Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Apple and marzipan rolls + an interesting read

Apple and marzipan rolls / Pãezinhos de maçã e marzipã

One of my favorite things to do is reading about how movies are made and especially how directors and actors are chosen for each project; there are characters impossible to imagine being played by someone else – can you picture Tom Selleck as Indiana Jones? – while with others I would have taken a different route: for instance, I would have chosen Vanessa Williams to play Storm instead of Halle Berry.
Ryan Adams’ has posted an excerpt from William Friedkin’s memoir in which he describes the casting for “The Exorcist” – it’s a very interesting read. I find Ellen Burstyn’s performance in that movie one of the best I have seen in my entire life and it is amazing to find out that she hadn’t even been considered for the part. It is also curious how Jason Miller got cast as Father Karras. Friedkin is a director I admire – can’t wait to watch “Killer Joe” – and I ended up adding his memoir to my already too long wish list. :)

***

Ever since making Paul Hollywood’s marzipan for the first time I’ve been enjoying recipes I had bookmarked for years – these rolls come from Waitrose’s website and are every bit the delicious treat I’d imagined them to be.

Apple and marzipan rolls
slightly adapted from Waitrose

2 ½ cups (350g) all purpose flour
7g dried yeast
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
1 large egg
100g unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup (80ml) whole milk, lukewarm
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
200g golden marzipan, grated – I used homemade, recipe here
1 large Granny Smith apple
½ cup (75g) golden raisins
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
icing sugar, for dusting

Place the flour, yeast and sugar in the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook. Make a well in the center and add the egg, butter, milk and vanilla and mix to combine. Mix at low-medium speed until it starts to form a soft dough. Continue mixing for 5-6 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic – or knead by hand for about 10 minutes. Transfer to a lightly buttered large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for about 1½ hours or until the dough has doubled in size. Meanwhile, butter a 23cm (9in) round cake pan.
Punch the dough with your fist to deflate, then tip it out onto a floured surface. Roll the dough out to a 40x20cm (16x8in) rectangle. Scatter the marzipan over the dough to within 1cm (½in) of the edges. Peel, core and chop the apple and scatter over the marzipan. Mix the raisins with the cinnamon and sprinkle them over the apples. Starting from a long edge, roll up the dough into a long, thin sausage shape.
Using a small sharp knife, cut the dough into 8 even-sized pieces. Place them with their cut sides face-up in the prepared tin. Cover loosely with a piece of buttered plastic wrap and leave to rise again (prove) for about 1 hour until the buns have risen and become tightly packed in the tin (mine took 2 hours to prove). Towards the end of the proving time, preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F.
Uncover the buns and bake for about 30 minutes until deep golden. Cover with foil towards the end of the cooking time if they start to over-brown. Cool in the pan over a wire rack for 15 minutes then carefully unmold onto the rack. Dust with icing sugar and serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 8

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Black forest cookies

Black forest cookies / Cookies floresta negra

Years ago, when I started using American recipes in my kitchen, one thing I really wanted to try making was chocolate chip cookies: they're not part of our food culture and there were two store-bought versions - one was nice, but very expensive, and the more affordable one was on the dry side. Now that I have made my share of chocolate chip cookies with great success - they're infinitely better than the store-bought ones - I love trying variatons like this, with the addition of dried cherries: they add a chewy tang to the classic cookies. Really, really good.

Black forest cookies
slightly adapted from the absolutely gorgeous Annie Bell's Baking Bible (I bought mine here)

1 cup + 1 tablespoon (150g) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons (75g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (44g) light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
50g dried cherries
150g dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line two large baking sheets with baking paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars together until light and creamy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Scrape the sides of the bowl. At low speed, beat in the dry ingredients just until combined. Stir in the cherries and the chocolate.
Roll 2 leveled tablespoons of dough per cookie into balls and place 5cm (2in) apart onto prepared sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until pale gold all over, but slightly darker around the edges.
Loosen the cookies straight away, then leave to cool completely on the sheets.

