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.