Cha- cha cha lla llallah ūüé∂

This is a bit of a through back to last year when I did challah. it was interesting…. the shape had¬†not kept. It was a tasty blob. Dare I say I think my bread skills has been improving since I started this blog.

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Challah has such a deep history that I absolutely love and there is so much variation to the recipe. Safron and other spices can be found in some parts of the world. Not being part of that faith of tradition I still love it. This recipe is quirky as it uses coconut oil, whereas vegetable or olive oil would be more the traditional oils you would find. I love coconut oil vs other types of oil in the kitchen. It has a great advantage over other oils like a high smoke point. For example again super not tradition but for Yorkshire it is amazing. In my Christmas dinner taste test it won against olive and vegetable oil.

Another slightly atypical ingredient is sugar. I think it is more traditional to just use honey. The only reason I have used sugar is that I now have loads of citrus sugar from doing candied sugar. It is really lovely as small little pieces of candied citrus chunks that sometimes pops up in the challah.

I like having challah for breakfast which again ignores its history totally of being a Jewish holiday bread which absolutely intricate to the ceremony of it which really amazing. I love the dictum set to how to cook and company and you can find loads of article on that. It is very much the simpler less gourmandise version of brioche. I love brioche but it can somewhat rich if you are having for breakfast, a bit too much a sugary treat to start your day.

This makes quite a big braided chunk which can be made into delicious french toast.IMG_7874

I pretty much got my recipe from Bk17 Bakery’s challah recipe. The recipe also gives you the option of adding a tahini¬†filling which looks amazing. There is also challah chocolate¬†tahini recipe from 600 acres, which again looks amazing. Traditional middle east spices like cardamon and saffron can also be added. Sourdough home also has an excellent recipe post on sourdough challah with a bit of way traditional challah can’t use milk and a bit more what is kosher which is really interesting. For the ever important braiding, there are loads of youtube tutorials. There is even one with colour coded strands.

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Troubleshooting tip- hydration matters. Don’t use flour on your surface when you are braiding as this will dry out the dough too much. If your dough is too dry the braids will crack. If it is too wet it won’t keep it shapes.

Quick note – your starter should have been feed around 4-6 hour prior and should be really active and bubbly.

Ingredients:

  • 280 g sourdough starter, really bubbly and active
  • 175 g water
  • 35g sugar
  • 20 g honey
  • 40 g ¬†coconut oil
  • 2 large eggs + 3 yolks
  • 15 g sea salt
  • 375 g all-purpose flour
  • 375 g white bread flour

EGG WASH:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • Dash of water
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • sesame,¬†poppy, or nigella seeds and/or coarse sugar like palm sugar (optional)

Recipe

  1. In a large bowl mix well starter + water + honey + sugar +oil +eggs + salt.
  2. slowly + flour until a sticky wet ball of dough is formed.
  3. knead in the bowl for about 5 min, it should be a smoother ball of dough.
  4. Lightly oil the ball of dough in the bowl.
  5. Proof until the dough doubles in sizes, about 6 hours.
  6. Now the tricky, choose how many strands you want. I like having 6 braid challah. So separate your dough into 6 equal parts. Form a strand by rolling with your hand. The thinner it is the longer your challah will be and make sure that they are all uniform. Once you have 6 strands braid them.
  7. Place the uncooked challah on a cooking tray for the final proof, about 1 hour.
  8. Preheat your oven to 195C¬ļ
  9. prepare your egg wash by combining +yolk+water+honey.
  10. and gently brush the egg wash on.
  11. Sprinkle your topping of sesame, nigella, palm sugar or whatever you want
  12. Cook for 35-40min until the top of the challah is a deep brown.

Candied citrus peels & ginger and citrus sugar syrup

In an effort to throw out less food, found out that a great use for peels is to candy them (and save a massive amount of money cause candied citrus peel are EX-PEN-SIVE). You can also use them for tea, meat dishes and infuse liquor.  They also keep very well in the freezer. I have been saving citrus peels in a freezer bag over the months. Never throw out your citrus peels. I also have been freezing some cut ginger strips to use in curry recipes and co, and decided to candy that as well. Went a bit candy mad.

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you actually get three things for the price as well – candied peels, sugar syrup and citrus sugar.