Makes 25-30

Friday, April 26, 2013

Coconut buns + a TV show disappointment

Coconut buns / Pãezinhos de coco

I waited months for the fifth season of “Mad Men” to arrive on Netflix but after watching all the episodes I did not like it much. :/

* spoilers *

I hated the fate given to two of my favorite characters, Joan and Lane, and Don Draper doesn’t seem to be the interesting character he once was – at least Pete and Peggy had great finales. Seasons 1 through 4 are such favorites of mine, I hope season 6 gets back on track again. Have you watched season 5? Did you like it?

* end of spoilers *

If “Mad Men” was a disappointment to me I can’t say the same about these buns: they are super tender and delicious both on their own and with some raspberry jam; the recipes from "Baking by Flavor" never let me down.

Coconut buns
slightly adapted from the always delicious and wonderful Baking by Flavor

2 ¼ teaspoons dried yeast
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons warm water
1 large egg
½ tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ cup sour cream*
¼ cup coconut milk
2 cups + 2 tablespoons (300g) all purpose flour, divided use
¼ teaspoon table salt
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 sweetened (33g) shredded coconut
½ cup (1 stick/113g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into chunks

For assembling the buns:
1 egg, beaten with a fork, for brushing the rolls
about ¼ cup sweetened shredded coconut, for sprinkling over the rolls

In the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the hook attachment mix the yeast, ½ teaspoon of the sugar and warm water. Let stand for about 5 minutes or until foamy. Add the egg, vanilla, remaining sugar, sour cream and coconut milk and stir to combine. Add 2 cups of the flour, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and coconut and mix at medium-low speed until a dough forms. Gradually add the butter, mixing until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes – if the dough is too sticky, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour, but be aware that this is a soft dough. Transfer to a lightly buttered large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 1 hour. Refrigerate for 4-5 hours or overnight.
Butter a 20x30cm (12x8in) baking pan. Set aside.
Remove the dough from the fridge and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Knead 3-4 four times, then divide into 9 equal portions. Roll each into a ball by cupping your hand and pushing dough against work surface as you roll in a circular motion. Arrange rolls 2.5cm (1in) apart onto prepared pan and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let proof until doubled in size, about 2 hours. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F.
Brush the rolls with the egg wash and sprinkle with the coconut. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until rolls are golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

*homemade sour cream: to make 1 cup of sour cream, mix 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream with 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice in a bowl. Whisk until it starts to thicken. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 1 hour or until thicker (I usually leave mine on the counter overnight – except on very warm nights – and it turns out thick and silky in the following morning; refrigerate for a creamier texture)

Makes 9

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Chickpea curry with roasted cauliflower and tomatoes and a trip that changed things up around here

Chickpea curry with roasted cauliflower and tomatoes / Curry de grão-de-bico com couve-flor e tomates assados

Those of you around here for a while know that my husband is a classic case of picky eater – there are lots of things that he just won’t eat. That makes me sad because he is missing out on several delicious things, but what can I do? I can’t force him – I hated it when my stepmother forced us to eat her disgusting food and that was the reason why I started cooking. I consider it his loss – I eat all the good food myself and call it a day.

Last year he went to China on a business trip and that was one of the greatest gifts the Universe could have sent me: several days and many spring rolls afterwards he came home a changed man – at least in the food department. Yes, he’s still a bit picky and likes to stick to his usual favorites, but he’s been trying things he hated before and without me pushing. He ate this vegetarian curry – one of Martha’s great recipes – which blew me away because he doesn’t like chickpeas. Or cauliflower, for that matter. Because he was being such a good boy I replaced the cilantro with parsley – baby steps, people, baby steps. One or two more trips to China and I bet he’ll become a real foodie – maybe I should give his boss a call and send him a box of brownies. ;)

Chickpea curry with roasted cauliflower and tomatoes
slightly adapted from the wonderful Meatless: More Than 200 of the Very Best Vegetarian Recipes

½ head cauliflower (about 450g/1lb), trimmed and cut into florets
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups cherry tomatoes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon curry powder
3 cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 ½ cups baby spinach*
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves – I used parsley

Preheat oven to 190°C/375°F. Toss cauliflower with 1 teaspoon olive oil and arrange in a single layer on one side of a rimmed baking sheet. Toss tomatoes with 1 teaspoon olive oil and arrange on other side of sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until florets are browned in spots and tomatoes are soft, about 25 minutes.
In a medium saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high. Cook onion, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, and curry powder and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add chickpeas, tomatoes, and 2 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer 8 minutes.
Add cauliflower and cook until warmed through and chickpeas are tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in spinach and cilantro and season with salt and pepper. Serve with rice.

