Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Christmas poppy seed roll Mákos Beigli

As you wouldn't have Christmas without szaloncukor it's also traditional to have these sweet yeasty bread rolls filled with sweet creamy poppy seed or walnut paste. They are very popular around Christmas (Karácsony) and Easter (Húsvét) and generally any celebration times in the whole of Eastern Europe and also in Jewish cuisine. Having spent the past week at home with a sick toddler while desperately hoping to get fit for our fast approaching Christmas trip to Australia - to lift the Christmas spirits I had to make this Mákos Beigli and it turned out lovely. There is much anxiety around beigli making, I didn't find it difficult or time consuming and this was the first time I made it - my Mum has always done it for the whole family, including vast quantities of frozen supplies for us in the UK if we happened to spend the holidays here :-) I have based it on the tried and tested Horváth Ilona recipe, only changed a couple of things to make it quicker and easier for the dough to rise. This quantity makes 2 large or 4 medium size rolls.

For the dough:
500g plain flour
250g butter
2 eggs
50g caster sugar
20g fresh yeast (or 7g dried yeast, can add straight to dry ingredients)
200ml milk
pinch of salt

For the filling:
300g black poppy seed
200g sugar
300ml milk
vanilla pod (seeds scraped out) or few drops of vanilla extract
grated zest of a lemon
50g semolina
handful of sultanas soaked in a splash of dark rum

To make the dough sift the flour into a bowl with the salt, add the sugar and mix well. Warm up the milk a little until lukewarm. Mix 50ml milk with a teaspoon of the sugar and crumble the yeast into it, mix until creamy then add to the flour. Melt the butter into the rest of the warm milk and add this to the flour too. Knead it until well mixed and the dough comes away from the side of the bowl. Cover and leave in a warm place for an hour to rise and double in size while you make the filling.
Grind the poppy seeds together with the sugar using a coffee or spice grinder. Warm up the milk with the vanilla until boiling, take it off the heat and add the ground poppy seed-sugar mix, lemon zest, semolina, rum soaked sultanas with their liquid. Mix well and let it cool.
Take the dough and divide into 2 or 4 pieces depending on the size of the beigli you want to make. Roll each one out to a rectangle shape to about 5mm thickness, spread the filling evenly on top, leaving the edges clear. Fold the short sides in slightly to keep the filling in, then roll it up starting from one of the long sides. Place on a baking sheet, fold side down, leaving a generous gap between the rolls. Preheat oven to 180C/gas mark 6. Brush the pastry with a beaten egg and leave it to rest until the oven is ready. Pierce the sides in several places with a sharp fork, this will prevent the rolls from splitting. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden colour and cooked through. Cool and dust with icing sugar.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Chocolate cream gateau Lúdláb torta

One of my absolute favourites from childhood. Lúdláb torta is a rich triple layer chocolate cake with a thin cocoa sponge base, a deep chocolate cream filling dotted with dark rum soaked cherries and covered with dark chocolate topping. I made this cake for a friend's birthday couple of weeks ago and managed to save a slice for the picture. All the girls loved it and the cake tin was licked clean before I even put it on a cake stand! But the biggest compliment came from our friend's dad Richie who has eaten many cakes in his life, he said it was THE best chocolate cake he had ever had! How brilliant is that? As I didn't scrimp on proper dark chocolate, cream and butter, it is definitely a cake for days when you are not counting calories!

For the sponge base:
2 eggs, yolks and whites separated and egg whites beaten until peaks form
4 tbsp caster sugar
4 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2tbsp water
1tsp baking powder
few drops of vanilla extract

For the filling:
500ml double cream
400g caster sugar
500g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
200g dark chocolate (50%) broken into small pieces
few drops of vanilla extract
350g frozen morello cherries, thawed, drained and soaked in a couple of tbsp dark rum

100g dark chocolate (50%) broken into small pieces
1tbsp flavourless oil (sunflower or groundnut)

Preheat oven to 180C/gas mark 6. To make the sponge, cream together the egg yolks with the sugar. Add the vanilla extract, cocoa powder, water and mix until smooth. Gradually add the flour and baking powder, mix well then add the beaten egg whites, folding in gently so it adds air to the sponge mix. Pour into a greased, lined 23cm cake tin and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until cooked through. Cool it down before putting the filling on top.
Make the filling by warming the double cream with the sugar until gently dissolves, then bring it to the boil for a few minutes. Take it off the heat, mix in the dark chocolate, stirring until completely smooth and dissolved. Add the vanilla extract and stirring continuously, add the butter cubes until all melted and smooth. Let it cool down and stick it in the fridge for half an hour to thicken slightly. Mix in the rum soaked, drained cherries and pour it over the sponge base. I left the base in the cake tin and poured the thick creamy filling on top, then put it in the fridge until completely set. I left it there overnight and it was perfect by the morning. For the topping, melt the dark chocolate in a bowl over simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn't touch the water. When melted, mix in the oil until smooth and pour over the cake. Smooth it with a spatula or make rough peaks as you wish. You could sprinkle chocolate shavings on top to make it more of a celebration cake.


Thursday, 29 November 2012

Cherry and Almond Advent Wreath

In Hungary Advent wreaths are normally made of fir, pine cones and 4 candles for the 3rd Sunday before Christmas, to light a candle each Sunday and then the last one on Christams Eve. I was so happy to discover that people also bake them, in fact some bake one for each Sunday of Advent! I think it's a lovely thing to do and you could decorate it with small candles if you wish.
I based the recipe on the Norwegian kringle wreath from Scandilicious Baking and glad I did. The distinctive flavour of ground cardamom in the dough and the lightness of this sweet milky bread is fantastic. I added kirsch soaked dried sour cherries instead of sultanas as they go so well with the almond paste that is the filling for this wreath. The sugar crystals and almonds on top make it look really festive too.

