Sunday, September 20, 2015

Cardamom Coffee Rolls - A Baker's Odyssey Personal Challenge #37

Growing up in a farming community that was quite multicultural one of my favourite foods was "Finish Bread" or "Coffee Buns". I now know this was Pulla, a wonderfully fragrant Finish bread.  The Finns, like we Italians, had come to the area to make it "good" in the sugar cane industry. My mother swapped recipes with the Finn ladies so pizza became a staple in their homes and "Finnish Bread" in ours. I still have a great fondness for the beautiful spice cardamom and for the gentle Finnish people.

Today I continue my slow journey through A Baker's Odyssey by Greg Patent. I had baked these delicious buns quite some time ago and have just rediscovered them. So similar to the wonderful bread of my childhood with freshly ground cardamom the key to their beauty. Inside the green cardamom pods you will find brown seeds, crush them to release their fragrance.

I dedicate this post to the amazing Finish people and their families who brought joy into my life.

Cardamom Coffee Rolls


1 c whole milk
1 1/2 c plain flour
1 package (2 1/4 tsp) active dry or instant yeast


1/2 c sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1/2 stick (4 tbsp or 60g) butter, soft and room temperature
1 tsp ground cardamom (slightly more if you use pre-ground)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 c plain flour


1/4 c slivered almonds, chopped
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp pearl sugar
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 tsp water, for the egg wash

To begin make the sponge

Heat the milk to between 38C/120F to 55C/130F. Whisk together the flour and yeast then add the milk and whisk until smooth and thick. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let is rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubles...

... and is bubbly like this.

Scrape the sponge into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the sugar egg, egg yolk, butter, cardamom and salt. Using a flat beater beat on low for a minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes until the dough gathers around the beater and pulls away from the sides. Remove the flat beater and attach the dough hook. Add in the flour and knead on a low speed, scraping the sides if needed. Increase the speed and knead for 5 minutes. It should be soft and elastic.

Sprinkle the dough with a spoonful of flour, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled about 1 1/2 hours.

Scrape the risen dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Flip the dough over so both surfaces are coated with flour. Divide the dough into 15 portions. Cover loosely with a cloth and allow to rest for 10 minutes. In the meantime butter a 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan. Now shape each portion into a ball and arrange in the buttered tray. Allow to rise for 1 hour covered with a cloth.

Heat the oven to 190C/375F. Make the topping by combining all the ingredients.

When the rolls have risen brush with egg wash and sprinkle with topping. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until well risen and browned.

These are delicious warm!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Parmesan Crisps

Sometimes I think we complicate life unnecessarily. I've been reading an interesting blog lately - Becoming Minimalist. Some of it is a bit intense but if you take the general idea we do better with less...less stuff. So I have attempted culling some of my "stuff" and buying less. It's not easy and I often think I will need items that I haven't used for years or ever, for that matter. I have a bit of a problem in my pantry...I love to keep it well know, just in case! I love baking and cooking and much of the time I like recipes that require a little bit of skill or complications. 

In the spirit of "becoming minimalist", today I bring you a very simple recipe requiring just one ingredient - Parmesan cheese.  I see this abounds on the web but sometimes we need reminding that even simple is good or even great. These can be whipped up to have with drinks and nibbles or to add crunch and interest to a salad or try adding dried herbs or spices to the cheese. Simple!

Enjoy your weekend!

Parmesan Crisps

Heat the oven to 200C/400F.
Finely grate enough Parmesan cheese. Cover a baking tray with non stick paper or a silicone mat.
Take spoonfuls of  cheese and place piles of cheese onto the baking paper leaving about 3 or 4cm between each. Flatten and spread out the cheese just a little.

Bake in the oven for around 5 minutes but keep and eye on them.
Remove and allow to cool and crisp. If not crispy enough, pop back into the oven for a little longer.

Relax and enjoy!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Jamie Oliver's Tear "N" Share Garlic Bread

 This Sunday in Australia we celebrate Father's Day. Though my dad is no longer with us I celebrate this day for the fathers in my life - my husband and my dear father-in-law, and in memory of my own father. For me it is a day to show our Dads that they are appreciated and loved. Yummy comfort food helps, I think. And what can be more comforting than bread and butter.

This tear and share garlic bread is perfect....soft white bread, fragrant garlic and oodles of butter!

What are we waiting for?

Happy Father's Day.