* I added about 80g frozen spinach instead of the fresh stuff because that is what I had at home; the curry turned green, which to some people might be unappetizing (for the record, it tasted great); right before serving, I added a handful of fresh baby watercress to the curry.

Serves 4 – I halved the recipe above, we both ate generously and there was still curry left, enough to serve one more person

Monday, April 22, 2013

Cinnamon swirl loaf cake

Cinnamon swirl loaf cake / Bolo mesclado com canela

I find cooking or baking from a cookbook for the first time a tricky thing: if the recipe turns out good – which is the case most of the times – I feel like using that cookbook right away again, over and over, sometimes to exhaustion, but if the first recipe turns out bad I tend to put the cookbook aside. I know I shouldn’t do it because bad recipes can happen to anyone but I really can’t help it. Do you feel the same way?
After the amazing almond citrus drizzle cake I’d been meaning to use this beautiful cookbook again; the urge of baking a cake and some heavy cream about to go to waste in the fridge were the reasons I chose this cinnamon loaf: it turned out delicious, very tender and perfumed, perfect with a cup of tea or coffee – David Lesniak and David Muniz have done it again. :)

Cinnamon swirl loaf cake
slightly adapted from the gorgeous and delicious Piece of Cake: Home Baking Made Simple

Cinnamon sugar:
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (44g) brown sugar, packed
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

Cake:
2 cups (280g) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons (175g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream*

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a 22.5x12.5cm (9x5in) loaf pan.
Cinnamon sugar: combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
Cake: in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. Beat in the vanilla. On low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the sour cream in 3 or 4 additions, mixing just until incorporated – finish mixing by hand with a spatula. Pour 1/3 of the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with ½ the cinnamon mixture. Cover with another 1/3 of the batter and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon mixture. Spoon the remaining batter over it then, using a small knife or spatula, make a zigzag line from one narrow side of the pan to the other. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until golden and risen and a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan over a wire rack for 15 minutes, then carefully unmold onto the rack and cool completely.

*homemade sour cream: to make 1 cup of sour cream, mix 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream with 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice in a bowl. Whisk until it starts to thicken. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 1 hour or until thicker (I usually leave mine on the counter overnight – except on very warm nights – and it turns out thick and silky in the following morning; refrigerate for a creamier texture)

Serves 6-8

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Poppy seed thumbprints

Poppy seed thumbprints

I'm a visual person so I am naturally draw to cookbooks and magazines with beautiful photos - that is why I got hooked on Donna Hay Magazine, for instance; however, from time to time I try to use the cookbooks with the less gorgeous visual content because I know that I might be missing on some great recipes. Carole Walter's book on cookies might not have the most beautiful photos around but the woman is a fabulous baker: everything I have made from it turned out delicious and the instructions are clear and precise. These thumbprints were a doddle to make and were a hit with the hubby's coworkers.

