Famous Chocolate Nutella Babka

This post was inspired by Uri Scheft’s ‘Famous Chocolate Babka’ recipe, which he illustrates in his new Breaking Breads cookbook. This Danish-Israeli baker perfected his baking skills in Israel and later transported himself to New York City, where he now operates his Breads Bakery in Union Square. Why does he call his Babka ‘famous’? For no other reason than being named “the best Babka in New York City” for 2013 by New York Magazine!

With such an illustrious award behind his name, I felt compelled to find out why his Babka was named the best in New York City. After all, there must be hundreds of bakeries in New York, with many churning out Babkas (even the Seinfeld show featured one episode of Jerry Seinfeld lusting after a Babka)!

It turns out that Uri uses laminated dough in his Babka recipe, a butter-encasing technique normally used for puff pastry and croissants, which makes for light, flaky layers. For this process, butter is folded into the dough multiple times to create very thin alternating layers of butter and dough. The more the dough is folded and ‘turned’, the more layers of delicate flaky pastry are produced. This process, plus the fact that the dough is filled with a ‘scandalous mix’ of rich Nutella and dark chocolate chips, makes these Babkas a delicacy made in heaven.

I practiced making this recipe three times in order to get the hang of making the laminated dough.  I wound up using slightly less flour than Uri’s recipe and found that my recipe yielded two loaves each time, instead of Uri’s three loaves.

Was it worth the extra effort of making the laminated dough? You bet! And I’m not the only one who thought so- just ask New York Magazine!

Since this is a rather long post, I will now wish you all a Happy New Year and thank you so much for stopping by my blog!

The full printable recipe is located at the end of this post. Here is the illustrated process for laminating, filling and shaping the dough into the Famous Chocolate Babka.

(Note: you will need two bread loaf pans for this recipe: I feel that 8 x 4 inch pans work best but you could also use 9 x 5 inch pans). 

Laminating the Dough

After kneading the dough, let it rest for 30 minutes, then press it into a 1- inch thick rectangle, cover in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least one hour. Prepare the 200 grams of butter by placing it on a piece of parchment paper and using a rolling pin to ‘pound’ and mold it into a rectangular shape measuring 7 x 8 inches. Set aside.

On a lightly-floured surface, roll the dough out into a 7 x 16 inch rectangle with the shorter side facing you. Place the butter on the lower half of the rectangle and use a knife or spatula to smooth it onto the dough, then fold the top half of the dough over the bottom half. (The butter should be cool but pliable so it can be molded and spread across the dough).

Rotate the dough a quarter turn so that the edges that were on the bottom are now facing the right side of the dough. Roll the dough out into a rectangle measuring 9 x 16 inches.

Rotate dough 1/4 turn, then roll out into 9 x 16 inch rectangle

Fold the dough into thirds like a ‘business letter‘: first fold the bottom part upwards then fold the top part down so that the edges are even at the bottom- this is called a simple fold.

Now rotate the dough a quarter turn again so that the bottom edges are now facing the right side of the dough. After the turn, you should be able to open the dough up ‘like a book.’ Mark this second turn of the dough by making two indentations with your thumb. This will help you to remember the number of turns you have completed.

Marking the dough with your thumb to keep track of the number of ‘turns’ you have made

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes (this helps to firm up the dough and prevent the butter from melting into the dough).

Remove the dough from the fridge and repeat the simple fold process two more times; first rolling the dough out, folding it, turning it, then refrigerating the dough each time. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight.

View of the folded dough from the side

After the dough has been chilled, remove from the fridge and roll out into a rectangle measuring 18 inches by 10 inches, with the long side facing you. The dough should be just shy of 1/4 inch thick. Spread a layer of Nutella over the dough, then sprinkle the semi sweet chocolate chips evenly.

Starting from the bottom of the dough, roll it up into a tight cylinder with the seam facing downwards. When finished rolling, stretch the cylinder out a little with your hands. Slice the dough in half lengthwise and then open up the dough so that the Nutella/chocolate side faces upward.

