Sunday, July 11, 2010

Blog Change

Dear readers, we are changing our blog name and you can find us here.
mushitza is my nickname and the brand I'm using for the last three years to sign everything I (we) make, this is why we decided to make it our blog name.
We hope you'll continue reading us on

Friday, July 2, 2010

Strawberry Pate de Fruit Cake

Early sunday morning. We were having 2 kilos of fresh milk in the fridge but there was nothing that could go with a cup of milk. I needed something sweet and cakey, and fruity, and I needed it baked, cooled and served in less than two hours for breakfast.

We still had some of those fancy looking pate de fruit squares we made last week. Or we ate them and these are from the subsequent batches we made, oh, I don't remember. Recently we are making so much pate de fruit as a birthday presents for friends and relatives that I lost the count.

So in general this is how this cake was born.

Strawberry Pate de Fruit Cake Recipe:
Makes one 20x7 cm cake loaf
  • 30 gr butter;
  • 30 gr sunflower oil or any vegetable oil;
  • 90 gr sugar;
  • 1 large egg;
  • 80 gr sour cream;
  • 50 gr yoghurt;
  • 150 gr whole wheat flour;
  • 1 tsp baking powder;
  • 1 pinch salt;
  • 1 Tbsp orange blossom water;
  • 5-6 squares of strawberry pate de fruit or one strip (long as the length of the baking dish).
Preheat the oven to 180º C. Line with paper a cake baking dish.

In a large bowl beat the butter, oil and the sugar, then add in the egg. Mix in the sour cream and the yoghurt, then add the dry ingredients and at last – the orange blossom water.

Pour the batter into the paper lined dish. On top place the pate de fruit squares and press them down to sink by half into the batter. During the baking the batter will rise and the pate de fruit will turn out in the middle of the cake. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack. 

Monday, June 28, 2010

Turkish Pidé Fresh from the Oven

It's june 28, so it's time for Fresh from the Oven challenge. This month it was hosted by Pei Lin a.k.a Mrs Ergül and it was a very good one. We made Turkish Pidé - a special Turkish bread for Ramadan.

We've eaten this bread before so we made it with a great delight as soon as Pei Lin posted the recipe. But then we had to make it again.

I saw it's going to be a big loaf but that didn't stop me to put it in my favourite 25x15 cm baking dish. Ivan had some good arguments contra but I had to do what I've put onto my mind. A little part of me knew I was wrong but it was out of spite ignored. The bread was rising and rising, and rising, and ... at the end we ended up with a huge loaf – 10 cm tall, 25x15 cm large. Of course I've whipped off some “I told you” eye rolls, but it was too late. And, yes, I was wrong. We had a huge bread but it was so creamy (because of the butter), soft and sweet, and simply delicious, that none of us argued. But we had to do the challenge again. No problem. No matter if the bread has the right shape, it is indeed so good that one could make it again and again without complaining.

This time we made half of the amount given in the recipe and we've got a great inspiration watching these guys.

So instead of scoring the pidé with a knife, we (Ivan, I've already missed my chance) did this with hands. Besides the dough is rather soft and it's easier to press it with hands than using a knife. This time we had a great shape and once again a great bread.

Turkish Pidé Recipe:
adapted from Iffet's My Turkish Kitchen
  • 4 cups (to 5 cups) all purpose flour;
  • 1 and 3/4 cups lukewarm water;
  • 1/2 stick butter (melted);
  • 1/2 Tbsp instant yeast;
  • 1 Tbsp sugar;
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt;
  • black and white sesame seeds for topping.
In a large mixing bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients. Add melted butter and lukewarm water into this mixture and knead. The dough should be sticky. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and keep it in a warm place for rising. Let the dough rise to double its size.

Knead the dough again until it is bubble free. Place a parchment paper on a baking tray. Take the dough to the tray and make it flat with your hands until it cover all of the surface of the tray. Dampen your hands with water if the dough sticks to your hands on this step.

