A Tried, Tested and True Brioche Recipe

brioche nanterre strawberry rhubarb jam

Or two actually, but let’s not rush there.

Updating images of old posts has been on my list forever. I’ve come to a place with my photography where it’s getting somewhat embarrassing to face my early works… I try to focus on the progress but still, I realize those images are not good. Not that I’m super satisfied with what I make now, clearly there is room for improvement but I’ll stop the moaning right there. Confidence comes with practice, there’s really no other way of going about it.

Changing visuals for this Easter challah made me recognise it’s not just the images – recipes evolve too. And while I totally vouch for that one, I’ve been using an updated version lately and it’s time to share!

Brioche is a French pastry, an enriched bread with high egg and butter content. It has a lovely, rich and tender crumb making it ideal for many, many things. I use this type of dough not only when making a braided challah for the holiday table, but for all the sweet rolls, buns, knots, braids and babkas on my repertoire as well.

The ingredients are pretty basic, the method is not complicated either but admittedly there is one tricky bit, and that’s proofing. That is where brioche-making can go south. You have to pay close attention to achieve the perfect rise, but – good news! – I’ve found a way around having to babysit your dough.

It’s the overnight method, putting the controlled environment of your fridge to good use. Ever since I’ve first made the dough this way, I never gone back to the same-day process again and I guess that says it all.

But why was I teasing two recipes? It’s simple. First, there’s the base recipe to bear every sweet filling you can think of. But when I don’t fill the dough, I want the absolute sweetest, most delicate texture I can create (hint: even more sugar and fat).

When you master this dough, the possibilities become endless. All you need to do is plan a night ahead.

Overnight Brioche Dough for Filling

  • Difficulty: medium
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Rich and tender French pastry, the basis for your sweet baking

Ingredients

500 g AP flour

1 packet active dry yeast

1 tsp salt

50 g sugar

1 egg + 1 yolk + 1 egg for eggwash (if recipe calls for it)

300 ml warm milk

50 g unsalted butter, softened

Directions

  1. Assemble dough the night before you want to bake. Sieve the flour, salt and yeast into the bowl of your mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment.
  2. Add sugar to warm milk (make sure milk isn’t hot, it could kill the yeast), stir to dissolve.
  3. Make a well in the flour, add egg, yolk and milk mixture. Set machine to low.
  4. When dough comes together, increase speed to medium and gradually add butter, leaving time between each addition for butter and dough to fully combine.
  5. Continue mixing on medium until a shiny, elastic ball of dough is formed, not sticking to the bowl.
  6. Transfer dough to a lightly floured, clean bowl, cover with cling foil. Let ferment on the counter for 1 h (45 min if your kitchen is warm).
  7. Transfer to the fridge overnight. The next morning dough should be double its original size.
  8. Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F). Turn out chilled dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll, divide, fill, braid, etc. according to your recipe. Let rest 30 min. before transferring to oven.
  9. Bake until golden, 30-45 min. Enjoy!

Overnight Brioche Dough

  • Difficulty: medium
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Rich and tender French pastry, sweet enough without filling and perfect for braiding.

Ingredients

500 g AP flour

1 packet active dry yeast

1 tsp salt

15 g vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)

45 g sugar (60 g if using vanilla extract)

1 egg + 1 yolk + 1 egg for eggwash, beaten

200 ml milk

100 ml heavy cream

50 g unsalted butter, softened

Directions

  1. Assemble dough the night before you want to bake. Sieve the flour, salt and yeast into the bowl of your mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment.
  2. Mix milk with cream, add sugar and vanilla sugar. If you can’t get vanilla sugar, use 60 g sugar and add 1 tsp vanilla extract. Slightly warm mixture in microwave, making sure milk is not hot (it could kill the yeast). Stir until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Make a well in the flour, add egg, yolk and milk mixture. Set machine on low.
  4. When dough comes together, increase speed to medium and gradually add butter, leaving time between each addition for butter and dough to fully combine. Continue mixing on medium until a shiny, elastic ball of dough is formed, not sticking to the bowl.
  5. Transfer dough to a lightly floured, clean bowl, cover with cling foil. Let ferment on the counter for 1 h (45 min if your kitchen is warm).
  6. Transfer to the fridge overnight. The next morning dough should be double its original size.
  7. Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F). Turn out chilled dough onto a lightly floured surface and braid. Line a baking tray with parchment paper, carefully transfer dough to tray. Wash with egg.
  8. Let rise 30 min, wash with egg again.
  9. Transfer to oven, bake until golden (30-45 min). Enjoy!

