Friday, 26 July 2013

Cherry and Lemon Cream Slice Cseresznyés Lepény

This is a lovely soft buttery pastry jewelled with sweet summer cherries and flavoured with kirsch or cherry liqueur. It's usually served just dusted with icing sugar but this time I added some home-made lemon curd to give it a tangy creaminess. You could serve it with lemon curd mixed with lightly whipped cream too or vanilla cream. Whatever you do it will be a delicious afternoon treat.

100g butter
125g vanilla infused caster sugar (or plain caster sugar and few drops of vanilla essence)
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1 tsp kirsch (optional)
1 tsp baking powder
200g refined white spelt flour (or plain flour)
grated zest of a lemon or a lime
100ml milk
400g cherries, stones removed

Preheat the oven to 180C. Mix the butter and sugar until smooth, light in colour and fluffy. Add the salt, lemon zest, kirsch, eggs and mix well until very smooth. Mix the baking powder with the flour and add it gradually to the mix also adding a little bit of the milk each time until all completely incorporated. Grease and line a 20x30cm brownie tray, pour in the cake mix and spread the cherries on top. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until cooked through. Cool and slice, dust with icing sugar. I cut each slice horizontally and spread a little lemon curd in the middle before sandwiching them together again. But it would be lovely to serve it with some lemon curd flavoured whipped cream too.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Elderflower cordial Bodzaszörp

This is a fragrant, lemony and not too sweet cordial made from the humble elderflower. Plenty to pick from June onwards and it still amazes me how many delicious things you can make with a flower that is free to forage and so abundant this time of year. Make sure you pick elderflowers from bushes protected from pollution, on a dry day. Only pick fully open flowers that have not yet started to drop their petals. Shake the heads so little insects can drop and escape from the flower heads, but don't wash them as it will also wash away some of the fragrant pollen that would give your cordial that distinct lovely scent and flavour. Try to use it as soon as you collected them.
This recipe is for a larger quantity and it makes about 4 litres of cordial. But do half the quantities if you like according to your needs.
I don't use citric acid in my cordials for preserving as I freeze the lot in smaller containers and defrost one at a time, this will keep in the fridge for a few days no problem.

2kg granulated sugar
50 elderflower heads (or more if you prefer a stronger flavour)
4 oranges, thinly sliced
4 lemons, thinly sliced
4 limes, thinly sliced

Put the sugar with 2.5 litres of water into a saucepan and gently heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Bring to the boil. Add the elderflower heads and bring back to the boil, then remove from the heat immediately. Put the sliced lemons, limes and oranges into a big bowl or large pot and pour over the hot elderflower syrup. Stir and let it cool. Cover and leave it to infuse for 24 hours. 
Strain through a fine sieve or muslin and store in small plastic bottles or containers in the freezer. If you wish to add citric acid, you will need 50g added at the stage where you mix the liquid with the citrus fruit.
Elderflower cordial makes a fantastic summer drink diluted with water or fizzy water or added to prosecco or champagne. You can boil it down to a thicker syrup too and use it for topping ice creams and puddings. Elderflower cordial can also be a base for ice cream, jellies, flavouring cakes or infusing strawberries in summer desserts. I recently made a lovely gluten free elderflower and blueberry almond cake from Scandilicious Baking it was really excellent. 
Don't forget to revisit these bushes in the autumn when the elderberries are ready to pick. They make excellent jams and preserves full of vitamin C. Here is the link to my favourite elderberry jam recipe.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Cherry Cake Cseresznyés Piskóta

A very easy and quick summer cake to make when there are plenty of fresh cherries around. Light as a feather and the almond sprinkling gives it a crunchy topping. Great with afternoon tea.
Cherry or morello cherry sponge cakes are very popular in Hungary and they are made in enormous trays. This is a smaller cake for a regular 23 cm spring form cake tin, but feel free to double the sponge mix if you wish to use a large baking tray.
I also baked a couple of excellent gluten free cakes recently which I will hopefully make again. Both made with ground almonds (or almond flour) and flavoured with elderflower/orange. That reminds me of sharing my recipe for elderflower cordial soon, it's high season for picking them at the moment!

4 eggs, whites and yolks separated
6 tbsp vanilla infused caster sugar (or plain caster sugar)
4 tbsp water
few drops of almond extract
8 tbsp wholemeal spelt flour (or plain flour)
1 tsp baking powder
two handfuls of fresh cherries, stoned
handful of sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 180C. Mix the egg yolks with the caster sugar until smooth and pale in colour. Add the water, almond extract and mix well. Add the baking powder and flour gradually and mix well. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form then fold in gently a spoonful at a time until all of it has been incorporated into the sponge mix and it has become light and airy. Pour the mix into a greased and lined spring form tin. Sprinkle over the cherries and then the almonds and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until cooked through and golden colour. Dust with icing sugar and serve with thick vanilla cream.


