Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Chimney cake and a yummy Spanish Pastry: THE DARING BAKERS’ AUGUST, 2014 CHALLENGE

The August Daring Bakers' Challenge took us for a spin! Swathi of Zesty South Indian Kitchen taught us to make rolled pastries inspired by Kurtoskalacs, a traditional Hungarian wedding pastry. These tasty yeasted delights gave us lots to celebrate!

I always love yeast baking so when the August Daring Baker's Challenge was announced I was thrilled... yeast baking and something I have never made. Thanks to our great host Swathi of Zeasty South Indian Kitchen. I loved these pastries and so did my family. The Chimney Cake was tricky because of the baking on the rolling pin. My first was a near disaster! But then I got the hang of it.

However the Ensaimda were quite easy and absolutely delicious. Great dipped in my morning black coffee.

Both start off with a yeasted dough left to rise.

The chimney cake dough is portioned and rolled out into a circle and cut with a pizza wheel.

Rolled around a rolling pin.

Pressed and rolled into sugar to flatten slightly and join edges. Before baking on a fan grill setting

Oh no... this is what happened in the oven!

But the result was still tasty!

Soon I got the idea of turning regularly

The chimney cake slipped off the rolling pins easily.

A delicious treat!

Here is the recipe....

 Kürtőskalács /Chimney cake

Servings: 4

Preparation time:
 Preparing dough 15 minutes, first rise: about an 1 hour
 Cook time: 20 minutes in oven if you using roast function. Baking at 25 minutes (I used a fan grill setting and it didn't take long at all)

 For the dough:
 1¾ cups (8½ oz) (240 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour
 2¼ teaspoons (1 packet) (7 gm) active dry yeast OR 2 teaspoons instant yeast OR 14 gm (½ oz) fresh yeast
 2 tablespoons (1 oz)(30 gm) sugar
 1/8 teaspoon (3/4 gm) salt
 1 large egg, room temperature
 3 tablespoons (1½ oz) (45 gm) melted butter
 1/2 cup (120 ml) milk, lukewarm temperature

For baking/grilling:
 melted butter

For the topping:
 Approximately ½ cup (3½ oz) (100gm) sugar
 For walnut sugar topping
 About 1 cup (4 oz) (115 gm) ground walnuts, mixed with about 1/2 cup (3½ oz) (100 gm) sugar
 2 teaspoons (10 ml) (1/4 oz) (6 gm) cinnamon

 If you are using active dry yeast, add ½ teaspoon sugar to lukewarm milk and set aside for 5-10 minutes until it proofs (becomes foamy).

You can use the other yeast types directly along with the flour.
 In a large bowl combine, flour, sugar and salt. To this add egg, milk, melted butter, and yeast. Stir the mixture until it comes together to form a dough, and then knead for about five minutes.

It will be sticky. Don’t be tempted to add any flour. Grease your hand if needed.

Transfer to a well greased container

Allow the dough to rise for 60 minutes at room temperature until doubled in volume

 Prepare the rolling pins by covering them with aluminum foil, do at least two or three layers, to protect the pins from burning in the oven.

Make sure to cover the rolling pins very well. Brush them with melted butter.

Punch down the risen dough and divide into 4 equal parts about 4 oz (115 gm) of each.

On a well floured surface spread one portion of the dough

Shape into 1/6 inch (4 mm) thick square-shaped sheet.

Using a pizza cutter cut the dough into a long ribbons of about 1/2 inch (13 mm) wide.

Wrap one end of the dough strip around the spit/rolling pin, tucking in the end so the dough doesn't unwind.

Keep the dough very thin (under ¼ inch (6 mm)) as you stretch and wind it on the rolling pun. Then roll the whole thing slightly on the counter top to flatten it/press it together.

Brush with melted butter

Roll in sugar

Place in roasting pan and bake in a preheated moderately hot oven 375°F/190⁰C/gas mark 5 for 25 minutes.

If using roast function (375⁰F/190⁰C) in the oven it will take about 20 minutes.

If you are grilling (broiling) over the fire cooking time is about six minutes, until it starts to take on a dark golden color. Turn the rolling pin at once least once (or more) throughout baking time to ensure uniform cooking.
 When cake is done roll it in sugar again

If you are using other toppings brush more butter, then roll the finished cake in the toppings of your choice.
 Tap the mold on a table top to release the cake and set it up right to cool.


Divide the risen dough into four portions.

