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.