Saturday, 18 May 2013

Cherry and Almond Mini Loaves

I have been longing to use this mini loaf baking tray for a while and was trying to come up with a good bake to go with it. Looking through my leftover winter baking ingredients I found marzipan and glacé cherries that needed to be added to a cake at some point. The sponge mix recipe is the one I always bake but instead of caster sugar, I creamed the egg yolks with the marzipan. It's really quick to make and you could substitute the marzipan with ground almonds and caster sugar and add any other dried fruit too.

4 eggs separated
100g golden marzipan, chopped
8 heaped tbsp plain white spelt flour (or plain white flour)
4 tbsp water
2 tsp baking powder
few drops of almond extract
200g natural colour glacé cherries, chopped
confectioner's sugar to decorate

Preheat oven to 180C. Separate the eggs and mix the egg yolks with the marzipan until really smooth and creamy and pale in colour. Add the water and almond extract and mix until smooth again. Add the baking powder and mixing it slowly add the flour a spoonful at a time. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form and very gently fold into the sponge mix a third at a time and mix until light and fluffy. Do not over mix as the air will have to stay in the sponge to get it light. Add the cherries and gently mix, leave a small handful to scatter on top. Grease the baking tray with butter and line with baking parchment each one generously. Divide the mix between the mini loaf spaces, it should fill them 3/4 full. Scatter the rest of the cherries on top and sprinkle with white crystals of confectioner's sugar. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes. These loaves freeze well too. Defrost completely and crisp up in a hot oven for 5 minutes before serving.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Apple Cinnamon Muffins with Pecan Streusel Topping

Muffins are one of the things I never had much luck with before. The recipes I tried were always a little bit disappointing, never tasted as good or looked as plump as they were supposed to. Going back to classics, I had a look through my Delia Smith books and found her basic American muffin mix a really good one, plus she had quite a few ideas for toppings, which are really so trendy again. 
I love the crunchy streusel topping on her muffin cake, which I used in this recipe. It's a crumble mix made with sugar, butter, flour and nuts usually sprinkled on top of cakes in Germany, it gives an extra texture and nice rich looks to the muffins. I replaced the flour for spelt and made mine an apple-cinnamon version. All in all what can I say? Pippa Middleton eat your heart out, Delia Smith still rocks!

For 15 normal size muffins:
300g white spelt flour (or plain flour)
1level tbsp baking powder
half tsp salt
half tsp ground cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
220 ml milk
100 g melted butter, cooled to room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g apples, peeled and chopped into small cubes

For the topping:
75g demarara sugar
75g self raising flour (or plain flour with a pinch of baking powder)
25g butter, at room temperature
1 tsp ground cinnamon
50g chopped pecan nuts
1 tbsp cold water

The secret of a good fluffy and light muffin is in the mixing. You must never over-mix the ingredients. For this reason it is suggested to sift the dry ingredients twice so that you only have to mix the wet ingredients in very little. This stops the flour activating too much, so as long as there are no white clouds of flour in the mix, don't worry if it looks a bit on the lumpy side, it's fine.
Preheat oven to 200C, gas mark 6.
Sift the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon into a bowl. Mix the eggs, vanilla extract, milk and melted butter in another bowl until smooth. Then sift the flour mix into the egg mix again and fold in with a wooden spoon very gently 10-15 times. Fold in the chopped apples gently. Spoon the mix into muffin cases in a muffin tray just enough to fill the cases. Make the topping by rubbing the flour, cinnamon and butter together until crumbly. Add the sugar and the nuts, mix well then sprinkle the water over the mix and press it loosely together. Sprinkle this over the muffins generously and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, until cooked through. Cool on a wire rack.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Blueberry and Spelt Birthday Cake

I made this cake for our little one Leo's 2nd birthday last weekend. He loves blueberries and any cakes, so I wanted to make something special but not too sweet for him. He also has a bit of eczema problem and can't eat heavily creamy puddings, so I used creme fraiche instead of butter or cream filling. The sponge is a standard one I use for many recipes, you add the same number of tablespoons of water and sugar as the number of eggs you use and double number of tablespoons of flour. You can then reduce or increase the quantity as you wish. I learned it from a friend's Mum, she told me a little rhyme to remember it for the rest of my life :-) It goes like this: "Ahány tojás annyi víz, dupla cukor, dupla liszt" In this rhyme you might notice she adds more sugar (!) but I half this for my recipes these days. 