For the dough:
300ml whole milk
75g butter
500g plain flour
1tsp ground cardamom
3/4tsp salt
7g dried yeast
1 egg, beaten

50g dried sour cherries
3-4tbsp kirsch or cherry liqueur
150g marzipan 
75g ground almonds
50g butter
1tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten
1/4tsp salt
2-3 tbsp caster sugar

To finish:
1 egg, beaten
flaked almonds
sugar crystals (I used Lidl's edible cake decorations) or crushed sugar cubes

Scald the milk by heating it with the butter until almost boiling, this will make the bread softer. Let it cool to lukewarm temperature. Sift together the flour, sugar, cardamom, salt and dried yeast and mix well. Add the beaten egg and the slightly warm buttery milk and mix it until you get a smooth dough that comes off the sides of the bowl. Cover and let it prove in a warm place until doubles in size, for 30-40 minutes.
Make the filling by soaking the cherries in the kirsch. Mix all the filling ingredients together (add sugar to taste) in a food processor until you get a creamy paste.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface so it is a long thin rectangle of about 15x60cm. Spread the filling evenly over the dough, drain the cherries and sprinkle these over evenly. Roll it up into a cylinder, starting from one of the longer edges of the rectangle, brushing the other long edge with a bit of water to help seal the pastry. Bring the two open ends together to form a wreath shape and pinch to seal them together. Leave to prove in a warm place for 20-30 minutes. 
Preaheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Glaze the wreath with the beaten egg then sprinkle almond flakes and sugar crystals all over it. Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped on the base. My oven is really fierce, so I had to cover it halfway with foil, but all ovens are different. Cool on a wire rack before serving. You can also make it in advance and freeze this wreath, in that case defrost in a low 150C oven for 20-25 minutes, then bake at 190C for 5 minutes.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Chocolate coated cherries and prunes

I didn't intend to make these sweets. They ended up being a by-product of the szaloncukor batches I was making yesterday, but actually they are really delicious and make great christmas presents! I had some leftover melted dark chocolate I was using for dipping the marzipan nuggets, and didn't want to waste them. I also had open boxes of dried sour cherries and soft stoned prunes. Remembering how nice the shop bought chocolate coated dried fruit can be, I quickly made a couple of handfuls of these little treats. You could use any dried fruit you prefer, golden sultanas, figs, cranberries or even nuts would also be great. I used Lidl's 50% dark chocolate, chopped and melted in a bowl over simmering water. Make sure the bowl doesn't touch the water though. Dip them with the help of a fork and cool on baking parchment. Put in the fridge for 30 minutes so it is properly set, then they are ready to box. I covered a cardboard box with christmas wrapping paper to turn it into a festive gift.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Rákóczi Túrós Baked meringue cheese cake

Here is another good old curd cheese cake recipe. There are thousands in Hungarian baking! This one is a huge favourite with everyone and one of the staples you can get in any cakeshop. I have been planning to make Rákóczi túrós for a while, and recently found a Polish curd cheese/cottage cheese in Asda that is very similar to the one you get in Hungary. I was very excited to try it (Saddo). You could use ricotta too. This cake is named after the French trained János Rákóczi, the Hungarian royal master patissier. He created this cake for the 1958 World Expo in Brussels as part of a selection of Hungarian dishes to represent what is quintessentially magyar in our cuisine. Rákóczi's recipe has been changed and altered by many over the years to suit changing tastes, but I followed his basic original recipe as I think it is the best and tastiest of all. He suggests a lettuce pattern of meringue and apricot jam on top, which I think is very retro in its looks and takes too long to fiddle with. So I made a plain meringue topping that I drizzled with jam (using my new drizzling gadget I got from my aunt). You could add more filling or more meringue as you wish.

For the pastry base:
250g plain flour
60g icing sugar
2 egg yolks
grated zest of half lemon
100ml sour cream
pinch of bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt

For the filling:
500g curd cheese (or strained cottage cheese, ricotta)
3 egg yolks
2 egg whites
200ml sour cream
grated zest of half a lemon
few drops of vanilla extract
100g icing sugar
4 tbsp semolina and more for sprinkling

For the meringue topping:
4 egg whites
150g caster sugar

Mix the pastry ingredients together until you get a shortcrust pastry type of dough and rest it for half an hour in the fridge. Preheat oven to 180C and roll out the pastry to about 5mm thickness and place in a baking tray, I used a 20x30cm tray with 3cm sides. It doesn't need lining and I cut the pastry to the size of the tray base. Prick it with a fork in several places. Bake it for 10 minutes, it doesn't need to be fully baked, just dry enough for the filling to go on top. Let it cool and make the filling.
Push the curd cheese through a potato mincer. Mix the egg yolks with the icing sugar until smooth an pale, add the vanilla etxract, curd cheese, sour cream, semolina, lemon zest.  Beat the egg whites until stiff and gently fold into the filling. Sprinkle the pastry with semolina and spread the filling on top evenly. Turn the oven down to 160C and bake it for about 20 minutes or until the filling has cooked through and when tested with a wooden skewer, it comes out dry. Take it out of the oven and make the meringue topping. Beat the 4 egg whites until stiff peaks form then add the caster sugar gradually. Spread the meringue mix on top of the cheese cake and bake it ready in the oven. I turned the oven up to 180C to start with to get that crisp meringue coat going, then turned it down to 140C to let the meringue centre bake a little but still keeping that lovely marshmallow texture. It really only needs to dry up a bit. When ready, cool it down and cut into squares or slices, drizzle with apricot jam.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Cheese scones Juhtúrós pogácsa

