Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Challa- Jewish Bread

Divine Cherry and Celestial Dragon are both above religion (literally). When religion was invented, Celestial Dragon and Divine Cherry happened to be on a cosmic roller coaster, spiralling through the universe -- they had mistakenly not been briefed about the meeting during which religion was to be invented. And so, while other beings thought every creed and faith into existence, Divine Cherry and Celestial Dragon were hovering on the topmost fringes of the universe, preparing themselves for the full loop through Alpha Centauri they could spot only a few galaxies away. Strangely enough, that is precisely why Celestial Dragon and Divine Cherry particularly enjoyed the Challa.
Indeed, had they been part of the religion-commission, the Challa would have been just another item on the Great And Good And Gargantuan List Of Yet-To-Be Things That Need Inventing In Order To Exist So Get To Work You Baboon. Because they were absent, however, they only recently discovered its existence. And what a discovery that was! To Divine Cherry, the Challa is the embodiment of her two greatest passions: fantastic bread and huge tresses (yes, everyone has a guilty secret, and Divine Cherry's just been revealed). To Celestial Dragon, it is the embodiment of rone of his greatest passions: fantastic bread (Celestial Dragon recently confessed to Vague Magazine that he does not have any guilty secrets).
And so it was that the Challa brought joy and happiness to both of them. Yet although Divine Cherry and Celestial Dragon are above religion (literally), they still possess the gift of magnanimity, and therefore herewith share the recipe of the Challa with all who wish to have it.

Blog-checking lines: May’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah! Using recipes from all over, and tips from “A Taste of Challah,” by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.

Challa Adapted  from Ruth's blog

- 15 g dry yeast
- 240 ml warm water
- 100 g brown sugar
- 115 g unsalted butter – room temperature
- 15 g salt
- 3 large eggs
- 280 g whole wheat flour
- 280 g all-purpose flour
- 50 g rolled oats
 - 70 to 140 g additional flour for kneading
-  1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water for glaze
1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, dissolve yeast in warm water. Allow to stand about 5 minutes until creamy/foamy.
2. With paddle attachment beat 3 eggs, sugar, margarine (or butter), whole wheat flour, all purpose flour and oats into the yeast mixture. Or, if mixing by hand (ok, spoon), combine eggs and margarine/butter with yeast mixture until well mixed. Add flours and oats and mix until it becomes difficult to mix.
3. Once combined, switch to the dough hook and knead for 5 to 10 minutes until smooth and elastic, adding flour as/if needed. If kneading by hand, this should take about 10-12 minutes.
4. Form dough into a round, compact ball. Turn in oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen/tea towel. Let rise in warm area (I put it in the oven with the light on) until doubled, approx. 2 hours.
5. Once dough has doubled, punch down. Recover with towel, allow to rise again for an hour, but even 30 minutes will be fine if you’re in a hurry.
6. Punch the dough down again, divide in two.
7. Shape each half as desired (Look at these fantastic videos on how to make braids: 3, 4 , 4 round or 6 braid). Place shaped loaves onto parchment covered baking trays. Cover with the towel and allow to rise another hour.
8. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
9. Brush loaves with egg wash. (Sprinkle with vanilla sugar/sesame seeds/poppy seeds/other topping here if desired)
10. Bake 30 to 40 min. until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
11. Transfer loaves to a wire rack to cool before serving.

Challa Ricetta adattata dal blog di Ruth
- 15g lievito di birra secco
- 240 ml acqua
- 100 g zucchero di canna scuro
- 115g burro
- 15 g sale
- 3 uova grandi
- 280 g farina integrale
- 280 g farina semplice
- 50 g fiocchi d'avena
- 70-140 g farina semplice per impastare
-1 uovo per spennellare alla fine.

Sciogliere il lievito in acqua tiepida. Lasciare riposare circa 5 minuti. Con il gancio K della planetaria, battere 3 uova, lo zucchero, il burro,  le  farine e l'avena nella miscela di lievito. Oppure, se la preparazione e' a manounire le uova e il burro con la miscela di lievito fino ad ottenere una consistenza omogenea con un cuchiaio di legno. Aggiungere le farine e avena e mescolare fino ad ottenere un coposto piuttosto solido.
Cambiare il gancio e usare l'unicino della planetaria per impastare il composto, per 5-10 minuti. O a mano per un quarto d'ora circa, fino ad ottenere un palla liscia e compatta. Mettere l'impasto in una ciotla oliata e coprire con un canovacvcio. Lasciar riposare fino al raddoppio (2ore circa).
Una volta che l'impasto e' lievitato, farlo sgonfiare con un pugno. Farlo lievitare nuovamente per un'ora circa.
Sgonfiare l'impasto di nuovo e dividerlo in 2. Intrecciare ogni meta' (Qui dei video fantastici su come intrecciare il pane: 
3, 4 , 4 round or 6 braid).
Una volta che le pagnotte sono formate, posizionarle su due teglie infarinate. Spennellare con l'uovo e lasciar riposare un'altra ora.
Preriscaldare il forno a 200 gradi. Spennellare le pagnotte nuovamente con l'uovo e infornare per 30/40 minuti. 

