Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Milky Cake with a Scent of Passion Fruit

We've found a tiny dairy shop near the marketplace in our neighbourhood. All the products come from a dairy farm near our home town Silistra. Actually they sell only 3 types of products – milk, yoghurt and white brine cheese /as I said it's a really tiny shop/. But all the products are of a very good quality. But when I saw their brochures and advertising materials  I thought they were disastrous. On the instant I thought I want to rewrite them, no I won't charge them, I will eagerly do it for free. When I said this to Ivan he started laughing and said he knew I would say so. It's what I say every time when I see somebody is trying to make a good product but lacks a little bit of inspiration to show it to the world in a written form.For now I feel a bit uneasy to contact the farm's manager and just say “Hi, my name is Silvia and I want to rewrite your ad materials.” He would probably ask “Who the he.. are you and what's wrong with my advertising materials?” It's a kind of weird, maybe. So for the present I'm doing nothing on the matter but I would be really happy to be a part of a project like this. Who knows, maybe one day... For now maybe it's better just to work on our blog because it definitely lacks of materials. 

As a huge dairy products lovers we've made this milky cake and considering how fast we've eaten it I'm seriously thinking of making it again soon. It's very simple and easy to make – a cocoa genoise cut in two layers with cream cheese filling between them and strained yoghurt cream on top, all flavoured with passion fruit extract. So light, milky and fruity in the same time.
It's been more than two months since we've bought a small bottle of natural passion fruit extract and we haven't got an occasion to try it yet. So this was the perfect time and it happened to be a perfect combination - strained yoghurt and passion fruit extract. The acidity of the yoghurt combines so well with the  passion fruit flavour that makes you want more and more.

Milky Cake with a Scent of Passion Fruit

For the cocoa genoise:

  • 4 eggs;
  • 125 gr sugar;
  • 95 gr flour;
  • 30 gr cocoa powder;
  • butter and flour for the baking pan.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC and set the rack in the middle. Butter and flour a baking sheet and line the baking
pan with it.
Whisk the eggs and the sugar in a large bowl over a pan of simmering water till the mixture reaches 40ºC /if you don't have a candy thermometer, it should be warm to touch but not hot/. Then remove from the heat and continue to whisk until the mixture is completely cooled. Remove the beaters and with the help of a wooden spoon gently fold in the sifted flour and the cocoa powder.
Pour the batter into the baking pan and smooth the top. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes. Let cool on a rack.

For the cream cheese filling:

  • 250 gr cream cheese;
  • 200 gr confectioners' sugar;
  • 70 gr butter /softened/;
  • 1 Tbsp passion fruit extract.

In a medium bowl whisk together the cream cheese and the butter until creamy. Mix in the sifted confectioners' sugar and the passion fruit extract.

For the strained yoghurt cream:

  • 200 gr strained yoghurt or 650 gr yoghurt – it's best to be full fat, but as we didn't have full fat yoghurt we used yoghurt with 2% fat content;
  • 100 gr confectioners' sugar;
  • 1 Tbsp passion fruit extract.

Strained yoghurt is sold here as it is an important ingredient of many traditional bulgarian recipes, but we   didn't have any so we made it ourselves.
Place a strainer or colander in a bowl where it doesn't touch the bottom and line it with a piece of cheesecloth. Place the yoghurt into the center of the cloth. Bring the four corners of the cloth together and twist them to squeeze out the liquid which will drain through the cloth. Leave it to drain overnight. From 650 gr 2% fat yoghurt we received nearly 200 gr strained yoghurt.
Mix the yoghurt, confectioners' sugar and fruit extract till creamy.

For the simple syrup:

  • 300 ml water;
  • 100 gr sugar;
  • 30 ml rum.

In a small saucepan over a medium high heat bring all the ingredients to a simmer until the sugar dissolves.

To assemble:
Using a cake string cut the genoise in two equal layers. Place one of the layers on a tray and spread some syrup on it. Pour the cream cheese filling on top and smooth with an offset spatula. Top with the other genoise layer and spread some syrup on top. Top with the strained yoghurt cream and smooth well with the offset spatula. Sprinkle some coconut flakes on top. Refrigerate until set.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Baguette Full of Paris Memories

I miss Paris. I miss the lazy mornings with my sister - Dessi. We were lounging till 9 or even 10 o'clock in the morning just talking and laughing. Then while Dessi was making the tea I was going to buy the bread. Behind the corner there was one of my favourite boulangeries Le Moulin de la Vierge. Five minutes later I was back home with a crunchy baguette in my hand. Spreading some cheese on it was like being in the seventh heaven. Just unutterable!

But yesterday Ivan surprised me with some baguettes that reminded me of these feelings. It was like I was sitting again in Dessi's kitchen and we were having our petite déjeuner.

Baguettes Recipe:

For the sponge:
  • 100 gr all purpose flour;
  • 80 ml lukewarm purified water;
  • 1 cup of sourdough starter – here Eric from Breadtopia explains very clearly how to make your own sourdough starter.