3 eggs, whites and yolks separated
3 tbsp water
3 tbsp caster sugar
6 tbsp wholemeal spelt flour (or plain flour)
1 heaped tsp baking powder
few drops of vanilla extract

For filling and decorating:
icing sugar
blueberry jam
300 ml creme fraiche
fresh blueberries
chopped pistachios

Preheat the oven to 180C. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Mix the egg yolks with the sugar until completely smooth and pale in colour. Add the water and vanilla extract and mix well. Add the baking powder and the flour gradually and mix well again. Using a wooden spoon, very gently fold in the egg whites so that all the air is incorporated and the sponge mix is light and fluffy. Pour into a lined 20 cm cake tin and bake for 30-40 minutes until cooked through. Let it cool on a wire rack then slice into two discs. Beat the creme fraiche with 3 tbsp icing sugar until it resembles soft peaks of double cream, but add more sugar if you like it sweeter. Spread the blueberry jam and the creme fraiche on one half of the cake, place the other half on top. Sprinkle the top with icing sugar, pile some more creme fraiche on top and arrange the blueberries in the middle. Sprinkle with the chopped pistachios and serve the remaining creme fraiche on the side.

Sweet Milk Loaf Fonott Tejes Kalács

As I was toasting the last of the sweet milk loaf I made this Easter, it reminded me how much I wanted to share this recipe. Sweet milk loaves or Kalács you can buy in Hungary all year round, but has a particular significance around Easter. It's perfect with the smoked cured ham for Easter Sunday breakfast but also freezes really well and ready to eat later on with butter and jam, like we did. Braiding the many strands of this loaf can be daunting but I found some excellent video tutorials on YouTube and will include in the recipe below. There are choices of how many strands you want to braid, less is a bit easier, but this one is made with 6 strands and was not too complicated to do at all. Also I think this is a great dough to use for braiding, it keeps its shape and beautiful shiny strands while baking. This is a lovely breakfast bread to make all year round, if you like a brioche, you will love this kalács too! I used refined spelt flour in this recipe as I have been using it for most of my baking recently, but plain white flour is also fine to use.

250ml double cream
50g butter
1 egg
1 egg white
500g refined spelt flour (or plain flour)
pinch of salt
3 tbsp caster sugar
1 packet of dried yeast (7g)
1 egg yolk for glazing

Warm the cream and butter until completely melted and allow to cool to room temperature.
Sift the flour, sugar, salt, yeast into a bowl. Add the beaten egg and the egg white and mix well. 
Add the warm milk and butter mix and knead for about 10 minutes or until you get a smooth, elastic dough that comes away from the sides of the bowl.  Cover and let it prove in a warm place for 1 to 2 hrs or until doubles in size. When ready to braid, divide the dough into 6 and roll them into a 40cm long strand each. Bunch them at the top, arrange them into a fan shape and start braiding. Study this tutorial from YouTube before you have a go. This is what mine looked like after braiding:

When ready, let it prove in a warm place until you warm the oven to 180C. Glaze the loaf with the beaten egg yolk and bake for about 30 minutes or until golden and cooked through.
Delicious eaten fresh, but also freezes well and it is perfect toasted for breakfast.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Ízes Bukta

Bukta is a light and mildly sweet dough filled with firm jam and baked snugly in the oven to be shared with friends around the table. The most traditional jam to use is the creamy, smooth aromatic prune jam szilvalekvár. It's not easy to get hold of it in the UK and I was lucky that my husband bought me something similar in France on his last trip. It would be equally tasty to use any other type of jam that is not too runny. Or even whole fruits like blackberries instead of jam would be delicious. I made mine with refined (white) spelt flour, but it's easy to replace it with plain flour. Spelt is healthier, lighter and more digestible and I really liked working with the spelt dough. Serve this warm or cool with some home made vanilla sauce or custard or cream.

500g white spelt flour (or ordinary white flour)
1 packet (7g) dried yeast
50g icing sugar
60g butter
300 ml milk
2 egg yolks
pinch of salt

creamy smooth prune jam for filling (or other jam of your choice)
butter for brushing
icing sugar for dusting