Love,

Fruzsi

Pork Rillettes

pork rillettes

I am decidedly not a superstitious person but there’s a few folk traditions I follow. They tend to be food related, what a surprise! 🙂

I’m not sure if this particular belief exists in other countries, but here it’s considered bad luck to be eating chicken around NYE. Instead, it’s strongly advised to eat pork. As the saying goes, chicken scratch away your luck while pigs root it out for you. So be it!

I am always amazed when I see underrated dishes considered to be the food of the peasants suddenly becoming upscale. It’s what’s happened with rillettes, the poor man’s pâté: once a way to preserve the cheapest cuts of meat, now so gourmet, sold as a delicacy in tiny jars with a big price tag.

I, for one, already loved it before our so-called gastro revolution, when rillettes didn’t have such a name to themselves. Truth be told, I had no clue what I was eating was called a rillette at the time, we called it potted meat. Still.

So, what is this meaty spread?

A confit. Excuse my French: confit is a centuries-old meat preserving method where the cuts are slowly poached in fat. As the fat cools and solidifies, it creates a protective seal on top of the meat, preventing it from spoilage. Food prepared this way can be stored for months.

We do have refrigerators now, but rillettes are so much more than just a way to save meat: they are a perfectly delicious option for hors d’oeuvres, the cornerstone of any charcuterie plate and super convenient to have on hand for entertaining.

It’s guaranteed to wow and better yet, easy peasy to make. I would admit it requires some intuition, but nothing you can’t handle. I made a few bathes experimenting with different cuts of meat and spices to find what best suits my palate, and I guess you’d do the same if you make this recipe. That’s the beauty of it.

I started with pork leg, but it was a bit too lean for this dish so I switched to shoulder which is juicier. Perfect!

Following in the steps of David Lebovitz I rendered the fat for myself first, but found it to be an unnecessary hustle as I have access to quality rendered lard.

As for the spices, salt, black pepper and bay is a must, and then you’re free to test out whatever rocks your boat. My choice is juniper berries and garlic. Lots of garlic. They cook to a soft, sweet, dark amber deliciousness.

Liquid-wise, while a cup of water would do just fine, why not use white wine. Feeling fancy? Get the whiskey or brandy.

When the meat is cooked, you shred it with a fork like you would when making pulled pork, or you can also use a potato masher for the job. When rillette is cool and fat starts to solidify, pack into jars tightly with the back of a spoon to avoid air sockets. Spoon a few tablespoons of melted fat on top to seal, and they are at your disposal, stored in the fridge, for weeks. Take the jar out an hour before serving to soften into a spreadable consistency.

In my opinion, rillettes are best on rustic, toasted bread, accompanied with pickled gherkins, olives, capers and chili flakes.

Pork Rillettes

  • Difficulty: easy
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This French delicacy is a meaty spread full of flavor, perfect for entertaining. Recipe is easy to scale up or down to suit your needs.

Ingredients

500 g pork shoulder, cut to inch-thick slices

400 g rendered lard + a few tbsp to seal tops

10 cloves garlic, peeled

200 ml dry white wine

3 bay leaves

8 juniper berries

salt, black pepper

Directions

  1. Season pork generously with salt and black pepper, let rest at room temperature for an hour.
  2. In a heavy bottomed pan or casserole dish (that has a lid), melt lard on medium-high heat.
  3. Add pork to hot fat, let slices cook on the outsides and color slightly. (Fat should cover meat. If not, add more lard to the pan.)
  4. Add garlic, bay and juniper berries, reduce heat to low. Add wine and cover pot.
  5. Cook on low at a slow simmer, turning slices occassionally until liquid becomes clear, meat pieces are very tender and colored evenly on both sides.
  6. Turn heat off, let meat cool. Remove bay leaves and juniper berries.
  7. Using a fork or potato masher, shred meat pieces.
  8. Place pot in the fridge, stir from time to time as fat hardens. Transfer rillettes into jars and pack tightly with the back of a spoon. Pour reserved fat on top of meat to seal from air. Store in the refrigerator. Serve at room temperature.

