When you are in love… homemade Nutella and diverse Brioche

When you are in love, well you are in love! This sentence made me smile. You can certainly try and distract yourself by doing something else, preferably exciting like – baking, cooking, reading, singing, sewing, knitting, paragliding or dieting but at the end there is one thing you cannot stop doing and that is – thinking about the object of your love. So, I’ve been trying to ignore this object of my love for quite some time now. What is the reason for such a drastic measure, you might ask? Well, you see I actually don’t like Nutella – there I said it.

The reverse side of this story is that I fell in love with the idea of making a homemade Nutella as a revolt to the ones from the supermarket shelves. I liked the idea of mixing hazelnuts with some chocolate, milk etc. and that way providing the ultimate success. The ones I could buy in the stores, no matter how organic or super artisan they are – well I would just pass by those…

The second object of my love (I bet you didn’t see this coming) well, the second object of my devoted love is one and only – brioche. Even before I knew the name I was already in love. Growing up in former Yugoslavia, a communist country open to many western fashionable things, including delicacies, plus due to the Middle East’s strong influence, I always had the pleasure of being indulged with diverse and delicious food. So  brioche or a very similar version to it was always present, just under a different name. I won’t be stressing you with the Serbian name plus to be honest I can’t even recall any special one. It was always called simple – enriched bread (in translation) which is miles away from glamorous  – brioche, so lets stick to the famous cousin. Except I’d like to add one more thing, not in order to confuse you, but on the contrary, to make sense of it – Viennoiserie ! Another name for brioche, straight from French people, referring to any enriched bread from Vienna. Austrian food (due to Austro Hungarian Empire) had a big influence in the region in which I grew up so there you go – food travels and then stays and changes slightly and makes us want to experiment even more.

Now, to shorten a long story I had this secret plan to combine homemade Nutella with above mentioned brioche and see what would happen.

Done! The result? Shockingly good!

Home made Nutella

200 gr roasted hazelnuts

2 tablespoons cocoa

1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon coconut oil

Preheat oven to 170C. Place hazelnuts in a baking tin, spreading evenly so you have only one layer of hazelnuts and roast for 10-12 minutes.

Take it out of the oven, place onto kitchen towel, roll around using your hands. That will remove most of the skin. In case you want to do a better job – sprinkle a tin layer of sea salt on your kitchen towel before adding the hazelnuts. The sharpness of the sea salt will help a lot with removing the skin. This is not necessary in this recipe as slight imperfections are permitted but I guess it’s good to know for the future.

Place “clean” hazelnuts in your blender and pulse for a few minutes, until you get a very creamy/buttery version of your roasted hazelnuts.

(Did you know that on average nuts are 60% fat? That is a lot but the good news is, it’s the good fats we are talking about here. They’re actually even better/healthier if not roasted but in this case we are creating a dessert and a little “cheating” is allowed).

Add cocoa powder, maple syrup, coconut oil and blend until all combined.

Transfer to a clean jar and store at room temperature.

 

Brioche buns

450 gr flour 00 grade or strong plain flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon salt

2 tablespoons dry yeast

280 gr butter room temperature

4 large eggs

45 ml milk

Mix flour with sugar, salt, dry yeast and leave aside. In a different bowl mix the eggs with a fork and add to the flour mixture. Mix slightly with a wooden spatula, before adding butter to it. Work with your hands until you get nice and smooth dough. Just to warn you this dough is a very soft one. Handle carefully and add flour to your working surface if you have to you.

Leave in a clean bowl to rise for at least an hour. It should double in size before handling again.

Take out to the working bench and roll into a log 25 cm long. Divide equally into 10 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Place every ball into a muffin mould and leave to rise for another hour.

Brush with egg wash (mixture of 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of milk) and bake for 25-30 minutes on 175C.

Leave to cool slightly before serving.

I’ve served these with a splash of raspberry jam and Nutella. It’s messy, sweet and sour and urges you to dig in – as any indulgence should be. The crunchy, buttery and slightly salty brioche with a touch of raspberry jam freshness and strong hazelnut/chocolate Nutella flavour combination – divine!

Cherry bundt cake

Does simplicity strike you as something that can be so beautiful and irresistible that you simply have to have it or make it? I struggle with temptations like this all the time. I suppose that I don’t have to point out that cakes have a leading role in this weakness of mine. I call it a weakness because it can occur even when I am not ready for it, or have no time. I remember a whole dinner could suffer for that matter and had to be made in a very short time. That means that we might have a simple pasta meal for dinner today. This cake took advantage of me and my time but lets be honest – who can resist it.

