Tag Archives: yeast

Romanian Cozonac, Hungarian Kalacs/Beigli or Ukrainian Babka

Whether you call it cozonac, kalacs/beigli, or babka, this sweet bread filled with ground nuts (usually walnuts), poppy seeds, raisins or even rahat/lokum (a gummy middle eastern candy known in the west as ‘Turkish delight’) is served at Easter and Christmas in many eastern European countries. I can’t remember my mom ever making this though, knowing her difficulties with yeast based baking, it’s unlikely. However, I HAVE eaten it at Romanian and Hungarian church and community center bake sales.

Poppy seed isn’t a filling I’ve used often so I thought I’d give it a try for a change of pace. I bought a fresh, one pound bag at the grocery store, even though I’ve got a couple pounds, at least, in the freezer downstairs. I’m not quite sure how long it’s been there. Several years at least, I think, so I didn’t want to take a chance that the poppy seeds were stale.

I followed the shaping instructions on one of the web sites I researched which said to fold in the ends of the roll but I wasn’t happy with the ‘knobs’. Next time, I’ll risk the filling oozing out and leave them open.

The end piece … dough is nice and fluffy, or as they say in Romanian, pufos.

Cozonac cu Mac (Cozonac Filled with Poppy Seed) – 1.14 kg (2 1/2 lb) of dough, makes 2 11 by 14 inch rolls

For the Filling

200 gm ground poppy seeds
100 gm of sugar
150 ml of milk
1 tsp butter
1 pkt vanilla sugar
1 tbsp of lemon zest (reduce to 1 tsp)

For the Dough

4-5 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup milk, warmed to 80 deg F
2 tsp active dry yeast
3 eggs, 1 egg divided
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp freshly grated lemon zest (optional)
1 tsp salt

NOTE (12/10/2017): used ~2 tsp grated lemon zest, increased butter to 4 tbsp, used close to 5 cups of flour

Making the Filling

Mix the ground poppy seeds, milk, butter and sugar and bring to the boil over medium heat. Cook until a creamy composition is obtained, about 5 min, while stirring constantly. Add vanilla and lemon peel and leave to cool.

Making the Dough

In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cup of flour, warm milk, sugar, and yeast. Cover the mixture and place it in a warm place for 25-30 minutes, until bubbly.

Separate ONE of the eggs, placing the white in a separate bowl and setting it aside. (White is whisked until frothy and used later to brush the bread before it goes into the oven.)

Once the flour and yeast mixture is nice and bubbly, mix in the 2 eggs and one egg yolk.

Add 2 1/2 cups of flour, the soft butter, vanilla, lemon zest and salt. Mix until the dough starts to come together. Then, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it until it is smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes, adding only as much of the remaining 1 cup of flour as is necessary to keep it from sticking to your hands.

(Alternately, you can mix the dough in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook for 2-3 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic, adding flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to the sides of the bowl.)

Place the dough into a clean, well greased bowl and cover it with a damp tea towel. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft free place until it has roughly tripled in bulk, about 1 1/2-2 hours.

Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it a few times. Divide the dough in half.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured working surface and roll out into a rectangle about 11 inches by 14 inches. Spread with half the poppy seed filling to 1/2 an inch from the edge.

Roll the dough and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with the second portion of dough and filling.

Cover with a lightly oiled sheet of food wrap or a damp towel and let rise until doubled.

Preheat the oven to 375 deg F.

Beat the reserved egg white and brush over each of the two loaves. Bake for 45-50 minutes until set and the top is golden brown. Check after 15-20 minutes and if the top seems to be browning too quickly, cover with a large sheet of aluminum foil and continue baking. Rotate the baking sheet half way through the bake.

Let cool completely before cutting.

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Home Made Bagels and Lox

I got a craving for bagels and lox when I saw smoked salmon on sale in this week’s grocery flyer.

There’s nothing like fresh, home made bagels so I made a batch. But, since it had been about five years since I last made them, I forgot a few things. Like DON’T make a larger size than this particular recipe calls for. Don’t crowd the bagels when boiling cause they grow and deform each other. And use the ball/poke method for shaping. The sealed rope method has a tendency to come undone while you’re boiling your bagels … no matter how well you think you sealed the two ends.

Large sized (75-80 gm) bagels using the sealed rope method (8 inch long rope)

   

 

Small size (50-55 gm) bagels, poke your floured index finger into the center of the ball of dough and then stretch the hole in the middle to create a hole that’s about 1/2-3/4 inch in diameter. The holes will close up a bit while boiling.

