Galette with fresh fruit

It was a very busy week. A week of making and baking and getting ready for the most important event in any child’s life. A Birthday party!

We mostly baked together but at the last minute decided to make a star shaped piñata. It was mostly fun (a glue made of flour and water, dripping all over the house can be excluded from the fun part but it is inevitable if you are planing a project like this one – so consider this just as a friendly warning). A week of planning, inviting and talking on a daily basis about the party, with an almost to be six year old boy (whose concerns are greater than many adults I know), can be exhausting even for a tough parent (I consider myself to be one of those). So in between the layers of cakes, decorations and colours to chose, cupcakes and different icings, scones and cookies I’ve decided to take a break and do something that will take away all the hustle and bustle and heal my tired ears and worried mothers heart and do something good for me.

 

I baked a galette! A simple recipe made with yeast. That meant that I had to wait two hours for the dough to rise. Two hours of silence and much needed solitude looks like a reward sometimes. In this case (my case), it certainly was. Everything is easier when a person fulfil their major needs. Mine was to bake a galette at that very moment. It just happened (if there is such a thing like coincidence in life) that I was reading Elizabeth David’s English Bread and Yeast Cookery book at that time and of all the divine stories about different doughs I reached for the one about galettes. Also nectarines are technically out of season so I got my last chance to use them. I love the light dough (yes, even though is made with yeast) and the nectarines are slightly baked since I’ve decided to use the fresh ones for this recipe, without any prep job done. The whole thing felt like spring is in the air…am I trying to postpone the inevitable here – the beginning of Winter, maybe? Yes I do, especially on a rainy day like today.

Here is the recipe.

 

 

Galette with fresh fruit

150 gr plain flour

1 teaspoon yeast

45 gr butter or thick cream plus extra 1 tablespoon of butter

1 teaspoon salt

1 egg

Filling:

4-5 fresh nectarines thinly sliced

2 tablespoons caster sugar

2 tablespoons melted butter

1 lemon zest

Icing:

3 tablespoon powdered sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Heat oven to 175C.

Mix (cream) yeast with 1 tablespoon of warm water. In a medium size bowl mix flour and salt add egg and butter or cream (I’ve made both versions and they are equally lovely) and creamed yeast. Mix with hands until you get nice and smooth dough. Cover with cotton cloth and set aside for two hours to rise. Once dough reached double size place it onto a working table and roll into a round shape 25-30 cm in diametre. Cover again with cotton cloth and leave for 10 minutes to recover volume.

In a different bowl mix fruit with melted butter, lemon zest and sugar. Arrange the fruit in the middle of the rolled dough, leaving enough of dough (app 7 cm from the edges) to fold the edges.

Brush folded edges with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 25 minutes or just until colour changes.

Mix powdered sugar with lemon juice. One tablespoon is enough but if you want to make it thinner, add a few drops of water.

Once baked, splash icing on top.

That is it, really. Enjoy!

Chocolate truffles

When I decided to make my first truffles I had no dilemma about where to look for the recipe. Who else to look up but Alice Medrich, the lady who started her career making and selling truffles! The rest is really a history. I am sure that there is not a person or maybe I should be more specific, a person involved with food (even just as a gourmand), who hasn’t heard of this lady. Her recipes are unique in delicacy, balance of ingredients and beauty. I have loved everything I’ve baked from her recipe collection and these truffles are just another winner.

Truffles are a simple but rather rich dessert. They can be nicely accompanied by a glass of wine or nice sip of liqueur. I’ve made many different ones but these are my latest favourite. The texture is just divinely smooth.

I am in the middle of reading Alice Medrich’s Flavour flavours book and I am sure there will be many more recipes I will want to share with you here. In the mean time, enjoy these.

Chocolate truffles

2 large egg yolks, at room temperature

455 gr bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

140 gr unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1/8 teaspoon salt, preferably fine sea salt

30 gr unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably natural, or as needed

115 ml water

Separate the eggs and put the egg yolks into a heatproof bowl and place it into a bigger bowl already filled with warm water (to warm up the egg yolks).

In a different heatproof bowl. add the butter, the chocolate and the salt and melt it over simmering water until it reaches at least 50C (can be done without thermometer).

Heat up the water, take the egg yolks from the larger bowl and pour the water over them. Mix with whisker until well combined (again temperature should be at least 70C), then pour the mixture trough the strainer into the butter/chocolate mixture, not forcing any eggs to go through the strainer. I used a whisker to combine all ingredients, the original recipe suggested using a food processor to process the mixture until you get a nice and smooth mixture. At this point the texture is so nice and smooth, then you can tell what wonderful truffles you will end up with.

Pour the mixture into a lined dish (I used rectangular shape 10×30 cm) and leave in the fridge for at least two ours to cool. Take the dish out of the fridge, invert the truffle onto a working bench and cut into a 2×2 cm squares. Roll or rather dust (since I kept them into a square shape) with cocoa.

A simply wonderful treat!

Vegemite and cheese rolls

Years ago we lived in New Zealand, the country which, as one of my friends (when he was just a little boy) thought existed at the very end of the World. I know it sounds as a cliché now, but it was an important question for him to ask back then. The funny thing is that his father, to whom the question was addressed answered simply with – yes, it is! Sometimes we do that to our children!

