You’ve Got Bread Pudding, We Have THIS

hungarian makos guba

Christmas is unthinkable in Central-Eastern Europe without sweets made with nuts. If it’s mostly walnuts, hazelnuts or almonds in your region, depends on the climate but all of us in the heart of Europe bake similar traditional holiday treats.

And there is another very important ingredient in Hungarian kitchens around festive season: poppy seeds. The symbol of richness, also supposed to bring you luck. Such a favorite many of us enjoy it all year round.

We use poppy seeds in a great many recipes from bejgli (a poppy or walnut filled pastry roll), to nudli (small potato dumplings sprinkled with sugared poppy seeds) to rétes (strudel) to flódni (a Hungarian-Jewish pastry with layers of fillings), and I could just go on and on.

If you happen to have some sweet type of bread that dried on you – because you forgot to put it in the freezer – you are in luck! Your negligence just landed you the opportunity to try the one particular poppy-based dessert that’s intentionally not listed above: mákos guba (pron. maa-kosh goo-bah).

It’s a great and easy recipe to repurpose leftover, dry bread. Whatever you have on hand works from regular white bread to brioche, buns, crescent rolls and the like. Just avoid sourdough or whole-wheat loaves; the savory flavors don’t make them suited to a sweet bread pudding.

Because mákos guba is a kind of bread pudding: the pastry slices are layered in a baking dish, softened with sweetened milk, sprinkled with ground poppy and powdered sugar, than baked until the middles are soft and the top is crunchy and golden.

hungarian makos guba

I always liked this dessert but only begin really loving it when I deviated a little from the family recipe and traded in crescents for challah and sugared milk for crème anglaise. That seriously raised the bar! This new and improved mákos guba made it from a frugal weekend dish right to our holiday table: as part of creating new traditions for ourselves with the Husband, it’s going to be dessert after a hearty soup for lunch on December 24th.

Here’s how I make it:

Hungarian Poppy Seed Guba

  • Difficulty: easy
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Sweet bread pudding layered with vanilla-flavored custard and ground poppy seeds. Serves 4.

Ingredients

100 g poppy seeds, ground

80 g powdered sugar

an 500 g (1 lb) challah or brioche, a little dry, cut to 14-16 slices

800 ml whole milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 egg yolks

50 g granulated sugar

2 tbsp butter

Directions

Make crème anglaise:

  1. Heat milk and vanilla in a heavy bottomed saucepan until steaming, but not boiling.
  2. While milk is heating, whisk the egg yolks with the granulated sugar until pale.
  3. Temper custard: whisking constantly, slowly but steadily add hot milk to egg mixture.
  4. Transfer back to saucepan and cook on low heat for a few minutes until the consistency of a pouring sauce is reached. Set aside, divided: use 500 ml to soak challah, reserve 300 ml to serve.

Arrange guba:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (355F), butter a deep baking dish using 1 tbsp of the butter.
  2. Mix poppy seeds with powdered sugar.
  3. Cover bottom of dish with challah slices. Soak slices with custard, than sprinkle generously with the poppy mixture. Continue layering until you run out of challah.
  4. Put remaining butter pieces on top and bake until golden, about 30 min. Enjoy warm, served with remaining crème anglaise and/or whipped cream.

 

Love,

Fruzsi

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Friday Finds

Have you planned the holiday menu yet? I’ve still to test a few recipes, but it’s coming together. Below are some gorgeous examples on how to dress up a simple cake for Christmas.

By Hannah of Domestic Gothess:

christmas cake

By Erin of Erin Made This:

christmas cake

Photo by Ruth Black via Stocksy:

christmas cake

By Tessa of Style Sweet CA:

christmas cake

By Joanna of Liebesbotschaft:

christmas cake

Happy weekend!

Fruzsi

Cold Day Special: Spiced Carrot Soup with Roasted Chickpeas

spiced carrot soup

First snow of the season has fallen this week, which came as a surprise considering the non-wintery winters we’ve been experiencing. In fact it’s snowing right now as I write this post, which managed to finally put me in a festive-ish mood.

