Sundays were our usual pancake day, well until I ordered the waffle iron that is. I don’t know why I delayed this and it’s already been a year since we moved to Seattle. May be my mind is a bit reluctant to accept that, we might have to settle down here at least for a couple more years and that I have to buy every piece of kitchen gadget all over again! exhausting to think about it!
Ah well, back to waffles… so yes I very much like the idea of having waffles for breakfast, as they are so easier to make and you can have several verities. Plus, it is crispy unlike pancakes and it’s perfect with maple syrup. Yum!
After trying numerous recipes, well, I came up with this sourdough version and I think this is a keeper. This is similar to my sourdough pancake recipe. This uses buckwheat, which is an ancient grain, full of nutrients. Also this gives these waffles a nice dark chocolate color and a nutty taste. I’m also using coconut sugar but you can use dark/light brown sugar instead. Also almond milk could be replaced with any plat-based milk you like.
These tasted great and healthier too, so all the more reasons to make these more often. Here we go!
Prepare the starter several hours prior to making the mix. I feed the starter in the afternoon if I am making the batter in the night.
Mix everything except, butter and buckwheat flakes(oats)
Stir thoroughly, until a smooth thick batter is produced. Cover and let this sit for an hour. the fermentation will start, but you won’t notice anything in an hour visually. This will help the fermentation to continue in the refrigerator. After an hour, place in the fridge overnight/several hours.
Next day morning bring the batter out and let sit for an hour to thaw. Then add the melted butter and the buckwheat flakes (or rolled oats) and fold slowly and gently, until just combined. Now let this sit for another hour minimum or longer (up to 2,3 hours) until you are ready to make the waffles.
The more it sits, the more airier it will get, which is a good thing
Preheat he waffle iron and make the waffles as per the directions. I like uneven edges, so I deposit about 1/4 cup of batter into the centers of each square.
let them cook for about 4 minutes or until they turn golden brown.
Cool them on a wire rack. Do not stack on top of each other.
Look how aerated the interior is.
Make sure to NOT stir the batter when you scoop out, as it may knock out too much air.
Serve warm with syrup and the topping of your choice. I love these with Maple syrup and a sprinkle of nuts.
There you have it! Do not be afraid to try new flours in place of buckwheat. You can make this with plain white flour too and it is still delicious. Also you can add grated, apples, pears to the batter instead of oats to give a nice texture. Make sure to sneeze out excess water before you add them.
Of all the things I miss most of Melbourne is the morning stroll we did to get coffee. We lived on the hills of beautiful Emerald and there was this nature trail that connected Belgrave and Gembrook, which followed the famous Puffing Billy Railway line. It was our Saturday ritual to take this trail to a hidden cafe to get the morning coffee. This was our fasted-cardio for the weekend and it was about good 10 – 12 km (round trip) distance, and by the time we reach the cafe, we are usually starving and I look forward to my piece of raisin toast like my life depended on it!
It was just a slice of plain mass produced sandwich loaf, but boy! it tasted amazing! I missed this so much, that I had to recreate the recipe at home. But, as you know, I’m a hard-core sourdough lover/devotee, so here is the sourdough version of a fruited pan loaf.
I wouldn’t call this a sandwich loaf, as it is not as enriched. This loaf has still got a nice byte to it and got a chewy texture. It is not a fluffy, cake-like bread at all.
The only thing is I have added a little milk, oil and honey to make it a little bit flexible, so I can proof this in a pan. This additions resulted with a softer crumb (than a usual sourdough with just flour, water, salt) and crust. This makes it is easier to slice and hence perfect for toasts.
So here are the steps:
Make the starter the previous night (or several hours before you start making the recipe)
Mix everything in a bowl, except the fruit. Transfer to a stand mixer and just mix until everything is hydrated.
Remember to add water gradually as you go, to create a soft dough
This is the dough that’s just been mixed. It is a little bit sticky, but not too much. Now let it rest for a bout 30 minutes.
And then mix on medium-low speed until a smoother dough is developed ( for a bout 3 minutes) You can use your hands if you like.
See how smooth dough is. It is not completely developed yet. Now place the dough in a plastic bowl, cover and let ferment for 45 minutes.
After 45 minutes, do a stretch and fold and let rest for about 30 minutes.
This is a good time to prepare the fruits.
You can skip figs or replace it with more Sultana or raisins. If the figs are soft, just slice them thinly and set aside. If they are very dry, soak them in boiling water for a few minutes and drain before cutting.
It is a good idea to soak the cranberries and Sultanas/raisins in boiling water for a couple of minutes. This will soften them and hydrate them. This will ensure that they won’t absorb moisture from the dough and also will blend in nicely without tearing the gluten stricture.
After the stretch and fold and the resting time, the dough is now fully developed. Look how stretchy it is. Now is a good time to add the fruit.
Stretch the dough as much as you can like shown in the picture. Scatter the fruit evenly. And then, roll the dough from one end to the other. Shape in to a ball and place back in the container.
Cover and let ferment/bulk for about 3 hours
Bulked dough will be softer and bigger (not doubled, but noticeably grown). You will feel lots of air bubbles inside it.
Drop the dough on to a floured surface and pre-shape into a ball. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes.
Shape the dough like shown in the picture. If you don’t know how to shape, a pan loaf, checkout a video on you tube.