 

The results were worth the effort.

I let the larger bagels bake a bit too long, I think.

Early October Wrap Up

I haven’t had a lot of inspiration for cooking in the last couple of weeks, and I’m just getting over a bad cold. A woman’s got to eat, however. Luckily, I threw a few things together before it got too bad.

I used the same basic dough recipe that I made those pumpkin and kaiser-shaped rolls with, but I left out the ground oats and threw in an egg and 1/4 cup of sugar. About 1/3 of the dough (300 gm) was rolled out and cut into six strips to wrap around Jumbo hot dogs … for pigs in blankets.

NOTE: Shaping and baking instructions found at link above.

I was going to make caramel rolls with some of the remaining dough but it turned out I didn’t have any caramel sauce in the fridge (just fudge sauce). So I got creative with the leftover cranberry sauce in my fridge and some quince jam from the pantry.

  

I transferred some of the cranberry sauce onto the quince jam portion, cause there was just too much sauce to roll up without it all oozing out. Originally, I was going to make two distinct fillings.

Icing sugar, softened butter and milk glaze

Close-up of crumb inside the rolls

Pantry chili with veggies from the crisper drawer and canned small red kidney beans and diced tomatoes (with herbs and spices). Served over or with those piggy buns.

   

Pasta is always a quick meal like this Shrimp aglio e olio over leftover linguine.  Sometimes finely minced garlic sauteed in olive oil is all you need to dress your pasta. And a sprinkle of pepperoncini (dry hot red pepper flakes). Cooking the pasta takes longer than cooking the shrimp and making the sauce.

Brunch – I love fried eggs over easy and bacon. For breakfast, lunch OR dinner. And some sort of dairy … like cottage cheese, or cream cheese if I can’t get that. Sometimes I pile it on top of toasted home made bread.

  

Red pepper hummus with home made sourdough tortillas for a quick snack or part of brunch

There’s still the weekend left for more cooking, but I think I’ll wrap things up here.

Slow Weekend for Cooking … Soup, Bread, Mayonnaise and Hummus

Parts of the world need rain but here, in south-western Ontario, we’ve had rain 4 out of the last 5 days, including this weekend. A bit of sun would be greatly appreciated. Since I have lots of food in the freezer, I decided to take a break from cooking … though I did want to use up the last few leaves of kale in my crisper, and some of the sweet peppers I bought on sale (4-pack for $1.88) since areas were getting ‘soft’. The carrots are getting a bit tired too. And, for a change of pace, I soaked some white quinoa to add to the soup in place of rice, potatoes or pasta/noodles.

The result, a Veggie, Turkey and Quinoa soup with the tiny bit of turkey breast left in the fridge after eating it for most of the past week.

If you have some diced tomatoes (canned or fresh) or marinara sauce, you can add that to the soup as well. I just had some tomato paste, so, with that, dried thyme and chicken stock, I made this delicious soup.

Work lunches need bread and since I prefer buns, I made a batch of yeast dough and played with the shaping. Some of it ended up as kaiser rolls (~70 gm) and the rest … well, with Halloween and Thanksgiving (US) ahead, and the Canadian one behind, I shaped some of the dough into pretty little pumpkins (~50 gm) with a whole clove for a stem. For a bit of texture/nutrition/fun, I added a cup of finely ground and sifted rolled oats in the dough in place of a cup of all purpose flour.

Rolled Oats Flour Bread

 

Rolled Oats/Ground Oatmeal Bread – makes ~840 gms of dough

1 cup milk, scalded
2 tbsp butter
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
2 tbsp sugar, divided
1/4 cup warm water
4 cups flour (1 cup rolled oats, fine ground and ~3 cups AP flour), divided
1 tsp salt

Scald the milk in a pyrex measuring cup in the microwave. Stir in the butter and let cool until just barely warm.

In a small bowl, combine the warm water and 1 tsp out of the total sugar. Stir in or sprinkle on the dry yeast. Let sit in a warm place to proof until the yeast is nice and foamy (5-10 min).

In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of the finely ground rolled oats, 1 cup of the flour and the salt.