But I know that this is not the case in some households. Strictly hypothetically speaking if you were in my in-laws neighbourhood and you decided to visit, you would be nicely welcomed and served not just with a delicious meal but cakes would be included as well. Never ever have we visited them and not been served with the little treats that would miraculously appear at the end of the meal. The most likely one would be Lenja pita or  literally translated  Lazy apple or cherry pie; Which happens to be one of my favouritesThis treat originally made with lard, switched to butter or similar due to lack of good quality lard. Or that is what I like to believe. This is one of the sweet treats in the Balkans with history of being different/unique in every household and of course all recipes are perfect despite their slight difference.

So, this sweet inspired me to make a cake that will help us remember gathering and sharing food with our families; A time when we would forget about all our troubles and enjoy good company and good food. That is what this cake is all about to me.

This cake is made with three different sources of fat but that makes it to taste like soft pieces of pure beauty, melting slowly in your mouth. Take it in moderation and it’ll be easy on your stomach as well – that is if you can!

Cherry bundt cake 

200 gr white Spelt flour

125 gr unsalted butter

150 gr sugar

1/2 teaspoon aluminium free baking powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 eggs

125 gr yoghurt

50 ml vegetable oil

200 gr cherries (I used frozen one)

1 lemon zest

Mix cherry with lemon zest an hour before you start mixing the cake.

Heat the oven to 175 C and grease a baking tin – I used a medium size bundt mould.

Separate egg yolks from egg whites. Mix flour, salt and baking powder and leave aside. In a large bowl beat the butter, sugar and egg yolks until pale and fluffy. Add half of the oil, mix well, then add half of the yoghurt and mix again. Repeat the process with the rest of the oil and yoghurt. Add flour mixture and mix gently with wooden spoon or spatula.

In another large bowl beat the egg whites until soft peak form. Again, using a spatula mix gently into a flour batter. Pour 1/2 of the batter into a baking tin, place cherries on top and finish by adding the rest of the batter. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until you get a golden colour, the smell from the oven is irresistible or the cake tester comes out clean.

After baked, leave for a few minutes in the baking tin. Transfer to a cooling rack and dust with powdered sugar. Can be served with whipped cream or creme fraiche which nicely combines with cherry syrup.

Heart cake with quince compote & new BAKE logo

The idea was to keep this post short and let the photos do the talking.

So, in a few words – that little thing in the top-left corner of the page is my new logo; Which I am very proud of. I believe its beauty lies in simplicity and originality and that was an inevitable product of great collaboration with a super talented artist! Thus, to present my unspoken words, I had to create a cake. It wasn’t hard at all, the recipe made its way spontaneously and became the heart cake.

The biggest piece of this cake goes to Aleksandra Prhal, the super talented artist I mentioned. She is kind, professional and incredibly patient and she is the one who designed the new BAKE logo.

Butterless heart cake 

For the cake:

2 eggs

150 gr sugar

3 tablespoons warm water

100 gr plain flour

50 gr  ground walnuts (walnut meal)

1/2 teaspoon aluminium free baking powder

For the compote:

2 quinces – cored, pealed and sliced

100 gr raw sugar + 50 gr for syrup

200 ml water

1 lemon slice

1 star anise

1 cinnamon stick

Quince compote can be prepared a few days in advance.

Pour water and sugar in a small pot, add star anise and cinnamon stick and simmer for a few minutes until sugar dissolves. Add quinces and cook for 1 hour or until quinces are soft (be careful not to overcook them). Remove from the stove, cool and keep in the fridge.

On the day that cake is going to be served, take half of the liquid from compote, add 50 gr of raw sugar to it and simmer on a low heat until is half reduced.

 

For the cake I made a heart mould from aluminium foil and I baked it in a 8″ round baking tin to keep the heart shape. Otherwise use 6″ cake tin for baking.

Heat the oven to 175C. Place baking paper on the bottom of the baking tin and spray with oil heart shape mould sides. If you are using 6″ cake tin, just lay the baking paper around your baking tin.

Separate egg whites from egg yolks. Place the egg whites in a medium size bowl and beat for 2 minutes using hand mixer. Add sugar and continue to beat for another 3-4 minutes or until the mixture is creamy white and holds a soft shape.