Roll out and rub with  softened butter

Stretch out the dough until thin

Roll up from the long edge

Roll into a loose snail shell shape

and allow to rise

Bake until beautiful and golden


Dust with powdered sugar if you like.

Here is the recipe...

Ensaimda - Spanish Pastry

Servings: 4

Preparation time:
 15 minutes, first rise: 2 hour, second rise 1 hour. Baking at 15-20 minutes

 2½ cups (10½ oz) (300 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour
 2¼ teaspoons (1 packet) (7 gm) active dry yeast OR 2 teaspoon instant yeast OR 14 gm (½ oz) fresh yeast
 1/2 cup (120 ml) warm water
 1 large egg
 ½ teaspoon (3 gm) salt
 ¼ cup (60 ml) (2 oz) (60 gm) granulated sugar
 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
 7 tablespoons (110 ml) (3½ oz) (100 gm) butter, softened
 Confectioners’ sugar/icing sugar/powdered sugar for dusting
 Olive oil/canola oil for greasing bowl and work place.

 If you are using active dry yeast, add ½ teaspoon sugar add to lukewarm water and set aside for 5 minutes

Until it proofs (becomes foamy)

 You can use the other yeast types directly with the flour
 In a large bowl or bowl of kitchen aid mixer combine the sugar, egg and olive oil.

To this add flour, salt and yeast mixture.

Knead for 6 minutes if using kitchen aid mixer or 10 minutes by hand, until you get a soft and pliable dough.

Transfer the dough to a well greased bowl and covered with plastic wrap or covered with a cloth. Let rise for 2 hours or until the dough doubles in volume.

Degas your dough and divide into 4 equal parts and then shape into balls.

Lightly oil the work place and place a ball of dough, using a rolling pin roll out the ball into a long thin rectangle about 12x4 inch (30x10 cm) piece.

Divide your butter to 4 pieces. Place a butter portion on the rolled out dough and spread it into a thin layer.

Take pieces of dough between your fingers and try to gently stretch the dough to be even thinner and larger about 16x7 inches (40 x18 cm).

Roll the dough from the long end to into a tube.

Then roll the tube again into coil shape similar to a snail shell.

Make sure to keep the coil loose so that there is space in between the layers, this will help the dough to rise.

Repeat for the other three dough balls and butter portions.

Place the snails onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Slightly press the sides with your hand.

Cover the baking sheet with a clean cloth and let rise for 1 hour.

During the end of second rising, pre-heat oven to 180⁰C/350⁰F/Gas mark 4
 Bake ensaimadas for about 15-20 minutes. Watch them closely during the end of baking time. They should be golden brown in color.

When baked immediately place the ensaimadas onto cooling racks sprinkle generously with powdered sugar/confectioner’s sugar.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Checkerboard Cake - July 2014 Daring Bakers' Challenge

 For the July Daring Baker’s Challenge, Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to bake a cake. But not just any cake; she asked us to add in a special surprise for our eyes as well as our taste buds!  

A surprise cake.
Well, that could be anything. Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood set this challenge and gave a few suggestions...rainbow cake, zebra cake, a cake baked within a cake or a checkerboard cake. The ideas were endless and fun. However sometimes the cake gods seem to make up your mind for you. You know how it is... I was wandering around my local second hand store shortly after this challenge was announced and I came across an unused checkboard pan set. Someone had bought this set with good intentions but never got to bake the cake. For $6.00 it was mine. I had to make a checkerboard cake!

For those who don't know what a checkerboard cake pan is have a look here. This one is just like the one I bought in the second hand store. The idea is to clip the separator onto one of the cake pan then pour different colour batter into each separate ring...lift the separator... wash the separator... clip onto the second cake pan and repeat and repeat again for the third pan. Now when I write it all down like that I realise why I had cake batter from one end of the kitchen to the other. Hmmmm, it is a lot of fussing for a cake. But then it is fun and the cake is fun!. Thanks Ruth! Great challenge making something I had never thought of making before!

Checkerboard cake 

Cake adapted from Brad

90g bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
4 large eggs
1 1/3  cups milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup plain flour, sifted

3 cups self raising flour, sifted
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
225g cup butter, softened

pink food colouring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a set of three 9 by 1 inch checkerboard cake pans (Checkerboard Baking Pans are sold in a set which includes three 9 by 1 inch cake pans and a divider ring to enable you to separate the cake pan into 3 rings), line with parchment, and then grease and flour.
In a double boiler melt the chocolate over simmering water, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.
In a medium bowl lightly combine the eggs, 1/4 of the milk, and vanilla.

