Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Daring Bakers' October 2011 - Povitica


After months of failing to manage my time efficiently, I finally got around to completing a Daring Baker’s challenge!

The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!

Povitica (poh-vee-TEET-sah) or Potica is a yeast based dough which is rolled around a variety of fillings, be in savoury or sweet.

It was my first encounter with such bread and reading through the Daring Kitchen forum got me excited thinking of the endless possibilities I could use as my filling. However when it came down to it, my creativity went straight out the window leaving me with only one option – chocolate.

It didn’t matter in the end for the loaf turned out beautiful, not only visually but taste-wise as well.

It was initially quite daunting to see pictures of perfectly rolled out dough from the other Daring Bakers, but my fear was unfounded as the dough was really easy to work with.  There were a few tears in the dough along the way but I really think it’s the case of practice makes perfect!

I made a similar mistake, as I did for the Baklava challenge, of not spreading the filling to cover the entire surface of the dough which may have affected the pattern. Nevertheless I was pleased with the results, and even my parents commented on how nice the texture of the loaf was.

The original recipe given to us produces 4 loaves, however the recipe for a half batch and quarter batch was provided by the ever efficient Audax! The original recipe can be found here.



Povitica

Makes one loaf

Ingredients (Quarter Batch)

Yeast
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon plain flour
2 tablespoons warm water
1.5 teaspoons dry yeast

Dough
½ cup milk
3 tablespoons sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
2 cups plain flour, sifted.

Topping
 2 tablespoons cold strong coffee
1.5 granulated sugar
1 tablespoon melted butter

Filling
¼ cup milk
¼ cup butter
1 egg yolk, beaten
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1.5 cup chocolate chips

Method

Making the dough and filling
  1. To activate the yeast, stir the sugar, flour and yeast into the warm water and leave to stand for 5 minutes.
  2. In a saucepan, heat the milk up to just below boiling (about 180°F/82°C), stirring constantly so that a film does not form on the top of the milk. You want it hot enough to scald you, but not boiling. Leave the milk to cool.
  3. Once cooled, mix the milk, salt and sugar until combined and add the egg, yeast mixture, butter and 1 cup of flour.
  4. Combine thoroughly and slowly add the remaining flour, mixing well until the dough starts pulling away from the edge of the bowl.
  5. Transfer the dough to a clean surface and start kneading, adding small amounts of flour until the dough takes on a smooth surface.
  6. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and leave to rise until doubled in size.
  7. For the filling, mix the all the ingredients and heat until chocolate chips are partly melted. Set aside and leave to cool. The mixture has to take on a thick spreadable consistency. If it is too thick, add teaspoons of milk until desired consistency is achieved. If it is too runny, add more chocolate chips until it thickens up.
Assembling the dough
  1. Sprinkle surface with flour sporadically. * The recipe recommended using a sheet or cloth over your rolling surface to ease removal of the rolled out dough.
  2. Place dough on the floured surface and start rolling, using a rolling pin until the dough starts thinning. Ideally you want the dough to be thin enough to be able to see through to the surface. While doing this, spoon ½ teaspoons of melted butter on to the dough to keep the dough pliable and moist.
  3. Jenni suggests that when you think it the dough is thin enough, try to get it a little thinner. It should be so thin that you can see the colour and perhaps the pattern of the sheet underneath.
  4. Once ready, cover most of the surface of the dough with the filling, leaving 1 inch on all sides free from filling.
  5. Lift the edge of the dough gently and start rolling. Once the dough is rolled up into a rope, carefully lift it up and place it into a greased bread pan in the shape of a ‘U’, with the ends meeting in the middle. It is this coiling effect which gives the bread its distinguishing feature when sliced.
  6. Brush the top of the loaf with a mixture of cold strong coffee and sugar.
  7. Leave the dough to rest for 15 minutes prior to baking.
  8. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.
  9. Bake for 15 minutes then turn down the oven temperature to 300°F/150°C/gas mark 2 and bake for an additional 45 minutes or until done.
  10. Remove bread from oven and brush with melted butter.
  11. As it is a heavy bread, it is recommended to leave the bread in the pan until cooled.