In a different bowl mix the egg yolks with a small hand whisker. Scrape egg yolks into the egg whites mixture and fold with spatula. Add flour, baking powder and fold into the eggs mixture. On the end add walnuts and stir gently until all combined. Pour into the cake tin and bake for 35-40 minutes or until cake is golden colour and cake tester comes out clean.

Cool cake on the cooling rack while preparing the compote for serving the cake. Take  out compote and syrup from the fridge at least and hour before serving the cake (so it can warm up on room temperature). Place quinces on every piece of the cake, pour the syrup over and decorate with fresh mint.

Gingerbread art for rainy days

These days surprisingly we have been rewarded with a few warm days after a very long and cold winter. I thought I’d ever say these words here in Melbourne as I always compare this winter with the one in Europe just to conclude that they are nothing alike.

This winter though, was something different. Long and very cold, making us unwell all the time. When finally the weather changed its course and spring offered us different colours, followed by a different fragrance in the air and everything seems to be falling into a good place, Maksim got sick – again. Thankfully good treatment worked perfectly and he was much better after just a few days. Still, it was highly suggested to us to keep him away from a big crowd (like a classroom) for a couple of weeks. I am not used to seeing my child being so sick and I followed advice without asking additional questions. We are going to stay out of school but since he is  feeling better we need a home schooling program or at least  an organised fun time, otherwise we will end up with a bored child (and we all know what that looks like) and a screaming mother!

On the first day that Maksim felt like doing something exiting we ended up – baking! He wanted to make gingerbread and more importantly to decorate them, because that would be the funniest part. I had no objection to that as I know that art finds its mysterious ways – everywhere. Let me just add, they are very tasty too! Although cookies don’t match my idea of healthy eating and recovering from the nasty bacteria, we ate most of them in no time.

While this might seem just like a fun time to you, I assure you that it was not. Even better, I’ll give you the inside of our fun baking time.

We had a chance to talk about numbers and letters, while writing a recipe. We talked about different geometric shapes while comparing different baking tins. The oven could be dangerous while it’s hot, so we talked about high temperatures which ultimately led us to the Sun and Solar system…different colours of different planets gave us ideas for the colours he used for colouring the cookies. We talked about healthy eating and we even managed to keep honey in this recipe, which is a small milestone as honey was always a big NO to this little guy. We counted cookies and divided them between two baking tins. Then we summed them up again so we knew what the total number was – because math is fun! I decorated one heart and he did the other and we dedicated one to each other. We talked about love, how to be together and how to separate (while Maksim mostly talked about us being baker kings as he was so proud of our work). Again the major lesson on family stability, support and trust. We ate them while doing different artwork and we agreed that they are super yummy and well deserved to be shared… and that is how we had a sweet day baking, exercising our brains and recognising our emotions at the same time.

Of course we watched loads of movies, played with Lego and cooked other meals but a little project like this one made a difference to our staying at home days.

Gingerbread 

250 gr plain flour

130 gr rye flour

150 gr butter

50 gr brown sugar

4 tablespoons honey

1 egg

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons ginger

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 lemon zest

Icing:

500 gr powdered sugar

food colours of your choice

1/2 lemon juice

a few drops of water

Melt the butter and sugar over low heat, until the sugar dissolves. Leave aside to cool for a few minutes. Add  honey and stir until honey is melted.

In a medium sized bowl mix all dry ingredients, flours, spices, baking powder, baking soda and lemon zest.

In a smaller bowl mix the egg with a whisker until fluffy. Pour butter mix over the egg, making sure that the butter is not too hot as the egg will curdle/cook in that case.

Add all wet ingredients to the flour mix and knead until all combined. Wrap into a clear wrap and leave into the fridge for 2 hours or overnight.

Once ready to use, take the dough out of the fridge, leave for 15 minutes to rest on the work surface. Roll over between two baking papers into a 4-5 millimetre thick dough. Cut out the gingerbread dough using a  cutter and place onto a baking tray, previously lined with baking paper.

Bake for 12-14 minutes on 180C. Once baked leave on the cooling rack to cool completely before decorating.

For decoration use an icing mix of powdered sugar, lemon juice and a few drops of water if needed. The icing needs to be very thick but be careful as you have to be able to squeeze it through a piping bag. Use food colours for your colour choice. We ended up using an icing set bought at the market as that was easier for little hands. That’s fine too.