Juhtúró is a soft sheep's cheese with a very strong distinctive flavour. It's delicious in a lot of savoury dishes like scones or pasta dishes. It makes a lovely moist dough for scones, they don't dry out but stay fresh for days. I haven't seen anything similar in the UK but came up with the idea of using other types of sheep's cheese widely available instead. Feta cheese mixed with a bit of natural cottage cheese gave the right creamy and slightly salty texture that juhtúró has. But ricotta could also be used instead. You could even add a sprinkle of grated Pecorino or Manchego on top, both of which are  hard sheep's cheese.  I opted for a more decorative finish of poppy seeds and sesame sprinkle. These small cheesy scones are great as a savoury nibble, or eat them with a bowl of warming soup as we did. The beautiful hand made ceramic bowl was a recent present from my Dutch friends Vera and Remco :-)

To make 45-50 small scones: 
500g plain flour
1 sachet (7g) dried yeast
250g butter
200g feta cheese
100g plain cottage cheese
2 egg yolks
200ml creme fraiche or sour cream
pinch of salt
1 beaten egg for egg wash, sesame and poppy seeds for decoration

Mix the flour with the dried yeast and crumble together with the butter until it is a fine breadcrumb texture. Mix in the finely crumbled feta and the cottage cheese. Add the egg yolks, sour cream, salt and knead it until completely mixed and you have a fairly firm dough. Put in a clean bowl, cover and let it prove for 1,5-2 hours in a warm place. Preheat the oven to 180C. Knock the dough back and roll it to a 1cm thickness on a floured surface. Using a round cookie cutter, cut out the scones and place them on a greased baking sheet. Brush with an egg wash and sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden colour and cooked through.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Chocolate dipped marzipan sweets Marcipános szaloncukor

In Hungary there is no Christmas without szaloncukor. These chocolate coated sweets are essential part of Christmas, you can buy them everywhere in large boxes and they are used as tree decorations. There are lots of different fillings, I chose one of my favourite which is a dark chocolate coated marzipan. Really quick and easy to make at home, they make great presents too, individually wrapped and if you feel adventurous you could hang them up the tree with some ribbon. 

To make about 500g or 35-40 sweets:
200g ground almond
150g icing sugar
few drops of almond extract
200g dark chocolate, chopped
about 40ml water

To make the marzipan, mix the ground almond with the icing sugar and gradually add some water until you get a paste that is easy to knead and mould into balls. Be careful not to add too much water as it will get too soft. Add a few drops of almond extract, knead it until well mixed, now you have your marzipan ready to mould. Form small bite size pieces with your fingers. Put the chocolate in a bowl and melt it over some simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water. When completely melted, dip the marzipan pieces into the chocolate with a fork and place them on baking parchment. When all done, put them in the fridge to set, this will take about an hour, after which they will be ready to be wrapped.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Tear and share walnut bread - Aranygaluska

Aranygaluska if translated literally means golden nuggets. Sweet, almost doughnut rich yeasty dough nuggets layered with sweet ground walnuts and melted butter. It's a course in itself all year round, except I made this one with star cookie cutters, so it's fit for the Christmas table. If you are making it for other occasions, just use an ordinary round or moon shaped cutter. Traditionally it's baked in a round tin and you are not meant to cut it but eat it in a tear and share style, dunking it into warm custard while it's still warm out of the oven. 

For the dough:
500g plain flour
25g fresh yeast or packet of dried yeast 
3 egg yolks
250ml warm milk
50g melted butter
50g icing sugar
pinch of salt

For the walnut filling:
Grind 200g walnuts to a coarse breadcrumb texture in a food processor. Mix it with 5 tbsp icing sugar. Prepare 100g butter.
Make a starter dough by mixing 100ml warm milk, crumbled yeast, teaspoon of icing sugar and 3 tbsp flour. Put in a warm place so the yeast can activate (if using dried yeast, you can leave this stage out and mix all ingredients in one go). After about 15-20 minutes the starter dough should be ready to mix with the other ingredients, adding the melted butter last. Work this dough until smooth and silky and air bubbles start to form while mixing, either with a dough hook in a mixer or by hand with a wooden spoon. Cover and leave in a warm place to prove and double in size, for about an hour.
Take the dough and knead it on a floured surface then roll it out to about 1cm thickness.  
Grease a 26cm loose bottom cake tin. Melt the 100g butter and have it ready in a bowl next to the sugary ground walnut. Start cutting stars out of the dough with the cookie cutter, dip each one into the melted butter then coat with the walnut mix. Place them into the tin snugly next to each other, creating 3 layers of nuggets by the time you used all the dough. Sprinkle the leftover walnut mix on top if there is any. If you don't want to dip every single nugget, then you can just brush each layer with the melted butter and sprinkle with the walnut mix. Preheat oven to 180C and let the cake rest and prove until the oven warms up. Bake for about 40-50 minutes or until it's cooked through. Take the side off the cake tin and serve it warm on the tin base.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Chocolate and Walnut Squares

These little nutty truffle like sweets which are also gluten free are lovely to have after dinner with coffee. They are incredibly easy to make as they don't need any cooking or baking. I found this recipe in a fellow foodblogger's recipe collection (Lilafüge) when I was looking for something small, simple and chocolaty to make last weekend.  I adjusted a couple of ingredients to match our UK availability. They are called Diós Kocka and usually served around Christmas, cut into very small squares as they are really intense in flavour, chocolate and walnuts. You could make it with almonds or hazelnuts too, whatever you have in the cupboard. The chocolate ganache on top could be used for various toppings for cakes, very easy to make.