There’s a lot going on lately with my day job and it’s hard sometimes to break away from all that but here I am, with a bowl of steaming, creamy soup counting snowflakes and watching our street  transform into a piece of winter wonderland.

Said soup is a simple and delicious veggie soup loaded with spicy-sweet flavor which I made in under 30 minutes from a bag of carrots that were forgotten in the pantry (leftovers of last week’s pie). I personally just love these simple affair type of dishes: satisfying and flavorful, quicker than the pizza delivery guy fires up his scooter.

Honestly. It’s just chopped carrots simmered with warm spices and blitzed into a silky smooth puree.

Also vegan, gluten-free, low-calorie and packed with nutrition. Healthy meets delicious in a brightly colored, vibrant quick fix. You literally feel yourself warming up from the inside out with each spoonful. Spiced with anti-inflammatory ginger, turmeric and a little bit of chili powder for some extra heat, a delightful combination of sweet carrots balanced with pungent spices.

To add a bit of crunch to the velvety consistency of the soup, I went with roasted chickpeas. It’s as easy as can be: a can of chickpeas tossed with olive oil and yet more pantry staple spices, roasted in a hot oven. Great snack on its own too when not used as a soup topper.

roasted chickpeas

What else can I say? Make this the next time you’re feeling a little down, under the weather, or just, you know, want something to warm your cold cold heart 😉

Spiced Carrot Soup with Roasted Chickpeas

  • Difficulty: easy
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Warming creamy spiced carrot soup packed with goodness, perfect to comfort on a cold day. Serves 4.

Ingredients

For the soup:

1 kg carrots, peeled

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finally chopped

1 l vegetable stock

2 tbsp olive oil

1 bay leaf

1/4 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

salt and pepper to taste

For the roasted chickpeas:

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

2 tbsp olive oil

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp paprika powder (sweet or hot)

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp curry powder

Directions

Make soup:

  1. Finely chop the carrots, or cut with a handheld slicer. This step helps them cook in no time, retaining all their goodness.
  2. In a heavy bottomed pan, sauté onions with the olive oil on medium-high heat until softened.
  3. Season, add garlic, bay leaf and spices, stir until fragrant.
  4. Add carrots, stir to coat with spices. Add stock, bring to a boil.
  5. Simmer until carrots are cooked through, about 10 min.
  6. Puree until smooth.

Make roasted chickpeas:

  1. Preheat oven to 230°C (450°F). Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Toss chickpeas with the oil and spices to coat evenly, arrange in a single layer on the baking tray.
  3. Bake for 15 min, stir, than bake for an additional 15 min, until golden and crispy (some will pop, that’s a sign they are getting ready)
  4. Serve soup with chickpeas, drizzled with some extra virgin olive oil. Enjoy!

Love,

Fruzsi

Friday Finds

Hello December! Can’t get over how cute these mini gingerbread house mug toppers are. All you’ve got to decide is what to fill your cups with: hot chocolate, coffee or mulled wine?

By Bake Noir:

mini gingerbread house

Photo by Rumiana Bosseva, via Flickr:

mini gingerbread house

Anthropologie:

mini gingerbread house

By Caitlin of Glitter Guide:

mini gingerbread house

By Eure Vivienne of Piepmatz Blog:

mini gingerbread house

Happy weekend!

Fruzsi

Carrot and Plum Pie with Meringue Topping

carrot plum pie with meringue topping

Hi guys! Hope you had a great holiday. As you may or may not know, we do not celebrate Thanksgiving here, but we’ve managed to stuff ourselves silly over the weekend nonetheless. Can you not do that with pulled pork? I don’t think so.

Anyway. This time I’ve decided to be a little showy with my baking. It’s not something I normally aim at (in fact, looks come after taste in my kitchen without a question), but I think festive season is a great time to challenge yourself a bit.