Preheat the oven to 350F (180º C). Let the dough rise for half an hour. Then take a knife and give the dough square shapes going deep down or use your hands (watch the video). Sprinkle some sesame seeds on top.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the colour of the pide turns light brown. Take the pide out of the oven and let it cool for 20 minutes. Cover it with a clean kitchen towel to keep it soft.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Chocolate Pavlova with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse

Our first Daring Bakers' challenge. To tell you the truth this was quite a challenge for me as I don't like meringues. Actually I hate them. But... Apparently when there is cocoa involved everything becomes better.

This month the Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged us to make Chocolate Pavlova and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The recipe is based on a recipe from the book "Chocolate Epiphany" by Francois Payard.

I found the meringue is better when there is cocoa powder added but after all it's not my type of treat. But I really enjoyed the rest of the recipe. And I could have eaten all the mousse and cream if it wasn't Ivan to foist in some meringues beneath them.

We made one hole batch of the meringue recipe (6 meringues approximately 10 cm in diameter) and a half recipe of the mousse and cream and even this way the mousse and the cream were in abundance (lucky me!).

Chocolate Meringue Recipe:
(for the chocolate Pavlova)

  • 3 large egg whites;
  • ½ cup plus 1 tbsp (110 gr) white granulated sugar;
  • ¼ cup (30 gr) confectioner’s (icing) sugar;
  • 1/3 cup (30 gr) cocoa powder (The recipe calls for natural cocoa powder, but we used dutch processed cocoa powder and added a pinch of citric acid to the egg whites at the foam stage).

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 200º F (95º C) degrees. Line two baking sheets with silpat or parchment and set aside.

Put the egg whites in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar about 1 Tbsp at a time until stiff peaks form. The whites should be firm but moist.

Sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder over the egg whites and gently fold the dry ingredients into the white.

Fill a pastry bag with the meringue. Pipe the meringue into whatever shapes you desire. Alternatively, you could just free form your shapes and level them a bit with the back of a spoon.

Bake for 2-3 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp (It took us one and a half hours) . Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse Recipe:
(for the top of the Pavlova base)

  • 1 ½ cups (355 gr) heavy cream (cream with a milk fat content of between 36 and 40 percent)
  • grated zest of one lemon
  • 9 ounces (255 gr) 72% chocolate, chopped
  • 1 2/3 cups (390 gr) mascarpone
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) Grand Marnier (we used rum)

Pour ½ cup (120 ml) of the heavy cream and the lemon zest in a saucepan and bring to simmer over medium high heat. Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate. Let stay for a couple of minutes, then whisk until melted and smooth. Leave at room temperature until cool.

Place the mascarpone, the remaining cup of cream and nutmeg in a bowl. Whip on low for a minute until the mascarpone is loose. Add the Grand Marnier and whip on medium speed until it holds soft peaks. DO NOT OVERBEAT AS THE MASCARPONE WILL BREAK.

Mix about ¼ of the mascarpone mixture into the chocolate to lighten. Fold in the remaining mascarpone until well incorporated. Fill a pastry bag with the mousse. Again, you could just free form mousse on top of the pavlova.

Mascarpone Cream Recipe:
(for drizzling)

  • 1 recipe crème anglaise
  • ½ cup (120 ml) mascarpone
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) Sambucca (rum, again)
  • ½ cup (120 ml) heavy cream

Prepare the crème anglaise. Slowly whisk in the mascarpone and the Sambucca and let the mixture cool.

Put the heavy cream in a bowl and beat with electric mixer until very soft peaks are formed. Fold the cream into the mascarpone mixture.

Crème Anglaise Recipe:
(a component of the Mascarpone Cream above)

  • 1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
  • 1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 6 Tbsp (75 gr) sugar

In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture turns pale yellow.

Combine the milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan over medium high heat, bringing the mixture to a boil. Take off the heat.