Poppy seed thumbprints
from the great Great Cookies: Secrets to Sensational Sweets

2 cups (280g) all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ cup poppy seeds
1 cup (226g/2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
raspberry preserves, or use the flavor you like the most

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line two large baking sheets with baking paper.
Mix together the flour, salt and poppy seeds in a large bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter on medium-low speed until smooth. Pour in the sugar and mix just until incorporated. Add the egg yolks and vanilla, mixing only until blended. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the dry ingredients in two additions, mixing just to combine after each addition. Do not overmix or this dough will become oily.
Roll 1 leveled tablespoon of dough into balls place 5cm (2in) apart on a lined cookie sheet. Using a wooden spoon with a rounded handle no wider than 1cm (½in), make a deep indentation with the tip of the handle in the center of each cookie. Place the cookies in the oven. After 10 minutes, remove the cookies from the oven and re-press each indentation. Then fill the centers with preserves. Point the tip of the spoon down into the indentation and slide the preserves off with your fingertip. Do not overfill these or the preserves will run over. Return the cookies to the oven, rotating the pans top to bottom and front to back. Bake for 5-7 minutes longer until the cookies are golden brown around the edges. Using a spatula, loosen the cookies from the pans and cool on a wire rack.

Makes about 45 cookies

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Orange and whiskey cake + more movies

Orange and whisky cake / Bolo de laranja e uísque

As you know, horror movies scare the bejesus out of me, but my sister adores them – since she doesn’t complain about my movie choices I gather all the courage I have (which, to be honest, is practically none) and watch the scary movies with her – it wouldn’t be fair to deny her that, right? My defense mechanism consists on closing my eyes on the most frightening scenes and Jessica finds that really funny. :)
A couple of days ago we watched “Mama” and I’ll admit that I screamed a couple of times in the theater – yes, I am 34 and pathetic. :) Still, I liked the movie a lot but needed something lighter to decompress and nothing could have been more perfect than “Ruby Sparks”, which turned out to be one of the loveliest movies I have ever seen! A clever plot, a well written script, a great cast and beautiful music, all mixed in a movie that will make you feel moved yet good. It’s so adorable I wouldn’t mind watching it again anytime soon – I tend to repeat things I love, and Lisa Yockelson’s cakes fit that category; this orange whiskey version follows the butter rum cake formula – a tender cake laced with a boozy glaze –
and is equally delicious – whiskey is as good paired with citrus as it is with chocolate.

Orange and whiskey cake
slightly adapted from Baking Style: Art, Craft, Recipes

Cake:
2 cups + 2 tablespoons (300g) all purpose flour
1 tablespoon corn starch
2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon table salt
¾ cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups (300g) granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 2 large oranges
4 large eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup (120ml) freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons whiskey

Glaze:
3 tablespoons (42g) unsalted butter, chopped
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon whiskey
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Generously butter a 10-cup capacity Bundt pan, flour it then remove the excess flour.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, corn starch, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter until soft. Gradually add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Next, beat in the orange zest and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally. On low speed, alternatively the flour mixture in three additions and the orange juice in two additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix in the whiskey.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake the cake for 45-50 minutes or until golden and risen and a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Cool in the pan over a wire rack for 10 minutes – in the meantime, make the glaze: combine all the ingredients in a small heavy saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring, until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat.
Carefully unmold the cake onto the rack. Brush the cake generously with the hot syrup. Cool completely before slicing and serving.

Serves 10-12

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Parmesan pull-aparts

Parmesan pull aparts / Pãezinhos de parmesão

I once told you I wouldn’t be able to survive without bread and cheese, so can you imagine how much I loved these parmesan rolls? :) They’re delicious freshly baked – I doubt someone would resist demolishing them the minute they’re out of the oven – but reheat really well, too, so if you’re lucky enough to have leftovers the rolls can be enjoyed some other time. Just don’t count on that – trust me. :D

Parmesan pull-aparts
from the always delicious Epicurious

2 teaspoons dried yeast
1 teaspoon mild honey or sugar
2/3 cup (160ml) warm whole milk, divided
2 ½ cups (350g) all-purpose flour + 2 tablespoons for sprinkling over the dough
1 ¼ cups (1 1/3oz/37g) grated (with a rasp) parmesan cheese + a handful for sprinkling over the rolls
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
5 tablespoons (70g) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces and softened
1 tablespoon water
1 large egg, extra, for brushing the rolls