Buckwheat tea cookies as the perfect ending to a dinner party

This is as close to perfection as anyone can get – in my modest opinion… to finish such a pompous sentence I’ll add – when it comes to cookies! It’s actually hard to continue writing after this statement. Then again it was hard to do anything after I baked these. I spend some significant time just staring at them. They are some mesmerising cookies!

I should have been more prepared as small treats like these are not an unknown subject to me. There is a significant list of similar treats in my recipe book. You guessed, the ones that come from my family background, written down in a shabby and worn down but valuable book. There are still a few recipes from the same book I’d like to share here with you but not this one. This one was inspired by a lady whose work I admire and whose treats I can’t get enough of – Alice Medrich.

I simply loved these the first time I saw them and had to bake them – straight away. Due to the rush and lack of ingredients the original recipe asked for, I made a quite similar but not the same dessert. The ingredients I had in my pantry the first time I baked these became my first choice because we all loved them so much. We baked these cookies a few times before our final grand demonstration at a gluten free dinner party we organised for our dear friends. I had no doubt that these cookies would be accepted and loved but it still felt good when people who are highly informed about gluten free products were happy to be treated with these.

I know that the idea of tea cookies will be automatically linked to an afternoon tea party and that is absolutely right… but I’ll tell you something – these are fantastic with a glass of wine and perfectly acceptable as an after dinner dessert. So, pick your own time to serve these and be happy about it.

“Laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile!” – Mark Twain

I love this quote and it reflects so much on these cookies that I had to add it to this post because these will make you smile and the smile will last for a long time. It’s been proven many times now.

Buckwheat tea cookies

50 gr buckwheat flour

30 gr rice flour

50 gr oat flour

70 gr roasted almonds – ground

1/2 teaspoon gluten free baking powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste

40 gr raw sugar

80 gr butter – room temperature

30 gr cream cheese

2 tablespoons jam (I used a mix of strawberry & raspberry jam)

powdered sugar for dusting

Heat oven to 175C and line baking tin with baking paper. Roast almonds (with skin on) for 8-10 minutes. Cool completely before grinding them using a food processor, blender, mortar & pestle or good old nut grinder.

Mix all flours in a medium sized bowl. Add baking powder, sea salt, sugar and almond meal. Stir with a wooden spoon just to combine all ingredients.

Add butter, cream cheese, vanilla paste and work on dough with fingers until it becomes nice and smooth. Sometimes I find that I need to add extra flour in order to get the dough so that it doesn’t stick to my fingers. In that case I add buckwheat flour. Just be careful not to add too much and end up with very firm dough.

Wrap the dough in a clear plastic wrap or place in an airtight container and leave in the fridge overnight.

Once ready take it out from the fridge and leave for 5 minutes on the work bench before starting to form small (app 30 gr) balls (dough this size makes app 20 cookies). Place them in a baking tin lined with baking paper, making sure to leave an extra space between cookies as they will spread a bit. Bake for 25 minutes or until you get a nice brownish colour. Handle with extra care as they will crumble easily while still hot.

They are quite nice just dusted with powdered sugar but I wanted mine with jam so I pressed the centre of the each cookie with a wooden spoon handle, half way through. It was very easy to do it and the wooden spoon handle idea- very clever!

Leave them in baking tin for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely. Fill dented parts with jam, dust with powdered sugar and serve with a smile!

Scrambled eggs with ajvar

Imagine a perfect life that naturally includes a perfect start to a perfect day. What would your first thought be early in the morning? Breakfast? But of course! Mine too. I’ve been thinking about that kind of arrangement a lot lately as you usually do when you are so busy that the morning routine becomes a race against time and stress starts to build from 7 am. Most, if not all of us live a life like that, well at least a few days per week. The days that mum has to work and her mind is way to busy with organising her day that any other effort in the morning is too much for her. Those are the days for strawberry jam on toast, pancakes (if the batter was made the night before) and boiled eggs and soldiers, if the little one pulls the mighty weapon – “Pleeease mum!”

I don’t like days like that. Stress and fast breakfast doesn’t do any of us any good. You leave your house with a busy head and a full tummy, which doesn’t actually communicate with your brain and somehow those good ingredients slow you down and start to build around your waist…….. have I said enough?

I like having all the time in the world just for breakfast. I like baking for breakfast and waiting for the dish to cool down and having time for freshly squeezed juice and a chat either through Skype (inevitability if you live continents away from your family) or in real life as the little one defines reality and the present. Imagine days like those, a perfect start to a perfect day. The breakfast that will last until lunch.

