KOUIGN AMAAN- DARING KITCHEN CHALLENGE

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For those of you who don’t thing of bread beyond the yeasted dough or a breakfast toast and butter, here is a pastry from “bread-heaven”. A challenge to pronounce- Kwee-Ahmaan and a bigger challenge to control yourself from polishing it off in one go. Imagine the very French croissant’s coupling with buttery puff pastry and sweet Danish and voila! You have Kouign Amann- a round crusty pastry that originated in Brittany in the 1800s. History has it that a baker from a town of Douarnenez in the district of Finistère. in a desperate attempt to save a failed batch of bread dough added a significant amount of butter and sugar turning it into Kouign Amann. Bretons claim that the Kouign Amann is the “fattiest pastry in the world” (your thighs will hate you), its their answer to the Parisian Croissant.

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The process involves making yeasted dough, resting it, beating down chilled butter to a flat, thin layer and encasing it in the dough. It is crucial for the success of the KA to keep the butter chilled at all times, as this is what forms those sugary sheets of fluff. Active time is barely 45 minutes but the resting and chilling can take up most part of your day. I always use cling film to line my counter when rolling and folding the dough. This serves a dual purpose, less mess and since the dough can get sticky and difficult, the film helps to lift it off the surface and fold. Wrap the dough in the same cling film and chill. This way I can carry on with my other mundane chores without having to constantly clean up the counter.

These buns are irresistible, flaky like puff pastry on the outside revealing soft layers of fluffy bread with every bite. I can promise you one is never enough. The filling can be anything from chocolate chip, nuts to Nuttela. I stuck with my favourite- sugar and cinnamon. This is rich, rich, buttery and mildly sweet and doesn’t need anymore fat or fancy but I will leave you to decide. A large mug of tea and a tray of these buns is enough to ruin any hopes you had of getting into those shorts this summer (LOL). As I sweat it out on the treadmill a large poster with a bikini bod reads, “Workout till you are proud of yourself”…… ha …Ha..it will take a lot of workout for me to be proud!!

RECIPE

KOUIGN AMAAN

Servings: 12

Ingredients:

300 grams strong plain flour, plus extra for dusting

1 ½ tsp instant yeast OR 2 ½ tsp active dry yeast

1 tsp salt

200ml warm water

25g / 1 ¾ Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

250grams cold unsalted butter, in a block

75 grams caster sugar,(mixed with ½ tsp cinnamon, plus extra sugar for sprinkling

  • Put the flour into the bowl of a freestanding mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the yeast to one side of the bowl and the salt to the other. Add the water and melted butter and mix on a slow speed for two minutes, then on a medium speed for six minutes. Can be made by your good old hands too. NOTE: If using active dry yeast, activate it in the water for 5 minutes first.
  • Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and shape into a ball. Put into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for one hour.
  • Sandwich the butter between two sheets of grease-proof paper and bash with a rolling pin, then roll out to a 14 cm / 5½” square. Place in the fridge to keep chilled.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 20cm / 8” square. Place the butter in the center of the dough diagonally, so that each side of butter faces a corner of the dough. Fold the corners of the dough over the butter to enclose like an envelope.
  • Roll the dough into a 45 x 15cm / 18 x 6” rectangle. Fold the bottom third of dough up over the middle, then fold the top third of the dough over. You will now have a sandwich of three layers of butter and three layers of dough. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. This completes one turn.
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  • Repeat this process twice more, so you have completed a total of three turns, chilling the dough for 30 minutes between turns.
  • Roll the dough into a rectangle as before. Sprinkle the dough with the caster sugar and fold into thirds again. Working quickly, roll the dough into a large 40 x 30cm / 16 x 12” rectangle. Sprinkle the dough with additional caster sugar and cut the dough into 12 squares.
  • Grease a 12-cup muffin tin well with oil. Gather the dough squares up by their four corners and place in the muffin tins, pulling the four corners towards the centre of the muffin tin, so that it gathers up like a four-leaf clover. Sprinkle with additional caster sugar and leave to rise, covered with a clean tea towel, for 30 minutes until slightly puffed up.
  •  Preheat oven to 220°C / 200°C (fan). Bake the pastries for 30 – 40 minutes, or until golden-brown. Cover with foil halfway through if beginning to brown too much. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a couple of minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Be careful not to burn yourself on the caramelized sugar, but don’t leave them to cool for too long, or the caramelised sugar will harden and they will be stuck in the tin.
  • Serve warm or cold.
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MINI QUICHE (Spinach and Corn)