In bowl of electric mixer, combine the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend. Add the butter and remaining milk. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake's structure. Scrape down the sides. Gradually add the egg mixture in three batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides. 

Divide the batter approximately in thirds. Stir the melted chocolate into one of the batches of batter until uniform in color and colour a second batch pink with the food colouring. Fill 3 large pastry bags fitted with large round tubes 3/4 inches in diameter with the 3 batters. I used large clip seal bags
Place the divider rings in one of the prepared pans and pipe batter into each, pipe one colour into each section . The batter should fill the pan about half full. Using a small metal spatula or the back of a spoon, smooth any seams or divisions in the batter. Now carefully lift out the divider and rinse it off. 

When piping batter for the second layer, pipe each colour into a different section than the first pan. Pipe each colour for the third layer into a different section again. Like this....

Bake 20 - 25 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cakes spring back when pressed lightly in the centers. The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven.
Let the cakes cool in the pans on racks for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto greased wire racks. To prevent splitting, re-invert so that the tops are up and cool completely before wrapping airtight.

Now prepare your icing.
Easy chocolate icing (adapted from Allrecipes)

60g dark cooking chocolate
125g butter
3 tablespoons milk
3 1/2 cups (550g) icing sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder, sifted
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

In a large saucepan over medium heat combine chocolate, butter and milk. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and beat in icing sugar, cocoa powder, salt and vanilla. Beat until smooth then adjusting consistency with milk or sugar if necessary.

Level the tops of each cake. You can use the leftover cake for cake pops!

When stacking the layers, use a very thin coating of chocolate frosting to adhere the layers without disturbing the checkerboard effect.

Stack each layer. Press to adhere well.

Ice all over and decorate as you like.

Cut, surprise and enjoy!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Nigella's Pumpkin and Chickpea Hotpot

Here in North Queensland we are in the middle of our tropical version of winter. Some days can get quite cool...I think a minimum of about 8 degrees celsius... that's cool for us. But most days are just a beautiful fresh break from our usual stifling heat. The skies are clear and the breeze is cool. At this time of the year we can grow lots of veges. Tomatoes, lettuces, beans, corn, even broccoli and cabbages. The easiest of all are the pumpkins. And of course, there is always plenty to give away. I ended up with three gorgeous ones that needed to be used and I remembered this recipe I had seen in a magazine.
With a hit of red curry paste, chickpeas and coconut milk the pumpkin is transformed into a most luscious vegetable. This is my version of Nigella's hotpot, just tweeking a few ingredients here and there to adjust to what I had in the pantry.
This could be a soup, hotpot, curry or whatever. I boiled a bit of rice and put a spoonful in the bottom of each bowl before spooning over the golden, fragrant goodness. You could serve it with crusty bread.
Try it. You won't be disappointed.

Pumpkin and Chickpea Hotpot
(adapted from Nigella Lawson)

3 tablespoons vegetable oil                  
1  finely chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste                   
2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 kilo peeled seeded pumpkin, cut into 1 1/4-inch chunks
1 425g can coconut cream
1 cup chicken stock, bought or homemade, more if needed
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 425g can chickpeas, drained
Freshly ground black pepper
boiled rice, to serve
chopped parsley, to garnish
Heat oil in a large pan then add the onion and salt. Saute to soften. Add the curry paste and fry off for a minute or so. Add the cumin and coriander.

Add pumpkin, coconut cream, stock and soy sauce. Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Don't let the pumpkin completely break up. We like to see bits of pumpkin.

Add the chicken and continue to simmer for 10 more minutes. Check for seasoning and add more curry paste if you think it needs it. Adjust thickness with more stock if needed.

Place a spoonful of rice into the bottom of the bowls then ladle over the fragrant hotpot. Sprinkle with parsley.
Serve and enjoy.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Chocolate and Marshmallow Woopie Pies

In December Bourbonnatrix, of Bourbonnatrix Bakes challenged us to make whoopie pies. This is my results...yes, 6 months late. Sorry Bourbonnatrix!

As an Aussie, the American Whoopie Pie facinated me. Is it a biscuit (or should I say "cookie")? Is it a little cake? Maybe it's something in between? What is the filling... buttercream or marshmallow? This is what I think I would like for a Whoopie Pie. Somewhere between a cookie and a cake with a squidgy marshmallow filling. 