On days like those I think of this dish – A perfect start to a day or if this is too much for you in the morning and you prefer fruit for breakfast and a decent lunch, this is the solution for you.

Scrambled Eggs with Ajvar

2 eggs

2 tablespoons ajvar

1 tablespoon olive oil

pinch of sea salt

crumbled goat cheese for serving

lemon zest

pinch of thyme

2 slices wholemeal bread, toasted

Add two very full spoons of ajar in a heated pan with olive oil. Stir-fry for two minutes, just to start the process of heating/frying.

In a separate bowl mix eggs with salt. Add eggs into a frying pan with ajar and stir quickly to avoid burning and reduce the heat if needed. Once eggs are done, your perfect breakfast or brunch is ready to be served. I love serving it on the toasted bread with crumbled goat cheese on the top and lemon zest and thyme just to enrich the taste.

The recipe for Ajvar can be found here.

Pischinger waffles

New ingredients (and there are still a few on my list) or new and challenging recipes are something that I am easily drawn to. As a matter of fact, quite often that would be my first choice. It is so challenging and exciting to make something new! The thought you have to put in, the energy, not to mention the adrenalin, is enough to make any food making lover all excited. This is how it looks, at least around here: There is always an intriguing reason to start with a new recipe. Sometimes I just read quite a few recipes that include the new ingredient – hoping at the same time that I can bring it down to only one recipe. In the end I discard all that has been read and start from scratch thinking only how much sweetness, sourness, bitterness and God knows how many other ..ness –es I can combine together to get the desired taste. The small moment of truth is that building/creating the recipe is definitely one of the most exiting things for me to do.

Then again sometimes, when I am reminiscent and in need of something that will remind me of my own childhood, a certain recipe might cross my mind! At that very moment an understanding husband would have to go to the shops in the eastern suburbs to buy the right ingredients. Sometimes, he gets distracted and buys an ingredient that has a sticker with an expired date on it and he needs to go back and bring home the right ones because it’s important to fulfil the basic needs for chocolate delights. It’s a small price to pay (this applies to the husband) considering the benefits. Pulling out a recipe that hasn’t been done for years in our family and the excitement I get from seeing my 6 year old tasting it for the first time is more that rewarding. It’s heavenly good! It’s a circle of luck. My happiness from my childhood transferred to my son!

This leads me to a story about circles (with a deeper side) that I had explained to me the other day. I was engaged in a new project with my son. He wanted us to make a collage and we decided that it’s going to be about nature. Next step –  a sun, little hill, a lake were to be made … and while I was busy gluing a part of the tree, I’ve noticed how concentrated he was while creating huge waves in his little lake. Huge waves were forming quite an amount of foam on the top and that was intriguing enough to ask the question. What are those waves representing and why are they so foamy…he simply explained.

“Waves form the foam which crushes down just to become water again”. My eyes wide open led him to a more precise explanation. “It’s a circle mum, you know just like life and death”!

A philosophical child with a love for chocolate is a very sweet combination, I say! In our case we bake all the time as our love for it and love of it makes our own circle – of happiness.

Chocolate and walnut Pischinger

1 small package pischinger waffles

4 large eggs

300 gr sugar

100 gr dark chocolate

125 gr unsalted butter

125 gr walnut meal

This is a no bake dessert and as such, quite easy to make. It can be kept in an airtight container for 5 days at room temperature or for 2 weeks in a refrigerator.

The hardest part could be finding the actual base for this desert. I find that Middle Eastern shops quite often have them.

Whisk eggs with sugar with a hand whisker in a metal bowl. Place the bowl over a pot of boiling water and cook for 5-8 minutes or until egg mixture becomes thicker.

Reduce the heat, add chocolate and butter and stir with spatula until both dissolved. Add walnut meal at the end. You can use the chocolate filling straight away. In that case the sheets will become soft, maybe even soggy but the desert can be used straight away.

The second option and the one I go for is to leave the chocolate filing to cool almost completely and then use it. In that case you will need to leave it so the waffle sheets can absorb the moisture from the chocolate filling for ideally 24 hours. It’s the harder way but the result is much more rewarding.

Divide chocolate mixture in four parts as that is how many times you will need to use it (4 of the  same bowls, equally filled will do the job).

Place one sheet of pischinger waffles on the working bench and layer with chocolate filling. Repeat the process until you have used all of the filling. Do not put the chocolate filling on the top of the last sheet. That can be decorated with melted chocolate – as I like to do or leave it clean – which is the usual way to do it.