Pour about ½ cup of the hot liquid into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly to keep from making scrambled eggs. Pour the yolk mixture into the pan with the remaining cream mixture and put the heat back on medium. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens enough to lightly coat the back of a wooden spoon. DO NOT OVERCOOK.

Remove the mixture from the heat and strain it through a fine sieve into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until the mixture is thoroughly chilled, about 2 hours or overnight.

Assembly: Pipe the mousse onto the pavlovas and drizzle with the mascarpone cream over the top. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and fresh fruit if desired.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cherry Clafoutis

We have never eaten so many cherries like this year. Downstairs, beneath our apartment, our neighbours have opened a “Fruits and Vegetables” shop. The place isn't big, actually it was a garage once, but it's well stocked with fresh produce. It's like a little farmer's market just at two paces distance away from me. Literally. And the best part is that while drinking my tea on the balcony it's enough to show my head for a quick peek and I already know what they have today. (It's peaches and apricots today, just in case you are curious).

Two days ago the shop was overstocked with cherries and so were my shopping bags. The rest is easy to figure out – lots of cherry sweets.

Cherry Clafoutis Recipe:
Serves 2
  • 300 gr cherries;
  • 2 eggs;
  • 65 gr confectioner's sugar;
  • 50 gr heavy cream;
  • 1 Tbsp kirsch (or rum);
  • 65 gr all purpose flour;
  • ½ tsp baking powder;
  • butter for the baking dishes.
Preheat the oven to 140º C.

Rinse and pit the cherries. If you leave them with the stones they will be more aromatic, because during the baking the stones release additional flavour. But I prefer to pit them as it's easier to eat them that way.

Beat the eggs and the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the heavy cream and the alcohol. Add in the flour and the baking powder.

Butter generously 2 small baking dishes (mine are approximately 8x15 cm) or one larger. Arrange the cherries at the bottom of the dishes and pour the batter on top. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, until nicely golden.

You can take it out of the baking dish and serve it upside down, so that the fruits will be visible but I prefer to bake it in individual dishes and eat it with a spoon.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Strawberry Pate de Fruit

I wasn't a big fan of pate de fruit. I've always found it too sweet to eat it. Even now when thinking of store bought pate de fruit my teeth are aching. I just don't like to eat foods in which the dominant taste is that of the sugar. It's named “pate de fruit” so you should feel the fruits in your mouth not solely the sugar.

But when it comes to home made one – I'm drooling over these fruity thoughts. For the last week we've made strawberry pate de fruit twice – one with just strawberries and one with some fresh mint and basil leaves added. And while I'm writing this Ivan is stirring up some bubbling cherry pate de fruit.

So, we are in a pate de fruit rush. And as it bubbles up madly it's very likely to get some red stains on your clothes. If this happen – rinse the stain out with cold water and soap and leave it to dry in sun. And just in case don't wear your favourite T-shirt. (Fortunately the stains disappeared after this procedure).

Strawberry Pate de Fruit Recipe:
  • 550 gr strawberries;
  • 500 gr sugar;
  • 15 gr citrus pectin;
  • ½ tsp citric acid.
Line a 20x20 cm pan with paper.

Puree the strawberries in a food processor. Pass them through a sieve over a heavy bottomed saucepan. (We've started with 550 gr fresh strawberries and ended up with 500 gr strained puree.) Add in the citric acid and 100 gr of the sugar. Cook over a medium heat until the temperature reaches 45º C.

Combine the remaining sugar (400 gr) and the pectin and mix well. Thus the pectin will be evenly distributed and won't form any lumps when brought into contact with the puree. Add this mixture into the strawberry puree. Stirring constantly bring the mixture to 93º C. Keep it at this temperature for 2-3 minutes, if needed turn the heat down for a while. Then slowly bring the mixture to 106º C and keep it there for 2-3 more minutes. Stir all the time and be careful as it bubbles up.