This recipe from the September issue of Magyar Konyha  magazine, created by the team over at Marangona, Budapest’s chic bakery of the moment was top on my list. I only made slight changes, namely reducing the amount of plums (I could’t fit the given amount on top of the batter), omitting citrus peel (merely because I can’t stand it, but feel free to use it) and cutting down a teeny bit on the sugar.

carrot plum pie with meringue topping

I was always intimidated by meringue to some degree so I’ve never done a meringue-topped pie before, but there’s a first time for everything as they say. And it turns out my reservations were all but fictitious!

Creating fluffy, feathery meringue peaks is only a matter of attention and a food thermometer. I had the good sense to educate myself on the topic before I started cracking eggs, so here’s the essence of my meringue studies:

There are 3 types of meringue. The one made most commonly at home (as in: the easiest) is French meringue, when sugar is whisked into beaten egg whites. Swiss meringue is made by beating egg whites and sugar together over a water bath until the sugar has dissolved, then beating until the mixture reaches stiff peaks. Italian meringue, the most popular with professional bakers (read: the most difficult) is made by whisking a hot sugar syrup into beaten egg whites.

Italian meringue tends to hold its volume the best, but there isn’t much room for error with this one. If you fail to boil the sugar syrup to the right temperature, don’t beat the whites to the proper stiffness or the surface of your pie is too damp, the meringue may start to weep.

Weeping occurs when some of the sugar in the meringue liquefies and seeps out. Weeping meringue won’t interfere with the taste of your pie, but it’s not visually pleasing. Shamelessly admitting mine did weep a little. Oh well 🤷‍♀️ It still gave this scrumptious autumnal pie a light and dreamy topping.

carrot plum pie with meringue topping

carrot plum pie with meringue topping

Note that all amounts are given in grams. I’m a fan of measuring by cups (volume), but when it comes to baking, weights and measurements are sometimes critical and scales are the key to accuracy. It’s a small investment for peace of mind when measuring ingredients.

Carrot and Plum Pie with Meringue Topping

  • Difficulty: medium
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Sweet, cinnamon-y and seasonal pie with a fluffy meringue topping. Adapted from Magyar Konyha magazine.

Ingredients

for the pie:

500 g plums, pitted and halved

30 g cinnamon sugar (30 g brown sugar + 1/2 tsp cinnamon)

20 g powdered sugar

pinch of salt

55 g egg yolk (3-4 eggs)

80 g egg whites (cca. 4 eggs)

45 g granulated sugar

165 g carrot, grated

133 g almond flour

5 g baking powder

30 g AP flour

1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped

140 g walnuts, roughly chopped

for the meringue topping:

100 g egg whites

100 g granulated sugar

100 g granulated sugar + water

Directions

Make pie:

  1. Butter and flour a 25 cm (10”) pie dish.
  2. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl: flour, almond flour, baking powder, half of the chopped walnuts and vanilla seeds.
  3. Mix egg yolks with powdered sugar in a bowl with a handheld mixer until pale, 3-5 min.
  4. In another bowl, beat egg whites with the pinch of salt. When stiff peaks start to form, gradually add granulated sugar and whisk until shiny, another 1-2 min.
  5. Using a large spatula, carefully fold in egg whites with yolks mixture.
  6. Gently fold in carrot, and gradually add dry ingredients, mixing just until combined.
  7. Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F).
  8. Transfer batter to the baking dish and distribute in an even layer.
  9. Arrange plum halves on top of batter, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and remaining walnuts.
  10. Bake until risen and center is set, about 40 min.

Make meringue topping:

  1. In a small, heavy bottomed saucepan, combine first part of sugar with as much water to just cover it.
  2. Heat over high heat, cooking until syrup registers 115°C (240°F) on an instant read or candy thermometer.
  3. Meanwhile, start whipping egg whites in a stand mixer on medium speed. When soft peaks form (about 3 min), gradually add second part of sugar.
  4. With the mixer running, carefully and slowly pour in hot sugar syrup. Increase speed though and whip until mixture is stiff and has cooled.
  5. Transfer meringue to a piping bag and decorate the pie.
  6. Bake pie at 180°C (355°F) for 12 min, until meringue peaks start to turn slightly golden. Enjoy!