Cut the lengths of dough horizontally in half, so you now have four equal strips of dough. Form two pieces of dough into a Twist shape: join the two pieces together at the top, then overlap them in an alternating sequence. Place the dough in the loaf pans and let rise until the dough reaches the top of the pan (1 – 2 hours). Bake for around 40 minutes or until the loaves turn golden brown. Remove from oven and baste with the sugar syrup. The bread is best when served warm.

Famous Chocolate Nutella Babka
Yields 2
A laminated flaky bread filled with Nutella and chocolate (bet you can't eat just once slice)!
Write a review
Print
Ingredients
  1. ½ cup warm milk
  2. 1 packet dry yeast (6 grams)
  3. 6 tbsps. softened butter
  4. 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  5. 2 large eggs
  6. 1/s tsp vanilla extract
  7. Pinch salt
  8. 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  9. 1 ½ cups pastry or cake flour
For the laminated dough and chocolate filling
  1. 200 g butter (1 stick plus 5 tablespoons) at cool room temperature
  2. 1 ½ cups Nutella
  3. 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
For the simple syrup
  1. ¾ cup sugar
  2. ½ cup water
Instructions
  1. Add the dry yeast to the warmed milk and let set for a few minutes until dissolved. In a separate bowl, mix together the softened butter and sugar until smooth, then add the eggs, vanilla extract, salt and yeast mixture. Beat with electric beaters until combined. With the electric beaters still running, gradually add the first 2 1/2 cups of flour until the mixture is smooth. After this, it will be more difficult to use the electric beaters, so gradually add the remaining 1 ½ cups of cake flour using a large wooden spoon or by working the flour in with your hands.
  2. Alternatively, you can mix the flour into the dough using a stand mixer with a dough hook, mixing for about 4 minutes until the dough is smooth and has good elasticity.
  3. Knead the dough: turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and form into a rough ball. Take the top part of the dough and stretch and tear it away from you along the work surface, using the heel of your hand. Re-gather the dough into a ball shape, rotate a quarter turn and repeat for about 3 minutes. Set the ball into a floured-bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  4. Chill the dough. Place the dough on a piece of plastic wrap and press it into a rectangular shape about 1 inch thick. Cover with the plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or longer, if possible).
  5. Note: to simplify this recipe, you can skip the step of laminating the dough (below) and proceed to the step of preparing the chocolate filling and forming the dough into a twist shape.
To prepare the laminated (flaky) dough
  1. Prepare the butter. Place the 200 g butter on a piece of parchment paper and beat and mold it into a 7 x 8 inch rectangle using a rolling pin; set aside. Remove the dough from the fridge and on a lightly-floured surface, roll it out into a rectangle measuring 7 x 16 inches, with the short side facing you. Place the butter on the bottom half of the rolled-out dough and use a knife or spatula to spread the butter, leaving a margin of ¼ inch at the bottom. Fold the top half of the dough over the bottom half, pulling the corners so they align perfectly. Turn the dough ¼ turn so that the edges (seams) that were facing the bottom are now facing the right side.
  2. Roll out the dough into a rectangle measuring 9 x 16 inches. Fold the dough into thirds like a 'business letter'- fold the bottom of the dough upwards then fold the top over the bottom so that the edges align perfectly.This is called a ‘Simple Fold.' Turn the dough ¼ turn again so that the edges that were facing the bottom are now facing the right side. Mark this second turn of the dough by making two indentations on the dough with your thumb.This will help you to keep track of the amount of turns you have made. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for 20 minutes. Remove the dough from the fridge and repeat the simple fold process two more times: rolling, folding, turning and refrigerating the dough each time. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for at least 5 hours or overnight.
To prepare the chocolate filling and form into a twist shape
  1. After chilling the dough, roll the dough out into a rectangle about 18 x 10 inches, with the long side facing you. The dough should be slightly less than ¼ inch thick. Spread the Nutella over the dough all the way to the edges, then sprinkle the chocolate chip pieces evenly over the dough. Starting from the bottom edge, roll the dough into a tight cylinder with the seam ending face down. Hold the ends of the dough with both hands and stretch the dough out even a little longer.
  2. Slice the dough in half lengthwise using a serrated bread knife, then slice each part in half cross-wise, leaving you with four pieces of dough about 9 inches long each. To form the twist shapes, join the top ends of two pieces of dough, then alternatively overlap the pieces over each other, forming the twist shape. Place the two Babka twists into the loaf pans, tucking the ends under a little if necessary to make them fit into the pans. Let the loaves rise until the tops rise to the top of the pan (1 – 2 hours). Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 F about 40 minutes, or until the loaves turn a dark brown. If the loves brown too quickly , ‘tent’ them in foil for the remaining cooking time to prevent over-browning them.
  3. While the loaves are baking, prepare the Simple Syrup. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Over medium heat, stir until the mixture boils; reduce the heat and stir for several minutes until the mixture thickens; let cool.
  4. Remove the bread from the oven and brush with the simple syrup while still warm. Use a paring knife to separate the Babkas from the pan edges and turn them out from the pan. Slice and serve either warm or at room temperature.
Notes
  1. Uri Scheft uses loaf pans measuring 9 x 2 3/4 x 2 inches to make Babkas for his bakery. These are pans that normally need to be specially ordered. Instead, I used pans measuring 8 x 4 inches, which worked well.
Adapted from Breaking Breads by Uri Scheft
Adapted from Breaking Breads by Uri Scheft
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Mini Raspberry Cheesecakes