250g ground walnuts
230g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
50ml water
10g butter
100g dark chocolate, chopped
100ml double cream

Grind the walnuts in a food processor until resembles breadcrumbs. Heat the sugar with the water and vanilla extract until completely melted and starts to boil. Add the walnuts and butter and stir this paste around on a lower heat for a couple of minutes. Pour the mix into a small (I used 20x15cm) lined tin or baking tray, smooth the surface and allow to cool. In the meantime prepare the ganache topping. Heat the double cream in a pan until it is boiling. Take it off the heat and mix in the chocolate pieces until it is really smooth and completely mixed. Pour this on top of the walnut paste, smooth it down with a spatula and let it cool. Put it in the fridge and leave it for a few hours, it will harden even more and will be really easy to cut into small bit size squares.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Csokis diós jojó Chocolate and Walnut yo-yo

I took a few shots of these biscuits and chose a less christmassy looking one as it is still only October... For those craving for some Christmas glitter there are the silver sprayed Allium heads and a candle in the background :-) These little bite size biscuits are a perfect addition to coffee, tea or a hot spiced drink. Chocolate and walnuts are main ingredients in a lot of sweet dishes, cakes and biscuits around the holidays in Hungary and having a welcome selection of sweet nibbles is very traditional when you are having friends and family around. Box them up they make a great home-baked present too!

For the biscuit base:
350g plain flour
200g butter
150g caster sugar
1 egg
2 egg yolks
few drops of vanilla extract
1 tsp rum
pinch of salt
grated zest of half lemon
1 tbsp milk

For the walnut crunch coating:
2 egg whites, gently whisked
250g chopped walnuts 

For the filling:
100ml double cream
100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

Mix and knead all the biscuit ingredients until smooth. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for an hour. Warm the cream and the chocolate and stir until it's completely melted, then cool it down. When cool, put it in the fridge to chill then lightly beat to get it slightly more firm. Preheat oven to 180C. When well chilled and easier to mould, roll your pastry with your hands into lots of cherry size balls. Dip them into the egg whites then coat them with the chopped walnuts and place them on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the nuts become a golden toasted colour and the biscuit cooked through. Cool and start assembling the yo-yo's by sticking two discs together with a small teaspoon of chocolate cream filling. This quantity makes about 25 yo-yo biscuits.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012


One of my favourite treats from my childhood is Császármorzsa. It has to be the quickest after school nibble to make when you happen to have lots of children in the house. 
The name comes from the time of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy where it was called Kaiserschmarrn (The Emperor's Crumble) and it was first made by the royal patissier for the Emperor Franz Josef I and his wife Sissi. It is a type of pancake batter and usually served with raspberry syrup(or cordial), fruit compote or jam in Hungary. In Austria we tried it in ski resorts where it's served with apple puree and is a delicious midday treat with a cup of hot chocolate. Traditionally it's cooked in a large pancake pan and made with plain flour. In Hungary it can also be made with semolina instead of flour and baked in the oven in a large baking tray.
I find it similar to drop scones or scotch pancakes but less fiddly as it's either baked whole in the oven or you just make 3 or 4 large pancakes in one go saving a lot of time standing around waiting for lots of mini pancakes to get done. In both cases the end result is roughly chopped up into small pieces, sprinkled with caster sugar and drizzled with runny jam or dunked into apple puree. It would make an excellent quick breakfast treat too. This quantity serves 4 people.

4 eggs
80g caster sugar
400ml milk
250g plain flour (you could use self raising flour to make the batter more fluffy) 
30g melted butter
flavourless oil for shallow frying
apple puree, runny jam, and more caster sugar for serving

Separate the eggs. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Mix the egg yolks with the sugar until smooth. Add the flour and milk, little at a time to make sure it's all well mixed without any lumps. Add the melted butter and mix well. Spoon and carefully mix the beaten egg whites into the batter. 
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large pancake pan or frying pan, pour enough batter into the pan so that it will be enough for 3 or 4 thick pancakes, depending on the size of your pan. Fry it until golden on one side then turn it over with a spatula and fry the other side. When it's done, chop it up roughly with a wooden spoon put it on a plate and sprinkle with caster sugar. If you are baking it in the oven, preheat the oven to 200C. Heat up enough oil in a large baking dish that the bottom is generously coated. Pour all the batter into the dish and bake until golden colour and cooked through. Chop it up roughly into small pieces and sprinkle with caster sugar.

Sunday, 14 October 2012


Kuglóf must be one of the easiest cakes to make. It's a very popular coffee and tea time cake you can find in most European countries (Gugelhupf, Bundkuchen). It's made with a soft, sweet yeasty dough and can be filled with dried or candied fruit, nuts, marzipan, chocolate or cocoa (marble cake) and in Hungary often layered with poppy seed. My Mum gave me her lovely old blue enamel kuglóf baking mould a few years ago but it's chipped in a few places going rusty, so I need to get it fixed before I can use it. For this recipe I tried my new silicone mould, which is not as tall as the enamel one. The recipe is from one of my old cookbooks Venesz József: Magyaros konyha.
I added some sultanas to the dough as that's the only filling we used to have when we made it at home and it looks great when you slice it.

280g flour
15g fresh yeast
400 ml milk
3 egg yolks
60g butter
80g icing sugar
grated lemon zest
pinch of salt
30g sultanas

Crumble and mix the yeast with 80g of the flour  and 150ml warm milk. Cover and leave this starter dough to prove in a warm place for 30 minutes. 
Cream the icing sugar with the butter and egg yolks until smooth and fluffy. Add the starter dough, rest of the flour, lemon zest, sultanas, salt and the rest of the warmed up milk. Mix it well, until it is light and air bubbles start to form in the dough when you mix it. It will be a slightly runny, soft, sweet dough. Cover and leave to prove in a warm place for about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and dust a ring shape tin/kuglóf tin with semolina/fine breadcrumbs or use a silicone mould (you don't need to grease this). Fill the mould with the dough, cover and let it prove for another 30 minutes. Bake until cooked through and golden colour, this takes 35-40 minutes. When ready, turn it out of the mould and cool on a wire rack, dust with icing sugar.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Almás rétes Apple strudel