Start by heating up the milk with the butter until melted and almost boiling, then let it cool to lukewarm temperature. This process of scalding the milk will make your dough lighter and mixed with the melted butter, easier to work into the dry ingredients. Sift the flour, sugar, salt, yeast into a bowl and mix well. Add the egg yolks, warm buttery milk and mix with a wooden spoon or a dough hook until you get a smooth dough that comes away from the side of the dish. Cover and allow it to double in size in a warm place. This takes about an hour. Take the dough and gently knead it over on a floured surface. Roll out to about 1cm thickness and cut it up to 8cm squares. Put a teaspoon of jam on each one and roll them up into a ball or cylinder shape, tucking the sides in. Place them snug into a greased 23 cm cake tin and brush with melted butter. Preheat oven to 180C. Let them prove until the oven is warming up. Bake until they are cooked through and golden on top. In my oven this took about 40 minutes and I covered the top with tinfoil halfway through to stop it colour too much. Let it cool in the tin and dust with plenty of icing sugar. Serve with cream or warm vanilla sauce.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Darázsfészek Walnut Bun Cake

Variations on this tasty treat can be found all over Europe. In Hungarian it literally translates "wasp's nest" and is usually made with walnuts, cocoa or cinnamon. Makes a great brunch or delicious breakfast buns but it's also great as a celebration cake to have around any holidays or take it to your friend's house as a present. It can be baked in a round tin or a square roasting tray but make sure the dish is deep enough for the buns to rise. A couple of things make this cake really soft and fluffy, one of them is scalding the milk with the butter before adding it cooled down to the dough. And the other is brushing the buns with hot sweet milk while they are baking. This will also add a lovely shiny glow to its finish. This quantity will fill a large 30x40 baking dish. But I wanted to make round cakes so I used a 23cm round and a smaller 20cm cake tin. It freezes well if you are not likely to finish the whole lot in a hurry. Best served with fresh vanilla custard.

For the dough:
500g plain flour
7g dried yeast
50g icing sugar
60g butter
200ml milk
pinch of salt
3 eggs, beaten

200g walnuts, ground to a coarse breadcrumb texture with a food processor
100g butter
100g icing sugar

For the top:
150ml milk
50g granulated sugar
few drops of vanilla extract

First make the dough. Heat up the milk with the butter until almost boiling, then let it cool to room temperature. Sift the flour, yeast, icing sugar, salt into a bowl and mix well.  Add the beaten eggs and then the lukewarm milky butter mix. Mix thoroughly and knead for 10-15 minutes until the dough comes off the sides of the dish. Either leave in a warm place to double in size for about an hour, or leave it in the fridge overnight for slow cold fermenting like I did. You achieve the same result but the latter gives you a more stable, more digestible and easier to handle dough that will be ready for baking in the morning. When you are ready to bake, bring the dough to room temperature for 30 minutes if it's in the fridge. Knead it briefly on a floured surface, then divide into two. Roll out each to a 30x40cm rectangle shape. Brush it with melted butter, sprinkle with icing sugar and walnut equally divided between the two. Roll up from the longer end and cut up into 5cm discs. You will get around 16-18 buns. Place them into a buttered baking dish or cake tin, loosely next to each other and put the tin(s) in the oven, then switch the oven on 180C/gas mark 4. While the oven is warming up, the buns will have time to prove once again. From that point it takes around 30 minutes to bake them ready, during which time you can warm up the milk with the sugar and vanilla until almost boiling, and brush the buns with the milk as soon as they start to colour a couple of times while baking. My oven is really fierce so I covered the cakes with tinfoil once they reached a nice golden colour. It is done when the testing skewer comes out clean. Leave it to cool on a wire rack and it will keep fresh for a couple of days or also freezes well. Defrost thoroughly and warm up in the oven for 5 minutes before serving it with fresh vanilla custard.


Friday, 22 February 2013

Seville Orange Marmalade Narancs lekvár

January and February are the best months to buy really good Seville oranges which are the best suited for making marmalade. This has been a craze for many over the past few years and I have made far too many bottles which often become presents to give away. Can't beat a really good home made marmalade though and this recipe is the best one I used so far, it's based on the one from Sarah Raven's Garden Cookbook. Not too sweet and I cut mine quite fine as nobody in my family likes a chunky cut.

2kg Seville oranges
4kg granulated sugar
tsp salt
juice of 2 lemons

Wash the oranges and put them whole into a large pan with 3 litres of water and the salt. Bring to the boil and gently simmer until the oranges are very soft, this takes at least about an hour. Reserve the liquid, half the oranges, scooping out the pith and pips into a saucepan. Add 300ml water to this and simmer for another 10 minutes. This releases more setting agents from the pips. Slice the orange skin as thin or as chunky as you like to eat it and add to the reserved liquid, together with the strained liquid from the pith and pips. Add lemon juice, sugar and gently warm up and stir until dissolves. Bring to a rapid boil and keep it there until setting point is reached. You can check this by putting a teaspoon of jam on a fridge cold plate and if it wrinkles and jam like, it is ready. If not, carry on boiling it for a bit longer. I find this can very quite a lot. When ready, take it off the heat and rest for 15-20 minutes to let the fruit bits settle, this will stop everything floating straight to the top of the filled jars. Skim the scum from the surface while cooling, although this is only air bubbles created during boiling, so not essential. Give it a stir and fill up your warm, sterilised jars.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Nigella's Lemon and Almond Cake