So I need help now. The challenge is way over but I need opinions. Please US readers, how did I go? Is the the real thing? What am I looking for? If these are Whoopie Pies, well then, I love Whoopie Pies!

Chocolate and Marshmallow Whoopie Pies 

Chocolate Whoopie  (adapted from

125g butter at room temp
160g brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
50g cocoa powder, sifted
1 tsp bicarb soda
300g plain flour
330ml buttermilk

Begin by heating the oven to 190C.
In an electric mixer beat butter, brown sugar and vanilla until light and smooth. Add the egg and beat to combine.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the cocoa and the bicarb soda. Then gently mix in the plain flour and buttermilk alternatively.
Have ready baking trays lined with paper.
Fill a piping bag fitted with a plain tube with your mixture. Pipe rounds about 3cm in diameter evenly onto the trays leaving room between each whoopie for spreading.
Bake for 10 minutes or until firm. Cool slightly before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.

I used my favourite marshmallow recipe which I was first introduced to during the July 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge. This marshmallow is a Gale Gand recipe and it really produces a no-fail, fluffy and light marshmallow.

Marshmallow filling
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website

 1/4 cup water
 1/4 cup light corn syrup
 3/4 cup (168.76 grams/5.95oz) sugar
 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
 2 tablespoons cold water
 2 egg whites , room temperature
 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 In a saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup, and sugar, bring to a boil until “soft-ball”
stage, or 235 degrees on a candy thermometer.
Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let dissolve.
Remove the syrup from the heat, add the gelatin, and mix.
Whip the whites until soft peaks form and pour the syrup into the whites.
Add the vanilla and continue whipping until stiff.
Transfer to a pastry bag.
Pair up the whoopies, matching large one with large ones and so on.
Pipe marshmallow onto one half of a pair topping with the matched whoopie.

To stop sticky fingers and because they are festive I rolled each whoopie in 100' & 1000's letting them stick to the marshmallow.

Here are my first Whoopie Pies and I know they will not be my last.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Smoked Mozzarella with Yoghurt Flatbread

Some of the best things in life are the most simple, aren't they?

My local Italian deli just got a order in of buffalo cheeses. I had to try some, of course. Burrata and smoked mozzarella came home with me. The burrata is a fresh cheese made from mozzarella and cream. Inside is cream and mozzarella all encased in a solid mozzarella "skin". Milky and mild is how I would describe it. A drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh bread. That's it. Perfect.
But I had grander plans for the smoked mozzarella...

Remove wrapper, 
place cheese in oiled ramekin, 
bake 10 minutes at 200C until melted, oozy and golden.
Serve with yoghurt flatbread.

This was really, really good!

Yoghurt Flatbread

adapted from a Matthew Evans recipe

7g (1 sachet) yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup warm water plus 1 tablespoon
500g flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
200g Greek yoghurt
melted butter to brush
Maldon salt for sprinkling
Stir together yeast, 1 tablespoon warm water and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Place the bowl in the stand mixer with the dough hook attached. Start the mixer on slow and  mix in the flour, salt and yoghurt gradually adding the water. You may not need it all or you may need a bit more depending on the weather or the bread baking gods. Continue mixing the dough for 5 to 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Remove bowl from stand mixer, cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place for 2 hours.
After 1 1/2 hours have passed place a baking stone into your oven and preheat to 250C (yes, it's hot).
When the dough is ready, punch it down and turn it out onto a floured board. Divide into 8 pieces.

Roll out each portion quite thin and place on baking paper. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with Maldon salt. Work with just a couple of breads at a time - they bake quickly. Pick up the breads on the paper and slip paper and bread onto the hot stone in the oven. Yes, you can leave the paper behind and just place the bread on the hot stone - I just find this way easier. These should bake in less than five minutes. Just keep an eye on them. When the breads come out of the over brush again with butter.

 Hey, butter is good, more must be better, no?

Repeat with remaining dough.

These flatbreads are tender and delicous.

Perfect for oozy hot baked mozzarella.

Told you the best things are the most simple!

Friday, June 27, 2014

CINNAMON ROLLS - The Daring Bakers’ June 2014 Challenge

This month the Daring Bakers kept our creativity rolling with cinnamon bun inspired treats. Shelley from C Mom Cook dared us to create our own dough and fill it with any filling we wanted to craft tasty rolled treats, cinnamon not required!