There is a difference between strudels depending on where they come from. This is a typical basic pastry recipe for a Hungarian strudel that can be filled with hundreds of different sweet or savoury fillings. Apple, sweet ricotta, cherry, poppy seed paste are the most popular ones, you will see in patisseries. If you are lucky to have tried some home made rétes at your or some friends grandparents house then you may be familiar with some savoury fillings such as cabbage, potatoes and sausage or pumpkin. These strudels don't have the lettuce-work pastry topping like the Viennese strudels, so don't mix them up. 
The success of a good strudel pastry depends on the flour, which has to have a high protein content. If you use plain flour, some recipes recommend adding an egg to it just to raise the overall protein content. I have not tried this yet, but searched through all the flours in the supermarket, and found the very strong bread flour had the highest gluten content of all.   This gives the pastry its elasticity so it is easy to stretch so thin that you can read a book through it. Apparently. Kneading it by hand for a good 20 minutes also helps developing the right texture. I wouldn't say my kneading was of an experienced rétes-maker, hence the layers were less impressive when it came out of the oven. More practise definitely needed! (There are excellent tutorials for stretching strudel pastry on Youtube if you can't picture how to do it).
Of course you could use ready made filo sheets, but these are usually far too small and taste a bit like baking parchment - nothing like the real thing! Also traditionally, fat would be used instead of butter, but this really wouldn't be very popular here in the UK so I adapted the recipe.

For the pastry:
500g flour (with highest gluten content)
40g butter (and more for brushing the pastry before filling)
400ml warm water (mixed with a pinch of salt and tsp vinegar)

For the filling (which I would start cooking before starting on the pastry):
1kg dessert apples
200g granulated sugar
handful of sultanas
Cinnamon stick or tsp of ground cinnamon

Make the filling first so it has time to cool. Peel, core and grate the apples. Place in a heavy bottom pan with the sugar, cinnamon, sultanas and cook until soft, almost creamy texture and most of the juices have evaporated. Cool completely before filling the pastry.
Crumble the butter into the flour between your fingers or use a food processor for this, as if you were making a crumble topping. I guess mixing by hand is more traditional and may contribute to perfect strudel stretchiness... When all mixed and smooth, start adding the water until you have a soft dough. You need to knead this, softly stretching it and knocking it back for about 20 minutes by which time you should have a soft, elastic dough. Divide this in two (for two strudels) and cover them with a warm dish (I stuck a couple of pans in the oven to warm up while kneading the dough). Leave to rest for another 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180C.
Cover your dining table with a clean tablecloth and dust with flour. Start by rolling the first dough out as much as you can with a rolling pin then carefully start stretching it with the back of your hand. Stretch it as much as you possibly can but do not despair if you cannot read a book through it. You may have a few minor holes in the pastry but by the time you roll it up it will all disappear and look perfect.
Let it dry for a few minutes then brush generously with melted butter. Sprinkle with semolina or breadcrumbs under the filling to stop the pastry going soggy. Spread half the filling at one end of the pastry in a line and with the help of the tablecloth start rolling it up. It should be flat rather than a round roll shape. Once rolled you could cut the pastry edges clean off the end and sides if you need to. Place on a lined baking sheet and make the second strudel. When both strudels are ready, brush with a beaten egg and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until golden and  the pastry layers are cooked through. Slice, dust with icing sugar and serve warm.


Rosehip Cordial Csipkebogyó szörp

Last Sunday we had a lovely morning at Stoneywish Nature Reserve recommended by my friend Briah. Because of the recent wet weather it was really quiet and we had the place to ourselves, so Leo our 18 months old could run around happily checking out the farm animals, wooden structures at the playground, the teepees and feed the ducks and the fish in the pond - which is the cleanest and most full of wildlife I have ever seen. There were few blackberries left which he all pretty much ate off the hedgerow there and then, but there were plenty of rosehips to pick from now until Christmas. Not entirely sure if it's ok to pick the hedgerows in a Nature Reserve, I had a go anyway as there were so much of it and picked a small amount (about half a large freezer bag) so there is always plenty left for the birds too. 
When I was searching for a good rosehip cordial recipe I found a great variety of them. Most will tell you to boil the fruit with water, then add sugar and carry on boiling for quite sometime to reduce to a syrup. Rosehips have one of the highest vitamin C (and other vitamins) contents among the hedgerow berries, which tend to diminish at temperatures even as low as 50-60C. Its flavours might improve with cooking, but the winter goodness that is so excellent to keep away colds will completely disappear with lengthy boiling. Some recipes suggest longer soaking time in cooler water, then adding a sugar syrup separately, which I chose to do in the end.
Picking rosehips is best around the end of October when the first frosts arrive. Make sure the berries are bright red and ripe but not yet soft. Wear some gloves and clothes you don't mind ruining, the bushes are full of thorns. 

500g Rosehips
800g granulated sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Top and tail the rosehips removing the green stalk at one end and the black tip at the other. Wash and rinse. Chop the hips up in a food processor into small pieces. Cover them with 500 ml boiling water and 250ml cold water, give it a good stir, cool down and stick in the fridge for a couple of days. If you can remember give it a stir every so often. After two days of soaking, strain the liquid through a fine muslin to get rid of any hips and seeds, discard these, the tiny hairs on them can irritate the throat. Make the sugar syrup by gently heating the sugar with 250ml water until dissolves (do not stir). Boil it for a few minutes to thicken, cool it down slightly then gently pour into the strained rosehip juice, adding the lemon juice to it, stirring to mix well. Pour into sterilised bottles or plastic tupperware for freezing later. Allow to cool down completely before putting in the fridge or freezer. It will keep for a week in the fridge, which is why it is handy to freeze some. This makes a tasty Christmas present too if you can bear giving some away! The above quantity made us 1.5 litres of cordial.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Mákos guba - Honey and Poppy seed Bread and Butter Pudding