Whisk in the warm milk mixture and the proofed yeast. Beat well with a wooden spoon until you have a smooth batter. Gradually stir in the rest of the flour, starting with about 1/3 of a cup at a time, until it’s too thick to stir and forms a ball around your wooden spoon.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, using part of the reserved flour. Knead for about 10 minutes. Cover with the mixing bowl, and let rest for about 5 min. Continue kneading for another 5 minutes until you have a firm but supple dough. Shape the dough into a round ball.

Add a couple of tsp of vegetable oil to a large bowl, place the ball of dough into the bowl and roll around several times to coat the ball of dough. Cover with a sheet of plastic wrap or a damp towel (so the surface doesn’t dry out) and place in a warm place to rise until doubled, about 45 min. An electric oven with just the light on works well.

Preheat the oven to 400 deg F.

Shaping:

I cut the dough in half (>400 gms each), and shaped one half into 8(~50 gm) pumpkin rolls) and the other half into 6 (~70 gm) kaiser rolls. I let the rolls proof for about 30 minutes in a warm place, covered, then brushed the top with a whole egg beaten well with 1 tbsp of cold water, and then baked the rolls until well browned (15-20 min) and cooked through.

Let cool on wire rack.

For Pigs in Blankets:

300 gms of dough was rolled out into a 6 inch by 12 inch rectangle and cut across the short side into 1 inch strips and then wrapped around each Jumbo hot dog. The wrapped sausages were placed on a baking sheet and baked, unglazed, for 15-18 min, until the top was a golden brown and the bottom was firm and lightly golden as well.

Tasty sandwiches sometimes need a spread, like mayonnaise, and since I didn’t feel like going to the grocery store, I made a batch of blender mayonnaise. It failed on the first try, so I poured the oily mixture into a measuring cup, added a 3rd egg yolk, a squirt of French’s mustard and a bit of lemon juice back to the blender cup and then slowly poured in the failed oil mixture while my immersion blender was running again. Success. (Every once in a while I get a mayo fail, but I never throw it away. It’s worth adding another egg yolk or 2 to get a thick creamy mayo. In fact, it may have been a bit TOO thick.)

There was one red pepper in my 4-pack, so while my oven was still hot from baking the rolls, I cut it up, brushed some oil over the top, put the pepper on a lined baking sheet and then placed the sheet under the broiler to blister and turn black in places. Peeled and added to a batch of hummus, it made for another great sandwich spread or dip for veggies or pita breads.

Red Pepper Hummus

PS: I made dessert, too, but I’ll save that for a separate post.

Sour Cream White Bread and Spaghetti Sauce

I wanted to make a white sandwich bread and picked this sour cream white bread recipe found on “The Spruce” web site for something that was a bit different.

Sour cream replaces the egg, milk and butter found in many enriched bread recipes. The resulting bread was nice and fluffy and tasted great either served as an accompaniment to a bowl of pasta or with jam as a snack.

The bread is meant to be baked in a 9 inch by 5 inch loaf pan but the amount of dough I had (820 gm) seemed a bit excessive to me, so I made four (54 gm) buns with part of it. I didn’t bother using the egg white glaze suggested to give the loaf a glossy finish, though I did brush melted butter on the buns.

The dough rose beautifully during the bulk proofing in the oven with the light on, taking only one hour, and though my loaf shaping was a bit lacking, the final proofing took only 45 minutes and baked up golden brown. For some reason, I decided to slash the top of the loaf before baking but, obviously, I didn’t put my heart into the matter as the cut turned out pretty anemic.

 

 

The loaf pan was oiled and lined with a small sheet of parchment paper which made removing the finished loaf a breeze.

I didn’t want my buns to round up too much during proofing so I pressed them down after 15 min, as in my earlier hamburger buns, and let them continue proofing for another 30 minutes. I found the oven spring a bit disappointing though the crumb was nice.

While my bread was proofing, I made a quick batch of spaghetti sauce with a couple of 28 oz cans of whole tomatoes (with herbs and spices) and 4 hot Italian sausages. I doctored the sauce with some additional dried Italian herbs and hot pepper flakes and served them over ditali pasta. There was enough sauce for 2 two serving containers to be tucked away in the freezer for later. All in all, a very successful cooking day.

Homemade Hamburger Buns

ETA (07/28/2017): An earlier post of the hamburger bun recipe was found at “She Makes and Bakes”.

You can never have enough hamburger bun recipes … or maybe that’s just me. 🙂

I saw a picture of these big, fluffy beauties posted on a FB Bread Baking group recently and the next day I made a batch.