Lesson learned – I think it does need a bit of forethought¬†to what you are planning to do with them so you can cut them to the appropriate size. For example, thin strips if you want to make chocolate candied orange strips¬†or add them to cakes. I had mix use for this one and just left it in big strips. Although I wish I had cut them into smaller thinner strips, I have a feeling it would have been quicker and easier to candy. Some of it is going to go to friends and family but my main reason was for mince¬†meat for the Christmas¬†mince pie. You can never prepare too soon for mince pie season as the longer you leave the mincemeat to soak up that brandy goodness the better it is apparently. In terms of cooking, I think I wider is better than a deeper pan to candy the peels in. Another great product that you get from candying your citrus is sugar syrup which is great for cocktails.¬†Another note – I tend to use natural cane, not white sugar. So¬†in this case (cane caster and damara) did slightly affect the colour of the syrup making it brownish. The candied fruits also look like they’ve¬†been¬†a bit too long in the sun and have a nice deep tan. I think to get a bit of nicer colour, especially for the sugar syrup, use white sugars. IMG_7794

The basic idea is super simple. The basic premise is boiling the peels in 1 part sugar 1 part water.

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Some other variation to try for next time is adding different flavour components. For example, The Telegraph adds black peppercorn and cardamons. Will dig out my flavour thesaurus next time and see how I can spice it up (that’s right spice it up! get it?).

Ingredients

  • water
  • citrus peel, ginger and whatever¬†else you want to candy
  • sugar (caster and damara)

recipe

  1.  All your peels in a pot boiling water for 10 minutes.
  2. Drain, rinse and drain.
  3. Bring 4 cups damara sugar and 4 cups water and bring up to boil. It should just cover the peels so add less/more of water/sugar depending on how much you have. while stirring to dissolve sugar.
  4. + peel. Return to boil.
  5. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook peels until very soft turning slightly translucent. For me, that was about 1 hour. Do not stir! it will crystallise your sugar syrup. Instead, move the pan in a circular motion.
  6. Drain peels saving that delicious sugar syrup.
  7. Let the peels cool a little and then toss peels in some sugar.
  8. Put some caster sugar on a baking sheet and transfer the peels on to the baking sheet. Drizzle some more sugar on the peels.
  9. Leave the peel to further air dry for 1 day to 2 days. So that the sugar crystallises Swat anybody trying to eat them.

Aniseed macaroons with pastis &rose cream gelato

My dear readers, it has been a hectic couple months with work, excessive drinking, Christmas cooking, and family. But here we are dry January. No drinking to do and no hangover contemplating what it all means and what terrible mistakes I have done, and what is the meaning of it all really. I miss drinking. Anyways Christmas brought a new love in my life: a brand spanking new kitchen aid! And the kitchen aid ice cream maker! (slightly suspect this has been a self-serving gift from loved ones….)

Anyways after seeing these amazing unicorn macaroons, I thought I could totally do macaroons. And off I went to dig up my copy of Les Petit Plats Francais: Irresistible Macaroons by José Maréchal.

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I can’t say I recommend the book, upon looking at the reviews now, I can see I am not alone. The recipe instructions are confusing and as you will see I am positive that the oven temperature is wrong. That being said they do have some nice flavour combination. I think it’s a good inspiration book maybe.

Instead, the macaroons became more of a journey than a destination, full of discoveries with high and lows and success grabbed from the jaw of defeat.

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reality vs expectation

I have learned several things while making this. First is that I have been using the piping wrong and there is this super easy, obvious way to filling up your piping bag demonstrated wonderfully by thekitchn. Second, the oven should definitely be over 145¬ļC.

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Left the macaroon for over 20 min (vs recommended 13min) and let them cool but unfortunately, as I tried to *gently* scrap them off they just completely disintegrated. The middle still a bit wet and undercooked.

 

I had a bowl full of macaroons deconstructed and wasn’t too sure what to do with them. Eton mess ran through my mind maybe but is January. Having Eton mess in January would have been obscene. The aniseed cream filling is also very close to gelato recipe. Hence this could be the macaroon version of cookie and cream ice cream! Genius! And perfect to go with Galette des Roi! (in which I decided to make my own puff pastry which I will not go into but it ended with the oven full of butter and a smoky kitchen, but that is another story maybe for another post…..)

