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Baking

We finally managed to clear some space in the deep freeze, so I baked some bread (to fill it again, naturally).

As usual with bread I followed a ‘yeah much’ method, but did a quick search on the web for a recipe since it’s been so long since I baked bread I no longer remembered how much water to use with how much flour. I found this recipe, which I used as a guide, though going with water rather than ‘kulturmelk’.

Bread

Starter:
1 l water
1,5 dl cooked amaranth (left-overs from dinner the day before)
2 dl oatmeal
½ dl crushed linseed
250 g coarse wholemeal rye
150 g fine wholemeal rye
350 g coarse wholemeal wheat
250 g fine wholemeal wheat
1 dl millet (rolled)
½ dl sesame seeds
½ dl sunflower seeds

Mixed and left to ’soak’ for about half an hour. Then:

50 g fresh yeast
3 dl lukewarm water
1 tblsp sugar
2 tsp salt
400 g plain flour

I mixed the water, yeast and sugar, as well as a little flour and left it for a few minutes to see if the yeast would start working, since the yeast I had was a few days over its best by date, but it was fine, so I poured the mixture and the rest of the flour and the salt into the starter and let the machine do its work. The mixture seemed a little wet, so I added around 100 gr coarse wholemeal wheat and maybe as much as 50 gr of plain flour until it seemed the right consistency. I then left it to rise for about three quarters of an hour, turned it out and divided into three which I formed into loaves and baked at 200 degrees C for about an hour.

IMG_20130126_190621

They were darn good, too. Very, very pleased with myself. So pleased I followed it up today by baking rolls.

I purchased a bag of quinoa flour last year, but never got round to testing it. And searching for recipes specifically for quinoa flour brings up recipes where it’s used instead of wheat, which is not really what I want at all. I don’t mind wheat, quite the contrary, I love it. I just like using different grains to spice things up a bit, so to say. So I decided I’d just have to wing it. We cooked quinoa (grains, not flour) for dinner yesterday, so I had remains of cooked quinoa as well, and figured it should work as an added grain. I started with this recipe for rolls, and ended up with:

Quinoa rolls

200 g quinoa flour
300 g coarse wholemeal wheat
100 g fine wholemeal wheat
500 g plain flour
1 tsp salt
2,5 tsp sugar
50 g fresh yeast
7 dl lukewarm water
3 tblsp oil (rapeseed)
2 dl cooked quinoa (red)
1/2 dl sesame seeds

I mixed the dry ingredients, dissolved the yeast in the water and then added the wet ingredients to the dry, and then added the cooked quinoa and the sesame seeds. I let it rise for about half an hour, formed 16 rolls, let them rise for another half hour and baked at 225 degrees C for 15 minutes.

And they turned out great, if I may say so myself. A very nicely balanced flavour, with just enough bite from the whole grains and seeds. The only problem I can see is the price of quinoa flour. These are not going to be something we bake every day, to put it that way.

Suppetid

I går lagde jeg nuddelsuppe til middag, inspirert av Din mat. Siden jeg kjøpte skikkelige nudler uten medfølgende krydderblanding måtte jeg krydre selv, og det hele ble såpass godt at jeg tenkte det var best å skrive det ned mens jeg husker hva jeg gjorde.

1 pakke økologisk kjøttdeig
1 paprika
6-7 sjampinjonger
4 vårløk
litt sukkererter
1 pakke eggnudler (også økologiske)

Kjøttdeigen brunes i pannen, krydre med 1 ts spisskumen og 1 ts ingefær (frisk hadde sikkert vært enda bedre, men det hadde vi ikke). Pepper er også bra.

Paprikaen og sjampinjongene deles i biter og stekes sammen med kjøttdeigen til de blir passe myke.

Vårløk og sukkererter skjæres skrått og stekes ett minutt eller to.

Kok opp vann i en kjele – jeg begynte med litt over en liter, og tilsett grønnsaksbuljong. Når vannet koker, ha oppi nudlene (knus dem gjerne litt først, det gjør suppa lettere å spise) og hell alt fra panna over. Fyll på med vann (nykokt fra vannkoker) til det dekker godt nok, og kok i så mange minutter som nuddelpakka tilsier. Smak til med mer krydder (jeg saltet litt og hadde oppi mer ingefær).