Place the shaped dough in a lightly greased loaf pan. Cover this/place in a plastic bag and refrigerate over-night or several hours (minimum 12)
It will be proofed during the long retardation. ( 18 hours) But if you wan to bake earlier than this, take the loaf out and let it sit out-side (at room temp.) until it’s risen well above the brim of the pan.
Fully proofed loaf will be doubled in size. Do a poke test to see it is ready. When you press lightly with a finger, if it bounces back slowly, then it is ready.
Pre-heat the oven to 420 F
Lightly egg wash the top and bake; 15 minutes at 420 F and then a further 20 at 375 F.
Once done cool on a wire rack for about 5 minutes and demold the loaf and leave to cool completely
I was asked several times if I have a sourdough brioche recipe and unfortunately I had to reply with a very polite NO and it didn’t feel right. So here it is! I am thrilled to finally write this down and so grateful for the encouragement I receive from many of my followers on IG and this blog.
So, long story short, I bought a brioche loaf (not a sourdough one) from the whole foods for breakfast last Saturday. I know, I bake all the time and still run out of bread every now and then. But I don’t usually buy super-market bread except when I’m in a hurry or at a loss of ideas, like that Saturday. And that’s not even the worst part. The worst bit is, that it really hurt when you have to buy bread, ever since I started making my own bread. I felt like I’m cheating or betraying something or someone. As funny as it may sound, it is true.
We made some nice french toast with that brioche and I knew at that moment ” we are so going to eat home-made sourdough brioche next weekend”. So here it is, my homemade sourdough brioche.
I made it as indulgent and rich as I could, with all the butter and eggs, pushing the limits really.
Make the stiff starter, several hours before (preferably overnight) making the dough. It is as easy as mixing everything together and kneading into a smooth dough ball. This is how its inside is going to look once fermented.
Next step is to make the dough. To start with, weigh everything except butter into a bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with dough hook. Mix on low speed until everything comes together. Scrape down with a spatula to encourage.
Once everything is mixed, increase speed a notch and mix until a smooth dough is developed. Scrape down the bowl as necessary. Use the extra 2 tbsp of milk as you go to loosen up the batter if it feels too stiff.
This will take about 4-5 minutes.
Once the dough is developed, then add the softened butter, a bit at a time and continue to mix. The dough will end up very sticky but looking silky like shown in the picture. Empty the dough into a greased bowl. Cover and let ferment until almost double in size.
This may take roughly about 4 – 6 hours depending on the room temperature
This is the dough doubled in size. If you put this is a smaller bowl, it will be easier to judge. Next picture is a better one.
Once it has doubled, we need to punch this down before chilling it in the refrigerator.
Easiest way to punch down the dough is to drop it on to a floured bench and use a scraper to fold it. Avoid handling it with your bare hands as it is extremely sticky.
Once the dough it punched down, place it back in the same bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or over night.
We need the dough to be chilled to be able to handle it, but as soon as you take it out of the fridge, it will be too hard.
Let the dough thaw for about 30 minutes or until it is malleable but still cool. Dump the dough on to a lightly dusted bench and roll into a log.
If the dough becomes too sticky, place it back in the fridge
Divide the log into 8 equal pieces
Remember the dough should remain cold and still firm all the while
Shape each dough piece in to a nice smooth round ball, as if you are making dinner rolls. Use flour to stop dough from sticking. Use the scrapper to help release the dough.
Use as little flour as possible when dusting. We don’t want a thick flour coating around the outside of the dough.
Grease a loaf pan and place the dough balls like shown in the picture. Pack them snug, so they will rise upwards as they proof.
Now egg wash the tops lightly. You can use a bit of milk too. this is to stop it from drying.
Cover and leave in a warm place to proof
In a cool temperature (19 C), the proofing will take up to 8 hours. In a warm atmosphere, this will be around 5 hours.
But keep an eye, you can clearly tell when it is ready. The loaf will fill the tin and expand into a fluffy wobbly thing
Next step is to egg wash and bake the loaf. Be very gentle while egg washing, no to deflate or damage the fragile skin.
Bake at 400F for about 15 minutes. Then another 20 – 25 minutes at 350F.
If the top is going too brown too quickly, reduce the temperature earlier than mentioned.
Let the loaf cool off in the pan for about 10 minutes and then slide it off on to a cooling rack. Let the loaf cool completely before cutting into pieces or storing away.
By all means, feel free to dig into it while still warm, if you like it that way.
You can use the brioche for anything. I mainly use this for french toasts.
This brioche is softer on the day it was made and tend to get a bit dry the next day. But it doesn’t really matter if you toast it or made french toast with it like I do. The slices has more body and will hold nicely, so it is perfect for french toasts, which is the main purpose behind me making brioche.
Apple fritters has become one of my favorite naughty snacks, ever since we moved to Seattle. I call it apple stuffed dough nuts! whats not to like about it? Really?!!! Donuts are fritters are so much different here and there are so many varieties but apple fritters with its sweetness and tang, cannot be beaten.
I always get a fritter ‘for the road’ on my way back from weekend grocery shopping. I have to be honest though, I am not a fan of overly sweet things, so I can never finish a whole fritter in one go. So it has become a thing now, that we share a fritter instead of two. But, one thing is sure, we can never resist it!
Every time I bite into one, I dream of making them at home. I would imagine what I would do differently, so I can finish an entire one and go for a second. For example, I’d definitely add more apples, make it sourdough (surprise!) and way less sugar in the glaze. And this is exactly what I did. It was a lengthy (somewhat messy) process, but totally worth it. So let me explain it step by step below;
Feed the starter as usual, several hours before you plant to use it. I do it overnight.