We all love lemon and almonds in our house and I often make this cake as it's simple and doesn't need too many ingredients. The recipe is from Nigella Lawson's 'How to be a domestic goddess'. 
It's still winter and the height of citrus season hence this cake made it to my blog even though it's not very Hungarian in origin, probably more Middle Eastern. Must warn you it has a lot of butter in it, but on the bright side it has hardly any flour. In fact I think you could probably substitute it with more ground almonds to make it absolutely gluten free.
You only need one bowl for mixing, it's quick and stays moist and delicious for days. We served it with creme fraiche and the saffron poached pears I posted earlier they pair up really well with almonds.

225g soft unsalted butter
225g caster sugar
4 eggs
50g plain flour
225g ground almonds
half tsp almond extract
grated zest and juice of 2 lemons

Preheat oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Cream together the butter and sugar until almost white. Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a bit of the flour after each one. When it's all really well mixed, gently fold in the ground almonds, almond extract, lemon zest and juice. Pour the mix into a greased and lined spring form cake tin (21-23cm) and bake for about an hour until firm, cooked through and the testing skewer comes out clean. You may need to cover it with foil halfway through if your oven is too fierce and the top colours too much. When ready, let it cool, take it out of the tin and wrap in tin foil and it will keep for several days. According to Nigella this cake will be best left for a couple of days, but we tried it the next day. Dust it with icing sugar before serving with cream, creme fraiche, berries or whatever takes your fancy.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Cinnamon pancakes with blueberry compote

If you are a bit like me and you can't get your head around savoury pancakes, maybe it's best to stick with the tried and tested. I made these thick, American style pancakes yesterday for Shrove Tuesday when I had a friend around for lunch. The batter recipe is broadly adapted from Scandilicious cinnamon spelt pancakes, but as I had the main ingredient spelt flour missing, I had to use ordinary plain flour instead. The cinnamon gives it a delicious taste and a darker colour you would get from the spelt flour. Will definitely want to try spelt next time, it is meant to be much more digestable and healthy which is not a bad thing. Served it with Greek yoghurt and home made blueberry compote, which was perfect, really easy and quick to make. A good way of making tasteless winter blueberries more than edible. The leftover compote can be used on porridge in the morning. 

Now another great thing about this pancake batter is that you can make too much and keep it in the fridge for a couple of days, which takes you to Valentine's Day. I made some mini pancakes today using little heart shaped cookie cutters and dusted them with icing sugar. This recipe is a definite keeper and will be well used for nice lazy Sunday morning brunches in the future.    

400g plain flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp salt
2tbsp caster sugar
2tsp cinnamon
350ml whole milk
50ml plain yoghurt
50g melted butter
2 eggs
oil for frying

Blueberry compote:
500g fresh blueberries
4tbsp caster sugar

Mix together the dry ingredients for the batter. Add the wet ingredients and mix well until smooth. It should be a thick cream consistency. Let it rest for at least 30 minutes.
Make the blueberry compote, put all the blueberries and sugar in a pan and bring it to the boil. Cook for a few minutes until the berries pop then simmer for a few more minutes to thicken the sauce a little. You can add less or more sugar to taste, depending on the sweetness of the blueberries. If you like it with a lemony taste, squeeze a bit of lemon juice into the sauce.
Heat a pancake pan or frying pan to medium, add little drop of oil to the pan and fry a small ladleful of batter at a time and not too thick, they will rise while cooking. Give it a couple of minutes each side and serve warm with Greek yoghurt and the blueberry compote.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Vanilla poppy seed cake Mákos Pite

As long as you have a packet of poppy seeds on hand, this is an easy winter store cupboard cake. You need to grind the black poppy seeds with  a spice or coffee grinder before making the creamy poppy seed paste for the filling. A very popular pie-shaped (or square tin shaped) cake all over Eastern Europe, Germany, Austria and a really great afternoon treat with your tea or coffee. This is made with a quick shortcrust pastry and a creamy vanilla and lemon scented sweet poppy filling. Add dried fruit to the filling if you wish, sultanas, prunes, cherries or small pieces of quince jelly are delicious mixed in. Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche or whipped cream.