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My lunch girls, have been clamouring for an afternoon out for ages. Without meaning to be pricey I must have withdrawn from my lunch and /or coffee engagements; reasons ranging from fatigue to flat tyres ………… eventually they threw up their hands in despair and like good chums decided to plonk themselves in my living room (no permission asked or appointment taken). How nice is that….they could have kicked me out of the lunch group instead. Oh they were decent enough to give me a 2 day notice with strict instructions not to slave in the kitchen, a cup of tea and digestives would be great. Cup of tea and sweetened saw-dust for my girls?? I would have heard a few disappointed murmurs at a later date. The weather being the way it is, tea was out. Cold coffee and Lamingtons and my mini quiches sounded just the thing to please my “care two hoots for the waist line when good food is around” friends.image

Spending a morning with your girlfriends is one of the few pleasures of life. Nothing beats chatting aimlessly, venting your ire, crying over a bad haircut, discussing your mean teenager and using politically wrong language without being judged, without a harsh opinion or comment. On the contrary girls are so full of praise for your catty comments, they verbalise so many “oohs”, “aahs” and “yes you should have kicked his ….”, and then there are so many hugs going around for being brave, mean, greedy, lazy and all the other uncalled for behaviour. Where your male soul mate would just say “hmmm”, “oh”, “ok”, the female counterparts are so much superior in their efforts to make you feel wonderful, loved, beautiful and on top of the world. All it takes is cold coffee, lamingtons and quiche!!

Carried away with my unexpected morning affair!! Let me get to the Quiche on hand. Simply short crust pastry, spinach and corn filling and cream, eggs and nutmeg. Obviously there is a twist…..I flavoured the pastry dough with garlic powder and oregano (you pick your spices.) The cases were lined with thinly sliced gruyere (go ahead and use cheese slices, its so much easier). My recipe for the pastry makes the dough quite crumbly and difficult to handle, if you have a recipe which you are comfortable with go ahead. The quiche is light, healthy (I like to believe so) and the right accompaniment with the cold coffee. No fuss cutting it and the eternal embarrassment of the pastry falling off the filling. (LOL)

Life couldn’t be happier or simpler, a group of chatty, nutty, emotional females, sitting with their feet up on the chairs, sipping coffee without counting the calories, eating with their fingers, not bothering about my unwashed hair and flour dusted Tee, laughing, raving and ranting about their blessed life and promising to start the diet after the last bite of Quiche.

 

RECIPE

SPINACH AND CORN MINI QUICHES

MAKES 12

PLAIN SHORTCRUST PASTRY

250 grams plain flour

1 teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon dried oregano (any other herb will do)

125 grams chilled butter, chopped

1 egg yolk

3-4 tablespoons cold water

  • Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and add in the garlic powder and oregano and mix. Add the butter. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until crumbly.
  • Combine the egg yolk and 3 tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Add to the flour mix. Cut with a knife to form a dough, adding another tablespoon of water if necessary.
  • Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and bring together gently to form a dough. I find it very handy to turn out the dough onto a plastic wrap and bring it together with the help of the wrap, wrap it tightly and then gently press it together to form a dough ball. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before using.
  • Roll out the pastry between two sheets of plastic wraps or grease proof paper. Using a plain cutter or a jar cap cut rounds of the pastry to fit 12 cupcake tins. If the dough breaks in places, patch it up with little bits of dough.
  • Refrigerate while making the filling.

 

FILLING

50 grams Gruyere/ strong cheddar/ cheddar slices

1 tablespoon butter/ Olive oil

1 medium sized onion finely chopped

1 cup spinach, shredded

1/2 cup steamed corn

2 eggs

200 ml cream

50 ml milk

Freshly ground pepper

½ teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 190oC

  • In a pan melt butter with a dash of oil. Fry onions on low heat until tender. Add the spinach and corn. Continue stirring on low to mediun heat until the spinach wilts and any extra moisture dries up. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Remove the dough lined cupcake tins from the refrigerator. Line the bases with the cheese slices. Divide the spinach and corn mix between the 12 cases
  • In a bowl, whisk together the cream, milk, eggs, pepper and nutmeg. Laddle the cream- egg mix into the pastry shells.
  • Bake for 20 minutes until lightly browned and set. Serve hot.