Ferdig. Din mat vil at du skal servere brød til, men det er strengt tatt ikke nødvendig, suppa er mettende nok i seg selv.

Kjapp og enkel, og forholdsvis sunn middag. Neste gang skal jeg ha enda flere grønnsaker i, tror jeg nok.

Curry

I made chicken curry today. Normally, what I do, is to search the net for a couple of recipes that resemble the two I combined to make curry for my 30th birthday, a curry that was quite exceptionally successful according to everyone present who like their curry HOT, HOT, HOT. I don’t, really, but I could appreciate that the combination of flavours was pretty good, even if the amount of chili, especially, was rather too much for my personal taste. Ever since I’ve meant to write the recipe down, because recreating it every time is bothersome, and does not always work the way intended.

Anyway, today I thought I’d wing it. And it turned out pretty good. And I thought that perhaps, just maybe, I might actually remember what I did…

I started by getting the seeds out of approximately 8 cardamom pods. I then went through the selection of fresh garlic in the fridge, realised not a single one was actually anything resembling fresh and threw them out. So with no garlic to mince, I added some oil to the wok and added the cardamom seeds. I let them fry for a while, then added 2 diced chicken breasts, fried them until sealed on all sides, removed them to a bowl and added another 2 diced breasts. Once they were also sealed and browning, I returned the rest of the chicken to the wok, and added two coarsely chopped onions. Over this I poured a paste made from approximately 2 teaspoons tumeric, 2 teaspoons cumin, 1 teaspoon paprika and half a teaspoon chili powder, mixed in a glass with a few tablespoons of water. I let this fry for a while, while hunting for canned tomatoes. It turned out we didn’t have any. The closest thing we had was organic tomato sauce with basil from ICA. I thought what the h, and used it, since I figured we probably wouldn’t taste the basil over the other spices anyway and I felt we needed the tomato. After that had soaked in and was nicely bubbling, I added 4-5 tablespoons of mango chutney and a tin of coconut milk, as well as some garlic powder in place of the fresh garlic that didn’t happen. Then I tasted the sauce, decided to add some salt, some garam masala powder and some ground coriander which I found while hunting for ginger (which we were out of). And then another dollop of mango chutney for good measure. And then two bananas, thickly sliced, to “fill it out” a bit. And about 2 teaspoons potato starch dissolved in a little water as the sauce was way too runny.

So, to summarise the ingredients for future reference:

8 cardamom pods
4 diced chicken breasts
2 coarsely chopped yellow onions
2 tsp tumeric
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1 tin tomatoes (preferably, but tomato sauce with basil seems to work)
5-6 tablespoons mangu chutney
1 tin coconut milk
potato/corn starch to thicken if necessary

Served with store-bought nan and jasmine rice (since, guess what? We were out of basmati).

The leftovers will probably be enough for another dinner, as well as providing a lunch portion for me. So this amount should serve 4.

If I thought to plan properly for this, rather than half-heartedly, I’d prefer to use fresh garlic, chili and ginger, adding that in with the cardamom right at the start. I’d also probably have added cauliflower florets, as I like a little vegetable content in my curry. And I’d have used tinned tomatoes rather than tomato sauce, obviously, and served it with basmati rice.

The Daring Bakers: Apple Strudel

The Daring Kitchen

The Daring Kitchen

The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

Some people made other sorts of strudel, spinach and feta sounds kind of nice, doesn’t it? That didn’t occur to me, though.

The Daring Bakers: Apple Strudel

I opted for apples.

Strudel dough
from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

1 1/3 cups (200 g) unbleached flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

1. Combine the flour and salt in a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the water, oil and vinegar in a measuring cup. Add the water/oil mixture to the flour with the mixer on low speed. You will get a soft dough. Make sure it is not too dry, add a little more water if necessary.
Take the dough out of the mixer. Change to the dough hook. Put the dough ball back in the mixer. Let the dough knead on medium until you get a soft dough ball with a somewhat rough surface.