Wrap desert into clear wrap and place something heavy (like wooden chopping board) on the top, covering the whole sheets, to help  compress the waffles. Leave overnight or 24h to rest.

Slice with a sharp knife into desired shape. Diamond is the most common shape but can be done as squares or rectangles. Enjoy!

Kumquat preserve

I wish I had a green thumb! This sentence will lead you to the conclusion that I don’t and you would be absolutely right! I’ve tried to grow plants on two different continents. I’ve tried different soils, gardens and pots and it just never worked for me. What ever I do, somehow I lose my plants. It’s sad really. I mean, how many of you have tried to feed your plants with nice and organic super good worm poo. One… none? You see I’ve tried even that and it didn’t help! It might be time to quit – if I can only know how to…

So imagine how excited I can become around someone’s successfully grown garden or an orchard – wow that is something!

A few weeks ago we flew across Australia, I am not saying where exactly in South Australia so I can protect whatever is left of my modest dignity. We were guests of some really nice people who were happy to entertain a child and child’s mother for a few days. The child was over the moon with excitement with all the scheduled entertainment just around the house. Things like mowing the grass and cleaning the pool were uber exciting but when they organised a camp fire in the back yard just for him, he was ready to quit on us as his parents and stay there forever!

As for me, well I can happily say I had the same level of excitement when spotting a kumquat tree in one of their gardens! A beautiful tree, full of little golden kumquats, completely forgotten at the end of a No Through Road. I almost fainted when I realised that all that can be lost due to negligence. I started breathing again only when I was asked if I wanted to take some home with me and I simply said “yes please”, without thinking about the consequences. I came to my senses of course (that is if anyone asks because it is not allowed to fly with any food in your suitcase, right) and decided to look for the same fruit in the local markets.

Since I had these aromatic and wonderful fruits in my fridge, I couldn’t stop thinking about the different opportunities to cook and bake with them, but one idea stayed with me all the time. First thing I made was a preserve or slatko as my mum would call it. It’s simply wonderful, aesthetically and taste wise. One fruit – one bite, ideal for preserve but at the same time can be nicely accompanied by any short bread or a bundt cake for example.

Kumquat preserve is inspired by my mother’s stuffed plums preserve she used to make for us when we were kids.

Kumquat preserve

300 gr kumquats

150 gr sugar

rind of 2 lemon

100 ml water

50 gr roasted walnuts

 

In a medium sized saucepan mix water and sugar and cook on a medium heat until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to minimum, add lemon rinds and cook for another 5 minutes or until the liquid becomes slightly thicker or changes colour slightly. Add washed kumquats and cook for 15 minutes or until the fruit is cooked but still in one piece. The cooking time will depend on the fruit and how ripe it is, so you might have to test it a few times – remembering to leave some for the jar.

At the end, add walnuts – previously roasted for 10 minutes on 180C.

Leave to cool and transfer into jar. One teaspoon of this preserve and a glass of water in the morning will make a big difference to the day.

New year’s resolution and buckwheat waffles

I am definitely not one of those people with a New Year’s resolution thing or at least I don’t call them that. When I am ready, whether it’s the beginning of the year or not, I just go for it. Quite often  the change will be followed by a good or a bad thing, either stress or happiness, as those are the times when we need a change. And it has always worked for me.

This year, for some reason, it was different. Just approaching the New Year felt like I needed to do something for me, or at least call it my New Year’s resolution. The first thing that was inevitable was to have more rest! An unplanned holiday followed and I’ve begun to like this New Year’s resolution thing already. The other inevitable thing was to work more! I know! It’s an oxymoron really, but if you put things in the right order – it actually works! To explain; “to rest more” means to be more efficient at work so you don’t waste your time on things that don’t matter! You see, it’s simple really.

Now, the only thing that is staple in this story is the many different flours and other goodies that make wonderful things when combined together. That is present all the time, New Year’s resolution or not. It’s actually a rather good blend as making and baking feels like rest to me and at the same time you can call it – work. I told you it’s a simple and most logical explanation!

I’ve always seen waffle batter as a thicker version of the pancake batter, so that was my starting point when I started making waffles. Sadly, I am the biggest fan of waffles in my family, the rest of the family favours pancakes more, so I don’t make waffles often, and certainly not often enough to my satisfaction. So when one wants to indulge herself, what one does? She makes waffles and she chooses one of her favourite flours. This time it’s buckwheat flour.