I’m using a 100% hydrated starter. That means 1:1 water to flour ratio to feed. If you are new to starters I have a post about sourdough starter.
Mix all the ingredients to make the dough, using a stand mixer. ( you can of course do this by hand) We are essentially making a doughnut dough. Mix on medium until the dough comes together. It should be a softer, sticky dough. Take the dough on to a floured bench and slap and fold a few times to bring it together. Now place it in a plastic tub, cover and leave to ferment. In colder weather this may take about 6-7 hours (overnight is fine too)
After several hours, you will see some expansion in the dough and few air bubbles. Punch down and round the dough to a smooth ball and cover and place in the fridge for at least 8 hours. Use the same container. This will harden the dough, develop gluten strength, ferment slowly, develop flavor.
To prepare apples; peel and core the apples of your choice. Cut into 1/2 inch cubes (or smaller if you prefer that way) Melt butter in a saucepan, add the apples, cinnamon and sugar and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes. make sure to stir and with time, the juices and sugar will turn in to a thick syrup and coat the apples.
This is how it should look like once cooked. Apples are softer but still hold its shape and got a bite to it. The sugar syrup has thickened and coated the apple bits. Its not watery. Cool completely and refrigerate until needed.
When you are ready to make the fritters, bring the dough out and let it come to room temperature. This will take a few hours depending on the room temperature. But do not worry if it happen to sit around for a little bit longer.
Let the apple mixture come to room temperature if it was in the fridge.
Roll-out the dough on a floured surface and scatter the apple pieces. This doesn’t have to be any exact length or width, we are just trying to incorporate apples in to the dough. Press down apples so they get tucked in.
Roll it like you’d do with a cinnamon roll. Lightly press again.
using a knife or scrapper, cut the dough as shown in the picture.
Then cut length-wise too. This will help get the apples mixed with the dough. This doesn’t have to be perfect. All we are trying to do is mixing apples with the dough.
This is the messy bit. Flour the bench generously. Pres the dough and with your fingers try to incorporate everything together. And shape the dough back into a log, like shown in the picture.
Now using a sharp knife/scrapper divide the log in to 8 or 10 pieces. I think 10 is better, so you get smaller fritters and they are manageable. Prepare a tray with a parchment dusted with flour generously.
Take one dough piece at a time and shape it in to a disk using your palm and fingers. Tuck in any exposed apple pieces and place on the tray. Cover and let proof for about 5-7 hours. It’s winter and it took 7 hours for mine to rise.
This is how they looked like after proofing. Puffed up and softer dough. It’s time to heat up the oil now. In a deep pot bring oil to medium-high heat. ( if you have a thermometer it should be around 180 C) I don’t have one so I always use a tester fritter 😉
Make the glaze before frying and keep it ready
Once oil is hot drop one fritter or two at a time and fry turning until deep chocolate color is achieved. I like mine crispier. Once cooked, let the excess oil drain for about 30 seconds and dip both sides with glaze. Leave the fritter on a wire rack placed on a tray
Do this while still hot, so excess glaze is dripped off leaving a thin coating. You can reuse the glaze dripping.
Let these cool. As they cool, the glaze will firm up and become less sticky. Now take a good bite out of one, close your eyes and thank yourself!
There are several ways to make a glaze, choose your favorite:
Using just water and icing sugar
Using milk powder, water, icing sugar, vanilla
Using condensed milk, water, icing sugar (I went with this as I had some leftover condensed milk )
using lemon juice, icing sugar
Make sure the glaze is thick but runny. If it is too thick, add a drop of water and if it is too watery, add a table spoon or so icing sugar.
A complete guide to crusty homemade sourdough baguettes!
I was on a mission to finding the secret or holly grail to making perfect sourdough baguette at home. In a bakery, this would be a no big deal with all the state-of-the-art mixers, proofers and ovens. But it can be quite challenging at home.
First of all, a baguette is nothing but a type of bread in the form of a long stick. The main reason for shaping the dough into a long stick is to get more of the crust. Baguettes are usually broken by hand rather than sliced and served with stews. If not they are split lengthwise used to make sandwiches. There are a few characteristics to a baguette:
long stick like shape
Very open crumb
So in-order to achieve the above, we need to make sure to do the following;
Shaping/molding to create tension
Use steam while baking
a higher hydration ( above 70% is recommended)
You can use a basic bread recipe and turn it into a baguette. The only differences are in retarding and shaping. It is best to let the dough retard as a bulk. If you shape the baguettes and try to retard, they tend to lose their shape and sometimes, become too wet or soft to handle. This makes it harder to score and transfer to the oven. So the best practice is to bulk retard the dough and shape prior to baking.
I have figured out, with time, the less you knead the dough, the better. Gluten is developed over time. And we will only use stretch and folds at intervals to create the strength. This will require no mixer at all.
With all the basic sorted, lets get to the steps
A first step is to get the starter ready. Feed the starter 6-7 hours before making the bread. Use a 100 % starter, meaning 1 part water to 1 part flour to feed the culture.
e.g: 50 g flour, 50 g water to feed 1 tsp starter
This is how my ripe start looked like at it’s peak
Mix the flour, water (leave 3 tbsp of water for later) and starter in a large plastic bowl. Mix only to combine everything just like shown in the picture. Now close the lid and leave for about an hour to autolyze.