GATEAUX PITHIVIERS

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Hello! I know I have been showing up in small bursts and spurts. I must say I have been quite tardy lately. Blame it on my “go-slow-on-sugar-flour-and –butter-New Year resolution”. A slight change in the pleasurable pursuits of life can slow me down. We get so foolishly carried away by the bright lights and promise that a New Year brings, that we are ready to chuck it all and lead the life of a sage. How did I convince myself not to bake too much, when I am at my happiest and most charming after a rigorous baking session. Come February and the repercussions of a sugarless life has dawned on me and I hereby, officially kick food-related resolutions out the door and continue on my sweet journey. (LOL)

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I have missed 2 Daring Bakers’ Challenges in a row. I have completed one challenge yesterday (Pithiviers) and the next one will be done next week in the form of my anniversary cake. I also have 2 meal recipes lined up. There! Now that I have committed myself in print there isn’t any going back.

The Gateaux Pithivier originated in the town of Pithivier in the Orleans section of France. It’s a beautiful wedding of pastry and Frangipane/frangipani or Crème d’amandes. The frangipane is almost like a fragrant orange scented marzipan, stuffed inside the fluffy pastry. (the Frangipani recipe is taken from the Daring Bakers’ December Challenge

Since I was short on time I used a Rough Puff Pastry instead of Puff Pastry. It is definitely a cheat’s version but I was happy with the end result. The pastry is scored with free hand S shapes on the top and on baking, the S fluff up into exaggerated curves giving the pie a glamorous look. The almond filling is not too sweet and marries well with the pastry. The scalloped edges which is the trademark of a Pithivier is such fun to do. Though mine wasn’t perfect it did the job.

By the time I got the Pithivier out of the oven I realized maybe what I missed dearly was not the sugar kick but the kick I get out of baking and the happy hormones it activates in my brain. So all in all it is back to a Happy, Tired but Sweet existence.

PITHIVIER

RECIPE

Rough Puff Pastry

2 cups all-purpose flour

320 grms Butter, chilled and cut into cubes

120 ml chilled water

1/4 teaspoon salt

  • In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt. Cut the butter into small cubes and add it to the flour. With a pastry blender (or two table knives) cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly but even, with pea-sized pieces of butter. Make a well in the middle and pour in a little of the ice cold water. Toss the flour/butter and water together with a fork until the dough starts to clump together. Add a little more water if the dough feels dry and doesn’t clump together..
  • Turn the dough out onto your work surface – don’t worry if there are still pockets of dry flour. Gently knead and squeeze the mixture a few times just enough to bring it together into a square (a bench scraper is helpful for this). Be careful not to overwork the dough: there should be visible bits of butter and it should still look very rough.
  • Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin, and roll the dough out into a rectangle about 10” (25 cm) long. Fold the bottom third of the dough up into the middle, and fold the top third down, like you are folding a letter. This is the first fold. Give the dough a quarter turn so that one of the open edges is facing you, and roll out again into a 10” (25 cm) rectangle. Fold again – this is the second fold. Repeat the rolling and folding 3 more times, for 5 folds total. Your dough will get smoother and neater looking with each fold (the pictures show the first and fifth folds).
  • If your kitchen is very warm and the dough gets too soft or sticky to do all the folds at once, chill it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes between folds. After the fifth fold, use your rolling pin to tap the dough into a neat square. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for a least 1 hour, or overnight.

Frangipani

100 grms Almonds, blanched and toasted

75 grms sugar

2 large eggs

rind of 1 lemon/ orange, grated

1/2 teaspoon Vanilla essence

  • Grind the almonds to a fine powder.
  • Mix all the above ingredients until well blended
  • Line a 6-7 inch bowl with cling film. there should be enough cling film hanging over the sides of the bowl to cover the frangipani mixture. pour the frangipani mixture into the bowl. Cover with the cling film and transfer to a flat plate. Leave in the fridge to chill (2 hours). I put it in the freezer for an hour until it was semi-set.