Buckwheat and oat flour waffles with herb butter and maple syrup (gluten free)

150gr buckwheat flour

100 oat flour

250 ml buttermilk

2 egg – separated

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

butter for greasing the mould

Herb butter

100 gr unsalted butter

lemon zest

cardamom seeds

Maple syrup for serving

Separate eggs and whisk egg whites with a pinch of salt until nice and fluffy and leave aside. Mix all dry ingredients (buckwheat and oat flour, baking soda, sea salt and cardamom) in one bowl, and mix all wet ingredients (egg yolks and buttermilk) in a separate bowl. Combine all in a large bowl then fold  in egg whites. Leave it to rest for half an hour, or up to an hour, before use.

Heat and grease waffle maker. Pour a big kitchen spoon of waffle batter and bake following the instructions of your waffle maker. I’ve got mine from my mother-in-law as a present but it was my father-in-law who gave me all the instructions as he was the main chef in their house when it came to waffles. I have to say that it all worked well, I just had to convince the rest of the family that waffles were the way to go for breakfast!

I’ve chosen to serve mine with herb butter and maple syrup. Butter can be made days in advance and I find this very helpful in the kitchen. Whip the butter with lemon zest and add cardamom seeds. Depending on how you like cardamom to appear in your meal you can keep if whole or grind using mortar and pestle. Wrap the butter in a clear wrap (making the shape of sausage) and leave it in the fridge overnight (or 30 minutes in a freezer if you are in a hurry). Serve on the top of warm waffles allowing butter to melt slowly. Top up with extra lemon zest and maple syrup. Mint goes really well with these waffles as it’s very refreshing.

Happy waffle making!

Honey glazed rye flour crepes with bee pollen and calendula

I am going to have to admit it – rye flour is one of my favourites, if not the most loved one. Could be because it was the first I remember starting to play with, as a different one to plain flour. My love for different flours has developed over time but rye flour will always be a special one to me.

Unconsciously or on purpose we tend to convey our love for food to our children. The little one wants to be a chef, of course, what else with his mother spending all her time around the house – baking. He likes to build, draw, write a lot, so, who knows over the time he might change his course. At the moment he is helping his mama in the kitchen and that way develops sense of the different tastes which is all that matters for now.

When I thought he was ready to embrace the world of crepes, the first one I made, without even thinking or doing it on purpose, were the ones with rye flour. Of course we want our children to eat healthily as often as they can but we also know that food can not be imposed on to our children. They like a new food or they don’t and you cannot do much about it. In this case the healthy food has won and rye crepes stayed with us. I am so happy as those are my favourite ones and the whole family gets to enjoy them quite often for breakfast.

Simple as they are to make I actually never made a recipe – until now. I would normally decide on amount of the eggs and that would dictate the amount of flour and milk – and there you go you have the list of all the ingredients already! That is actually a recipe as well. How simple is that!

My favourite ones  are those on the pictures – the golden ones I like to call them. The little one likes them mostly with maple syrup but easily will add goat cheese and strawberries (don’t forget we are still developing the taste and we agree to any combinations – although this one is pretty good) and the husband goes with everything that’s on the menu for that day.

Rye crepe

3 eggs

500 ml milk

150 gr rye flour

50 gr plain flour

1 teaspoon sea salt

 

Syrup:

3 tablespoons honey

100 ml orange juice

To serve:

1 teaspoon bee pollen

1 calendula leaf

Mix eggs in a deep bowl just until you break the yolks. Add the milk and stir everything. In a separate bowl combine the flours with the salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk fast until you break all lumps.

Leave to set at least half an hour before use. I like to make the batter the day before I tend to use it and just leave it overnight in the fridge. It’s even better that way, definitely easier to have it ready first thing in the morning when the family is lining up for the crepes for breakfast.

Grease a skillet with ghee, coconut oil, vegetable oil or light olive oil and cook them for a minute or less on one side. Turn with a spatula to cook the other side for another half a minute. They are ready once you get  a golden colour.

For the glaze – cook the orange juice on a low heat until it’s 30 % reduced. Add honey to melt and remove from the stove. Glaze crepes with syrup, sprinkle bee pollen granules and calendula petals and – enjoy!

The best part is that you don’t have to use them all at once. You can store them in the fridge (before you top them up with any filling), warm them on the skillet the next day and they still taste fantastic – some would say, even better!