Gluten will be developed during this time, without our intervention
After about an hour, add the salt. Dissolve the salt in the left out water and add to the dough. Mix until a smooth dough is formed. Place in the plastic bowl, cover and leave to rest for 45 minutes until the first stretch and fold (s&f).
we will do 3 s&f during bulk
Stretch & fold
Give a stretch and folds (s&f) at 45 minutes and repeat two more at 45 minute intervals. At every fold, you should see the air bubbles on the outside. With every s&f, the dough will start to feel more elastic and stronger. At the end of 3 rd s&f, rest the dough for about 2 hours .
Then, cover with a well-fitted lid and refrigerate for several hours/ overnight
On the following day, take out the dough and leave at room temperature for 4-5 hours, until you start to see air bubbles and the dough is risen considerably
Tip the dough slowly on to a floured surface and form a dough ball, without knocking out too much air. The dough should be wobbly and full of air pockets. let this rest for about 5-10 minutes.
This step will make it easier to handle the dough when you try to divide and pre-shape
This is important to create the necessary stretch of the outer skin. Divide the dough in to two pieces, and shape each into a log shape.
Cover with a light dusting of flour and leave uncovered for about 30 minutes to rest.
Traditionally a couche is used for this purpose. But you can substitute this with a thick clean tea towel. Dust it with flour and semolina generously.
This is where we are going to proof the baguettes
Shape the dough into baguettes and place on the prepared tea towel. Let these rest and proof for about an hour or 1 1/2 hours. Preheat the oven in the meantime.
Check the video attached below for shaping
Transfer the proofed baguettes on to a peel or on to a tray lined with parchment as shown in the picture.
Dust the baguettes with a little flour and score the top using sharp blade.
Once the oven is ready place in the oven, on the pizza stone/skillet along with the parchment and bake according to instructions below.
This is what I use to generate steam. A bread loaf pan with a tea towel tucked in. Pour boiling water until tea towel is covered and place this during the last few minutes of preheating
Preheating and baking instructions
Get a oven thermometer, this is your best friend. Place it in the oven.
Place a pizza stone or a large enough cast iron skillet on a rack placed at the top half of the oven
Preheat oven. I had to set digital display to 520 F and heat for 45 minutes to get to 500F on the oven thermometer inside
Get a bread pan, lay a tea towel and fill it with boiling water(check image above)
Place this pan in the oven on a lower rack during the last few minutes of the preheating
Let temperature reset, if it dropped when you opened the door
Be careful when you open the door next, the oven will be full of hot steam, waiting to be released
Transfer the baguettes on to a peel
If you don’t have a peel, place a parchment paper on the back of a cookie sheet or a large tray and use this to transfer baguettes to oven, along with the parchment
Score the baguettes while on the peel/parchment
Place the baguettes in the oven on the pizza stone and close the door
Temp will plummet right down (450F on thermometer) but that’s okay, it will come back up to 475 F. Maintain at 475 F.
Keep an eye and bake at 475 F for 15 minutes
Then reduce the internal oven temperature to 450 F(thermometer will read something around 450 – 430)
Remove steam and bake for another 12 minutes
When you remove the stream, the temperature will drop, so keep an eye and adjust accordingly
Then, switch the oven off and bake for a further 10 minutes, with the residual heat
Cool baguettes on a wire rack.
There you have it. This is everything I have learnt and I hope you will find answers to you questions/problems in this post. When it comes to baguettes, the recipe is only 20 % of the whole process. It is the timing, dough consistency, bulk proofing, shaping and most importantly baking is what matters most.
Following is a simple recipe for two baguettes which I used for experiments. Once you have mastered the technique, feel free change the recipe and try something different!
Mix flour, starter and 190 g of the water and autolyse for an hour
Dissolve salt in 10 g of water, add to the dough and mix to form a smooth ball
Let rest for 45 minutes
Give a stretch and fold and let rest for 45 minutes
Give 2 more s&f at 45 minutes apart
After the final (3rd) s&f, leave the dough to rest for about 2-3 hours
Place the dough in the fridge for a slow/cold proofing (retardation) for minimum 8 hours or overnight
After cold bulk, let the dough rest in the room temperature for 4-5 hours or until you see a considerable rise in the dough and air bubbles. Dough would be wobbly
Tip the dough on to a floured surface and round it up gently. Do not let too much air out. Rest for 10- 15 minutes
Divide the dough to two equal parts and pre-shape in to logs. Again be careful not to knock out air. Rest the dough pieces for 30 minutes. Leave them open so the exterior will be dry and would be easier to handle
Shape the baguettes(check video below) and place on the couche or the prepared tea towel
Let the baguettes rise for a final time ( 45 to 90 minutes)
Preheat oven in the meantime (check instructions above in the post)
Bake the baguettes @ 475 F with steam for 15 minutes
Reduce heat to 450 F and bake for a further 12 minutes without steam
Switch off the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes under the residual heat
Check for dark brown color and when tapped, should sound hollow
These are the easiest thing to make when you have a couple of Oranges at hand. The whole Orange is used in this recipe, YES! the skin too. This can be made in steps so even if you have a busy schedule, it is still possible to whip his up without much hassle.
The best part of these dainty cakes in the syrup. Orange syrup helps keep the cake moist and enhances the flavor greatly. You can infuse the syrup with different flavors. I threw in a few springs of lemon thyme. You can spike the syrup with rum or Orange liqueur too. To enhance the Orange flavor, throw in an Orange peel. It’s your chance to be creative here!