Actually we did it the laziest way – we mixed equal parts of water and flour and added a pinch of store bought dehydrated levain to enhance the process of wild yeast spores and bacteria producing. Then we fed it a couple of times with more flour and water and 3 days later we had a healthy sourdough starter.

So, for the sponge - in a big plastic bowl with a lid mix all the ingredients together till you receive a watery dough. If you need add more water. Cover the bowl and leave the sponge to rest overnight at room temperature. In the morning it should be doubled or even tripled its size and there should be a sour aroma.

For the dough:
  • 400 gr sifted all purpose flour;
  • 1 tsp salt;
  • 1 Tbsp sugar;
  • 1 Tbsp powdered milk;
  • 60 ml buttermilk /could be replaced with water/;
  • 150 ml purified water;
  • 2 pinches of yeast;
  • the sponge

Mix all the ingredients till you receive a soft dough. If you need add more water. The water content varies and depends on the flour. The ability of the flour to absorb water vary according to the producer, the wheat quality and the grinding mode.

Leave the dough to rest for 3 hours at room temperature and during this time knead it a couple of times /in our home it's somewhere between 18 and 20ºC, so if it's warmer in your home the dough will be ready faster/. Afterwards divide the dough into 3 equal loaves and form them as baguettes. Leave them to proof at least 30 minutes. In this stage I was really really hungry.

Preheat the oven to 220ºC with the empty baking dish in it /if you don't have a baking stone use a black enamelled baking dish/. Slip off the loaves in the baking dish and just before placing in the oven make cuts with a very sharp knife. Bake till the colour of the crust becomes lightly golden – this takes 25-30 minutes. Then diminish the temperature to 120ºC and bake for additional 10 – 15 minutes, so the baguettes could be baked from the inside.

Fortunately we made 3 loaves, meaning we have eaten one of them straight away and there were still another two for photos :)

Friday, April 16, 2010

It All Starts With Chocolate Gingersnaps

I urge myself to start this blog for a very long time. I'm making photos of almost everything that comes out of my oven but when it comes to writing there's always a good reason to put it off until later. But today is the great start-my-blog day. In fact it's not only my blog. The initiator was Ivan but he always says „You are the writer in the family“. So here I am – writing while he... actually he is making some sourdough bread /but for this I'll write another time/.

Let us present ourselves. We are Silvia and Ivan, we are living in Varna, Bulgaria and we are baking addicted :) You are welcome to peek in our kitchen whenever you want!

The reason I've started to write exactly today was because I've found an indian food store in the town. I've got so overexcited about this that I needed to share it with someone that whould understand me. We were in the Greek quarter looking for the shop for ropes and chains /my father-in-law needed a stainless steel rope for his yard well/ but instead of the rope shop there was an indian food shop. I wouldn't have even noticed it otherwise but I was inside asking where is the other shop when I saw the products – the same stuff I was buying from the Indian quarter in Paris while visiting my sister. The same stuff I was squeezing into my extremely big suitcase and then dragging them all the way to Bulgaria. Usually I'm not taking many clothes bacause I need space in the suitcase, space for spices, herbs, sugar, chocolate, cheese, different types of oils and butters and many many other edible ingredients. Afterwards all my tiny muscles hurt because of all the dragging of my precious goods. Sometimes I wonder what will happen if someone of the customs officers take a look at my suitcase. Could they catch me for food smuggling.

Now you understand why I get so happy of the simple fact that there is an Indian grocery near me. It's not that I won't overfill my suitcase with interesting ingredients wherever I go, but now I have some of them under my nose.

So, the fact that I've entered the shop means that my bag was full on my way out. One of the things I bought was a jaggery - unrefined non-centrifugal sugar. And on this occasion I made these Chocolate Gingersnaps.

Jaggery has a very specific flavour. It's not so sweet as sugar. For me it resembles more to honey, but not quite. You should try it. It's really really good. And it makes cookies taste really different.
Here I've used white granulated sugar instead of brown just because I wanted to have the taste of jaggery as a dominant. And it was successfull. The cookies are crunchy and hard, just like I like them.

Chocolate Gingersnaps Recipe:
  • 150 gr all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting;
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder;
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger;
  • ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg;
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder;
  • ¼ teaspoon salt;
  • 60 gr butter;
  • 50 gr jaggery;
  • 50 gr granulated sugar;
  • 1 large egg white, at room temperature.

Mix the flour, cocoa powder, ginger, nutmeg, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl until uniform, set aside.

Beat the butter, sugar and jaggery in a large bowl until creamy and fluffy /about 2 minutes at a medium speed/. Beat in the egg white. Remove the beaters and stir in the prepared flour mixture with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Gather the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic or put it in a tightly closed box and place it in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 160ºC. Prepare a silicon pad. Dust a clean, dry work surface with flour. Dust the rolling pin and roll the dough out until 4-5mm thick. Using a cookie cutter cut out the cookies and transfer them to the silicon pad. Gather the scraps and repeat. Bake approximately for 10 minutes, or until the cookies are firm and crisp.

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