Love,

Fruzsi

Autumn in a Slice Coffee Cake

fall coffee cake

Here’s what happened: I posted this image, a slice of the coffee cake I made on Instagram and was about to leave it at that, but you guys kept asking for the recipe so I’m gonna share it here as well. And happily, too!

There is no story to this really, I just wanted to bake up something simple for us to enjoy over the weekend. November is showing its uglier face lately, it’s dark and wet and windy… switching the oven on and filling the house with the smell of cake seemed to be just the right thing to do.

What I love about coffee cakes is how simple yet versatile they are. The base ingredients in the batter are things I’m sure you have in your pantry right now. If you want to mix things up a bit, just add whatever suits your fancy: fruits, nuts, seeds, chocolate chips, whatever. This time for me it was the very best of fall, namely carrots, apples and walnuts. Also featuring a seeded streusel topping, because why not.

The result is a crumbly and moist cake, crunchy on top. Not too sweet, subtly spiced. Reason to sit down and gab over a cup of coffee, even impressive enough on a pretty cake stand for entertaining (but easy enough that you’ll still have some pep in your step when the guests arrive).

Back to spices for a sec, is it just me, or do you also find it hard to practice self-control when it comes to cinnamon? I love it, I really do but wanted to let the other ingredients have their moment too – it took several batches to adjust the amount so it wouldn’t overpower everything else.

That said, you’ll find the instructions below to the cake I call Autumn in a Slice. Enjoy! Also feel free to tag me @fruzsi_farkas if you made it.

Autumn in a Slice Coffee Cake

  • Difficulty: easy
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Moist coffee cake with a crunchy streusel topping. Simple to make, featuring the best of fall ingredients.

Ingredients

For the streusel topping:

25 g old fashioned rolled oats

25 g pepitas (or hulled pumpkin seeds)

15 g sunflower seeds, hulled

20 g sugar

¼ tsp salt

75 g AP flour

50 g unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes

For the cake:

200 g AP or whole wheat flour

100 g walnut meal

2 tsp baking powder

4 eggs

½ cup (125 ml) neutral vegetable oil

250 g brown sugar

½ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp salt

180 g carrots, grated

180 g apples, grated

Directions

  1. Make the streusel topping: whizz the butter, salt, sugar and flour in a food processor until coarse and crumbly. Add oats and seeds, mix with a spoon to combine. If texture is too dry, add 1 tbsp of cold water. Set aside in the fridge.
  2. Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F), line the bottom of a 24 cm (9”) spingform pan with parchment paper. If pan is not non-stick, grease sides as well.
  3. In a bowl, mix dry ingredients: flour, walnut, baking powder and salt to combine.
  4. In another bowl, whisk eggs with oil, sugar and cinnamon. Add carrots and apples, mix well to combine.
  5. Gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, mix to just combine (do not overmix, some visible lumps are fine).
  6. Pour batter in prepared pan, crumble steusel evenly on top.
  7. Bake 10 min, lower the temp to 150°C (300°F) and bake an additional 30-40 min, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  8. Cool on a wire rack 15 min, remove from pan and cool completely before serving. Enjoy!

Love,

Fruzsi

Ever Made Elderberry Syrup?

elderberry syrup

Because you should. The stuff is all around now to be harvested and enjoyed.

Elderflowers do get more of the spotlight when it comes to making cordial. Early summer and the heady white blossoms may be gone, but they are replaced with the umbrella-shaped clusters of blue-black fruit: welcome elderberries!

Please note: Eating uncooked elderberries, leaves, bark or roots can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Also, when I’m talking about the elder plant I refer to European or Black Elder (Sambucus nigra). If you are collecting the flowers or berries yourself, ensure that you have correctly identified the plant as other types of elder may be more toxic.

That said, elderberry is one of the most commonly used medicinal plants, it’s usually taken as a supplement to treat cold and flu symptoms. In folk medicine, the berries are also known to be used as remedy for infections, sciatica, headaches, dental pain, heart pain and nerve pain, as well as a laxative and diuretic. Elderberries have many nutritional benefits as well: a good source of vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants.

All that in a berry. And they taste great too, so go and pick some – the funky tart aroma is so unique! Making elderberry syrup is not a big deal at all, the recipe only calls for 3 ingredients: the berries, sugar and citric acid. When filled into sterilized bottles, the syrup has a decent shelf life of 12 months (as with any other canned product, discard if color, texture, taste or smell has changed). Refrigerate after opening.