For the pastry:
300g plain or wholemeal flour
150g butter, cut into cubes
pinch of salt
2 tbsp sour cream or creme fraiche

For the filling:
150g ground black poppy seeds
50g sugar
50g semolina
200ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract or scraped out seeds of a vanilla pod
grated zest of a lemon
1 egg white
1tbsp sultanas

1 egg yolk for glazing

Make the shortcrust pastry quickly by putting all ingredients into a food processor and mixing until a pastry ball is formed. If you are doing it by hand, crumble the cold butter and the flour together between your fingers until you get a fine crumble texture. Add the salt and sour cream and knead into a firm dough. Make the filling by heating the milk with the sugar and vanilla until almost boiling. Take it off the heat and add the ground poppy seeds, semolina, lemon zest, sultanas, stir until well mixed. Let it cool to room temperature. Beat the egg white until firm peaks form then gently fold into the poppy mix. Preheat the oven to 180C. Divide the pastry into two and roll out the first one to the shape of your greased or lined tart case or baking tin. I used a 24cm loose bottom tart case. Place the pastry in the tin, pour in the filling and roll out the other pastry to cover the filling. Press down along the edges and cut the excess pastry off neatly. Brush the top with the egg yolk and bake for about 40 minutes or until all the pastry and filling is cooked, check this with a wooden skewer. Let it cool and dust with icing sugar.   

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Easy ricotta doughnuts Túrófánk

February is the awaited doughnut (fánk) season in Hungary. There are lots of Farsang parties and fancy dress parties for the kids the whole month. There is no such celebration without some form of the deep fried sugary goodness of doughnut and it is always something to look forward to! There are lots of different types, but the most loved one is the Viennese style yeasty dough doughnut I made last week. It is a tricky one and it didn't turn out as attractive as it should, although my family still polished it off! It needs more practise! But there is a much easier and lighter doughnut made with curd cheese túró hence its name túrófánk. Here in England I make it with ricotta and it's just perfect. There is no yeast involved so it is much quicker and no anxiety over collapsing dough and shapeless end result. And it's a lovely light dessert with the scent of vanilla and lemon, you can serve with apricot jam traditionally or with anything that takes your fancy. My family suggested chocolate, dulce di leche, whipped cream filling, all sound delicious. This quantity makes 25 golf ball size doughnuts and they are great as a dessert or brunch or an afternoon snack. 

250g ricotta cheese
3 eggs
2tbsp caster sugar
150g plain flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp grated lemon zest
few drops of vanilla extract

sunflower oil for frying
caster sugar to coat
apricot jam to serve

Beat the eggs and the caster sugar, add the ricotta, vanilla extract, lemon zest and mix well. Add the bicarbonate of soda and the flour and mix until smooth. Let it rest for 30 to an hour. Heat the oil to medium temperature, I used a smallish pan with about 3cm of oil so not really deep frying, but enough to give a good depth for the doughnuts. With the help of a couple of teaspoons, scoop and drop little dough balls into the oil and fry for 2-3 minutes each side until dark golden doughnut colour and cooked through. Lift onto kitchen paper and roll around in a ball of caster sugar. I filled them with apricot jam or serve it on the side.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Cardamom rice soufflé cakes Rizskók tortácskák

Rizskók or rizskoch is usually a sweet rice soufflé baked in a large baking tray in the oven, then cut up into squares and served with a drizzle of raspberry cordial or jam. It's the typical school dinner pudding and afternoon treat from my childhood and it was always delicious as it was. I wanted to improve the recipe by using nice arborio rice with one or two things I love with rice and milky puddings. An addition of ground cardamom and topping the cakes with cinnamon roasted red plum compote is just so much more wintry and warming. Using little cake moulds, cups, muffin or tart cases  make them look a lot more appealing, but it would be just fine in a tray or cake tin too. 

120g arborio risotto rice
500ml milk
25g butter
half tsp ground cardamom
half tsp lemon zest
few drops of vanilla extract
50g caster sugar
2 eggs, yolks and whites separated

Melt the butter in a pan, add the rice and stir it around gently so it's all coated. Add the cardamom, lemon zest, vanilla extract, sugar and gradually start adding the milk as if you were making a risotto. Try not to stir the rice too much, just move it around slightly, adding more milk as the rice soaks it up while cooking. It should be cooked but not mushy, a creamy texture with a scent of cardamom. Let it cool down. Preheat the oven to 180C. Beat the egg yolks and mix it with the rice when it is cool or just lukewarm. Beat the egg whites until stiff then gently fold it into the rice, making sure it stays airy and light. Fill your greased cake moulds with the rice mix or spread into a lined baking tray and bake for 20-30 minutes until cooked through and lightly coloured. Stick a wooden skewer into the centre, it should come out clean.
For the topping I cut 8 red plums into quarters, sprinkled with cinnamon and 50g sugar, mix and roast in the oven at 180C for 20-40 minutes depending on the ripeness of the fruit. It should be soft and the juices syrupy when ready. Drizzle this over the cakes and dust with icing sugar.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Kakaós Csiga Chocolate Swirl Buns