Tear "N" Share Garlic Bread 

adapted from "Jamie's Comfort Food" by Jamie Oliver

800g bread flour
1 x 7g dried yeast
1 teaspoon salt
550ml warm water
100g stale breadcrumbs

6 large cloves garlic, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
125g butter, at room temp (see note)
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Note: My preference is for salted butter but Jamie uses unsalted, I will leave that up to you

I make the dough in my stand mixer with the dough hook but you could easily make it by hand. In the bowl of the stand mixer place the flour, yeast and salt. Add the warm water and knead in the stand mixer on low until well combined. Increase speed a little and continue to knead for 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Remove the bowl from the stand mixer, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to stand in a warm place until the dough is doubled - about 1 hour. 

In the meantime make your butter. I like to crush the garlic with my mini mortar and pestle with a little bit of salt but you can just use a garlic crusher if you prefer. Mix the garlic with the butter, as much parsley as you want (I like more than Jamie recommended), lemon rind and cayenne pepper.  

Take a large baking tray - mine measured about 25cm x 35 cm - and spread about 1/3 of the butter all over the base and sides, sprinkle with breadcrumbs making sure they get all the way up the sides.

Divide your risen dough into 35 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and arrange in the baking tray. 

Spread the dough with another 1/3 of the butter then allow the dough to rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes or until almost doubled in size.While you are waiting preheat the oven to 190C/375F.
When ready bake for 30 minutes or until well risen, golden and cooked through.

Hit the buns with the last 1/3 of butter!

Spread the butter well over the hot buns..
...then serve and enjoy!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Seed and Nut Loaf with Dates and Dried Cranberries - Daring Bakers' Challenge August 2015

 For the August challenge Susan from The Kiwi Cook dared us to make Seed & Nut Loaf – a super-healthy and gluten-free alternative to standard wheat-based bread.

Gluten free? The word alone brings to my mind strange food and loss. Loss of enjoying a crusty baguette, or a flaky croissant or simply white bread with butter and Vegemite. Loss of traditional pasta dishes so important in my life. Loss of cakes, biscuits and baking I know and love so well. This month we were challenged to bake a gluten free seed and nut loaf by Susan of The Kiwi Cook. Strangely this month my daughter was having tests to check if she was gluten intolerant. While she was waiting for the results I pondered about my future baking should the test come back positive. Anyone who knows me knows my love of baking and of breads. And my family are pivotal in my baking choices. I bake for them. It is part of who I am and what I can give to the ones I love.

So to step into the world of gluten free seems so limiting. It is with this thought that I plunged into the recipe. Could I make it work? Could I love it? Gluten free and all?

The answer is a resounding yes!

This gluten free loaf is bound together not with eggs but with psyllium seed husks which soak up the liquid and act as a binding ingredient. The original recipe was probably more savoury than my version because I wanted to bring in the natural sweetness of dates and orange juice and the bite of cranberries.

During the month I also made an delicious Apricot, Apple and Coconut version, substituting the dates, cranberries and cinnamon for 1/2 cup chopped dried apricot, 1/2 cup chopped dried apple and 1/2 cup desiccated coconut. I used water instead of orange juice but I think coconut milk would be nice. This photo shows the loaf untoasted but toasting definitely adds the finishing touch.

So if you're game, bake this, slice it, toast it and drizzle it with honey...I think you will be pleasantly surprised! Thanks to our host, Susan and my Daring Bakers friends.

GLUTEN-FREE SEED & NUT LOAF with Dates and Dried Cranberries

Makes 1 loaf


1 cup (250 ml) (140 gm) ( 5 oz) sunflower seeds
½ cup (125 ml) (90 gm) (3 oz) flax seeds (linseeds)
½ cup (125 ml) (50 gm) (1¾ oz) sliced almonds (or nuts you prefer, I used almonds and macadamias)
1-½ cups (375 ml) (135 gm) (4¾ oz) gluten-free rolled oats
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (20 gm) (¾ oz) sesame seeds
4 tablespoons (60 ml) (25 gm) (1 oz) psyllium seed husks (3 tablespoons if using psyllium husk powder)
1/2 cup chopped dried dates
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) fine grain sea salt (it’s fine to reduce this if you prefer)
1 tablespoon (15 ml) honey, I definitely added more!
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons (45 ml) butter, melted
1-½ cups (375 ml) orange juice, freshly squeezed


In a standard sized silicone, non-stick, or greased and lined loaf pan, combine all the dry ingredients (I find it’s easier and less messy to combine in a large bowl first).