A few tips, before you begin: wear rubber gloves when handling the berries, they stain everything deep purple. Wash berries after you have removed them from the stems. Mature berries will sink and remaining stems, immature berries, leafy matter and insects will float. You can store washed berries in ziploc bags in your freezer, or you may dry them as well for later use.

Drink simply diluted with water, or mix it up with lemon, mint or ginger. Just the type of refreshment you need in this heat!

Elderberry Syrup

  • Difficulty: easy
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Tasty, refreshing syrup made from the blue-black berries of the elder plant. Makes cca. 3,5 l syrup.

Ingredients

1 kg elderberries, stems removed

1,5 kg / 3.3 lbs sugar

3 l / 12 cups water

2 ½ tsp citric acid

Directions

  1. Wearing latex gloves, pick elderberries from stems. Wash.
  2. In a large pot, bring berries and water to a boil. Simmer, covered, for 30 min. stirring occasionally.
  3. Strain/press through a fine sieve.
  4. Add sugar and citric acid to juice, bring to a boil. Cook syrup uncovered for 15 min, until sugar has dissolved and syrup-y consistency is reached.
  5. Fill into sterilized bottles with the help of a funnel and ladle.
  6. Keep in a cool, dark place. Refrigerate after opening.

Love,

Fruzsi

Image: Laura Muthesius / Our Food Stories

Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf with Elderflower Glaze

lemon poppy seed bread with elderflower glazeWe’ve got a weird spring this year. March was colder than usual, while April turned out to be the warmest in 110+ years. Completely missed that lovely transitional time, went instead from winter coats to short sleeves in a matter of days. Nature is perplexed too – tulips lasted less than a week, lilacs were over before Mother’s Day, black locust are literally everywhere now, a month early.

Same goes for elderflower. I realized they started blooming on one of our walks around the neighbourhood last week. I knew I had to act if I don’t want to miss my window for elderflower cordial so I grabbed a basket and a pair of pruning shears. Ended up with a few nasty scars in the hedgerow, but they’ll heal. The things I do for my cordial! 🙂

Anyway, the syrup is already bottled up and sitting in the pantry. I popped the first one open to make the glaze for this easy dessert I’ve been wanting to bake ever since we were served a slice (ok, I took two…) at the calligraphy workshop with lovely Boglarka Gleichauf (make sure to check her page The Fanatic Calligrapher!). It’s Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf Cake.

The batter is an easy pound cake variation made with basic ingredients, not much to talk about really. It’s just a few minutes to throw together, but the combination of lemon and poppy seed makes this otherwise simple loaf so fresh and cheerful. Hubby said it tastes like sunshine. It’s also moist and tender, and let’s not forget that luscious glaze with the heady aroma of elderflower. What’s not to love?

Now, before I give you the recipe I have to tell I don’t care much for citrus zest so I simply omit it from my cooking. The juice of the lemon gives enough tartness to this cake by itself in my opinion, but do feel free to add the zest as well if it’s something you like.

Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf Cake with Elderflower Glaze

  • Difficulty: easy
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Moist pound cake with the fresh taste of lemon, crunchy poppy seeds and fragrant elderflower glaze.

Ingredients

For the batter:

2 cups AP flour

2 tbsp poppy seeds

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

6 tbsp butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

3 eggs

1 cup natural yogurt

3 tbsp fresh lemon juice + zest (optional)

For the glaze:

2 tbsp elderflower syrup

1 cup powderd sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 175°C/350°F. Line with parchment paper and grease a loaf pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and poppy seeds.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar with a handheld mixer until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well between additions. Add yogurt and lemon juice, mix to fully incorporate.
  4. Switch to a spatula. Add flour mixture to egg mixture in 3 additions, folding until just combined.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 min to 1 h depending on your oven.
  6. Let loaf cool in pan for 15 min. Remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
  7. While loaf is cooling, make glaze: mix syrup with powdered sugar. Pour over loaf. Enjoy!

Love,

Fruzsi

*Disclaimer: I have visited and paid for the service mentioned in this post. What I write about business establishments on My Chest of Wonders represents my genuine and unbiased opinion, I am not being compensated in any way through sponsorship, commissions or gifts.*

Hello March: Sour Cherry Coffee Cake with Whipped Crème Fraîche

cherry sponge cake

They say self-deception will not serve you well. Not when you dream of warmer seasons and decide to play make-believe with your senses by a dessert featuring one of summer’s signature fruits!