These cakes are naturally gluten free, and the rising agent is the beaten eggs, just like in sponge cakes or sponge fingers. We beat the eggs and sugar to ribbon stage and then fold in rest of the ingredients. It is easy as that. But there are a few crucial steps, that you have to follow correctly, in order to get the perfect cake. I will highlight those steps with pictures below.
First up, the Orange/oranges need to be boiled for at least an hour or until it becomes soft. Submerge the orange in water when boiling, to remove bitterness. Discard the water and cut the Orange in to pieces, removing any pits and the top bit(where the stem used to be). Place in a food processor/ blender and grind into a pulp.
This is how the Orange pulp or puree would look like. Place this in a bowl and move on to the next step. This pulp can be refrigerated in a closed container for a few days.
This step is to guarantee the easy removal of the cakes from the pan. Apply a thin layer of butter in the cases. Place teaspoon of flour (rice flour or all purpose flour) in each case and turn and tap the tray so that the inside of the mold is evenly coated with a thin layer of flour. Discard the remaining flour. Set aside.
It is a good time to pre-heat the oven to 160 C (convention/without fan) at this stage.
Sieve almond meal and baking soda to remove lumps. The little amount of baking soda is used as a guarantee for the rise, but is not necessary. The sifting will also contribute towards a airy texture of the cakes.
Place the room temperature eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on medium high, until the mixture becomes pale and thick. You will start to see the streaks as it thickens up.
Check the mixture for the consistency. I call this the ribbon stage. You can draw a ribbon with the batter and it will stay for a second before disappearing. This is a crucial step. The air that we incorporate at this stage is what gives the body to the cake.
Carefully fold in the Orange puree to the beaten egg and sugar mixture. Be gentle and try not to knock out a lot of air out. Follow with the almond meal and once again, fold gently. If you mix vigorously, the batter will lose the air and deflate, resulting in flat, dense cakes. The final batter should have a considerable volume and should feel light and airy.
This mixture can be refrigerated for a day or tow, so it is such a good make ahead dessert.
Pure the batter carefully into the molds of the prepared pan. I like to use a piping bag to ensure clean edges and even, controlled distribution of the batter. Once done, smooth out the tops with a wet finger. You can fill close to the brim, as they will not rise. When ready, place in the oven.
While the cakes are baking, make the orange Syrup. Place Orange juice and 1/2 cup sugar in a saucepan and bring to boil. Simmer for a about 5 minutes until Syrup start to thicken and remove from heat. It is a good idea to pure the syrup in to a pouring jug and have it ready to use.
You can infuse the syrup with different things. Lemon thyme, lemon rind, rum or orange liqueur and some of the suggestions
They should be done in 30 minutes. Check for doneness by using a cake tester/skewer. If the tester or skewer comes out clean, they are done. You will notice the golden tops too. They will shrink a bit and release from the sides too. Remove from the oven and set aside for a couple of minutes.
prick a few wholes on the cakes while you wait. This will help absorb the syrup later.
Use a knife or a offset spatula to release the cakes. They should pop out effortlessly. Place on a wire rack and place a tray underneath to catch any dripping syrup. Heat the syrup if it has gone cold. then pure a generous amount onto each cake. let the syrup seep in and go for a second round. make sure the edges are covered too. Any remaining syrup can be poured when serving.
Decorate however you like and serve with extra syrup
If you prep your Orange puree and the syrup before hand, this recipe would only take about 10 minutes to prepare and 30 minutes to bake. The baked cakes stays fresh for longer due to the syrup.
I keep them in a air tight container, in the fridge for about 4 days. You can keep them even longer, but they honestly don’t last that long. You can even freeze these. If you plan to freeze, do not use the syrup. Instead, let the cakes, cool completely and place on a tray. Place the tray in a freezer for a bout an hour, place the frozen cakes in a zip lock bag or a freezer safe container and freeze for several days. I haven’t frozen beyond a month, so I cannot guarantee that.
To serve frozen cakes, bring them to room temperature, warm up in the oven or microwave and pour the hot syrup over. They will be as good as new.
I still remeber clearly, the first time I bit into a proper macaron, about 8 years ago, at Ladurée in Paris. I was amazed by the elegant, classy spread of pastries and other sweets sitting in that luxurious gold framed cabinet and the macarons caught my eyes immediately.
I had always thought of it as an overly sweet candy full of calories. But, these Oh my God! the not too sweet, yet flavorful, fragile smooth exterior with the soft chewy center….the experience kind of registered in my brain forever!
I wasn’t into baking back then, had only made a few cakes here and there, but I tried to replicate the macaron when I returned home. I couldn’t find almond meal (wasn’t common in Sri Lanka back then, not sure about now)so I used peanut flour and came quite close but I wasn’t happy. Long story short, this became one of the many bakes I enjoyed making later after I migrated to Australia, where finding ingredients wasn’t a problem and I was way ahead of my baking game by then.
So I had several failed attempts like everyone else. But every time, I learnt something new and moved forward. Also I learnt making macarons in bakery school, but they were my least favorite so far. Because the recipe is fool-proof, it uses a different technique, which resulted in a hard, grainy macaron, but they were quite stable of course (bakery style). So I stick to this recipe which is fiddly, tricky yet produced a much delicate and elegant macaron shell, which is very closer to the one I had in Paris years ago.