Love,

Fruzsi

Friday Finds

This year I’m seriously considering a minimal festive decor with more greenery and less everything shiny, starting with the Christmas wreath. Who even said it has to be circular, right?

By Marij of My Attic:

minimal wreath

By Leesa of The Makers Society:

minimal wreath

By Rachel of Made From Scratch:

minimal wreath

By Fleur McHarg via Vogue Australia:

minimal wreath

By Francesca of Fall For DIY:

minimal wreath

Happy weekend!

Fruzsi

 

Hearty and Warming Chanterelles Risotto

chanterelles-risotto

Let’s get the Health & Safety over with first: you are taking a risk when foraging for wild mushrooms (or anything that grows in the wild for that matter), but it would be a shame if we stopped eating them.

Please be very, very careful about what you collect! Many edible mushrooms are so surprisingly similar to toxic varieties that only an experienced professional can tell the difference. Yes, cooking does destroy some poisons, but rather learn how to identify a few edible species and pick only them. If you have the slightest doubt about what you are looking at, leave it alone!

And now with that out of the way: chanterelles.

Found from July through December, these yellow, funnel-shaped beauties with gill-like ridges emit a distinct fruity aroma and have a mild, slightly peppery taste. Chanterelles were notable for being served at the tables of nobility, and many chefs consider them on the same short list of gourmet fungi as truffles. No wonder the price they sell for…

Chanterelles are well-suited for drying and freezing so if you got lucky foraging, you can save some for later. I had a serving in my freezer from the last time my uncle called my father with the news there are basketfuls at one of his secret locations. I do consider myself lucky.

The most flavorful compounds in chanterelles are fat-soluble, making them good mushrooms to sauté in butter, or the key ingredient in a creamy sauce and so the dish I made truly does them justice: a warm, creamy, rich risotto going hard on the cream and the parmesan, topped with my chanterelles sautéed in butter.

Yup, if you’re on a low-on-everything diet, better leave now. I warned you!

Having the basic risotto recipe mastered and up your sleeve will give you so many opportunities when it comes to quick and tasty meals. You can top it with whatever is lying on the pantry shelf/withering away in the fridge, it’s a really versatile dish. The only mild frustration is you have to be present all the way through the roughly 25 minutes of cooking.

Chanterelles Risotto

  • Difficulty: medium
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Rich, creamy and satisfying risotto with fruity sautéed wild chanterelles. Serves 4.

Ingredients

For the sautéed mushrooms:

2 cups chanterelles

3 tbsp butter

freshly ground black pepper

1/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

For the risotto:

1 l (4 cups) simmering vegetable or chicken stock

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp olive oil

280 g (about 1 1/2 cup) arborio or other risotto rice

150 ml (2/3 cup) dry white wine

3/4 cup grated Parmesan or Grans Padano

200 ml cooking cream (20%)

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Clean the mushrooms by gently rubbing the dirt off or rinsing them quickly under running water. Let dry on a paper towel.
  2. Bring stock to a slow simmer.
  3. Heat butter over medium-high heat in a heavy bottomed pan big enough to accommodate the mushrooms in a single layer.
  4. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt and pepper, stir to evenly coat with butter. You should hear the mushrooms sizzling. In 1-2 minutes the mushrooms will start to release their moisture.
  5. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the moisture has evaporated and the mushrooms start to turn darker, about 5-8 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle parsley over mushrooms, set aside.
  7. For the risotto, heat butter and olive oil in a deep heavy bottomed pan over medium heat.
  8. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and starting to turn golden. Add garlic and stir.
  9. Add rice and mix to coat in oil and butter. Cook, stirring, until grains are translucent, 2-3 min.
  10. Add the wine and cook for 1 min, until reduced.
  11. Reduce heat. Gradually add stock, a ladleful at a time. Stir constantly and add more liquid as the rice absorbs each addition. Liquid should be bubbling between additions.
  12. Continue cooking like this for 20 min, or until all the stock is absorbed and rice is creamy. Season to taste (note that stock might be quite salty).
  13. Remove from heat and add cream. Mix well.
  14. Add Parmesan, stirring until it melts.
  15. Put a scoop of risotto on each plate, add sautéed chanterelles on top. Garnish with more parsley and freshly ground pepper if desired. Serve at once. Enjoy!