The base of this well-known Hungarian treat is a sponge cake. I think I will need to elaborate on that because there are a Whole Wide World of Sponge Cakes: Victoria, Angel food, French biscuits, Génoise, chiffon, foam cakes, and so on and so forth.

Generally, pastries of this family get their light, open texture from whipped egg whites a.k.a. egg foam. They are relatively quick and simple to make, but you need to be skillful (read: gentle) with your folding.

The name sponge cake around here is used to refer either to a light foam cake made with just 3 ingredients (eggs, sugar and flour), or a heavy foam cake made with added butter. The latter is denser, crumbly and stays moist longer.

A sponge cake is among the first things your granny teaches you to bake. They are wonderfully versatile and used in a multitude of Central-Eastern European recipes. This particular one plays in the ‘with butter’ league and also employs some baking powder, as it needs a little added strength to rise under the weight of all those juicy fruits.

The sour cherries I used here were home-grown (I wrote about my parents’ horticultural vein before), but it’s totally comme il faut in my book to bake with store-bought fruit. I prefer frozen to canned though, and I don’t think you need that syrup in your life either.

What elevates this classic besides the crunchy, toasted walnuts on top is the dollop of whipped crème fraîche served on the side. Do you like crème fraîche? Is it even available where you live? It’s still quite exotic here – that much is obvious from the price tag. If you can find it, that is.

For those of you not yet familiar with this dairy: crème fraîche is similar to sour cream, but thicker, richer, and less tangy. It’s great in both sweet and savory dishes. I particularly love how it offsets the sweetness of tarts and pies perfectly, adding another layer of flavor to every bite. You can whip crème fraîche into a thick, creamy topping just like you would do with heavy cream.

It’s also a no-brainer to make at home, not to mention considerably cheaper! All you need is heavy (whipping) cream, full-fat natural yogurt and about 24 hours on the counter. Just mix a cup of cream with 2 tbsp yogurt, and let it sit in a glass jar at room temperature until it becomes thick and creamy. Keep it in the fridge afterwards and use within 5 days.

Sour Cherry Coffee Cake with Whipped Crème Fraîche

  • Difficulty: easy
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Classic sponge cake loaded with fruits and crunchy walnuts, served with rich crème fraîche.

Ingredients

4 medium eggs, separated

1/4 tsp salt

180 g butter, room temperature

250 g superfine sugar

4 tbsp AP flour

1 packet (8 g) vanilla sugar

1/2 packet (7 g) baking powder

100 g walnuts, chopped

300 g fresh or frozen sour cherries, pitted and drained

butter and flour for greasing the pan

Directions

  1. Thaw and drain, or if using fresh, wash, pit and drain sour cherries. Roughly chop walnuts. Mix flour with baking powder. Set aside.
  2. Thoroughly butter and flour a 22×33 cm (9×13″) pan (I’ve divided the batter into smaller dishes for photography purposes).
  3. Preheat oven to 160 C (320 F).
  4. In a large mixing bowl, cream softened butter with a handheld electric mixer until fluffy.
  5. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating until incorporated.
  6. Add sugar in 3 portions to the egg-butter mixture, mix on medium until pale and fluffy and sugar has dissolved, about 4-5 min. Set aside.
  7. In another bowl, whip cold egg whites with the salt until stiff peaks form.
  8. Gently fold egg foam into egg-butter-sugar mixture with a spatula.
  9. Fold in flour and baking powder until incorporated.
  10. Pour batter in the prepared pan. Arrange cherries on top. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts and vanilla sugar.
  11. Bake until batter has risen and golden brown, about 30-40 min.
  12. Let cool in the pan before slicing. Enjoy slightly warm or cool with a dusting of powdered sugar and a dollop of whipped crème fraîche on the side (optional).

Love,

Fruzsi

Hazelnut Cookie Sandwiches with Chocolate Espresso Ganache

cookie sandwich

We’ve been re-watching Strike Back over the weekend and a good snack was in order. The Husband was hinting at Nutella but since we were out – quelle horreur! – I had to think of some other treat with hazelnuts and chocolate.

Then I remembered pining a cookie sandwich (Hazelnut Espresso Truffle Cookies from The Perfect Cookie Book) by America’s Test Kitchen that would fit the bill perfectly. Chocolate, hazelnut and coffee are a classic Italian combination everyone loves.