2. Take the dough out of the mixer and continue kneading by hand on an unfloured work surface. Knead for about 2 minutes. Pick up the dough and throw it down hard onto your working surface occasionally.
Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a plate. Oil the top of the dough ball lightly. Cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 30-90 minutes (longer is better).

The Daring Bakers: Apple Strudel

This piece of cloth was newly washed and right in front of my eyes when I started to look for a table cloth. Hardly traditional strudel-baking equipment, but it did the job.

3. It would be best if you have a work area that you can walk around on all sides like a 36 inch (90 cm) round table or a work surface of 23 x 38 inches (60 x 100 cm). Cover your working area with table cloth, dust it with flour and rub it into the fabric. Put your dough ball in the middle and roll it out as much as you can.
Pick the dough up by holding it by an edge. This way the weight of the dough and gravity can help stretching it as it hangs. Using the back of your hands to gently stretch and pull the dough. You can use your forearms to support it.

The Daring Bakers: Apple Strudel

To my amazement, the dough actually behaved the way the recipe says it should. It stretched. It only formed holes when I was particularly careless.

4. The dough will become too large to hold. Put it on your work surface. Leave the thicker edge of the dough to hang over the edge of the table. Place your hands underneath the dough and stretch and pull the dough thinner using the backs of your hands. Stretch and pull the dough until it’s about 2 feet (60 cm) wide and 3 feet (90 cm) long, it will be tissue-thin by this time. Cut away the thick dough around the edges with scissors. The dough is now ready to be filled.

The Daring Bakers: Apple Strudel

Transparency, I haz it. Tissue thin? Uhm, perhaps not. I suspect I should have stretched more. Problem was I was running out of space. Also, though the dough didn’t break, it did spring back. More elastic than flexible. Must find out why. So instead of 60×90 cm I gave up around 50×80.

Apple strudel
from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

2 tablespoons (30 ml) golden rum
3 tablespoons (45 ml) raisins
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (80 g) sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick / 115 g) unsalted butter, melted, divided
1 1/2 cups (350 ml) fresh bread crumbs
strudel dough (recipe below)
1/2 cup (120 ml, about 60 g) coarsely chopped walnuts
2 pounds (900 g) tart cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼ inch-thick slices (use apples that hold their shape during baking)

The Daring Bakers: Apple Strudel

However, I don’t agree very well with walnuts, so hazelnuts it is.

1. Mix the rum and raisins in a bowl. Mix the cinnamon and sugar in another bowl.

2. Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the breadcrumbs and cook whilst stirring until golden and toasted. This will take about 3 minutes. Let it cool completely.

3. Put the rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a large baking sheet with baking paper (parchment paper). Make the strudel dough as described below. Spread about 3 tablespoons of the remaining melted butter over the dough using your hands (a bristle brush could tear the dough, you could use a special feather pastry brush instead of your hands). Sprinkle the buttered dough with the bread crumbs. Spread the walnuts about 3 inches (8 cm) from the short edge of the dough in a 6-inch-(15cm)-wide strip. Mix the apples with the raisins (including the rum), and the cinnamon sugar. Spread the mixture over the walnuts.

4. Fold the short end of the dough onto the filling. Lift the tablecloth at the short end of the dough so that the strudel rolls onto itself. Transfer the strudel to the prepared baking sheet by lifting it. Curve it into a horseshoe to fit. Tuck the ends under the strudel. Brush the top with the remaining melted butter.

The Daring Bakers: Apple Strudel

5. Bake the strudel for about 30 minutes or until it is deep golden brown. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Use a serrated knife and serve either warm or at room temperature. It is best on the day it is baked.

The Daring Bakers: Apple Strudel

Eaten warm with ice cream. Nice, but not mind-blowing. I might try it again and drop the nuts entirely, add more raisins and rum and probably more sugar and cinnamon (I already used more cinnamon than the recipe called for).

Or perhaps try a savoury version.