I can not agree with that information though, but I can argue with the fact that we are talking about a unique place on this planet and for many reasons really: Luxurious and beautiful nature, heartful people, lots of sun and rain (quite often at the same time), rainbows straight afterwards that can stop the traffic instantly and, of course – Marmite! A word that raised my curiosity instantly the first time I heard it. And it came from a person I just met in one of my the first days living in New Zealand. I’ll never know why anyone would talk about Marmite to a total stranger. Could be my fault because I just happen to draw people into conversation about food and if you are in New Zealand, well Marmite might pop up.

I was taken by the passion Marmite was presented to me with, and naturally I had to taste it. I don’t want to raise any issues here, but I was simply shocked by the taste of it! I thought I’ll never again have to go through that until recently when one of my friends, offered a nice pastry to my son. He was so delighted after tasting it that I had to go back to buy more, for him and of course for myself. And that is how a new chapter started. This time with Vegemite; I’ll just add the similar yeast extract because I equally love all my friends from this side of the World and could not dare comparing Marmite to Vegemite or the opposite. It took me some time to decide to bake these myself but once I started I couldn’t stop.

 

 

 

 

 

Cheese & Vegemite rolls

350 gr white spelt flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

2 full teaspoons dry yeast

2 eggs

180 ml warm milk (I used soy) plus two tablespoons

75 butter (melted and cooled to room temperature)

3 tablespoon Vegemite

200 gr shredded cheese of choice

Mix flour, sugar, salt and dry yeast in a big mixing bowl. Mix milk, one egg and butter in a jug, add to a flour mixture and mix until you get a nice smooth dough. It’ll take 10 minutes to do it. Of course, you could use a stand mixer with appropriate attachments to do so. I don’t do it that way. I like the feel of the dough and kneading is equal to creating to me, and it is a peaceful and relaxing moment of the process of making rolls that I don’t want to skip. Once done, leave aside, covered with cloth for an hour to rise.

When the dough reaches double size, take it out on a floured working surface and roll to (approximately) 30×25 cm rectangles. Spread Vegemite and top up with cheese before rolling into a big log. Chop into equal pieces (4 cm each). Arrange in a baking dish (cut side down) and brush with egg wash (egg wash is a mixture of one egg and two tablespoons of milk whisked together). Leave to rise again for another 45 minutes to an hour. Bake for 25 minutes. Cool before serving.

Spiced honey cake and a power of yum

It was just one of those lazy days when you can’t make your self  do more than go for a walk. We agreed to do just that and nothing else. So how did I find myself baking on a day like this? No answer there! I just simply found myself in the kitchen and between the dust of flour, a tablespoon of honey, a cup of buttermilk and olive oil…..maybe some walnuts(?) – 40  minutes later the cake was baked!

The cake looked divine, and needed just to be topped with something. Honey?, spices..? Yes, why not… But for some reason I doubted myself. I thought the cake might be too dry or crumbly, not sweet enough…”Mum are you baking a cake?” – (a little voice from the other room). “Can I help? Oh it’s done already”…”Can I have a piece please?” “Maybe after lunch” was my reply. That was the quickest lunch ever I can tell you that now. “So can I have the cake now?

Next scene: Me, nervously standing in the kitchen not willing even to peak into the dining room and him, happily engaged with the piece of cake and then I heard! “Yum! This is a yummy cake.” He said that mostly to himself, as I could hardly hear him but nonetheless, that turned my head around. All my doubts disappeared instantly.

Testing a cake is the best thing ever. We do that every time we bake and subconsciously we would compare well known cakes or find the similarities with the new ones. But imagine a completely new recipe with all the dilemmas that can easily come along and just one word that can make all that disappear. Yum! from a 5 year old? But I figured, if he likes it, it’s worth sharing. Kids know best! We have tested the cake many times now and it has brought us the same pleasure every time. Definitely worth sharing.

Honey and walnut cake

250 gr wholemeal flour

225 gr plain flour

2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon allspice

4 eggs

125 gr brown sugar

2 tablespoons honey (warmed)

120 ml olive oil

250 ml buttercream

120 gr chopped walnuts

Topping

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon cinnamon

This is a rather large cake, I bake it in a 27cm round baking tin but the recipe can be reduced and used that way. Half of the recipe will make a nice 15cm round cake.

Heat the oven to 175C. Grease baking tin and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix flours, baking powder, salt and chopped walnuts. Beat eggs is a separate bowl, slowly add oil (almost like making a mayonnaise). Mix in sugar and stir until combined, then add yoghurt and honey and stir again. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and combine together using spatula or whisker. The batter looks quite dense and thick. You might have to use a spatula to spread the batter into the baking tin. Bake for 40 minutes if using the whole recipe or less (about 25minutes) if using half of the recipe.

While the cake is baking, slightly warm the honey and mix in cinnamon powder, set aside.

Once cake is baked, make small holes using wooden skewers. It’s ok, it won’t show much and it will allow the cake to soak up the  honey topping better and that is the best part! The cake is a bit crumbly on day one but as time passes it becomes softer and you can taste the honey even better. We came up to day 3 and that is with a large cake. I am sure that it can taste good for up to 5 days! But I am not talking from personal experience.

Bon appétit!