Assembly in pictures






Thursday, 20 October 2011

Hummus


Hummus or Hoummus is a traditional Middle Eastern dip, made from chickpeas (garbanzo beans) blended with tahini, lemon juice and garlic. It is usually served with a side of flatbread or even carrot and cucumber batons.

My hummus craze began earlier this year. On one of our trips to Pembrokeshire, where Gav is from, we fancied having lunch by the sea. As always on the way to the beach we stop by the local Tesco to pick up food and drinks. This time however I wasn’t keen on having another boring pasta pot, or flavour-less sandwiches. On a whim, after spotting a multitude of interesting flavoured pots of hummus, I grabbed a couple of random pots. Together with fresh baguette, sat on some rocks, fresh sea air and lovely company it made for a perfect afternoon.

And that’s how the love affair started.


Seeing that it makes such a fabulous snack or lunch (or even breakfast!), it was time I actually made it from scratch. The ingredients are easily available from your local supermarket and it takes all of 10 minutes to create.


For my first attempt, I chose to stick with a basic hummus recipe, topping one portion with paprika and drizzled with chilli infused olive oil, while the other was topped with sliced sun-dried tomatoes and drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil.

The result was delicious and flavoursome although I would suggest refrigerating the hummus for a couple of hours after making, as it allows the flavours to develop. I also used yoghurt for a creamier texture although from research conducted, it is quite common for water to be used instead.

The next attempt is going to involve roasted garlic (mmmm!) and maybe even some beetroot or possibly even try to replicate Tesco’s Caramelised Onion Hummus! 


Hummus 

Yields 2 cups

Ingredients

1 can of chickpeas
1.5 tablespoon tahini
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
¼ cup yoghurt or water
3 tablespoons lemon juice
½ tsp salt
Extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp paprika
Sundried tomatoes, sliced.

Method
  1. Mix ingredients together in a food processor and blend for a couple of minutes until the mixture is smooth and creamy. 
  2. Check seasoning and divide into two bowls. Top with preferred topping and drizzle with olive oil. Serve immediately or cover with cling film and refrigerate for a couple of hours.
  3. Topping choice can vary from whole chickpeas to chopped cilantro, toasted pine nuts or even sliced almonds.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Tomato and Basil Tart


Some Saturdays ago, I had a friend come over for lunch. The main course was planned days in advance and on Friday evening it occurred to me that having a hors d’oeuvre would be a nice touch. And so the frenzy of looking for a suitable and quick recipe commenced.

It didn’t take me long as I remembered Kathy’s Cheese, Tomato and Basil Tart recipe that I have been meaning to try. A quick trip to the local supermarket in search for ricotta was futile so I had to improvise. Light cottage cheese was the next best thing available. The basil leaves were freshly picked from the windowsill pot. Seeing as my guest is a vegetarian and it is almost next to impossible to find vegetarian friendly Parmesan cheese, I stuck to good old Mature English Cheddar.


It took all of 5 minutes to whip up and with the 20 minute baking time, I had a visually stunning tart in 30 minutes that definitely impressed. I cut the tart into small squares that were perfect for nibbling. Taste-wise this tart was as I imagined; light cheese and tomato filling, flaky puff pastry and herby basil is enough to whet your appetite and more!

Next time you’re in a blind panic thinking about recipe options, take a deep breath and proceed using this one. 


Tomato and Basil Tart

Ingredients

250g cottage cheese
150g mature cheddar, grated
2 eggs
A handful of basil leaves, torn
Cherry tomatoes, halved
Salt and pepper
Puff Pastry

Method
  1. Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Add the cottage cheese and cheddar and preferred seasoning and give it a good mix until all ingredients are incorporated.
  2. Add half the torn basil leaves and mix.
  3. Roll out the puff pastry onto baking parchment and fold the sides to form a dam which prevents the cheese mixture from spilling onto the sides.
  4. Spread the cheese mixture evenly onto the pastry and top with halved cherry tomatoes and excess basil leaves.
  5. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 180” C.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Connect the dots

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
                                                        - Steve Jobs, Stanford Commencement Speech, 2005-