Assembling the Pithivier

Rough Puff Pastry

Frangipani

1 egg lightly beaten

  • Preheat oven to 220 C
  • Cut the pastry dough into half and return one half to the fridge. On a lightly floured counter top roll out the dough into a 9 inch circle. Transfer to a baking tray lined with parchment. Brush egg on the inside of the edge
  • Remove the frangipani mix from the fridge and lay it on the rolled out pastry circle. Return to the fridge.
  • Roll out the other piece of pastry and lay it on top of the frangipani to cover the pastry. The edges should be aligned. Press down gently on the edges to seal.
  • To make the scallops, push down on the edge of the pastry firmly with your fore finger to create an impression as seen in the pic below. Repeat this all over the circumference of the pastry circle.

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  • Brush the top of the pastry with egg wash. With a sharp knife make an S starting from the centre to the sides. You can freeze it at this stage to be baked later.
  • Bake in a preheated 220 C oven for 10 minutes. Then lower the heat to 180 C and bake till golden brown (25-30 mins).

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  • Sprinkle sugar on the top and further bake at 220 C till it caramelises. This is optional. The pie can be served warm and keeps well in a airtight container on the counter for 2 days, after which it will need to be refrigerated.

 

 

 

 

PIES

 

Apple Pie and Mince Pies

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Since the New Year has started I have been struggling to get off the sugar, flour and butter wagon and do it healthy. As a result I have been a bit crabby (LOL). Its not easy you know, for a person who has been popping cookies, gorging on cake and licking chocolate off every spoon and bowl the whole of December, to suddenly chuck the sweet life in January. Finally last week I decided to ease into my old self again and try out a slightly healthy version of the apple pie. A warm apple pie on a chilly evening or any chilly-time of the day is such a treat and if you know that it comes with oats and wheat flour in the crust and not too much sugar, then it is all the more welcome. Junior was a happy man to know his mom was back and sugar-sane again, but I detected a hint of sulkiness in Senior and thought I better treat him to a Mince pie since apple pies are too delicate for his hearty taste-buds.

I have taken a basic rough puff pastry recipe and added some ground oats and wheat flour, used low fat butter and a little olive oil. The oil was added to tame the flour and make it behave, since it was dry and crumbly and wouldn’t come together. The apple filling is sweetened with minimal sugar, I used lots of raisins instead and cashews.

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The mince pie filling is made from chicken mince with an addition of raisins and cashews as an ode to the Christmas Pies which I drooled over on other blogs. The filling was sweet and savoury with a mild hint of chilly and though I didn’t taste it I assume it was good……it didn’t last too long!

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The crusts need to be baked before they are filled and baked again. They need a good long bake or else they will end up doughy and raw. Finally, with this post I have got the New Year rolling with the Life of Two Pies (which didn’t last too long!!)

RECIPE

APPLE PIE

Makes 1 x 7” Pie

Serves 6

Rough Puff Pastry Crust

200 grams Butter, chilled (low-fat)

¼ cup oil

80 grams ground oats

100 grams whole wheat flour

100 grams plain flour

Pinch of salt

1 cup chilled water

1 ½ teaspoon lemon juice

  • Sift the flours and salt into a large bowl. Add the cubed butter. Using a knife cut the butter until coated with the flour.
  • Sprinkle over lemon juice, oil and half the water. Cut into the flour with a dinner knife until mixed but not breaking up the butter. Add a little more water if the mixture looks too dry.
  • With lightly floured fingers bring the mixture together to form a rough ball. Turn out onto a floured surface and bring it gently together and pat into a rectangle. Cover with a cling film and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.
  • Remove from the fridge and on a floured surface roll out the dough to form a rectangle, 18×6 inches. The dugh may look rough and difficult to manage at this stage but as you go along folding and rolling it will come together.
  • Fold the lower third up and the top third down. Give a quarter turn and seal the edges. Cover and refrigerate for 15-20 mins.
  • Continue rolling and folding, chilling the dough 4 times, giving it a quarter turn each time you fold.
  • Roll the pastry into a round of 3 mm thickness, line your tin (7 inch false bottomed pie tin) with the pastry . Trim the edges. Fork it all over and bake in a pre-heated oven at 190o C for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is a light golden and firm.

