tool set
The 16 Pcs Crelando Woodburning Iron Set from Lidl

All in all a very basic device, but good value for your money and more than enough to get a taste of the trade.

First, I took my tool on a test drive: got a piece of scrap wood and started drawing basic, black and white shapes with the various tips. Be sure to let the burner cool to room temperature before changing tips, it gets extremely hot. Like, around 550 °C (1022 °F) type of hot. Safety first!

You’ll see for yourself how different woods react differently. Soft woods will burn at lower temps, while harder woods will take a very hot pen. Start on pine, it is very easy to work with.

I’ve learnt to go slow and steady with the pen – if you go too fast, the wood won’t really burn and/or your lines will be uneven. If I were to practice more, I think I could get into the advanced shading techniques, but simple was OK for now.

If you’re not using pre-fab pieces (e.g. from the hobby store) you will probably need to prep the wood first by sanding to smooth the surface. After you’ve picked a design, size it to fit the piece you have, than trace. Burn the outlines first, and then fill in spaces.

For the back of my cutting board, I’ve lifted the pattern from the Gorgeous Coloring Book For Grown-Ups. Like many of us, I also fell in love with the intricate designs and joined the coloring-craze, and this book is among my favorites.

wood burning back of cutting board

I’ve also made some fun festive doodles on wood slices (purchased from AliExpress) to incorporate into my holiday gift wrapping. I plan on drilling holes in them to hang.

festive wood slices

This was an entertaining afternoon craft and I will definitely use my wood burning tool more often. Have you tried pyrography? What did you decorate with this technique?

Love,

Fruzsi

 *Disclaimer: I like and use the products mentioned in posts on My Chest of Wonders. What I write about such items represent my genuine and unbiased opinion, I am not being compensated in any way through sponsorship or gifts.*

“Collection of hand-drawn craft elements” graphic featured in title image © freepik

Friday Finds

The first snow has fallen this week and I will never outgrow the excitement. Although warmer days are ahead, we still got a glimpse of winter as holiday season begins.

Frosty berries (via Fotoakuten):

frosty berries

Whatever it is you are looking for:

seek and you will find

Frosty old window (via Pinterest by beautyeveryday):

frosty old window

A cable knit dream (Isabel Marant Vichy sweater):

Isabel Marant knit sweater

Rectangular log cnadle holders (via Pinterest, source unknown):

log candle holder

Happy weekend!

Fruzsi

Pantry Staples: Gingerbread & Lebkuchen Spice

pantry staples gingerbread lebkuchen spice cover

Gift Idea Alert! I know, I know, it’s mid-November but you can never start too early if you want to take the stress factor out from holiday gifting. (OK, my Christmas shopping during summer sales might be a bit extreme, but you get the concept).

When it comes to presents, you can expect food favors from me, and as we approach festive season I will post delicacies that double as gifts to help tick some names off your list.

Today, I’m here to give you the ultimate winter classics: gingerbread spice and Lebkuchengewürz. Lebkuchen is also a gingerbread variety: the traditional German Christmas treat made with honey, spices, enriched with nuts and sometimes icing on top.

Gingerbread and Lebkuchen spices are similar, but not identical. Equally heavy on the cinnamon, while a traditional UK/US gingerbread blend has ginger, cloves (sometimes nutmeg and allspice is also added), Lebkuchen spice is more complex with coriander, star anise, cardamom and black peppercorn.

Both are versatile mix of spices perfect for baking the classic cookie, and can also be added to lots of other things. Basically, whatever you want to have a holiday flavor, let it be food or beverage.

Gingerbread spice is great in fruity sauces to accompany roasts, to sprinkle on a towering whipped cream mountain floating on your hot cocoa, on roasted butternut squash or carrots, adding to waffle batter, oatmeal, rice pudding, bundt cakes, crumbles, pies, to infuse honey and for making sugar syrups. Just to mention a few. 🙂

Stating hereby I have nothing against buying gingerbread spice at the store, since I usually have all the ingredients in my spice cabinet, I make it for myself. When I can’t get something like it happened with cardamom not so long ago, Kotányi Honey Cake spice mix (the one I used for my Festive Plum Preserve) or Bella Lebkuchen Spice from Aldi are tried, true & much loved replacement items.

bella kotanyi gingerbread spice mix

Wether your taste gravitates towards the Anglosphere or Germanoshere, all you need is 5 minutes of your life to pre-make these endlessly customizable blends to have at the ready for several rounds of holiday baking and gift-giving. Fragrant, warm and aromatic, gingerbread spice is the perfect pantry staple to transform any food into a festive treat.