Tuesday, 15 May 2012


The Bisque-in-the-pot is one of Divine Cherry's wishes come true for it contains everything that's good in the world: bisque de homard, seafood, wine, pastry, and a pot! However, while it may be one of Divine Cherry's wishes, it is also one of Celestial Dragon's dreams come true.
One day, Celestial Dragon and Divine Cherry were wondering what to have for dinner. They were tired of the usual dishes like caviar, Kobe beef or cabbage soup. Especially of cabbage soup; and especially Celestial Dragon. In fact, he was so tired of it that he vowed never to have cabbage soup again. Naturally, he was wrong. Be that as it may, the two of them were looking out of the window when suddenly an old friend showed up: Small Perfect Cloud. It had been gone for a while, chasing after the green rainbows and yellow rains of dreams yet to come. Now, however, it had returned. And it had brought with it a friend. It was a small, small thing. It looked very much like a dragonfly. So much so that one could have thought that it actually was a dragonfly. In fact, it was a dragonfly -- albeit a special one. For it was a magic dragonfly that, in another story, called itself Tinkerbell and covered children with dust, much to their parents' dismay. This time, Tinkerfly or Dragonbell (it is as yet undecided about its own name), upon seeing Divine Cherry's and Celestial Dragon's pensive and morose faces, decided to grant them a wish. And so it was that they both wished for the ideal supper: Divine Cherry wished, very wisely, for a fulfilment of her wish, while Celestial Dragon, perhaps the more puerile of the pair, wished for the fulfilment of a dream. And so it was that they both knew that that evening, instead of cabbage soup, they'd have Bisque-in-the-pot.

Bisque-in-the-pot  For 2 people

- 250g of bisque de homard (leftover or canned)
- 250g fish stock
- bouquet garni 
- 1 tea spoon of tomato purée
- 1/2 glass of white wine
- 12 small scallops, cleaned
- 8 large prawns, cleaned
- half pack of puff pastry
- 20 g of melted butter or 1 egg for egg wash
- black seeds for decoration

Boil  the fish stock, with the bouquet garni, the tea spoon of tomato purée and the glass of wine. Let it reduce for 5-10 minutes. Add the bisque and simmer for 10 minutes, then remove the bouquet garni. In the meanwhile, put in each ovenproof pot 6 scallops and 4 prawns. From the puff pastry cut two circles, 1 cm larger than the pots. When the bisque gets the right density (it depends on your taste, really), cool it down a bit and then pour it over the fish. Run a wet finger over the edge of the pastry circle and seal the pot. Brush the surface with some melted butter  (or egg wash) and sprinkle a few black seeds for decoration.
Cook in the preheated oven (200°C) for 17 minutes. Serve hot.

Note: My bisque was very dense. You should regulate the proportion of bisque/stock depending on the initial density of your bisque.

Bisque-in-the-pot  Dosi per due persone

- 250 g (circa) bisque de de homard (zuppa di astice) avanzata
- 250 ml brodo di pesce
- 1 cucchiaino di concentrato di pomodoro
- bouquet garni (odori misti chiusi in un sacchettino di tela)
- mezzo bicchiere di vino bianco
- 12 canestrelli puliti
- 8 mazzancolle pulite
- mezzo rotolo di pasta sfoglia
- 20 g burro fuso o 1 uovo per spennellare
- semi di sesamo neri per decorare (facoltativi)

In una pentola versare il brodo di pesce, aggiungere un cucchiaino di concentrato di pomodoro, il vino e il bouquet garni. Far bollire e ridurre, aggiungere a questo punto la bisque. Cuocere a fuoco medio fino ad ottenere una consistenza zupposa non troppo liquida. Nel frattempo, dal rotolo di pasta sfoglia ricavare due cerchi di un centimentro piu' grandi delle cocottes. Mettere da parte i cerchi di pasta coperti con pellicola.
Preparare le due cocotte: mettere in ognuna 6 piccoli canestrelli e 4 mazzancolle, coprire con la bisque tiepida, tendosi un centrimetro sotto il bordo della coccotte. Con un dito umido d'acqua bagnare i bordi dei cerchi di pasta sfoglia e farli aderire alle ciotoline come un coperchio. Spennellare con un po' d'uovo o burro fuso, spargere qualche semino nero e infornare per 17 minuti in forno gia' caldo a 200 gradi.