Filling

6 medium sized apples/ 4 large ( peeled, cored and sliced)

2 teaspoons sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ cup golden raisins

½ cup cashews

Juice of ½ lemon

Pinch of salt

½ teaspoon oil/ butter

1 egg, lightly beaten

  • In a large pan heat oil or butter, add the apples and stir fry on medium heat.
  • Add the sugar, salt and cinnamon. Stir
  • Let the apples cook for 5 minutes to dry out the water content but make sure the pieces remain whole and do not turn mushy.
  • Add the raisins and cashews.
  • Cool the mixture before using.

Assembling:

  • Preheat oven to 190oC
  • Lightly brush the inside of the pre-cooked shell with beaten egg (this is optional). Spoon the mixture into the shell. Using left over pastry to make strips and form a lattice over the pie. Brush with egg.
  • Bake at 190oC until the top is golden brown and cooked (approx 30 minutes)

Mince Pie

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RECIPE

MINCE PIE

Makes 1 x 7” Pie

Serves 6

For the pastry crust make 1 ½ times the quantity needed for the Apple Pie

Filling

½ kg Chicken / Lamb mince

1 large onion finely chopped

1 tablespoon oil

2 large tomatoes skinned, deseeded and puree

1 sprig each, fresh rosemary and thyme

2 tablespoons, chopped garlic or chives

2 tablespoons barbeque sauce

1 teaspoon red chilli flakes

Salt to taste

1 teaspoon Pepper

½ cup grated Parmesan or Cheddar Cheese

  • Fry the onions over medium heat in oil till they are glassy and change colour.
  • Add in the tomatoes and let the liquid dry out a little. Add in the mince and stir constantly to break up any lumps. Stir till it changes colour. Add in the herbs, barbeque sauce, chilli flakes, salt and pepper.
  • Add in ¼ cup water and let it cook, covered for another 15 minutes. Open the lid and on a high flame stirring constantly dry out the juices if any.

 

  • When cooled spoon the mince into the ready shell which has been egg washed. Sprinkle the cheese over the mince.
  • Roll out a thin ¼” circle from the remaining dough and lay it on top to cover the filling. Make a few slashes with a knife to let out steam or make cut outs with tiny shape cutters. Brush the top with egg
  • Bake in a preheated 190oC oven for 30-35 minutes or until golden and flaky.

CHEESECAKE CRUMBLE PIE (SAVOURY)

RECIPE

SAVOURY CHEESECAKE CRUMBLE PIE

Cheesecake Filling

450g cream cheese

1/4 cup / 60ml heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup / 60g shredded cheese (a strong cheese)

1/2 tsp ground pepper and ¼ tsp freshly ground Nutmeg

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup spinach, chopped

1 tablespoon. Butter

½ cup corn (blanched for 2-3 mins in hot water

1 green/ red chilly de-seeded and finely chopped (optional)

3/4 cup / 115g cooked bacon, crumbled (optional)

Directions

  • Heat a tablespoon of butter in a pan. Add the spinach and keep stirring on medium heat until wilted. Add in corn, chilly and a pinch of salt. Let cool slightly before using.
  • Preheat oven to 160°C Gas Mark 3.
  • In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and cream until smooth.

 

  • Beat in cheese, nutmeg and pepper.
  • Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined.
  • Add the cooked spinach and corn and mix well with a spoon.
  • Pour over prepared pie crust. Place pie in a large baking pan; add 1” of boiling water to larger pan.
  • Bake for about 10-15 mins.Top with prepared topping (recipe given below) and continue baking for another 40 minutes.
  • Place pie in a large baking pan; add 1” of boiling water to larger pan.
  • Bake 45-55 minutes or until center is just set and slightly wobbly.
  • Cool cheesecake on a wire rack for 1 hour. Refrigerate overnight.

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  • I prefer it warm.

 

Crumble Topping (savoury)

7-8 Plain Crackers/ 1 cup Cheeselings (crushed to coarse crumbs)

2 heaped tsps grated cheese

2 tblspns butter melted

1 tblspn flour

Salt & Pepper

Mix all the above in a bowl with your fingers.

CRUMBLE CHEESECAKE PIE- DARING BAKERS’ CHALLENGE

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Technology has so overtaken their existence its almost as if we will cease to exist without the gadgets. Teens no more do the things we used to, they hang out on the gadget, their fingers and eyeballs the only parts of their bodies that move. “But I do read , Mom” he says it in response to my “dark look of disapproval”. Yes he does, that too, on a gadget. Come on folks whatever happened to good old books…dog-eared, dusty, and comfortingly familiar. And what happened to my childhood pass-times. I spent hours in the company of a pair of scissor, glue and paper, colour pencils which were reduced to a stub and pens which dried out from overuse. Creative that’s what we were. Creative, thats what my fellow Daring Bakers are. We are a bunch of people who challenge each other to think, innovate, twist the recipe around yet sticking to the broad out-line. Yea, yes we use technology and gadgets but that’s to keep us connected not distanced from reality and real people.