Autumn is truly here with its damp and cold days and it naturally inspires me to cook more wintry dishes. There are a lot of store cupboard ingredients to choose from when there is less fresh fruit available, and the two most popular ones for toppings and fillings in sweet dishes in Hungary are poppy seeds and walnut. There is so much more to poppy seed than it being just a decoration sprinkled on cakes and pastries. Ground up and cooked with milk, sugar and spices it makes a delicious sweet and creamy paste, or ground and mixed with icing sugar you can sprinkle on various baked desserts. To ground poppy seed it is easiest to use a coffee grinder or a spice grinder. I mix it with icing sugar and grind it like that if a recipe calls for both. Mákos guba was originally made around Christmas time to symbolise wealth with the thousands of tiny seeds. It is still prepared as a celebration dish around the holidays. But these days many families have it all year round, it's a favourite with children too. This is a classic version of a traditional dish, but it can also be baked with custard, spices or orange and lemon zest added, served with cream or whatever takes your fancy. I love it traditionally served with a generous drizzle of honey. In Hungary you would make it with butter horn pastries (kifli), these are medium size yeasty dough pastries shape of a half moon. I will add a post on how to make these, they are really simple. This time I used a normal size baguette which is available everywhere.

1 normal size baguette (not too long and chunky)
450ml milk
vanilla pod or vanilla extract
80g black poppy seed
80g icing sugar
40g butter

Preheat oven to 180C. Slice your baguette into 1cm discs and place them on a baking tray then put it in the oven to dry them out a bit. This pudding is usually made with slightly stale bread that soaks up the vanilla scented milk better. If you have a fresh baguette, drying in the oven helps to achieve this. Keep an eye on it so it doesn't start to toast. 
Butter a medium size baking dish and place the baguette discs in. Warm the milk up with a few drops of vanilla extract or the scraped seeds and pod from the vanilla. Do not let it boil. Pour the hot milk over the bread and let it soak. Turn it if you need to so it soaks up the milk all over. Grind the poppy seed and mix it with the icing sugar. Sprinkle this on top of the milky bread, turning it to coat the whole lot. Dot the top with pieces of butter and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until warmed through and the bread is softened but slightly crispy on top.
Serve it with a good drizzle of honey.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Meggyes csokitorta - Chocolate and Morello Cherry Cake

This was one of the cakes I made for the Macmillan Cancer Support coffee event we organised with a couple of friends. I thought it would be worth adding to my blog as it seem to be one of the most popular cakes yesterday afternoon. Its recipe is similar to the Rhubarb Cake recipe I posted in August, but I added some cocoa powder to the sponge mix. I found frozen morello cherries in Asda a while ago, they remind me much more of the fresh ones as opposed to the slightly soggy bottled cherries. Not sure if this cake really does exist in Hungarian cookbooks, it is a complete mix of all the things I love in cakes. Chocolate and morello cherries are two classic ingredients though so I could get away with it I reckon!

For the cake mix:
3 eggs
250 g icing sugar
100g cocoa powder
450 g plain flour
150 ml milk
150 ml flavourless oil (groundnut or sunflower)
1 tbsp baking powder 
350g frozen morello cherries (thawed and drained completely before baking)

For the filling:
bottle of morello cherry jam (Lidl)
150ml double cream

For the topping:
150ml double cream
150g dark chocolate, chopped
1 sachet ground arrowroot

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 6. 
Beat the eggs with the sifted icing sugar and the cocoa powder until it is well mixed. Add the oil and the milk and mix well. Add the baking powder and slowly add the flour, mixing as you go so it doesn't get lumpy. Gently fold in the morello cherries. Pour the cake mix into a lined 23cm cake tin and bake for 40-45 minutes or until the testing skewer comes out clean and the cake is cooked through, even in the middle. Cool on a wire rack. You could do this the day before you actually need the cake.
When the cake is completely cool, slice it in half so you have two round discs. Spread the morello cherry jam over the bottom part. Whip the double cream until soft peaks form and spread this over the jam. Put the top disc on top of the cream and make the topping. Gently warm the double cream and melt the chocolate, stirring until completely dissolved and beautifully glossy. Take the pan off the heat and add the ground arrowroot to the topping, mixing well. It will start to slightly thicken. Slowly pour the topping over the cake, adding it gently so it covers the top evenly, looking a bit like a giant whoopie pie. Let it cool completely before serving. 
Serve it with softly whipped double cream on the side.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Szedres papucs - Bramble parcels

The blackberry season is here so were back in Stanmer yesterday foraging for some more free and delicious autumn fruit. They are small and very sweet, perfect for little bite size cakes.
Little parcels or slippers "papucs" as they call them in Hungary  are made with puff pastry. Originally they would have been made with pork fat and flour around the slaughtering season in winter and the most popular filling was the thick and creamy Hungarian plum paste  szilvalekvár - something I have not attempted to make yet, as it involves hours and hours of patient simmering and stirring, and it needs the right sort of plums which are difficult to get hold of in the UK. Similar jams you can buy in Austria and Germany too.  I added blueberry jam to my brambles this time but any home made or shop bought berry jam and fresh or frozen berries (completely thawed) will be perfect as long as you add some starch to the mix to hold it together. I used ground arrowroot (tapioca starch) which keeps a clear colour so good with fruit. These can be found in little sachets in supermarket bakery sections. If you use really thick jams, you wouldn't even have to bother with starch. Ready rolled puff pastry makes this a really quick and easy dessert. Dust it with cinnamony icing sugar and eat it warm dipped into some chantilly cream.