Love,

Fruzsi

Simple, Basic Coffee Cake with Hazelnut & Pear

pear hazelnut coffee cake

You blink once, and holiday lights are going up in the city. I love this festive time of the year: it makes me want to nestle in, slow down and make the house smell amazing by baking something every day.

In theory. The reality is my days are already bursting at the seams with work and commute and all the other stuff life throws at you, but heck, I’ll find the time to bake something on the weekend.

It’s gonna be a simple and easy coffee cake.

I like simple and I do simple often. More often than not, to be honest. It doesn’t always have to be something lifestyle magazine-worthy. Baking should be about bringing joy: to you during the process, and to those who you share the fruit of your work with. At the end of the day only the smiles count, no matter how simple or complicated the recipe was.

If you are a novice baker, I say you start with coffee cakes – success guaranteed, provided you measure the ingredients properly. Cups are great, but get a scale (Christmas wish list alert).

Coffee cake generally refers to a sweet cake intended to be enjoyed with coffee or tea so basically it can be any cake-like substance, but for me a proper coffee cake is always a variation on the plain yellow cake with the moist and tender crumb.

My go-to recipe was pirated from my granny’s hand-written recipe collection but don’t expect big surprises here, these dense cakes are made with pretty much uniform ingredients and techniques.

Once you have your basic recipe mastered, the sky is the limit for what you can stir or layer into the batter. Wherever you stand on glaze, streusel and fillings, it doesn’t really matter as long as you stay true to the roots, that is: easy and down-home delicious, the reason why coffee cakes are on major repeat in most kitchens.

What you need for this informal, everyday sweet treat is stuff you already have in your pantry, namely butter, sugar, flour and eggs. I love nuts, so I always add either ground hazelnuts or walnuts too (I reserve almonds for butter cookies). And to top the cake, my favorite fruit is pear. And apples. Or plums. Oh, the plums! Here’s the recipe before I get further carried away:

Hazelnut & Pear Coffee Cake

  • Difficulty: easy
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Simple, basic coffee cake with fruit and nuts.

Ingredients

for the cake:

200 g butter

200 g white sugar

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

225 g AP flour

75 g hazelnut meal

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

for the topping:

2 medium pears

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp sugar

Directions

  1. Mix sugar with cinnamon for the topping in a small bowl.
  2. Wash, peel, core and slice pears.
  3. Preheat oven to 160°C / 320°F, grease and flour a 23 cm / 9” springform cake pan.
  4. Mix flour, ground hazelnut, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Set aside.
  5. Beat butter and sugar with a handheld electric mixer (or in the stand mixer equipped with the paddle attachment) on medium until creamy.
  6. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, beating until blended after each addition.
  7. Add flour mixture to butter mixture by tablespoons, beating on low until combined.
  8. Pour batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly with a spatula.
  9. Arrange pear slices on top, sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar.
  10. Bake for 45 min. Cover loosely with aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning and bake an additional 25 to 30 minutes or until center is set.
  11. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes; remove sides of pan. Cool completely before slicing.

pear hazelnut coffee cake

Love,

Fruzsi

Friday Finds

Time to start thinking of those wish lists, and the pretty gift wrap options! Which of these styles resonate with you?

Powdery hues by Elisabeth Heier:

gift wrapping

Natural and stylish by Abi of These Four Walls:

gift wrapping

Modern in glacier blue via Pinterest:

gift wrap

DIY paint flicked by Toni of The Pretty Blog:

gift wrap

Pretty in copper by Cox & Cox:

gift wrap

Happy weekend!

Fruzsi