Whisk honey, butter and juice together in a separate bowl.

Add mixture to the dry ingredients and combine until everything is completely soaked and dough becomes very thick (while the mixture will be wet, there should be no excess liquid).

Transfer the mixture to the loaf pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

Cover the pan lightly with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours or overnight. The mixture should feel very firm to the touch.
Preheat oven to moderate 180°C/350°F/ gas mark 4. Then bake bread initially for 20 minutes.

Take the loaf out of the oven, place a wire rack over top and invert to remove the bread (if you’ve lined the loaf tin, you should remove the lining at this point).

Put the now inverted loaf on its wire rack into the oven again and bake for another 30-40 minutes (it should sound hollow when tapped). The loaf should be starting to brown on the outside - this gives a lovely nutty crunch to the finished loaf.
Let the loaf cool completely before slicing.


You can store the loaf in an airtight container (or wrap it in plastic wrap) for up to 5 days. You can also freeze it for at least 3 months (it helps to slice it first before freezing so you can enjoy that occasional piece of toast!).

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Yafawi Sfeeha - July 2015 daring bakers' challenge

The July daring Baker's Challenge was brought to us by Manal from Manal's Bites. She introduced us to an authentic Palestinian dish from Jaffa that is served as a main meal along with a bowl of soup of salad. The "Yafawi Sfeeha" or also known as "Milwayeh" which means twisted, is crispy yet tender and full of flavor.

This month we were introduced to an authentic filled pastry from Palestine by our host Manal from Manal's Bites. The tender dough is stretched thinly with ghee then filled, rolled and baked to produce delicious savoury or sweet pastries. First I tackled the meat filling using beef however the recipe require 1 tablespoon of pomegranate molasses. Checking out the price in the store I found a bottle of pomegranate molasses retailed at AUD$17.00! Eeeeekkkk! But I did find a bottle of pomegranate juice for AUD$4.00 at the supermarket so with the juice in hand I googled and produced my own pomegranate molasses. I'm not sure if I could detect the flavour in the finished pastries but just the look of the sticky, shiny molasses made me feel good!

Next I made Sweet Walnut Sfeeha dusted with sugar. I think they should have been dunked in the sugar syrup because they were a bit dry. Nice with a cup of tea, though!

Many thanks to our host, Manal and please check out more Yafawi Sfeeha here at Daring Bakers'!

Pomagranate Molasses (based on this recipe from Tori Avey)

  • 2 cups pure 100% pomegranate juice (bottled or fresh)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 40mls freshly squeezed lemon juice

Heat up over medium until the sauce begins to simmer lightly. Stir to dissolve sugar. Allow the liquid to simmer very lightly for 40 - 60 minutes, stirring every regularly, until the liquid reduces by 75%.
The molasses will be ready when it has a light syrupy consistency and coats the back of a spoon. Don't let it thicken too much, or it will harden into toffee when it cools.
Remove from heat. The syrup will continue to thicken as it cools.
After the syrup cools completely, store it in an airtight jar or container in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.

Isn't it gorgeous?

Yafawi Sfeeha

Servings: 15-18 pieces


To make the dough:

3 cups (750 ml) (420 gm) (15 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour, scoop flour using cup measure then level
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) sugar
3 tablespoons (45 ml) powdered milk (you can substitute this with warm milk, you will need less water if using milk)
3 tablespoons (45 ml) vegetable oil
About 1 cup (250 ml) warm water for kneading
Melted ghee (or olive oil) to stretch the dough (ghee gives a great texture and flavor).


1.Mix flour, salt, sugar, powdered milk and vegetable oil then start adding the warm water until you get a tender and slightly sticky dough. Kneading will take about 8 min on a stand-up mixer or 12 min by hand. you might need more depending on where you live and the kind of flour you are using).

2.Form the dough into small golf-ball-sized balls. Place on a baking sheet that is very well greased with ghee or olive oil and pour some more (oil or ghee) over dough. Cover and let rest at room temperature for few hours at least (or overnight).

3.Prepare filling in the meantime.