Note: la mia bisque era molto densa per cui l'ho diluita con il brodo e fatta riaddensare un poco. Regolatevi per le quantita' di brodo/bisque a seconda della densita' della vostra.

And Spread the Mess!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Armenian Nutmeg Cake

It has been long. So long. Too long. Divine Cherry had had to pay a visit to Hercules, Golden Peach and the Fruit Dogs in the Garden of the North East and was forced to leave Celestial Dragon on his own. For too long. For who is Celestial Dragon without Divine Cherry? Just a big, lazy lizard that slithers his way through the fridge and noses into every cupboard with the vacant intelligence of a stunned raccoon. The hours passed, the days went by, entire weeks became months, and years followed soon after. Time passes differently when one has to face it on one's own. And so it was that when Divine Cherry eventually returned to the Palace, she found Celestial Dragon sprawled on the floor, looking haggard and forlorn. His long and scaly body had shrivelled up, and not a single muscle twitched in even a sad simulacrum of life. He was dried-up and filled-up at the same time: while he lacked the strength to even lift his head, it was clear that his eyes were filled with tears.
But those were tears of joy, of happiness for Divine Cherry had finally returned. As soon as Celestial Dragon heard the door of the Palace being pried open, he looked up from his misery and saw Divine Cherry standing before him, a huge teardrop lowered itself from his right eye. (The other eye was still sleeping.) Trumpets sounded, birds chirruped, and choruses of angles intimated Lux Aeterna. And in order to celebrate that joyous occasion, that longed-for return, and also in order to excuse herself for having left Celestial Dragon alone – the naughty cherry, Divine Cherry decided to bake this Armenian Nutmeg Cake. And what an amend it was! It was sweet, it was delicious, it was awaited, and it was good. Everything was good again. Celestial Dragon perked up, raised his head and smiled again; and Divine Cherry hugged him and they both ate from this cake. Everything was the way it was supposed to be. And everything was better than good. Especially the cake. Especially the cake indeed...

Blog-checking lines: The Daring Bakers’ April 2012 challenge, hosted by Jason at Daily Candor, were two Armenian standards: nazook and nutmeg cake. Nazook is a layered yeasted dough pastry with a sweet filling, and nutmeg cake is a fragrant, nutty coffee-style cake.

Nutmeg cake   Recipe adapted from the Daring Bakes April Challenge
- 240 ml milk
- 5 g baking soda
- 280 g plain flour
- 10 g baking powder
- 300 g brown sugar (originally 400g)
- 170 g butter, preferably unsalted, cubed
- 55 g pistachios (or walnut )pieces, may need a little more
- 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
- 1 egg

Crunble crust
Preheat your oven to 180 C. In the meanwhile, mix the baking soda (not baking powder) into the milk. Set aside. Put the flour, baking powder, and the brown sugar in a bowl a mix with a fork. Add the cubed butter and rub with your hands to make crumbles (or pulse with a food processor).
Pour HALF of the crumbs into yourcake mould. Press out a crust using your fingers and knuckles.
Crack the egg into the bowl with the rest of the crumbs still in it. Grate 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg. Mix until well-incorporated. Pour in the milk and baking soda mixture. Continue to mix until a slightly lumpy tan batter is formed. Pour the batter over the crust in the springform pan. Gently sprinkle the pistachiost pieces over the batter.
Bake in a preheated moderate oven for 30-40 minutes. It's ready when the top is golden brown, and when it passes the toothpick test (comes out clean).

Torta alla noce moscata  Ricetta tratta dalla sfida di Aprile dei Daring Bakers

- 240ml latte
Cake ready for the oven
- 5g bicarbonato di soda
- 280g farina
- 10g lievito in polvere
- 300g zucchero di canna
- 170g burro a cubetti
- 55g pistacchi a pezzi
- 1(1 e 1/2) cucchiaino di noce moscata grattata
- 1 uovo

Accendere il forno a 180 gradi. Nel frattempo, mscolare il latte con il bicarbonato di soda e lasciare riposare da parte.Mettere la farina, lievito e zucchero in una ciotola e mescolare gli ingredienti. Aggiungere il burro a cubetti e formare delle briciole con le dita (o mettere il tuttoin un mixer...).
Versare META' delle briciole in una tortiera (precedentemente imburrata e infarinata) e livellare bene con le dita. Aggiungere alla seconda metà delle briciole l'uovo, la noce moscata grattata e il latte. Mescolare bene fino ad ottenere una consistenza omogenea (ma ci saranno comunque alcuni grumetti, va bene così). Versare il composto sulla crosta di briciole praparata prima. Spargere sulla superficie i pistacchi a pezzi e infornare. Cuocere per 30-40 minuti, fino a che uno stecchino uscirà pulito. Far raffreddare nella tortiera e poi sformare.

And Spread the Mess