Old-school? Yes that’s me….if I can do it from scratch I will do it….even though the effort may be a foolish waste of time. That’s the way I tackled this challenge, a crumble, a cheesecake, a pie, all made from scratch….the cream cheese too!

Blog checking lines: For the month of November Krista & Nicole of “Two Cups of Sugar.” challenged us to make our own version of cheesecake crumble pie.

Cheesecake Crumble Pie….It is such an innovative idea, though a bit over the top. The pie is a speciality of a bakery in their hometown which makes Cheesecake Crumble Pies and the sisters rightfully judged that this group of bakers were the ultimate guinea pigs (LOL)!!

There is a savoury and a sweet version of the crumble pie and I made both for 2 reasons I couldn’t decide between the 2 and secondly senior likes savoury and junior likes both 🙂

There are 3 elements to be prepared, the pie crust, the cheesecake and the streusel or crumble on the top.

I decided to go homemade all the way and made my cream cheese at home too (recipe after this post). That left me feeling so fulfilled in ways I can’t explain, that an extra piece of cheesecake was gulped down without guilt (the cream cheese is low fat after all)

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The pies turned out beautifully and junior, senior and all in-between were happy. The savoury pie to which I added corn and spinach (to give an illusion of “healthy”) was almost like a quiche but richer. I topped it with a mix of crushed crackers, melted butter and a sprinkle of cheddar cheese.

The sweet version was yummm too and the cheesecake was the right sweetness. I added choco-coffee swirls and topped it with a mix of oats, honey, a tablespoon of flour and butter.

Then what is it that bothered me??? The pie crust!! I wasn’t happy with it. Shortening !! I don’t use it often or at all. The pie crust was tough and greasy and the taste and texture left a lot to be desired. Maybe I didn’t do it write or maybe I over-worked it…… you can use your own pie crust recipe or try this out. I wonder why a short crust pastry wasn’t used.

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The next time I would go with a short crust pastry or my favourite biscuit crust (old school???). Initially I resisted the idea of the crunchy topping but it added character to the pie and it is an innovative way to turn your cheesecake on its head. A friend who tasted it said that the topping cuts through the rich, smoothness of the cheesecake. My homemade cream cheese ensured that the pie wasn’t sickeningly heavy, so mom and son had big, guilt free portions.

All in all I would give a big thumbs up to the Cheesecake Crumble Pie and if I had to do it again it would be with a biscuit crust and maybe the crunchy topping as a side. My mantra- if I can bake it, I won’t buy it (ever)!!  🙂

RECIPE

CHEESECAKE CRUMBLE PIE

(New York Cheesecake)- Serves 8-10

Recipe 1: Pie Crust

To fit 1 Pie Dish of 9” diameter Preparation time: 10 minutes Baking time: 13 minutes

 

Ingredients

1 ¼ cups /175g all-purpose (plain) flour

¾ tsp fine salt

6 Tbsp / 77g shortening, cubed

1 ½ Tbsp / 21g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed or grated

6 – 7 Tbsp / 90 – 105ml ice water

  • Sift together flour & salt. Add in shortening and butter and mix by rubbing mixture between your hands until it resembles a coarse meal/ bread crumbs. Do not leave big pieces of shortening as they melt during the baking process and create tiny hole in the pastry
  • Sprinkle 6 Tbsp / 90ml of ice water over the mixture and blend gently by hand or with a fork until it holds together. If mixture is not holding together add additional an additional 1 Tbsp of ice water as necessary. Add a little at a time. Too much water causes the pastry to shrink.
  • Shape dough into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap. Chill for 30 minutes.

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  • Preheat oven to 425°F / 220°C

 

  • Lightly flour working area and roll out dough into a round 1.5” larger than the pie pan.
  • Gently place in pie pan and cut away the excess dough. Prick the dough several times with a small knife or fork and fill with beans, baking weights or an 8” / 20cm cake pan to help keep shape during baking.