I did alter the recipe a bit: instead of using instant espresso powder to flavor the dough, I put the coffee into the ganache (and thus used less cream). The dough is a bit sticky so be generous with the flour when rolling! Also, mine needed more time to bake than the recipe suggested, but that depends on your oven so be sure to keep an eye on your cookies.

They turned out sublime and we had an especially hard time being patient and not eating them before I shot the sandwiches for this post.

cookie sandwiches

Now that I mentioned photography… A goal I set for this year is finding my style. It’s a process and to be honest, something I’ve been struggling with lately.

A thought that occured to me is maybe defining my style will also help in further developing it. Reading Rachel’s post 3 Words To Describe Your Food Photography Style gave me a great tool: I’m doing a word bank now. This technique is about coming up with a bunch of descriptive words, than narrowing them down to the most meaningful. It’s both easy and hard! I’ll share mine soon, and also challenge you to do yours – it’s a fun verbal activity.

And after this short sidenote, the recipe for the cookie sandwiches:

Hazelnut Cookie Sandwiches with Chocolate Espresso Ganache

Decadent cookie sandwiches with a rich, espresso-flavored ganache. Makes about 35.

Ingredients

150 g hazelnut meal

320 g AP flour

1/4 tsp salt

½ tsp baking powder

225 g unsalted butter, room temperature

300 g granulated sugar

1 egg + 1 egg yolk

2 tsp vanilla extract

For the ganache:

50 ml freshly brewed espresso

150 ml heavy cream

300 g dark chocolate, chopped

Directions

  1. In a bowl, whisk flour, salt, baking powder and ground hazelnuts together.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat butter and sugar with a handheld electric mixer (or in a stand mixer equipped with the paddle attachment) until pale and fluffy. Add egg, yolk (one at a time) and vanilla, beat until combined.
  3. Add flour mixture in 3 additions and mix until just combined, scraping down bowl with a spatula as needed.
  4. Form dough into a ball, wrap in cling foil and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours, until stiffened.
  5. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, preheat oven to 190°C (375°F).
  6. Divide dough in 4 quarters. On a floured surface, roll 1 disk of dough (keep rest in the fridge) into a circle about 3 mm thick. Using a 5 cm round cookie cutter, cut circles, place 2 cm apart on prepared sheets. Gently reroll and cut scraps.
  7. Bake in the centre rack of the oven until edges are just slightly browned, about 10 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough.
  8. Let cookies cool on the sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Make the ganache: Brew an espresso. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until steaming but not boiling. Pour hot cream and coffee over chocolate chips; cover and let sit for a few minutes. Whisk mixture until smooth. Refrigerate ganache until thickened, stirring occasionally.
  10. Assemble cookie sandwiches: Spread a heaping teaspoon of ganache over bottom half of cookies, top with remaining cookies and press lightly to adhere. Enjoy!

Love,

Fruzsi

Classic Custardy Blueberry Clafoutis

 

blueberry clafoutis

I like to think of myself as a frugal shopper. There are a few tricks up my sleeve when it comes to groceries – one in particular is I make good use of my freezer. Our local supermarket sells near ‘best before’ date food 20, 30, sometimes even 50 percent off and that’s exactly when I stocked up on blueberries a few months back.

Frozen fruit is great in smoothies, for baking, making sauces and small-batch jams, tossed in plain yogurt or a granola bowl… the list just goes on and on. It’s good to have stocks of your favorites, especially in these dark and gloomy winter days when you crave the fresh taste of fruit. Yes it’s 2018 and indeed, everything is available always, but I’d rather spend money on local, in-season products than pay double for something that was picked unripe on the other end of the world and travelled long-haul to get here.

That said, on to the matter of clafoutis. I’ve posted this French country dessert before, that time with a twist in texture. Now it’s back to the roots, by which I mean the pancake-like, custrady batter.

By the way, beignets last week and now this? What is it with French recipes? (Maybe the fact that France has one of the most renowned food cultures in the world… but IDK) Anyway, after that near-fail this one is simple, quick and no-fuss.

Call me lazy, but I put my blender to work again. (Remember dutch babies?) It couldn’t possibly get any easier: all ingredients – which aren’t many – in, a good whizz, batter done. You can even make it in advance, just don’t forget to pulse again before pouring. And for the people having something against blenders (please imagine my eyebrows shooting up): a good old-fashioned whisk and some muscle will do the same.