Meat filling

1 pound (500 grams) ground beef, lamb or a mix of both
1 medium onion, minced
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon Middle Eastern 7 spice blend ( recipe here) or you can just use ½ teaspoon all-spice and ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon.)
1 teaspoon sumaq (A Middle Eastern deep red colored and sour flavored spice) (or substitute with ¾ teaspoon lemon zest and ¼ teaspoon pepper)
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses (see my homemade molasses above)
½ cup (120 ml) (60 gm) (2 oz) toasted pine nuts (optional)


In a skillet over medium heat, cook meat until no longer pink and water has evaporated, add onion and cook till it becomes tender (around 3 minutes). Season the mixture and add spices; it will be very fragrant now. Remove off heat and add sumaq and pomegranate molasses. Add toasted pine nuts if using. Let the filling cool completely before stuffing Sfeeha

After you have your filling ready, use some of the ghee to brush a round tray (the surface that you will be working on). Take one piece of dough and using your hands, gently start spreading it as thinly and evenly as possible.

Once that is done fold the upper side to the middle, then fold the opposite side to the middle as well.

Spread your filling in a long line across the dough. Roll like a long tight rope making sure that it is tight enough to ensure no filling escapes.

 Then taking one end start rolling the rope towards the inside in a spiral shape

Put some more ghee on your baking sheet and place the done Sfeeha onto the baking sheet. Continue making the rest of your Sfeeha using ghee to keep it nice and moist.

Preheat oven to moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6 and bake Sfeeha for 15-20 minutes till golden brown. Serve hot or at room temperature with a bowl of soup during winter or a salad and Greek yogurt in summer time.

Sweet Walnut Sfeeha


2 cups (500 ml) (230 gm) (8 oz) walnuts, coarsely chopped, (you can use any sort of nut you wish)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ tablespoon orange blossom water
½ tablespoon rose water


Mix all ingredients together and your filling is done.

For serving: Powdered sugar or sugar syrup

Sugar Syrup


2 cups (500 ml) (400 gm) (14 oz) sugar
1½ cup (375 ml) water
Juice of half a lemon
½ tablespoon orange blossom water (optional)


Mix sugar and water over high heat in a stainless steel pot. Don’t stir. Once it comes to a boil stir with a wooden spoon to ensure all sugar is dissolved. Add lemon juice and let it cook for a couple of minutes. Remove off heat and add orange blossom water if using.

Note: Once you have the sweet ones baked and hot pour some cold sugar syrup over them or let them cool off and dust with powdered sugar..

I dusted mine with powdered sugar.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Zucchini, Dried Tomato and Black Olive Charlotte - Daring Bakers Challenge June 2015

For the June daring bakers challenge Rebecca from challenged us to make Charlotte Royale and Charlotte Russe from scratch. Savory or sweet Charlottes were definitely tasty

Better late than never, they say...don't they?

This is a very late post for the June Daring Bakers challenge which should have been revealed on our blogs on the 27th June. However life again got in the way. As much as I love my blog and the wonderful online baking group I belong to sometimes I need to let things go so that my life is less stressed. This was one of those months. Can anyone give me tips on quick blogging?

In June we were required to make a Charlotte Royale or Russe or a Savory Charlotte. The Charlotte Russe looked delicious but I didn't really have an occasion to produce such a dessert and consuming it all ourselves was not going to happen so I decided on a savoury Charlotte to accompany lunch. The combination of flavours are classic and work well together. You can see the other Daring Bakers' Charlottes  here. Many thanks to our host Rebecca.
PS. Sorry I am so late!

Zucchini, Sun dried Tomato and Black Olive Charlotte
3 medium zucchini, sliced 3mm thick
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic

500g cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 grated lemon rind
1/2 cup sour cream
8 basil leaves, finely shredded
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
1/2 cup diced, dried tomatoes in oil
1/2 cup diced black olives
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
freshly ground pepper
pinch of salt or to taste

Mix the zucchini with the oil, salt and garlic. Fry or grill on a griddle pan until pliable but not too soft. Set aside to cool.

For the filling.
Beat the cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the lemon juice, rind and sour cream. Fold through remaining ingredients.

Take a 1 litre bowl. Line with plastic wrap. Start arranging the zucchini slices in the bottom of the bowl.

 Add a bit of the filling as you go so that the zucchini slices don't collapse in. Arrange more zucchini slices and filling as you go until it is all used.

 Fold the top zucchini slices over the filling and lay more zucchini slices to completely cover the filling.

Bring over the plastic wrap to cover the charlotte. Refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours until filling is set.

Turn the charlotte out onto a serving platter, remove the plastic wrap and serve with crusty bread.