Bake for 9 minutes. Remove weight/cake pan and bake for an additonal 3 – 4 minutes until edges of crust are lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

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Recipe 2:

New York Style Cheesecake (Sweet)

Servings: fills a 9” / 23cm pie + a little extra

 

450g cream cheese

¾ cup / 150g white sugar

½ tsp grated lemon zest

¼ tsp vanilla

2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk

¼ cup / 60ml heavy cream

For the Chocolate CoffeenSwirl- melt together 40 grms dark chocolate +20 grms butter over a double boiler. Remove from heat once it has melted. Stir and add in 2 heaped tablspoons of almond meal and 1 teaspoon instant coffee. I also add 2 teaspoons of Tia Maria. Leave to cool and proceed with the cheesecake.

  • Have all the ingredients at room temperature. Preheat oven to 220°C.
  • Beat cream cheese in a large bowl until smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides and add sugar gradually while beating until smooth (about 1 – 2 minutes).
  • Beat in lemon zest and vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
  • Beat in eggs one at a time until incorporated. On low speed, beat in heavy cream.
  • Pour filling into prepared crust.

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  • Splatter or dot top of cheesecake with the chocolate coffee mix. Swirl it around gently with a butter knife or toothpick. You just want swirls of brown chocolate and not a light brown cheesecake. You may not need all the choc-coffee mix. Use it sparingly (5-6 tablespoons max)

 

  • Bake for 15 minutes at 220°C. Top with crumble (see recipe 3) and return to oven at reduced temperature of 100°C and bake for 50mins-1 hour more. Turn the oven off, prop the door ajar with the handle of a wooden spoon, and let the cake cool in the oven for 30 minutes.

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  • Remove to a rack and let cool completely. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours before serving.

 

 

Recipe 3: Crumble (Sweet)

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½ cup oats

2 tablespoons Chopped Nuts

25 grms Butter

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon Brown Sugar

½ tsp. Cinnamon

Pinch of salt

Melt the butter on medium heat.

Add the honey and turn off the heat.

Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

RUGELACH

RUGELACH

I love making pastry. I don’t claim to have mastered it but over the years I have been able to iron out a lot of bumps and creases. The whole of last week I have been showing off my skills to Big Sis who is in Mumbai spending quality time in my kitchen kneading, whipping, baking by my side and giving some invaluable inputs.

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Well, here’s Rugelach a pastry in a new avataar! A rich, cream cheese pastry which encases sweet and nutty fillings, is a traditional Jewish festive treat. These baby crescents are made for Jewish new year and the rolled up shape signifies the cyclical year. The dough is made from equal quantities of flour, butter and cream cheese. Cute little, mini croissant type thingies….good to look at and fabulous to devour and I will reserve my comments on the process and leave you to decide.

I came across them a few years back when I was in the infancy of Baking and took to them immediately. My first attempt was clumsy, with sticky dough, that just wouldn’t behave well in the sweltering heat, filling that toppled out and a thousand other woes.

I am a sucker for pastry making and I don’t give up easily. A failure keeps haunting me till I take another whack at it, then another and then one more…. In Mumbai’s 34-38 degree kitchens, it is not the best thing to be making. It makes a tough job tougher as the butter keeps melting, the dough feels sweaty and you are constantly running to the fridge. So Rugelach isn’t a cake walk and the pastry-adventure has the added excitement of cream cheese which makes your journey that much more satisfying (hopefully by now you have got the picture). Those of you who know me some, know that I am the proverbial Matador. I invite the bull into the kitchen. So on a hot and humid morning I embarked on my Rugelach journey. Having learnt some lessons from my last misadventure,  I kept the AC in the living room on a cool 18 Degrees, flung open the connecting kitchen door and began the “Taming of the Shrew”. I had made home-made Cream Cheese a day earlier. The fillings are pretty straight forward and you can make them sweet, savoury or just brush the dough with butter and bake them as is.

Traditional Rugelach is filled with chocolate chips, walnuts and brown sugar. I made varied fillings- apple raisin, rum and raisin, cream cheese and the chocolate chip walnut.

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This is a very delicately wrapped pastry so my advice to you would be to puree the filling and apply it on the rolled out pastry in a thin layer. Leaving the filling whole may result in a mess when baking.  Alternatively run you rolling pin over the filling once you have assembled it on the rolled out dough.