I will explain the most crucial steps. If you get these steps right, you’ll get the macarons right the first time!
Getting the dry ingredients right is very important. Grind the icing sugar and almond flour mixture in a food processor and sieve it twice. If you think the particles are not fine enough, process again and sieve once more, until they are very fine to the touch. There shouldn’t be any grainy bits or lumps.
Next is getting the meringue ready. For best results use a day(or more) old egg whites. Separate the egg whites, place in a container, close the lid and refrigerate for at least a day. This will remove some of the moisture.
Bring the egg whites to room temperature and beat them to soft peaks before adding sugar.
You can add a pinch of cream of tartar or a drop of vinegar to stabilize the meringue (I have not)
Use super fine castor sugar for best results.
Add sugar bit by bit while beating the egg white on high speed. When the meringue is thick and glossy, add the gel coloring and the essence. Beat a few seconds to incorporate. Taste the meringue to check on flavor and adjust.
Meringue should be shiny and very stiff. (same consistency you get to make a pavlova)
The most important step out of all is the mixing of flour mixture and the meringue. Add half the dry mix and fold a few times. No need to mix all the way. Add the other half in one go. Now start mixing using a spatula. Fold and cut through the middle and repeat, until flour is incorporated. Now you have a thick batter. Keep mixing until you reach the ribbon consistency. That means, you should be able to draw a figure 8 without breaking and the figure should disappear slowly into the batter. At this stage STOP mixing!
One more stoke could ruin your batter
If you don’t have a fancy macaron mat, use a stencil like shown in the picture. Place it underneath the parchment and remove it once you have piped and reuse it!
I like parchment paper over silicon mat, as it dries out macarons really nicely
Transfer the batter in to a piping bag fitted with a round tip (13 mm).
Hold the bag perpendicular to the tray and pipe a dollop. It shouldn’t cover the whole circle. Because the batter is going to spread a bit and we are going to tap the tray later. So pipe a smaller circle than you actually want it to be.
Once done piping, bang/tap/drop the tray on the table several times. This will release any over sized air bubbles trapped inside the batter. Trust me there is a lot. If you didn’t do this then you will see cracks everywhere and big blisters on the surface, when baked.
If you are like me, take a tooth pick and pop any visible air bubbles on the surface. This is optional 🙂
Now that you are done piping and tapping, leave the macarones in a cool area to dry out. This may take anywhere between 30 – 60 minutes or more in very humid atmospheres. You can use an exhaust fan or a normal fan to speed the process up!
They should be dry to the touch. You should be able to touch the surface without batter sticking to your finger. It is almost like a skin has formed on top. This skin is what gives the nice feet!
Bake the macarones in a (150 C) 300 F oven for 17 – 19 minutes. But check them at 15 minutes, every oven is different. They should peel off easily once fully done, without anything sticking to the paper.
Once baked, let the shells cool completely. If you are not filling them, on the same day, you can pack them in an air tight container and store in the refrigerator or at room temperature in cooler weathers (18 C – 19 C) Humidity/moisture is their main enemy.
I’m using a simple butter cream and some homemade pineapple jam to fill these. You can use cream cheese or pineapple flavored butter cream instead. Even store bought jam works too. So be creative with the filling.
This is how I chose to do it!. Apply a light butter cream later on both shells to prevent shells going soggy. And pipe a ring of butter cream on one side. Fill the center with pineapple jam. Place the other shell on top and press to sandwich.
As bizarre as it may sound, the macarones need to mature a day or two for maximum enjoyment. Place the sandwiched cookies in an air-tight container and refrigerate. This will help firm up the cookie and the filling and also give it’s characteristic texture to the macaron. But nothing is stopping you if you just want to pop them in your mouth right there!
That is it! You have made a batch of macarones. There are many recipes and blog posts and videos on the internet, about getting the perfect macarone, and they all are great!. If you can find time, I suggest, that you check as many as you can. Every person has their little secret and you can learn more by watching a video/tutorial. This is just my two cents!
No matter what flavor you want, the basic steps are the same. So try basic vanilla ones if it is your first time. Work on getting the technique right. Once you are there, then play with different flavors and colors. It will be really fun.
Following are some matcha macarones I made some time back, using this same recipe, method and techniques. I only added 2 tablespoons of matcha powder to the flour mixture and sandwiched the cookies with lemon cream cheese.
I think I invented the most perfect dinner rolls recipe ever! That sounds a bit too dramatic, but trust me, that’s how I felt when they came out of the oven. They smelled so good and tasted even better with a slathering of butter, still warm and fresh.
These are NOT super enriched, brioche style buns. But they are soft, aromatic, nutty and wholesome. I think these are the perfect side to serve with your main or the bread and butter course it self. They don’t taste overly sweet, jut a touch of honey, so the thyme flavor is the real hero here. Just 10% each of wholemeal and rye makes a world of difference, by adding that nutty texture and the tiny brown color speckle to the crumb.
Lastly, this is a recipe that can be stretched well over three days and the dough is very forgiving. So you don’t have to be precise about fermenting duration and retardation. I will mention this at each step.
To start with, as usual, with any sourdough recipe, you need the fed starter. I’m using a 100% hydrated fed, ripe starter for this recipe. If you want more details about starter head over to this link.
Infuse butter by heating the butter with a bunch id thyme over medium heat. Let the mixture come to room temperature before removing the thyme stems.