1 packet of ready rolled puff pastry (at room temperature) 
250g blackberries
3 tbsp blueberry jam
grated zest of a lemon
1tbsp (1sachet) ground arrowroot
1 egg white

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Wash and dry the blackberries on paper towel and chop them up if they are too big - supermarket berries tend to be huge! Mix them with the blueberry jam, lemon zest and ground arrowroot. Unroll the pastry sheet and cut it into 15 squares (about 7cmx7cm). Lightly beat the egg white and brush the pastry squares edges with it. Put a generous teaspoon of  berry mix on each square and spread it evenly, leaving the brushed edges free. Place a little knob of butter on top of the fruit mix. Fold two opposite corners of the square on top of each other, press the corners lightly together and place them onto a lined baking sheet. Brush the top with more egg white and bake for 20-25 minutes or until crisp and golden colour. 

Friday, 7 September 2012

Bodzalekvár - Elderberry Jam


I took our little 16 months old son Leo to our local Stanmer Park berry picking a couple of days ago. He was in a backback enjoying the views and eating lots of blackberries while I managed to pick a kilo of elderberries and blackberries. His face (and the back of my jumper) was a beautiful claret colour from all the squashed blackberries! There are lots more to pick if anyone has the chance to go now. These are the same elder trees I picked flowers from early summer for elderflower cordial.
Elderberries are packed with vitamin C so great for winter top up. In this recipe I also used blackberries and apples, it's a delicious combination of autumn fruit, they really compliment each other. Try this jam on top of your porridge with a little bit of milk and honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon. 

750g elderberries
250g blackberries 
1kg slightly sour apples (I used Discovery)
2-3 cinnamon sticks or cinnamon bark
500g granulated sugar (or more if you like it sweeter)
juice of 1/2 lemon
water (about 1 litre)

Pick the elderberries off the stalks with a fork (or by hand) and wash. They will need a couple of rinses. The best way of doing this is by covering them with plenty of water in a bowl. All the green berries and the dry shrivelled ones will float to the top and you can skim these off easily. The ripe fruit sinks to the bottom of the dish. Wash the blackberries too and add both to a large pan. Add about 100ml water. Wash and core the apples, chop them into cubes. I didn't bother to peel them. Add them to the pan together with the cinnamon sticks. Bring it to the boil then start simmering until all the fruit has fallen to bits and become soft. This took me around 30 minutes. You will need to add some more water little at a time as you go. Keep an eye on the pan, the simmering fruit should have a jam consistency right the way through. I used about a litre of water added gradually. Take the pan off the heat and add the sugar slowly, mixing it until it is completely melted, then add the lemon juice. Taste and adjust the sugar if you like. Put it back on the heat and bring back to the boil, cook it for 10 minutes. Pour the jam into sterilized jars (this recipe made 8x200ml jars), seal and let it cool.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Apfelküchli - Apple Drop Scones

My Aunty gave me this recipe, she lives in Germany where they love these little cakes and eat them warm for breakfast or cold the next day with tea or coffee. The batter mix resembles drop scones or Scotch pancakes we have in Britain but less runny. In fact it should be able to hold its mound shape  when dropped into the hot oil. For this you would need to use a lot of oil, which I tried to avoid, and flat drop scones cook perfectly in very little oil, so I added a bit more milk to the batter. This recipe makes about 12 Apfelküchli. Delicious autumn breakfast treat and very quick to make. For grown ups you could add some Calvados to the mix. Serve it warm with a dust of vanilla sugar, softly whipped cream or Cornish clotted cream, like we did - luckily the boys brought a big tub back from their trip to Sennen last week!

400g dessert apples
1 egg
2 tbsp caster sugar
100g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of cinnamon 
splash of milk 
oil for frying (flavourless groundnut oil or vegetable oil)

Peel and grate the apples. Mix with the egg yolk, splash of milk, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and flour until combined. Beat the egg white until firm and fold into the batter gently. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes. Heat a teaspoon of oil in a frying pan and using a tablespoon scoop, drop, slightly shape and flatten the batter. Fry it on both sides until nicely coloured and cooked through. Drain them on kitchen towel and sprinkle with vanilla sugar or icing sugar.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Szilvás lepény - Plum Küchen

Kuchen is made with a slightly sweet yeasty dough (means 'cake' in German) topped with usually fruit and sometimes nuts or a buttery crumble, eaten for breakfast or with coffee anytime of the day. 
I made this one with plums as they are in season at the moment and it's a very traditional lepény topping, but equally good with apples, blackberries, cherries. The recipe I used filled a gigantic baking tray and while proving and baking it kept spilling out around the edges. So I am giving you half the quantity as it will still be plenty to go around and enough for a normal size baking tin, causing less stress in the kitchen :-)

For the cake base:
350g plain flour
half packet (3,5g) dried yeast
pinch of salt
50g caster sugar
2 eggs
few drops of vanilla extract
few drops of almond extract
125 ml milk
50g butter

Blend the flour, yeast, salt and sugar together. Warm the milk a little and beat the eggs, add these to the flour mix together with the vanilla and almond extract. Knead it by hand or a machine until well mixed. Melt the butter and work this into the dough until it is a soft, smooth and springy texture. This will take 5-10 minutes. Cover with a damp tea towel and let it rest and double in size in a warm place for about 1-1,5 hours. Prepare the topping.

For the topping:
1,5kg plums
sugar to taste
1 tsp cinnamon

Wash and stone the plums, cut them into long quarters. Mix it with a few tablespoons of sugar and the cinnamon. Let it rest until needed.
When the dough is ready, knock it back on a floured surface and stretch it out by hand (or roll it out with a rolling pin) into a medium size rectangular baking tin. Arrange the plums on top, pressed slightly into the dough. I like to line them up overlapping, with pointy end sticking out of the dough - these will nicely caramelize while baking and the lines are easier to cut more neatly.
Let it rest and rise for another 30 min/1hr in a warm place. Preheat the oven to 180C and bake until cooked through for about 35-40 minutes. By this time your house will be filled with delicious, sweet cinnamony bread smell. When ready, cut them into slabs, dust with more sugar and serve warm. 