The obligatory “crumb” shot

Unfortunately, I can’t let you taste them. Buttery and just a bit sweet even though only a modest amount of butter and sugar are used.

There’s nothing really NEW about the recipe. It’s the technique that makes them stand out. After the dough is bulk proofed and shaped into balls (about 105-110 gm each) they’re allowed to rest for 10 minutes. Then, a rolling pin is gently run over the top of each rounding sphere to flatten it a bit.

They’re transferred to a prepared baking sheet and covered, with an oiled sheet of food wrap or with a dry towel, in my case. Let them continue proof for 40 minutes.

It was warm in my kitchen (78 deg F) so after only 30 minutes, I uncovered the buns and brushed them with an egg wash and sprinkled some sesame seeds over the top. The buns went into a moderate (360 deg F) oven though the recipe I found on line at “Your Homebased Mom” uses a hot (400 deg F) oven. It doesn’t matter, you just bake them for a shorter time, if using the hotter oven.

Steamed Chinese BBQ’d Pork Buns

I first tasted these steamed buns in a Chinese restaurant more than 20 years ago and was determined to make them … ONE DAY.

That day has finally come.

I started out wanting to try the Mantou (Chinese steamed bun) recipe on the “Sprinkles and Sprouts” blog, but then I decided that if I was going to make the steamed dough, I might as well go all the way and make the steamed bbq’d pork buns. Yesterday, I made a batch of Chinese bbq’d pork (char siu), FINALLY cleaned and prepped my brand new bamboo steamer and tested the steamer set-up. And, this morning, after two cups of coffee and a green scallion pancake with sourdough starter to fortify me and put me in the mood for cooking Chinese food, I made these beauties.

Be sure to remove and cut open one of the buns to make sure your particular steaming temp/time has cooked them through

I’d probably make two changes if/when I make these again. First, I’d add a bit more sugar to the dough (25 g / 2 tbsp, increase to 37.5 g/ 3 tbsp) as the ones I’m familiar with have a sweeter taste. And, second, I’d make them a bit smaller (70-75 g, reduce to 50 g) cause they crowded my steamer when done. I don’t know if that’s why they also took longer to steam than expected. The finished buns were about 9 cm/ 3 1/2 inches in diameter.

Cha-Shu Pork/Char Siu Pork/Chinese BBQ’d Pork

2 lbs boneless center cut pork loin (Boston Butt preferred)**
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp shoyu (soy sauce)
1 1/2 tbsp mirin (rice wine)
2 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp 5-spice powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tsp finely minced garlic (or 1/4 tsp garlic powder)
1/4 tsp dried onion powder (new)
1/2 tsp dried ginger

** I only had about 0.7 lb (320 gm) of pork loin but I used the full recipe of marinade.

Remove most of the fat and gristle from the pork loin and discard. Cut meat with grain into strips about 1 1/2-2 inches wide and 1 inch thick. Combine hoisin sauce, shoyu, mirin, sugar, salt, ketchup, 5-spice powder, ginger, garlic and onion powder in a bowl. Add meat. Coat well. Marinate at least 4 hours, or overnight.

If intending to baste with the marinade you used for the raw pork, pour it into a small saucepan and bring to a boil, cooking 2-3 minutes at a full rolling boil.

Barbecue until just barely done as carry-over cooking time will continue the process or broil in the oven.

Broiler Method:

Turn on the broiler.

Raise the oven rack to the middle of the oven (3 shelves) or to the 2nd level from the top if you have a 4 shelf oven.

Arrange the pork on a rack on a cookie sheet. If you want to reduce the mess, line the cookie sheet with foil (and also put foil on the rack, using a knife to cut through the foil where the openings in the rack are so the juices and marinade can drip through onto the pan). Pour about 1 cup of water into the cookie sheet or broiler pan. It’s not guaranteed to be entirely mess free, but it should reduce the mess significantly.

Prop the door of the oven open with a wooden spoon. Broil for 10-15 minutes per side or until the meat is barely cooked through and the outside edges have charred a bit.

For the filling:

Pour the marinade from the bbq’d pork into a saucepan, bring to the boil and then simmer for 5 minutes. Remove some to a separate bowl and use it to baste the pork on each side.

Combine the rest of the cooked marinade with the cooled diced pork, a couple of tablespoons of water, 2 tsp oyster sauce, 1 tsp hoisin sauce, a pinch of white pepper and 2 sliced green onions and cook at medium-low for a couple of minutes. Then cool.