Bløtkake

Literally: Wet-cake, or at least moist-cake. Which it’s much better than it sounds.

My father was 61 on Thursday, normally we’d have celebrated this weekend, but he’s off skiing with “the boys”, so we figured a mini-celebration Thursday evening was in order. Since my mom had a rather busy week I volunteered to make the cake, not pausing to consider what my own week looked like, unfortunately. Well, I squeezed in the first part of the preparations Wednesday evening, and the top-off while also cooking dinner for us all Thursday after work, and I’d feel like the World’s Greatest Housekeeper if it weren’t for the fact that the kitchen still looks like a bomb hit it and I also managed to burn my left thumb quite badly so that I spent the rest of the evening holding onto cold things in order to keep the pain at a bearable level. Anyhoo.

Unless you’re a whipped-creamophobic, birthday cake in Norway tends to mean bløtkake so that’s what I made. And as you, dear internets, may never have had the great fortune of eating the glory that is Norwegian bløtkake, I thought I’d share some pictures and the recipe with you. It’s not difficult at all, and the ingredients are straight forward and should be available in most supermarkets pretty much everywhere, I imagine.

Assembling a bløtkake

To make a proper Norwegian bløtkake you need one cake base, called “sukkerbrød” (sugar bread, literally) which is a pretty basic sponge cake. 30 grams each of sugar and flour to each egg, and a dash of raising agent (I was out of baking powder and used baking soda which worked beautifully). Five eggs is suitable for a standard circular pan (I’ll measure mine if I can remember).

Sukkerbrød

5 eggs
150 grams sugar
150 grams flour (all-purpose, but any white flour should work)
1 tsp baking powder/soda

Whip the eggs and sugar until fairly stiff, fold in the flour and raising agent (I admit, I ran the blender, though for a very short time and at a low speed). Pour into well-greased round pan (the ones with the sprung sides are very useful) and bake at 160-170 degrees celcius for about half an hour – until done, basically. It should be golden and fluffy and a testing pin should come out clean. Take it out, leave to rest for some minutes, then de-pan and leave to cool.

At this stage you can freeze the base if you like having a ready-to-assemble cake in the freezer, leave it for a day or so or start assembling once cool. The first part of the assembly should ideally be done at the latest the day before you intent to serve the cake.

Bløtkake assembly:

The sukkerbrød you just made (or defrosted)
Various fruit, fresh or tinned or a mix of both
Fruit juice or syrup (from the tins, if you’re using tinned fruit)
Whipped cream (in two batches, each from appr. 3 dl of cream with 1/2 tsp sugar and 1/4 tsp vanilla sugar)

Divide the base into layers, I usually do three layers of cake (that is, I cut it twice). If you’re defrosting a base you made earlier, it’s a good idea to cut it before it’s completely defrosted. Pour juice on all three layers and leave to soak while you whip the cream. I think I use something like 1 – 2 dl of juice for the soaking, I really should measure it at some point. Cut fruit into small pieces and layer onto the bottom layer of the cake, then add a layer of whipped cream, add the second layer of the cake, another layer of fruit and another layer of cream, then top it with the last layer of cake, cover and leave in the fridge overnight. The next day, whip some more cream, cover the cake and decorate with more fruit.

I used one tin of apricots and two bananas sliced for the first layer and small tin of pinapple and one fresh pear cut into small pieces for the second layer, but basically, if you like the fruit it will probably work. Some people like using jam as part of the fruit layer(s), or indeed in place of the fruit layer(s). I don’t hold with this, it makes the cake too sweet in my opinion, but you may like to try it.

Bløtkake, now half eaten

There are endless variations with other kinds of filling (plain or rum-flavoured custard is quite nice), with grated chocolate added to the whipped cream (chocolate is never entirely wrong) and with a marsipane cover over the whole thing, to mention a few. There’s a limit ot how far you can go before it’s no longer bløtkake but something else entirely, but this does not mean the result won’t taste good. One of my childhood friends used to have cake decoration as part of her birthday parties, her mother would provide us with the base and with various fillings (including sweets) and let us at it, which was always great fun.