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It’s a finicky dough and especially so in this unkind, unforgiving heat. Though the end product is pure heaven, cookie-like and crumbly on the outside and slightly soft and flaky inside. Don’t use wet a filling, it will lead to soggy bites. I froze half the batch once I had filled and assembled them and baked them a few days later and they tasted just as good.

I hope you try them and won’t let the finicky dough dampen your pastry spirit! Whats a good cookie unless the dough crumbles……oopps did I get it wrong!!!

RECIPE

RUGELACH 

Dough

2 sticks/ 240 grms unsalted butter

240 grms cream cheese

1egg yolk

2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp granulated sugar (optional)

Egg Wash Ingredients

1 egg

1 tsp water

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

 

Filling 1

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1 cup chopped walnuts/ pecans/ almonds

1  cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

2-3 tblspns brown sugar

2 tblspns Honey

Put the ingredients in a blender/ food processor and whizz it to a coarse paste.

I left mine whole and sprinkled generous amounts on the pastry round.

 

Filling 2

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3 large apples chopped

1 heaped tblspn Butter

3 tblspn Raisins

4 tblspns brown sugar

½ tspn cinnamon powder

Juice of ½ lemon

Sautee the apples, raisins in the butter, until the apples turn soft. They should give way when pressed down with the back of a spoon. Add the cinnamon, lemon juice and sugar and cook for a further minute until the mix is jam like. Give it a whizz in a blender or squash it up with a fork.

If you prefer a chunky filling, just cook the apples until soft and don’t break them up too much.

 

Filling 3

 ½ cup prunes

½ cup dates

½ cup Raisins

1 tblspn Butter

½ tspn All-spice powder

½ cup rum

Chop and Soak the dry fruits in Rum and all-spice for an hour. Heat butter and add the soaked fruits, and cook on medium heat till all the juices have dried out. Squash to a jam like mixture with the back of a spoon or put it in a blender to make a jam like paste.

Filling 4

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200 grms cream cheese / cottage cheese crumbled

100 grms Cheddar

1 tsp coarsely ground pepper

1 tblspn Fresh thyme and rosemary

Salt to taste ( a pinch at the most)

In a medium sized bowl mix all the ingredients to a smooth paste. Taste and adjust salt.

 

Making the dough:

  • Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese together. Add the egg yolk and whisk a little more. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and sugar. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, mixing with a wooden spoon, until dough comes together.  Pour dough onto a lightly floured rolling surface and form it into a rough ball shape with your hands. Do not over handle the dough or knead it. Just pat it into a ball.

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  • Divide the ball into four equal pieces and form those pieces into rough balls.
  • Cover each ball with plastic and place in the refrigerator. Refrigerate dough balls for at least 1 1/2 hours, for up to 48 hours. Freeze if you want for later use.

Assembling the cookies:

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees C/ 375 degrees F. Lightly flour your rolling surface and rolling pin. Take one portion of the dough out the refrigerator (keep the rest of the dough cold until ready to use). Roll out the dough to about 1/8 inch thickness. The dough will be very firm and cold, but will become more pliable as it starts to warm. Just keep rolling with firm, even pressure.

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  • Use a round 9″ cake pan or bottom as a guide to make a nice, smooth imprint of a circle in the dough.

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  • Cut the dough into a large circle, following the shape of the cake pan. Take 1/4 of the filling (about 4 tbsp) and place it in the center of the circle. Spread it very thin and evenly across the surface of the dough. Leave about an inch around the edges of the circle.

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  • Using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife cut the circle into 8 equal triangles by first cutting the circle in half, then quarters, then halve the quarters to make eighths. Dust the cutter or knife wth flour to prevent the filling from sticking on to it.

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  • Roll each triangle, starting from the wide edge and rolling towards the narrow point.
  • Press the end to secure it.

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  • Place the rolled cookies an inch apart onto a parchment lined cookie sheet or a well oiled baking tray, end point down. The cookies can be frozen at this stage and bagged for later use.

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  • When you are ready to bake, brush the top of each cookie with egg wash, sprinkle cinnamon and sugar or sesame seeds (for savoury cookies).
  • Bake for 25-28 minutes in a pre heated oven, until golden brown. If you like them darker, bake a minute or two longer.

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