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Almás pite - Cinnamon apple squares


This is my Mum's recipe. She prefers a yeasty dough for the pastry as it makes this cake really light and it keeps fresh and soft for days. It is a perfect mid-afternoon autumnal treat with the warm scent of cinnamon and cooked apples. I used dessert apples as they need less sugar for stewing and we like their flavour. In Hungary it is served with just a dusting of icing sugar, but it would also be lovely with cream, fresh egg custard, creme fréche, sour cream or thick Greek yoghurt.

For the pastry:
500g plain flour
100 ml milk
20g fresh yeast or 7g (1packet) dried yeast
100g icing sugar
2 egg yolks
200g melted butter

Crumble the fresh yeast into the luke warm milk and leave to activate in a warm place for 15 minutes. If using dried yeast, add it straight to the flour. Sift the icing sugar and flour together, add the yeasty milk, egg yolks and knead it until well mixed. Add the melted butter gradually until it becomes smooth. Use a dough mixer or a bread maker for these first stages (you can leave dough to rise in bread mixers too). Cover it with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise - this could take an hour or more. In the meantime, make the filling.

For the filling:
2kg dessert apples, peeled and grated
5tbsp sugar (less or more to taste - depends on your taste buds and the sweetness of the apples)
1tsp ground cinnamon

Grate the apples by hand or a food processor and put them in a large heavy base saucepan with the sugar and cinnamon. Warm it slowly until the sugar dissolves then stew it with a lid on, until the apples have softened, very little juice left and it has become a soft, not soggy but creamy texture. This takes about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 6. When the dough is ready, knock it back and knead it for a minute on a floured surface. Devide into two and roll them out to the size of your greased baking tin (I used a 30cmx40cm tin). Lay the first sheet of pastry in the tin, sprinkle with semolina or breadcrumbs, this will stop the pastry going soggy from the filling. Spread the apple filling evenly on top then sprinkle with more semolina and place the second sheet of pastry on top. Give it an egg wash if you wish and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until it is a lovely golden colour. Leave it to cool completely in the tin - it is much easier to cut into neat squares when cooled down. Dust with icing sugar.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Vajas kifli - Butter half moons

Half moon shaped pastries are another staple in Hungarian bakeries. They can be sweet or savory, with or without fillings, but the best known is a plain butter kifli you would get with your continental breakfast, hot chocolate or morning coffee. The half moon shape is said to originate from the 16th century Turk's invasion of Central and Eastern Europe, when often the bakers working their night shifts would ring the bells and alert the people of Turkish troops aproaching the city. It became popular in many countries and of course the French have their own version the croissant! This kifli is made with a yeasty dough and is slightly on the sweet side, very light yet buttery. It's also very quick to make and you could add a piece of chocolate before rolling it to make it more of a sweet bite. But I also like it with a bit of butter and morello cherry jam. These are smaller bite size half moons, keep for quite sometime in an airtight container and perfect warmed up in the oven with a cup of coffee or tea for elevenses :-)

600g plain flour
400 ml milk
30g fresh yeast or 7g dried 
50g melted butter
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 220C. Warm the milk a little, dissolve the sugar and crumble the yeast into it, then leave to activate for 10-15 minutes in a warm place. Dried yeast can be added straight to the flour. Mix the flour, salt, yeasty milk until combined then gradually add the melted butter. Knead it for 5 minutes. This is best done in a mixer with a dough hook for quickest results. Cover with tea towel and rest in a warm place if you have time, but this is not necessary if you are in a hurry. 
Devide the dough into six pieces. Roll each one into a 25cm diameter circle and cut each circle into 8 slices. Roll each slice up from the flat end to the pointy end, create a half moon shape and lay on the baking sheet. Glaze them with a beaten egg before baking in the oven for 10 minutes.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Rebarbarás piskóta - Rhubarb cake

Rhubarb is a less known cake ingredient in Hungary, although it could be an easy vegetable to grow there too. It is however a favourite in the UK and seem to appear in our veg box a lot at the moment, so had to use it up. The summer rhubarb is a bit tougher than the early spring stems, so I chopped them up quite small and mixed it with sugar to soften and sweeten for several hours before baking. This also gave me a sweet and tangy juice that I reduced to a syrup for drizzling over the cake while it was still warm. The cake mix is one I learned to make at school when I must have been about 7 or 8 years old at our school's afternoon cooking club (technika óra keretén belül :-) Doesn't need any kitchen gadgets other than a mixing bowl and a wooden spoon - ideal for kids - and the sponge mix will rise every single time without collapsing on its way out of the oven. Of course if you must you can use a mixer, it will be a lot quicker! Use any summer fruits, cherries and berries. The most common one would be sour cherry (meggy) in Hungary. I have only seen bottled sour cherries here, but they are great too, ideal for winter cakes.

3 eggs
250 g icing sugar
450 g plain flour
150 ml milk
150 ml flavourless oil (groundnut or sunflower)
1 tbsp baking powder 
400 g rhubarb
few tablespoons of sugar for the rhubarb
1 tsp cinnamon

Wash and cut the rhubarb stems to 1cm slices. If the stems are really tough, you could peel them with a vegetable peeler. Sprinkle with a few tablespoons of sugar and the cinnamon then ideally let it sit around for a few hours. It's not essential though. 
Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 6. 
Beat the eggs with the sifted icing sugar until it is pale yellow and well mixed. Add the oil and the milk and mix well. Add the baking powder and slowly add the flour, mixing as you go so it doesn't get lumpy. Pour the mix into a lined baking tin, I usually use a large square one, and add the rhubarb but save the sweet juice from the bowl. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cooked through and it's not runny in the middle. 
While the cake is cooling, boil the sweet spicy juice in a pan until it becomes a slightly thicker syrup. Pierce the cake with a wooden skewer in a few places then drizzle the syrup over while it is still warm. This is an excellent afternoon cake to go with your tea and keeps well in the fridge for a few days.