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.