Stir together yeast, honey, and 1/3 cup (80ml) of the warm milk in the large bowl of an electric mixer and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the flour (350g), cheese, and salt into the yeast mixture along with remaining 1/3 cup warm milk and mix at low speed. Increase speed to medium and beat in 2 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally, until a very soft dough forms, about 3 minutes. Beat in butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough is elastic, about 2 minutes. (Dough will be very sticky.)
Scrape dough into center of bowl and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons flour. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 1 ½ to 2 hours. Butter a 20x30cm (8x12in) baking pan. Set aside.
Punch down dough (do not knead) and turn out onto a floured surface. Cut dough into 12 equal pieces and roll each into a ball by cupping your hand and pushing dough against work surface as you roll in a circular motion. Arrange rolls 2.5cm (1in) apart onto prepared pan and cover with a clean kitchen towel (not terry cloth). Let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled and dough fills pan, 1 to 1 ½ hours.
Preheat oven to 190°C/375°F with rack in middle.
Whisk together remaining egg with water and brush on tops of rolls (you will have leftover egg wash). Sprinkle with the extra cheese and bake until golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then loosen edges of rolls from pan with a knife and invert rolls onto a rack, then reinvert and cool at least 20 minutes.

Makes 12

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Chocolate brownies with dried cranberries

Chocolate brownies with dried cranberries / Brownies de chocolate com cranberries secas

I have been making brownies quite frequently lately - they are easy and quick to put together, delicious, everyone loves them, and I don't need to wait for the butter to soften to prepare a batch, which makes them perfect for immediate baking urges. I'd had an eye on Paul Hollywood's brownies for a while, but I was out of dried cranberries and kept thinking that they would be the first thing I would bake when I finally bought the cranberries. Well, they were actually the second thing, but turned out really tasty - not that I had any doubts they would: I would never doubt the man responsible for the best brioche I have ever tasted. :)

Chocolate brownies with dried cranberries
slightly adapted from the stunning and foolproof How to Bake (I bought mine here)

100g unsalted butter, chopped
200g dark chocolate, chopped – I used one with 53% cocoa solids
4 eggs*
¾ cup (250g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup (105g) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/3 cup (30g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup (110g) dried cranberries, dusted with 1 teaspoon all purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F; line a 20cm (8in) square baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang in two opposite sides. Butter the foil.
Melt the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl placed over a pan of simmering water. Stir, then leave to cool slightly. Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar together until the mixture is pale and thick enough to hold a trail when the beaters are lifted. Beat in the vanilla. Carefully fold the chocolate mixture. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder together over the mixture and gently fold these in too. Finally, fold in the dried cranberries. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until nicely crusted but still soft in the middle. Cool completely in the pan over a wire rack. Cut into squares.

* the recipe called for medium eggs – I only buy large eggs, so I chose the smallest ones in the carton

Makes 16

Friday, April 12, 2013

Sour cream dulce de leche swirl cake + "Midnight Cowboy"

Sour cream dulce de leche swirl cake / Bolo de sour cream mesclado com doce de leite

I watched many wonderful movies when I was younger – that was when I started paying attention to the directors, and not only to the cast – and many of the movies I saw back then have become classics; however, there are still many to be watched, and a couple of days ago I gladly crossed another name off my list – the fantastic and brilliant “Midnight Cowboy”. Up to this moment I’m amazed by Jon Voight’s and Dustin Hoffman’s performances – there are no words to describe what these two do in this movie, it is fine acting at its best, the kind I’d love to see more often in the movies released nowadays.
I adore opening sequences – my friend Bianca knows that – and “Midnight Cowboy” has one of the best I’ve seen: it’s beautiful, kind of poetic, and “Everybody’s Talkin’” gets stuck on your head indefinitely. And aside all the greatness of this movie, one thing really stood out to me: how much Angelina Jolie looks like her father when he was younger – the resemblance is really impressive.