Another pastry stall staple from Hungary, these chocolate swirls are everyone's favourites and keeping many students happy on their way to school or uni. Great with your morning coffee too replacing the usual pain au chocolat or croissant. I made the dough with slow, overnight cold fermenting in the fridge again. This seems to make the pastry much more digestible and so much easier to work with. Of course you can prove it in a warm place until it doubles in size which is much quicker, but overnight proving seems to fit in with our daily routines so much better at the moment. The dough is always ready for rolling and baking in the morning or whenever you are ready to bake. Take it out of the fridge 30 minutes before rolling and shaping to allow it to come to room temperature.

For the dough:
500g plain flour
7g dried yeast
pinch of salt
3 tbsp caster sugar
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
250ml milk
80g butter

For the filling and glazing:
unsweetened plain cocoa powder
icing sugar
50g butter
200 ml milk
1 tsp caster sugar
few drops of vanilla extract

Scald the milk with the butter by heating it until almost boiling then leave it to cool to a lukewarm temperature. This will make the pastry nice and soft when done. While the milk is cooling, sift the dry ingredients for the dough together in a mixing bowl, mix well, add the beaten egg and yolk, and mix in the lukewarm buttery milk. Knead it for about 10 minutes until feels doughy and the dough comes away from the side of the bowl. If you are leaving it to prove in the fridge overnight, place the dough in a lightly oiled large plastic bag and put in the fridge. Alternatively you can leave in a warm place for 1-2 hours or until doubles in size.
When ready to bake, allow the dough to come to room temperature then roll out into a rectangle shape on a floured surface to about 1cm thickness. Brush it generously with melted butter and sprinkle with the cocoa until it is completely covered and no pastry is showing. Repeat the same with the icing sugar. This is best done with a small sieve. Roll it up from the long end so you have a long cylinder. Cut 1cm thick slices and place these swirls on a lined baking sheet spaced well apart. Let it prove in a warm place until you heat the oven to 180C. Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through. Heat the milk with the sugar and vanilla extract and as soon as the buns are out of the oven, brush them generously with the hot milk. This will give a soft and fluffy finish to the pastry. Cool on a wire rack. They freeze well too, when frozen, allow to come to room temperature before eating and warm up in a hot oven for 5 minutes.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Cardamom almond twists

I have become a huge fan of Scandinavian baking and desperately trying to find a connection with Hungarian baking to fit in with this blog. Well both regions have an undeniable love of baked goods and seem to eat a lot of sweet pastries so that is it. Having discovered the scandi style cardamom scented dough that tends to often have an almond paste filling in the end product (check Ikea food halls if you have not tasted them before), I wanted to do more of the same flavour. These cardamom almond twists remind me of the Kringle wreath I made before Christmas, it is from the same book Scandilicious Baking. This is the first time I made a cold fermented dough, left to prove overnight in the fridge. The end result was a really easy to handle dough with the perfect texture, so I will try this again. Saves time having to wait around hours for the dough to prove. This recipe makes 20 twists and they freeze well too. Thaw them completely before eating and warm up in an oven for 5 minutes, they will be soft and fresh tasting, a great little bite to go with your coffee on a cold winter day. I took the last two post's pictures outside in the snow, it was such a treat afterwards to finish off the hot chocolate with one of these twists!

For the dough:
325ml whole milk
50g butter
500g plain flour
75g caster sugar
1,5 tsp ground cardamom 
2tsp fine sea salt
7g dried yeast
1 egg, beaten

75g soft butter
50g ground almonds
50g marzipan (or Scandinavian almond paste if available)
50g caster sugar
3tbsp créme fraiche
1tsp vanilla extract
pinch of fine sea salt