Remove from the heat and pour into the paper lined pan. Let set overnight at room temperature.

Cut in squares or whatever shape you prefer and roll the pieces in sugar. It's ready to eat. Place in hermetically closed box and refrigerate.

If you live in a humid climate like us, don't let the pate de fruit stay at room temperature too long after it has set because it will start to collect humidity from the air.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cherry Pie in a Black Pepper Cherry-Brandy Pastry

In my mind cherries are associated with the date May 24 - the Alphabet, Culture, and Education Day of Bulgaria. When I was in the primary school on this day all the students were marching via the center of the city in their full dress with a blue or red scarf around the neck, depending if they were chavdarcheta or pioneers. Chavdarcheta were the youngest children, which later became pioneers. (I was to become a pioneer when the Communist System was knocked down). After the parade, on the way home, my mother was buying for me and my sister a bunch of cherries. Because these were the first cherries they were sold in bunches of 10 cherries, like little bunches of flowers. For me this was the best part of the day. I still remember these little bunches of underripe cherries and the delight with which me and my sister were eating them slowly in order to prolong the grassy-fruity taste.

Now, when cherries are in full season, it's time for a cherry pie. I love pies but I hate the mess in the oven after making them. The juices of the fruits are bubbling and making such a fuss, that I have to clean the oven thoroughly after that. For preventing this mess I usually place the pie dish in a larger dish (meaning the baking dish that came with the oven). Thus the juices of the fruits will mess up only the larger dish.

This recipe is adapted from “Great Pies & Tarts” by Carole Walter – a lovely book with a lot of basic techniques and useful information about baking pies and tarts.

Cherry Pie in a Black Pepper Cherry-Brandy Pastry Recipe:
Makes 4 15-cm (6-inch) mini pies

For the crust:
  • 270 gr all purpose flour;
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar;
  • 2 pinches salt;
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper;
  • 190 gr cold butter;
  • 5-6 Tbsp cherry brandy (rum or white wine). I've used home made cherry brandy.
Mix the dry ingredients. Add in the cold butter. Using a pastry cutter or a fork cut the butter into the flour until coarse crumbs form. Add the cherry brandy, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing the mixture with a fork to blend. After 5 Tbsp have been added, press the dough with your fingertips to see if it will hold together. If not, add the remaining tablespoon of brandy. Don't overmix. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

For the filling:
  • 1 kilo cherries;
  • 1 Tbsp instant tapioca;
  • 200 gr sugar;
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch;
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon;
  • 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper;
  • 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice;
  • 1 coffee spoon almond extract;
  • 1 Tbsp butter;
  • 4 tsp sugar for finishing (optional).
Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Position the rack in the center of the oven. Turn on only the bottom heat and the fan function.

Wash and pat dry the cherries. Remove the pits and the stems. Place the fruits in a large bowl and distribute evenly the tapioca.

In a small bowl mix the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and black pepper.

Prepare the bottom crust – roll out the dough and cut it accordingly to the shape of your baking dish, but 3-4 cm larger on each side. Place the bottom crust into the pie dish. Scrape down any excessive dough, make it to a ball and roll out again to make the lattice top.

Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of the sugar mixture over each of the 4 bottom crusts. Toss the remaining of the sugar mixture through the cherries. Add the lemon juice and the almond extract and mix well. Divide this cherry mixture among the 4 mini pies and dot with butter on top.

Make a lattice top with the remaining pastry and seal the edges by folding the pastry strips under the bottom layer of dough. Sprinkle every lattice with 1 tsp of sugar (apparently I've forgotten to do so). Bake for around 35 - 40 minutes or until golden brown and the juices of the fruit bubbles up. If during the baking the lattice gets brown too early lower the temperature. When it's ready remove the pie from the oven and let cool. Let stand for at least 4 hours before serving – during this time the juices will settle down and thicken.

Because the pastry contains alcohol open the oven door a couple of times for a few seconds while baking to let the fumes escape.

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