Sweet bready dough, cinnamon, sugar, butter.... all my favourite food groups so how could this month fail to impress. 
Cinnamon buns are something I have always wanted to make but have never really got around to it. And Sticky Cinnamon buns can only be better. Shelley provided a great recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart plus a couple of others. But Shelley also gave us free reign to be as creative as we pleased - sweet or savoury, with or without cinnamon. However I couldn't go past the recipe by Peter Reinhard in The Bread Baker's Apprentice.  I have a copy of this book so I followed the Sticky Bun version of the recipe., delicious and divine! Thank you, Shelley!

Please take note of this oozy caramel dripping down the buns like molten lava!

Cinnamon Buns

(from The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart)
Makes 8-12 large or 12-16 smaller buns

6½ tablespoons (100 ml) (3 oz) (90 gm) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt
5½ tablespoons (85 ml) (2¾ oz) (80 gm) shortening, unsalted butter or margarine, at room temperature
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon extract OR 1 teaspoon (5 ml) grated lemon zest
3½ cups (840 ml) (16 oz) (450 gm) unbleached bread (or all-purpose/plain) flour
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (¼ oz) (6 gm) instant yeast (active dry worked as well)
1 1/8 – 1 ¼ cups (270-300 ml) whole milk or buttermilk, at room temperature
½ cup (120 ml) (3½ oz) (100 gm) cinnamon sugar (6½ tablespoons (100ml) (3 oz) (90 gm) granulated sugar plus 1½ tablespoons (20 ml) (1/3 oz) (10 gm) ground cinnamon)

Caramel Glaze
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks/15 Tbsp) butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1 tsp lemon, orange or vanilla extract
  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together sugar, salt and shortening (though it is not difficult to do by hand, using a strong spoon).
  2. Add the egg and lemon extract to the creamed sugar and shortening and mix together until smooth.
  3. Add the flour, yeast and milk to the mixer and mix on low speed until the dough begins to form a ball.
  4. At this point, switch to the dough hook attachment and knead for 10 minutes (if kneading by hand, you will probably need to do so for closer to 12 – 15 minutes). The dough will be silky and supple, but not overly sticky. You may need to add a touch of flour if your dough is too sticky – that is okay.
  5. Lightly oil a bowl, turn the kneaded dough out into it, turning to coat, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  6. Allow the dough to rest (ferment) until it has doubled in size, approximately 2 hours.
  7. Once the dough has rested and risen, you are ready to shape the cinnamon buns. Prepare your a sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper.
  8. Spray your work surface lightly with cooking spray and turn the dough out onto the work surface.
  9. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough, into a rectangle about 2/3 an inch (15 mm) thick, 14 inches (350 mm)wide and 12 inches (300 mm) long (for large buns) (or 18 inches (450 mm) wide by 9 inches (230 mm) long for smaller ones). You may need to sprinkle the dough and/or work surface with a bit of flour to keep the dough from sticking. This is okay. 

 10. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar filling over the surface of the dough.

 11. Starting with a long end, roll the dough, creating a spiral, into a log shape, making sure to end with the seam side down

 Make the glaze: in the bowl of an electric mixer, combine sugar, brown sugar, salt, and butter, at room temperature. Cream together for 2 minutes on high speed with the paddle attachment. Add the cup corn syrup and 1 teaspoon lemon, orange or vanilla extract. Continue to cream for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Use as much of this as you need to cover the bottom of the pan with a 1/4-inch layer. Refrigerate and save any excess for future use; it will keep for months in a sealed container. I made half this quantity and used the whole lot.

I sprinkled a few broken pecan over the caramel glaze.

12.Cut the dough into pieces approximately 1¾ inches (45 mm) thick (for large buns) (1¼ inch (30 mm) for smaller buns).
13. Place buns approximately ½ inch (15 mm) apart on the prepared pan. They shouldn't be touching at this time. (Mine were)

 14. Allow the shaped buns to proof at room temperature for 75 – 90 minutes until they have nearly doubled in size. They will now be touching each other. If you are not planning on baking the buns the same day as you are preparing them, you can place them into the refrigerator after they are shaped (before this rise) for up to 2 days. If you do so, you will need to allow them to return to room temperature prior to baking, which means removing them from the refrigerator about 3 or 4 hours before baking.

15. Preheat the oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 degrees at the end of this proofing time.

16. Bake the buns for 20 – 30 minutes, until golden brown

17. Allow to cool for 5 minutes then turn over onto a serving plate. Don't let the buns sit in the pan for too long because then you will have trouble turning them out.

These rolls have a beautiful tender crumb combined with the oozy caramel...yum... who can resist!