***

Cakes made with sour cream have become favorites of mine – the texture is always really tender. This cake is no exception and as a bonus there are little pockets of dulce de leche hidden in the middle of the slices. Yum! :)

Sour cream dulce de leche swirl cake
slightly adapted from the always mouthwatering Delicious - Australia

225g all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
180g unsalted butter, room temperature
230g granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup sour cream*
½ cup dulce de leche
2/3 cup (73g) pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a round 20cm (8in) springform pan, line base with a circle of baking paper and butter the paper as well (I used a pan with a removable bottom).
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Using an electric mixer, cream butter, sugar and vanilla until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in sour cream. Fold in flour mixture.
Spread half the butter mixture into the pan. Top the butter mixture with spoonfuls of dulce de leche. Use a knife to create a swirled effect. Repeat with remaining butter mixture and dulce de leche. Top with the pecans. Bake for about 1 hour or until golden and a skewer inserted into centre comes out clean. Cool in the pan over a wire rack for 25 minutes, then carefully remove the sides of the pan. Cool completely.

* homemade sour cream: to make 1 cup of sour cream, mix 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream with 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice in a bowl. Whisk until it starts to thicken. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 1 hour or until thicker (I usually leave mine on the counter overnight – except on very warm nights – and it turns out thick and silky in the following morning; refrigerate for a creamier texture)

Serves 8

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Spiced blueberry rolls + some comedy after the drama

Spiced blueberry rolls / Pãezinhos de mirtilo e canela

After watching several drama shows in a row a girl needs something to make her laugh, right? I have found the perfect way to do that by watching “Parks and Recreation”: I haven’t finished the first season yet but I’m completely hooked! Amy Poehler is absolutely hilarious – I start laughing just by looking at her – and the other actors are great, too, my favorites being Nick Offerman and Aziz Ansari. There are days when there’s nothing better than sitting down with something freshly baked – liked these delicious blueberry rolls – to watch “Parks and Recreation”; one just has to be careful not to choke – eating and laughing at the same time can be really dangerous, and I speak from experience. :D

Spiced blueberry rolls
slightly adapted from one of the most beautiful and delicious cookbooks I own

Dough:
225ml whole milk
75g unsalted butter
300g all purpose flour
125g whole wheat flour
70g granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
pinch of salt
2 ½ teaspoons dried yeast
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling:
75g unsalted butter, softened
75g granulated sugar + about 2 teaspoons extra, for sprinkling over the rolls
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
200g fresh or frozen (unthawed) blueberries

Dough: in a small saucepan, heat milk and butter together until milk almost boils and butter melts almost completely. Cool to lukewarm.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flours, sugar, zest, salt and yeast. Make a well in the center, add the egg, vanilla and the milk mixture and, using the dough hook, mix in medium-low speed until a smooth dough forms, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a lightly buttered large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and prove for about 1 hour.
Filling: with an electric mixer, cream butter, sugar and cinnamon together until smooth. Set aside.
Lightly butter a 20x30cm (12x8in) baking pan. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until you get a 30x50cm (12x20in) rectangle. Spread the filling evenly over the dough then sprinkle with the blueberries. Roll it like a cylinder, beginning with the longer side. Cut into 8 slices then arrange them about 2.5cm (1in) apart onto the prepared pan. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave to prove for about 1 ½ hours (if you’re using frozen berries prove your rolls for 2 hours); in the meantime, preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F.
Sprinkle the rolls with the extra granulated sugar and bake for about 20 minutes or until risen and golden brown.

Makes 8

Monday, April 8, 2013

Apricot lemon bars with almond crust

Apricot lemon bars with almond crust / Barrinhas de amêndoa, limão siciliano e geléia de damasco

One of the good things about being a blogger for so long is that you know me well enough not to be surprised to find one lemon recipe after another around here. :)
These bars come from Alice Medrich's great book on cookies and are a variation of a recipe I made a while ago; both versions are delicious and to this moment I haven't been able to decide which one is my favorite - I guess you'll have to bake both and let me know which one you prefer. ;)

Apricot lemon bars with almond crust
slightly adapted from the delicious Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich

Crust:
¾ cup + 1 ½ tablespoons (120g) all purpose flour
1/3 cup (33g) almond meal
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping:
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup (150g) apricot preserves
1/3 cup (80ml) fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line a 20cm (8in) square baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang in two opposite sides. Butter the foil.
Crust: place the flour, almond meal, sugar and salt in a large bowl and mix to combine. Add the butter and vanilla and mix until smooth. Press dough evenly on the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until fully baked and golden brown in the center.
Towards the end of the cooking time of the crust, make the topping: in a medium bowl, stir together the sugar and flour. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla. Stir in the preserves, breaking up any large pieces, then stir in the lemon juice. When the crust is ready, turn the oven down to 150°C/300°F. Pour the filling over the crust. Bake for another 20-25 minutes or until the topping no longer jiggles with the pan is tapped. Cool completely over a wire rack.
Lift up the bars using the foil and cut into bars.
Bars can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Makes 16

Friday, April 5, 2013

Limoncello sheet cake

Limoncello sheet cake / Bolo de limoncello

I had a lovely surprise going through my Delicious bookmarks a couple of weeks ago: I found a link I thought I’d lost forever! It was the link to a blog I used to love reading but couldn’t remember the name (my memory is no longer what it used to be, clearly). Their recipe for raspberry brownies was there, bookmarked a good three years ago. There were tons of delicious posts for me to catch up and the minute I saw this beautiful limoncello cake I knew exactly what I would bake for the weekend – the cake turned out really good, very tender and perfumed with the lemon liquor. The recipe is so easy you don’t even need an electric mixer to prepare it.

Limoncello sheet cake
slightly adapted from this beautiful blog

Cake:
1 cup plain, unsweetened yogurt
2 eggs
1/3 cup (80ml) canola oil
finely grated zest of 2 lemons
juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
½ cup (120ml) limoncello – I used homemade
2 cups (280g) all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking power
½ teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt

Glaze:
¾ cup (105g) confectioners’ sugar
½-1 tablespoons lemon juice, more if necessary

Cake: preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a 20x30cm (8x12in) baking pan.
In a large bowl whisk together the yogurt, eggs, canola oil, lemon zest and juice. Add vanilla, sugar and limoncello and mix well.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir into the yogurt mixture. Do not over mix. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and risen and a skewer inserted into centre of cake comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan over a wire rack.

Glaze: sift the confectioners’ sugar into a small bowl and gradually add the lemon juice, mixing until you get a drizzable consistency. Pour over the cooled cake. Set aside for 20 minutes for glaze to set.

Serves 20

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Apricot cream cheese babka + an unforgettable movie

Apricot cream cheese babka / Babka de cream cheese e damasco

A couple of days ago I could finally watch “Bullhead” – I spent months looking for the DVD with no success but luckily for me it was on cable last Saturday. It’s that kind of movie that stays with you for days, or even weeks after you watched it, and the main reason is Matthias Schoenaerts’ absolutely powerful and flawless performance – the physical transformation he went through to play Jacky is pretty impressive, but there’s so much more than that in that role, and I find it such a pleasure and a privilege to watch an actor immersed in a character like that; to tell you more would be to spoil the film, so I’ll stop at saying that it’s a great thing that there are actors still willing to go the extra mile to create performances like Schoenaerts’, and that makes me want to watch “Rust and Bone” even more – actually, I want to see more from both him and Michaël R. Roskam, and what a lovely surprise it was for me to read that they’ll be working together again, with Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and James Gandolfini to boot. \0/

I also want to bake more from this lovely cookbook, which is full of gorgeous photos and tasty recipes – if everything else turns out as beautiful and delicious as this babka, I'm a lucky person!
Don’t be put off by the different steps in this recipe – each one of them is really simple to make and the final result is worth every second of preparation. But if I still can’t convince you to try the babka I beg of you to make at least the apricot filling – it is fantastic and would turn your morning toast into something a lot more interesting. :)

Apricot cream cheese babka / Babka de cream cheese e damasco

Apricot cream cheese babka
slightly adapted from the delicious Standard Baking Co. Pastries

Dough:
1 ¾ cups + 2 tablespoons (265g) all purpose flour
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon dried yeast
1 egg, room temperature
1/3 cup (80ml) whole milk, lukewarm
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons (28g/1oz) unsalted butter, softened