 

Mantou/Bao Dough and Finished Buns

Brioche Hamburger Buns, Hoagies and a BBQ

I’ve barbecued for at least three weekends in the last month because, miracle of miracles, it’s NOT raining.

And I like the taste of bbq’d meats.

No other explanation needed.

I was going to throw sirloin steaks, burgers and a chicken breast on the grill but switched out the last two pork chops in my freezer for the steaks, so I wouldn’t have two beef items. In anticipation of the burgers, I decided to make my own hamburger buns. My recipe makes enough dough for sixteen buns but I made hoagies with half, so I ended up with eight buns and four hoagies. Brioche breads freeze and thaw wonderfully, so that’s why I decided on an enriched rather than a lean bread recipe. It tastes good too.

Hamburgers … naked and dressed – I don’t like raw onions on my burgers but onion rings. Oh mama!!

The rest of the barbecue – Now I just have to figure out what to serve for sides in the week ahead … although I’m thinking of sticking that chicken into one of the hoagies.


Easter Sunday (and Easter Monday) Dining

Sorry for the delay in posting … no real reason.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend with friends and family. Four days off seems like a lot but, amazingly, it’s Monday already and they flew by. It was a mild weekend so I went outside and bbq’d a tray of lamb shoulder chops, a package of asparagus and a package of jumbo hot dogs for my Easter dinner. It was all delicious.

Supper – Chickpea soup with a crispy kale garnish and the lamb chops, kale salad, sweet potatoes and grilled asparagus.

Instead of buns or rolls, I used part of the dough from the traditional Romanian Easter bread, pasca, which I posted already, to make a pull-apart braided cross.

And here’s the star of the meal. The cheese filling is an accent not the main feature.

I cut some of the flowers from the front ‘garden’ for my Easter table and though the daffodils are all faded (they were gorgeous last weekend) the narcissus are beautiful, as always. My dad’s plantings are doing him proud yet again.

And speaking of plants, I planted a small egg tray (2 seeds in each of 6 cups) of lavender seeds a couple of weeks ago but there’s no sign of any seedlings yet. I’m not quite sure why I decided to plan them, but I have had this package of seeds for a while so I thought I’d give it another try in the face of previous fails.  UPDATE (04/22) : only 1 seedling germinated. It was never a very successful package of seeds so I suspect there was something wrong from the source.

I’m debating on what else I should plant this year from my collection of seed packets. Mostly herbs since that’s mostly what I have. Basil (Italian and Thai), some shiso since none of the four or so lovely plants I had in the house over-wintered successfully indoors, from the fall planting. One leaf after another dropped off until all I was left with was a bare stalk with faded blossoms on it. I suppose I could have gathered the seeds but I didn’t plan ahead. As to the mitsuba, I have one very leafy plant sitting on the window sill in the entry way. I pinched off the older faded leaves as a new furl appeared in the center and now I have huge leaves on it. The pot isn’t very large or deep but I’m wary of transplanting in case the shock causes them all to drop off.

It seems like the sage plant I bought from the city market has overwintered successfully outside without any type of covering but the rosemary … I’m pretty sure it’s dead. Thyme, oregano and mint plants were also in the pots but it’s too soon to tell if they’re going to come back.

Pasca cu aluat de cozonac (Romanian Easter Bread)

There are several kinds of Easter bread or preparations called variously, pasca or pascha or paska. One is even a molded type of cheese. But this version, made with the same sweet yeast dough as cozonac, has a sweetened cheesecake filling. The cheese used is a dry curd cheese, though ricotta, drained cottage cheese or even cream cheese has been used in recipes I’ve seen on line. I had a bit of cottage cheese in the fridge but not enough for the recipe I wanted to try so I made a batch of paneer (cheese made from acid curdled milk) which I drained well and used instead.

I wanted a higher cheese to bread ratio so I only used 1 1/2 pounds of dough (instead of the full two pounds the dough recipe makes) for the pasca.

Paneer – freshly made curd and after being drained and pressed

 

The sponge for the dough was allowed to proof for 30 minutes and was then combined with the rest of the ingredients

Dough shaped into base and braided border – next time I have to press down the center area where the cheese is spooned in.

 

I made a braided bread cross with the remaining dough.

 

In Romania and other countries where the pasca is made, it has deeper religious meaning, but it’s also a very tasty bread enjoyed at this time of the year.