Mix everything as described in the recipe until a dough is formed, Knead it by hand until smooth. Place in a closed container and let ferment until almost doubled in size.
Once the dough is almost doubled, punch down lightly and refrigerate over night ( or at least 10 hours) You can extend this time up to 24 hours
Divide the dough in to pieces and let them rest, covered for 15 minutes before shaping
Shape the dough pieces in to rounds or cylinders and place them in the baking dish/tray leave space around
Shaped into cylindrical shape and stacked in a deep loaf tin works too
proofed dough (after 6-8 hours depending on the temperature) The slower the proof, the better the flavour
proofed long buns. once the buns are proofed, preheat the oven, brush the buns with a whisked egg, and bake for 20 minutes
Once baked let the rolls cool on a wire rack
Baked rolls (long)
These rolls are perfect served warm with butter.
These rolls can be kept in a air-tight container at room temperature for up to two days. You can freshen them up in the microwave (20 sec), then will be soft and lovely as good as new.
If you wan to freeze them, seal them tightly in a freezer bag before freezing. To serve the frozen rolls, first let them come to room temperature and warm them in microwave (20 sec) or in a moderate oven (10 minutes).
I guess these can be infused with other herbs you like, so go ahead and try with your favorite herb like rosemary, sage etc. I have used a mild honey because I wanted to hero the thyme flavor. You can substitute honey with sugar, or maple syrup.
I watch baking videos on my way to work and that is why I love to take the bus. This is the time I use to visualize, sketch and brain storm about my bakes and plan in my head about what I am going to tackles next. I thought of revisiting some of the older seasons of GBBO last week, and this couronne of Paul Hollywood took me in complete awe.
So, I created something in my head, that ticked the following boxes
an enriched dough
use my cranberry jam
tastes and look festive
indulging but packs a punch
And as a result, this recipe was born, last weekend. I didn’t know what to expect, up until the time I actually took a bite. Well, I couldn’t believe what I just put in my mouth! It was that good! If I eat this with my eyes closed, I wouldn’t know what to call this. It feels like a bit of mince pie, an orange pond cake, a frangipane tart and brioche all mingling in your mouth harmoniously.
I will mention what each component does in this couronne, so you can substitute these with your favorite things. But I seriously recommend you try this combo.
Homemade Cranberry jam – color, tartness cuts through the sweetness. It is chunky, so adds texture
Orange marzipan – adds fragrance from orange, adds sweetness and texture, keep the bake moist
Crystallized ginger – adds warmth, adds a punch
Sultana – texture, flavor of mince meat (Christmacy in other words)
Orange glaze – adds a shine to the finished product, keeps it moist for longer, enhance flavor
Here is the step by step process:
Get the sweet stiff starter mixed. Form in to a tough dough ball and place in a container, closed. Let this ferment until it is doubled in size. Could take between 8-12 hours depending on the room temp.(overnight works for me) If you wan to delay the process, place this in the fridge for a few hours to slow down.
I forgot to take a picture before opening up the fermented stiff starter ball. Here is an inside shot anyway. This is ready to be mixed with the dough now
Mix everything according to the recipe below to make the dough. Dough will be sticky. Notice there is no sugar in this dough, just in the starter. Once mixed, take it out on to a floured surface, and fold a few times to make it smooth, check the next image.
Once the dough is smooth like this, place it in a greased container, cover and place in a warm draft free area to ferment, until it is nearly doubled in size.
This is a good time to make the marzipan too. Use the same mixing ball, no need to wash it. Mix in all the ingredients in the recipe, and get it shaped nice and smooth like in this picture. Wrap this in cling wrap, and place in the fridge.
The dough is nearly doubled in size. (this took about 6 hours at 20 C) Now place this in the fridge for several hours. Time these to suite your schedule. It is alright to leave it out or in the fridge for couple of extra hours.
At this stage, the dough is too soft to handle. By placing in the fridge, this will firm up.
Final big step is to put all these together. Ready your jam, ginger, sultana and set aside. Take the dough out and let it soften a bit. In the meantime, roll the marzipan as thinly as possible. Use two parchment papers or use a Silpat like i did. The marzipan should be the same size as your dough sheet. Get it roughly to what you plan to get your dough at. If your kitchen is warm, place this in the fridge until you roll the dough.
Roll the dough on a well floured bench. The thickness shouldn’t be less than 3/4 of a centimeter. If you roll it too thin, it will break when you spread filling and also will tear when rolling.
Spread the jam on the dough. I use my fingers. A spatula may tear the dough underneath. Leave space here an there. Check the picture. And then scatter the sultana and ginger pieces.
Now lay the marzipan over the filling. Simply take the marzipan you rolled, take the top parchment paper off, tip it over the dough, so marzipan is facing the filling. Peel off the Silpat/parchment that was underneath.
Trim the marzipan edges if it overhangs. Press gently so it sticks to the filling.
Now roll the dough as you would do with a cinnamon roll. Flour your hands generously.
This step is similar to any babka, if you have made that before. Cut through the rolled dough, length wise, using a sharp knife. Turn the strands upwards. Twist the two strands to form a spiral. Try not to lose too much filling in this process.
Once twisted, form a ring with the dough by joining the two ends. Do this on the tray if you like. Or do it on the bench and carefully transfer it onto the tray. Now this has to rest/proof for a few hours. (3-4 hours I would say) You wouldn’t notice much difference in the size. But the dough will spring back when gently poked. The resting will help relax the dough.