I find the thicker the slice, the better the clafoutis so I use a deep Pyrex dish for baking. A cake tin or a deep pie dish works as well. A trick I picked up over at Meilleur du Chef is sprinkling the baking dish with sugar after buttering – this extra bit of sweetness is just what you need when using tart fruits, plus it makes for a thin, caramelised crust. And who wouldn’t want that, right?!

Blueberry Clafoutis

  • Difficulty: easy
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Custardy French clafoutis – a classic country dessert. For 4-5.

Ingredients

4 eggs

110 g AP flour

100 g granulated sugar

500 ml whipping cream (30%)

150 ml milk

25 ml dark rum

1 packet vanilla sugar (7-8 g)

pinch of salt

400 g blueberries

butter and granulated sugar for the pan

Directions

  1. Put all ingredients except fruit in a blender and pulse to a homogenous, lump-free, pancake-like batter. Alternatively, in a large mixing bowl, combine eggs with sugar. Whisk in flour, add cream, milk, rum, vanilla sugar and salt. Mix well.
  2. While batter is resting, preheat oven to 210°C (410°F). Butter a deep baking dish and sprinkle with sugar. Shake off excess sugar.
  3. Place blueberries in the baking dish, cover with batter.
  4. Bake until dark golden, about 40 min.
  5. Let cool to set at least 30 min before cutting to portions. Can be served warm or cold. Enjoy!

Love,

Fruzsi

Chocolate Beignets, As In Cooking Is Not Always Success and Glory

chocolate beignets

Remember when I told you how during carnival season it’s customary here in Hungary to make donuts? Since it’s that time of the year, I thought I’d post a donut recipe again, this time exploring how other nations do donuts. Pillowy French beignets (pron. ben-yay) were on top of the list.

I wanted them square, States-style. Yes, I know they make them round in Paris, but I had enough round donuts already and no squares yet. Also, the chocolate filling. That don’t need explaining I reckon.

So I got to it. And although they tasted awesome (like, really awesome!) and I eventually managed to shoot an ok-kinda photo of them, the honest truth is that I had quite a difficult time making these.

The dough was too damn sticky (which is probably my fault because I bought the same flour I previously found hard to work with). The beignets were turning over in the frying oil all by themselves. Half the amount would have been more than enough of the chocolate ganache, and it is simply impossible to fill the donuts with it when it’s still warm, like the recipe was saying. The smallest nozzle of my piping bag turned out to be still too big for the job, and there were sticky chocolate and sugar and oil everywhere.

I struggled, cursed, made a terrible mess of my kitchen, cursed some more, and even wished at one point the whole thing would just go and eff itself.

There. It’s out, and I feel liberated. (I also had a glass… ok two glasses of wine, so all is good now.) I wanted to tell you this because 99.9 percent of the time authors – me included – are being like oh, this recipe is so ridiculously easy, you can “make it from scratch” and it “comes together in a blink of an eye”. Moderate breakdowns and piles of dirty dishes are seldom mentioned.

Easy recipes do exist. This is not one of them. Or let me put it this way: it wasn’t for me at first try. I still decided to post it, difficulties and all. Cooking is fun and I thoroughly enjoy it, but I’d lie if I said it’s always a triumph. My kitchen and its output is not Instagrammable all of the time. So if you goofed up your last recipe, don’t be disheartened. Shit happens.

That said, I’m sure I will make beignets again. It’s a learning curve, plus they are just.so.good!

chocolate beignets

This is the recipe, adjusted to suck way less for you than it did for me. Good luck!

Chocolate Beignets

  • Difficulty: requires effort
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Fluffy-soft French donuts filled with a rich chocolate cream. Makes 12.

Ingredients

For the donuts:

50 g granulated sugar

150 ml milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

15 g fresh yeast

50 g unsalted butter

320 g AP flour + extra for dusting

pinch of salt

2 egg yolks

vegetable oil for frying

2 tbsp powdered sugar + 2 tbsp granulated sugar, for dusting

For the filling:

125 ml double cream

125 g dark chocolate, chopped

30 g unsalted butter, cubed

Directions

  1. Gently heat the sugar and milk in a small pan until warm and sugar has dissolved. Add vanilla.
  2. Crumble the yeast into a bowl, pour in half the sweetened warm milk, then mix and leave to activate.
  3. Place the remaining milk back on the heat and add the butter. Heat until butter melts, but don’t let the milk boil.
  4. Sift flour and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with the hook attachment and make a well in the centre. Add the egg yolks, yeasted milk and the butter-milk mixture.
  5. Mix on low until the dough is smooth and elastic. If the mix is too sticky, add extra flour, a teaspoon at a time.
  6. Place dough in a clean bowl dusted with flour, cover with cling film to stop the dough forming a skin. Leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  7. While dough is rising, make the filling. Put the cream in a pan and heat until steaming, but not boiling. Put the chocolate and butter into another bowl. Pour hot cream over the chocolate and stir until smooth and glossy. Put ganache in the fridge to stiffen up.
  8. When dough has risen, knead lightly on a floured surface than roll out to a rectangle with a thickness of about 2 cm.
  9. Using a sharp knife, cut dough into 12 rectangular pillows, then leave to rise again until doubled in size, about 30 min.
  10. Combine powdered sugar with granulated sugar in a bowl for dusting, set aside.
  11. Pour oil in a deep saucepan filling it one-third full and heat to 160°C. Fry the doughnuts in batches of 2-3 until evenly golden brown and cooked through. You will need to moderate the heat between batches, otherwise the doughnuts brown too quickly and remain raw inside or too slowly and suck up too much oil.
  12. Using a slotted spoon, remove the doughnuts from the oil and transfer to a dish lined with kitchen towels to drain excess oil. Once cool, transfer in the sugar to coat.
  13. To fill the doughnuts, spoon the chocolate ganache into a piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle. Insert the nozzle into the doughnut and gently squeeze in the filling. Enjoy!

Love,

Fruzsi

Savory Walnut Cheddar Biscuits

walnut cheddar biscuits

I’d really appreciate if someone would finally explain to me the definitive difference between a scone and a biscuit because honestly, I don’t see one. Even the venerable New York Times says they’re basically the same, but if you know otherwise, enlighten me. Please and thank you.

For I can not consider myself an authority in this matter, I’m calling these flaky pastries biscuits only because they are round. I’ve posted a scone recipe before which very well could be a wedge-shaped biscuit for all I know… You see, we have no such problems here in Hungary. What you call a pogácsa – be it round, square, with egg, no egg, butter or lard, leavened or crumbly – is a pogácsa.

Anyway, cheese and walnuts. Again a combination from the savory side, I still have to make up my mind about sweet ones. There’s a nice balance in texture: slightly crispy outside, tender inside with the occasional crunch from the walnuts. Best served warm.

[Your informed speculation of a bottle of wine included somewhere is not entirely without grounds]

There is something about biscuits that make them perfect for everything. Right?!

It’s a quite forgiving pastry too. No kneading, no rising, in fact you want to handle the dough as little as possible. The ingredients can be swapped in and out depending on what you happen to have on hand: I used a blend of all-purpose and whole wheat flour, but plain AP would be just fine. Don’t have cheddar? Think edam, gouda, parmesan. For a slight tang, sub in sour cream, natural yogurt, buttermilk, or heavy cream for the milk. These biscuits are also a great way to use up any random herbs.

Savory Walnut Cheddar Biscuits

  • Difficulty: easy
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Flaky and aromatic. Eat fresh or freeze for up to 1 month. Yield: 18-20 biscuits.

Ingredients

250 g whole wheat flour

50 g AP flour

1 tsp salt

2 1/2 tsp baking poder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp rosemary, finely chopped

115 g walnuts, chopped

115 g grated cheddar

115 g unsalted butter

1 medium egg, beaten

1/4 cup whole milk

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda, herbs and pepper.
  2. Working quickly, cut butter into dry ingredients until coarse crumbs form.
  3. Toss in cheese and nuts.
  4. Mix egg with milk and add to the flour mixture to moisten dough. If dough won’t come together, add a tablespoon or so more milk, but do not overwork it.
  5. Wrap dough in cling foil and refrigerate for an hour to stiffen.
  6. Preheat oven to 200°C (395°F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and handling as little as possible, pat to about 2,5 cm (1”) thick. Using a 5 cm (2”) cookie cutter, cut out rounds. Pat scraps together to make more biscuits. Transfer to prepared pan.
  8. Bake for 15-20 min, until golden. Remove from the oven and serve warm.

And now you tell me: how do you like your biscuits?

Love,

Fruzsi