This recipe requires an ice cream maker (obviously). If you have something like the kitchen aid ice cream maker make sure the bowl has been in the freezer for at least 12 hours before using it.

Ingredients

  • 1 serving of fucked up undercook aniseed macaroons
  • 600ml milk
  • 5 eggs
  • 90 grams sugar
  • 10 grams honey
  • 1/4 tsp Pastis
  • 1/4 rose water

Recipe

    1. Warm up the milk in a saucepan on a low -medium heat making sure is does not boil.
    2. Add the eggs + sugar +honey and whisk until it is well combine
    3. Take off the heat and add the pastis + rose water, whisk until well combine.
    4. Pour the mixture into a tupperware and put in the fridge for at least 4 hours. It can’t be sped up in the freezer, something to do about the fats forming according to Felicity Cloak.
    5. Pour your mixture into the kitchen ice cream frozen bowl and throw your chunks of macaroons in. Try to keep everything as cold as possible to prevent any melting – put the spatula and container you will saving your ice cream in the freezer while the gelato is being made.
    6. Put your kitchen aid speed 1 and watch in amazement the cream turning into gelato for 15 min.IMG_5702
    7. Scoop your gelato out into a cold container and put cling film on the surface. This helps stop the top from crystallisation. The gelato will be quite soft. To harden up it put in the freezer for 3-4 hours.

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Enjoy!

Wish I had thought to add cardamon to cream with anise macaroons and had added a bit of pink food colouring to really make the green macaroon pop. But really enjoyed the macaroon and cream gelato.

The possibility of different combination are endless, may¬†I never succeed to make a macaroon! Coffee macaroons with cardamon, cinnamon and nutmeg cream, or salted caramel macaroon with pollen and mascarpone cream or Chocolate macaroon with tahini cream…..

Sunday cake: Halva and tahini cake.

Managed to find my old recipe book from 6 years ago.

buttermilk pancakes

 

To celebrate finding it and mothering Sunday made some buttermilk pancake. This absolutely my favourite pancake recipe in the world. They come out incredibly soft and fluffy. The  recipe from 2011 which seems I think it vaguely from Martha stewart. Love seeing my notes on there.

Really excited to have it back, so expect loads of baking recipes like clafouti, madeleines, biscottis and finiaciers soon.

 

 

Anyways, on a bit of bread break/rut. I have ordered some bread proofing basket so hopefully I will be back on my sourdough bread baking groove soon. In the mean time I have been doing some sunday cake baking, and found this wonderful tahini chocolate cake with halva frosting. I have modified slightly because it is a bit of a weird recipe. Well for me at least, never made sponge cake or frosting. The boiling water thing is quite weird but all in all it turned out quite well.

Ingredients:

  • Cake:
    • 2 cups and 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 1 3/4 cup flour
    • 3/4 and 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 cup milk
    • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or coconut oil
    • 6 tablespoons tahini
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1/2¬†cup boiling water
  • Forsting:
    • 400 grams¬†butter at room temperature
    • 1/2¬†cups powdered sugar
    • 500 grams halva (of any flavor)
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Recipe:

  1. Preheat the oven to 185¬ļC
  2. In a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients: sugar+ flour+cocoa powder+baking powder+baking soda+salt.
  3. In a small bowl whisk all the wet ingredients: eggs+vegetable oil+tahini+vanilla.
  4. Mix the wet and dry ingredient in the large bowl while the water is boiling.
  5. Pour the boiling water in the cake mixture. Mix well and divide the mixture evenly into 2 cake tins.
  6. Bake for 30min or until cooked (when you stick a toothpick and it come out clean)
  7. leave the cake to cool
  8. Meanwhile for the frosting: cream the butter + sugar and then mix in the  halva+vanilla.
  9. when the cakes has completely cooled, frost the top of one of the cake and add the the second on top. Then frost the cake completely. I toped it off with dried rose petal and sesame seeds.

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Tadah! my frosting skills need a little work. Little side note, left over frosting can be saved in an airtight container in the fridge for about 4 days or 3 months in the freezer. Enjoy.