Apricot filling:
½ cup (120ml) freshly squeezed orange juice
1/3 cup (80ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ½ cups dried apricots
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Cream cheese filling:
225g (8oz) cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Streusel:
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 ½ tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
pinch of salt
¾ cup (105g) all purpose flour
3 ½ tablespoons (50g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Egg wash:
1 egg
pinch of salt

Dough: place the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook. Stir to combine. Add the egg, milk, vanilla and butter and mix on medium speed until a smooth dough forms, about 5 minutes. Form into a ball and place into a lightly buttered large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm area for 1 hour or until doubled in volume (it was a cold day and my dough needed 1 ½ hours). While the dough rests, make both fillings and the streusel.
For the apricot filling, combine the orange juice, lemon juice, apricots and sugar in a small saucepan and simmer over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apricots soften and the liquid is reduced by half. Remove it from the heat and cool completely. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and process until a purée forms. Set aside at room temperature.
Cream cheese filling: in a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese and sugar and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add the vanilla and salt and stir to combine. Set aside at room temperature.
Streusel: in a medium bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt and flour. Add the butter and mix with a rubber spatula until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Refrigerate.
Assembling the babka: lightly butter a 9x5in loaf pan.
Working on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out onto a 25x60cm (10x24in) rectangle, with the long edge facing you. Spread the apricot filling evenly over the dough leaving a 1cm (1/2 in) border. Spread the cream cheese filling over the apricot filling. Starting with the bottom edge, roll the dough into the middle of the rectangle and do the same with the top edge so that the two rolls meet in the center. Visualize the long cylinder divided into three equal lengths. Fold the left third over onto the middle third. Then fold the right third over the middle third. Pick up the dough and turn it over so the seam is on the bottom. Then, holding each end, gently twist it in the middle and place it in the prepared pan. Place the egg and the salt for the egg wash in small bowl and lightly whisk it with a fork. Brush it over the babka, cover with plastic wrap and leave it to rise for 1 ½ to 2 hours in a warm place – it is ready to be baked when the dough holds a dimple when pressed lightly with a finger. Place the remaining egg wash in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Brush the babka once again with the egg wash and spread the streusel evenly on top, pressing lightly with your hands so the crumbs adhere to the babka. Bake for about 50 minutes or until deep golden brown. Let cool in the pan over a wire rack for about 25 minutes then carefully unmold onto the rack to cool completely – carefully because some of the crumbs will fall out of the babka while you unmold it.

Serves 6-8

Monday, April 1, 2013

TLCs (pecan oatmeal cookies)

TLCs (oatmeal pecan cookies) / TLCs (cookies de aveia e pecãs)

When it comes to buying new cookbooks I usually have a hard time choosing from my ever expanding wish list but upon returning from my trip to NY last year I knew for sure that Thomas Keller’s “Bouchon Bakery” would be included on my next purchase – after having some of the delicious baked goods served at the beautiful store at Rockefeller Center there was no doubt in my mind. :)

These delicious cookies were the first recipe I tried from the gorgeous cookbook and they are the oatmeal cookies of choice for people who don’t like dried fruits; I’m a sucker for dried fruits and loved these cookies anyway. :D

TLCs
from the beautiful Bouchon Bakery

1 cup + 1 ½ tablespoons (155g) all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
pinch of ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1 ½ cups (135g) rolled oats
212g unsalted butter, room temperature
140g granulated sugar
75g light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
135g coarsely chopped pecans, lightly toasted and cooled

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the oats.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter, sugars and vanilla until light and creamy. Add the egg and mix to combine. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally. In low speed, add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing just until incorporated. Mix in the pecans. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F; line two large baking sheets with baking paper.
Roll 1 rounded tablespoon of dough per cookie into a ball and place onto prepared sheets 5cm (2in) apart. Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden around the edges. Cool in the sheets over a wire rack for 10 minutes, then carefully transfer to the rack to cool completely.

Makes about 45 cookies

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