You can buy ground ingredients, or for an even richer aroma, buy whole spices and grind at home in a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder.

gingerbread spice ingredients

A little tip for mixing the spices evenly that I’ve learnt on family sausage stuffing events is to measure everything into a plastic bag, twist to close (don’t press air out) and shake.

mixing spices for gingerbread spice

mixing gingerbread spice

Gingerbread Spice

  • Time: 5 min
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

2 parts ground ginger

2 parts ground cinnamon

1 part ground cloves

Directions

  1. Mix ingredients well
  2. Store it in an airtight container in a cool, dark place

Lebkuchengewürz

  • Time: 5 min
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

2 tbsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp ground cloves

½ tsp ground nutmeg

½ tsp ground coriander

½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp ground allspice

½ tsp ground star anise

½ tsp ground cardamom

½ tsp ground black peppercorn

Directions

  1. Mix ingredients well
  2. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place

Go on and get bakin’!

Love,

Fruzsi

*Disclaimer: I like and use the products mentioned in posts on My Chest of Wonders. What I write about such items represent my genuine and unbiased opinion, I am not being compensated in any way through sponsorship or gifts.*

“Store shelves with goods” illustration featured in title image © Redspruce

Friday Finds

Today we celebrate Saint Martin of Tours with the Martin Day Feast. The custom where I live is that you have to eat goose, otherwise you’ll be starving all year. Well, I’m happy to oblige!

Can frost be any more beautiful? (Winter blues by Mandy Disher):

winter blues by mandy disher

Can you please believe?

the dream is within reach

Can I go there? (autumn mountains and lake via Pinterest, source unknown):

autumn mountains and lake

Can I join? (Dreamers by Andrea Jancova):

dreamers by andrea jancova

Can I have a sip? (salted caramel hot chocolate by Chelsea of The Whole Bite):

salted caramel hot chocolate

Happy weekend!

Fruzsi

Bleached Pine Cones

bleached pine cones

Is obsession with pine cones a medical condition? Because it should be illustrated with me. But really, they come in all shapes and sizes, each lovelier than the other. I collect every type I can get my hands on: tiny to big, round, cylindrical, from the Mediterranean all the way up to the Carpathian forests.

Around this time every year I can’t help myself and bring a few more home, even though I have the stocks from last year, the year before that, and probably even older ones neatly packed away to be used for some great DIY.

These beauties are perfect decor all year, but their peak season is the holidays. I already did spray painted pinecones, glitter pinecones, pine cone garlands, pine cone wreaths and used them to up my gift wrapping. They are a Christmas staple offering endless possibilities. Just have a look at the zillion ideas popping up in a Pinterest search!

This year, I tried bleaching to change the look up a little, and I think they turned out very pretty. Bleaching pine cones is an easy and inexpensive craft project, all you need is a bucket, the cheapest bleach you can find, a plate and some patience.

bleached pine cones

To achieve this effect, put pine cones in the bucket and pour the bleach over them. They should be completely submerged. You’ll notice how they tend to float, and that is where the plate comes in handy: place it on top of the cones to force them under the liquid. The cones will eventually close as they absorb the bleach, but no worries!

And now we wait.

At this point I admit I thought it’s not going to work. My cones were sitting in the bleach for the required 24 hours and they were still very much their original colour. After another day with no change whatsoever, I was about to give up and throw the whole thing out. But when I poured the bleach (thus exposing the pine cones to air), the magic happened: they started losing colour. So just have a little faith! 🙂

After removing from the bleach, place the cones on paper towels or newspaper and let them dry completely. They will open up again nicely. And there you have your bleached pine cones! Use them to make ornaments, place cards, display under a glass cloche or put together a cluster for a charming door hanger.

bleached pine cones

Are you obsessing over pine cones as well? What do you do with yours? New ideas are welcome in the comments below!

Love,

Fruzsi

Friday Finds

November comes
And November goes,
With the last red berries
And the first white snows.

With night coming early,
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.

The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring.

― Clyde Watson

Muted hues (photo by Line Kay for Hale Mercantile Co.):

drying blush rose heads

Just learn to listen:

the way you sparkle

Lake Kirkpatrick, New Zealand (photo source unknown, via Pinterest):

Lake Kirkpatrick

Firewood by Shelter Co. via Tumblr:

firewood

Votives in Scandinavian style (via Tumblr):

votives

Happy weekend!

Fruzsi