Bake in a hot oven (410 F) for 40 minutes. If top start to burn, cover with a foil during the last 5-10 minutes
While the couronne is baking, get the orange glaze ready. Bring freshly squeezed orange juice and sugar to a boil and simmer for 3-4 minutes until thickens.
You can of course use apricot jam glaze instead.
Once the loaf is out of the oven, glaze while it is still hot. And then let it cool down on a wire rack
That is it! You can then decorate this however you like. You can drizzle this with white lemon icing or even royal icing for a fancier finish. Decorate with red and green cherries for an even better look! I kept is simple with some sugar coated cranberries, few rosemary ends and a light dusting of icing sugar.
You can of course, use mince meat instead of my cranberry filling.
I have been all about apples and pumpkins lately and I almost forgot pears, until I accidentally bumped into a stall at the farmers market, flooded with multi-colored pears.
I have been eating them from the start of the season, but didn’t think of baking with them. So I thought, this is a good chance for that. I have been baking more bread than cakes lately as my household solely depend on my bread. Plus we are controlling our sugar intake. It’s not like we are on a strict diet or anything, just that we try to balance what we put in our bodies. So something along bread line seemed more appropriate than an indulgent cake.
The thing is I don’t bake for the sake of IG or my blog. Everything I bake gets eaten to the last crumb, in other words, I can only bake what we could consume.
So back to the babka. For this one, I’m using a sweet starter with less hydration. This allows you to control moisture later. The starter can be made ahead (6 or more hours prior to making the dough). Use 50% – 75% hydration. It is important to use fed, ripe starter to make this to get the maximum volume.
The pear jam could be made ahead too. The jam need to be cold when spreading over the dough. And it wouldn’t hurt to toast the walnuts before hand too.
I will mention the step by step method below.
Mix the dough according to instruction on the recipe. Place the dough in a lightly greased plastic bowl and cover. Let it double in volume. In a warm, draft free place, this could take up to 5-6 hours. The starter strength is a factor here too.
This is how the dough looks like, when it is doubled it’s size. It’s grown sideways and upwards too. (the picture doesn’t show the upwards rise) But roughly twice the size is good enough. At this stage, lightly punch the dough and re-shape in to a ball (it will shrink to a smaller dough ball) and place back in the same container. Close the lid tightly and place in the fridge for 10-12 hours or overnight. This can be longer, even up to 24 hours.
How the dough looks like right out of the refrigerator. It will be firm to the touch. Let this thaw for a bout 5- 10 minutes, but not longer. We just need it to be workable but not too warm. It is easier to roll-out and cut a firmer dough.
Lightly dust the bench and the dough with flour. Start to roll the dough to a rectangle. If dough starts to shrink back, let it rest for 5 minutes. If your kitchen is warm, cover refrigerate the dough for 5-10 minutes to let it relax.
once rolled out, it should be about 1/2 cm in thickness. Do not roll out too thin, the dough might tear when you spread filling. Too thick and you won’t get may swirls.
There’s no specific recipe for this. Peel and core two pears, cut into cubes. Add to a saucepan with 2 tbsp dark brown sugar, 1 tbsp sugar, 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer. Smash the pears once soften. I left few chunks. Simmer for about 30 minutes or so until reduced and thickens to a jammy consistency. Let this cool.
Toast walnuts until golden. then chop the roughly. Set aside.
Spread the pear jam evenly, and sprinkle with walnuts. Scatter some dark brown sugar if you like.
Start rolling the dough. This could be along the length or width. If you like more swirls, roll it along the width wise. I’m doing length-wise here. I like medium swirls as it is easier to handle when twisting.
cut the dough in half along the length. And slowly turn the cut sides up, without losing the filling.
Pinch one end together and start inter-twining. Twist the two strands all the way down, keeping the cut(open) side up, all the while. Pinch the end bits too. If the dough is too long for the tin, using both hands, lightly squash the dough from the two ends until it becomes a bit shorter, so it fits the loaf tin.
Lift the dough and place carefully in the greased tin. Adjust to fill the tin evenly. Do not disturb the layers. Now cover this with a plastic, with ample room to grow. The top shouldn’t be touching the cover. let this prove in a warm place. This might take up several hours. (4-6 hours) Warmer the room temperature, the quicker the rise
This is how the proofed loaf will look like. It is slightly jiggly, softer to the tough and considerably grown to fit the tin. the dough will spring back when poked. Pre-heat the oven to 360 F and place the rack in the bottom 2/3 of the oven. This will stop from top catching too much. Ans back for 40 – 50 minutes. Turn the loaf around after the first 20 minutes, so that both sides will be baked evenly.
Once the loaf is baked (golden brown and sound hollow when tapped) take it out of the oven. Brush with a light sugar syrup. This is optional, but will help keep the loaf moist for longer, and add a shine to the top too. (Sugar syrup is 1:1 water and sugar, boiled for few minutes until slightly thick)
Once baked, this need some time to cool down. Do not cut it while warm, the filling need to settle and the crumb will be too wet and the layers will fall apart.
I loved the flavor so much. The pear jam is sweet and tart at the same time. Goes well with the mildly sweet brioche like bread and the nuts add a crunch, which is perfect!! The most delicious bit for me is the gooey top. It’s crispy, sweet, and crunchy with nuts and sugar crystals. Oh it’s pure heaven on a plate.
Let me know, if you try this out. And as always shoot any comment or question below or on IG.