To finish:
1 egg, beaten for egg wash
flaked almonds for sprinkling

To make the dough first scald the milk with the butter by heating it until almost boiling. Let it cool to lukewarm temperature. This according to Signe gives a softer finish to the buns. Sift the dry ingredients together, mix, add the beaten egg and the warm milk and knead until you get a good slightly sticky dough. Place in a large lightly oiled plastic bag in the fridge overnight to cold ferment. (I imagine you could prove the dough in a warm place for 1-2 hrs until doubles in size to replace overnight fermenting). When ready to bake, let the dough come to room temperature and in the meantime make the almond filling. Mix all the filling ingredients in a food processor until it is a creamy almond paste. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to a 30x50cm rectangle. Spread the filling evenly on one half length ways and fold the other half over (so now you have 15x50cm rectangle) pressing the edges down to seal in the filling. A little water might help sticking them down. Using a sharp knife cut the dough into about 20 strips. Pick them up one at a time, twist the ends in opposite direction 3 times, make a round shape, tucking the end under and placing them on a lined baking sheet. When all done, place them in a warm place to rest and rise for another 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180C, glaze the twists with a beaten egg, sprinkle with flaked almonds and bake for 20 minutes or until golden and cooked through and sound hollow when tapped on the base.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Cardamom and saffron poached pears

We eat a lot of poached pears, apples and plums in winter and try to ignore the tasteless imported berries and other summer fruit. Seasonal winter fruit such as pears tend to be rather under ripe on supermarket shelves but they lend themselves to poaching perfectly. In fact you can poach any slightly unripe fruit with a bit of sugar and warming spices. They transform our winter breakfast porridge into something really special. I make this saffron poached pear every week, it's quick with a delicious scent of cardamom and a fabulous deep yellow colour from the saffron, great with breakfast or add it to vanilla ice cream. I adapted the original recipe from Darina Allen, she makes it with tons more sugar to make it a scented syrup. For us that would just be too ridiculously puddingy for breakfast, so I only add a tablespoon of sugar to the poaching juices. This is perfectly enough as the pears also give it a natural sweetness. How does it fit in with the Hungarian theme? Poached or preserved fruit has always been part of our diet back home, there was little choice of fresh fruit in winter. Poached fruit has always had a bit of a plain and boring quality about them, mainly in the form of overcooked apple compote. But I discovered spices like cardamom, star anise, cloves, cinnamon bark, saffron can make a huge difference to flavour and colour. Adding red plums to any poaching fruit will transform the whole dish to a beautiful claret red. As you can tell I am a big fan of poached fruit and there will be more to come in this topic :-)

6 pears
500ml water
1 tbsp caster sugar
lemon rind and some juice
small pinch of saffron
6 cardamom pods, crushed

Bring the water, sugar, cardamom, few strips of lemon rind, tbsp of lemon juice and pinch of saffron gently to the boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Peel the pears with a potato peeler, cut them in half length ways, core them, leaving the stalks on. Place them into the poaching liquid cut side down and gently simmer for 10-15 minutes then turn over and simmer for the same time. The poaching time depends on the ripeness of the fruit. If the pears are softer and more ripe, they will take less time to poach. If you can easily insert a knife into the pears, they are ready. By this time the juices have also reduced to a sweeter more syrupy liquid and the pears taken on a deep golden colour. If the fruit takes longer to poach, keep an eye on the syrup ad top it up with a little boiling water if need to. When ready, cool it down and keep it in the fridge. Serve it with porridge, birchers muesli, yoghurt, chopped nuts or as a dessert with  ice cream and drizzle with chocolate.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Lovely Lamingtons Kókuszos Kocka

Our recent trip down under made me realise one of my favourite childhood treats the chocolate coconut squares are one of Australia's national dishes! Although the Hungarian version often has honey in the sponge mix, this one is a great store cupboard afternoon cake that can be ready in an hour. I made a small batch of sponge with wholemeal self-raising flour this time as that was all I had left in my cupboard. But feel free to use plain flour and add more baking powder.

Sponge mix:
4 eggs, whites and yolks separated
5tbsp caster sugar
8tbsp self-raising wholemeal flour
1tsp baking powder
4tbsp water
few drops of vanilla extract

For the coating:
150ml full fat milk
40g plain cocoa powder
40g butter
200g caster sugar
dessicated coconut

Preheat oven to 180C. To make the sponge base, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until smooth and pale colour. Add the vanilla extract and water, mix well. Gradually add the flour and baking powder. Beat the egg whites until firm peaks form and fold into the sponge mix gently to keep it light and airy. Bake in a lined baking tray (I used a 20x30cm brownie tray) for 20-25 minutes until cooked through. Cool on a wire rack then cut into small squares about 4x4cm. 
Make the chocolate coating. Put the milk, cocoa powder, sugar, butter into a bowl and gently heat over a pan of simmering water. Stir and mix as it melts together. When all smooth, take it off the heat and dip the sponge cubes into the chocolate sauce with the help of a fork. Roll it around on a plate of dessicated coconut until covered all over then place on a tray to cool and set completely. This will keep fresh for a few days.