Several years ago, I posted a Mini Cheesecake recipe in honor of my sister, Donna, who passed away on April 3, 2013. That recipe was quite simple, using a vanilla wafer for the bottom ‘crust’ with the mini cheesecakes baked in cupcake wrappers.

When I recently saw this recipe for Mini Raspberry Cheesecakes in Cooking Light magazine, I was inspired to take my cheesecake skills to the next level. This recipe uses a Mini Cheesecake pan (by Chicago Metallic) which yields 12 stunningly cute cheesecakes- and they are easy to lift out too! If you don’t have one of these specialty pans, you could also use a cupcake or muffin pan.

Mini cheesecakes

I decided to use my own simple recipe for the crust, which combines graham cracker crumbs, crushed ginger snaps and melted butter. The cheesecake is baked and then topped with a raspberry purée and several fresh raspberries. You could also use blueberries or strawberries as a substitute.

With Christmas less than two weeks away, these mini cheesecakes would certainly liven up your holiday table!

mini-cheesecake

Mini Raspberry Cheesecakes
Serves 12
Adorable mini cheesecakes topped with fresh raspberries
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
1 hr 5 min
Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
1 hr 5 min
Crust
  1. 1 cup Graham Cracker crumbs
  2. 1 cup Ginger Snap cookies, crushed
  3. ½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
Filling
  1. 16 oz. cream cheese (2 packages), softened
  2. ½ cup sugar
  3. ½ cup sour cream
  4. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  5. 1 tsp lemon juice
  6. 2 large eggs
  7. 1 tbsp. white flour
Topping
  1. 3 cups fresh raspberries, divided
  2. 2 tbsps. water
  3. ¼ cup sugar
  4. 1 tbsp. corn starch (mixed with a little water)
  5. Mint leaves (optional)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 325 F (160 C). Coat the inside of the mini cheesecake pan (or muffin pan) with cooking spray.
  2. Combine the Graham Cracker crumbs, crushed Ginger Snap cookies and melted butter in a bowl. Press about 1 tablespoon of the packed ‘dough’ into the bottom of each well, filling it 1/3 of the way up the sides of the well. Set the pan aside while you prepare the filling.
  3. Soften the cream cheese by placing it in the microwave for about 15 seconds (should be softened but not runny). Combine the cream cheese with the sugar, sour cream, vanilla extract, lemon juice, eggs and flower; beat with electric beaters until smooth. Spoon the mixture over the crust, filling to just below the top of each well. Bake for about 20 minutes or until set and slightly puffed (the filling will deflate slightly after you remove the pan from the oven).
  4. To prepare the topping, heat 2 cups of fresh raspberries and 2 tbsps. of water together on the stovetop. Heat for several minutes until the fruit becomes soft and liquidy. Strain the mixture through a fine strainer to remove the raspberry seeds. Make a paste by mixing the corn starch with a little water; add this to the strained raspberries along with the sugar. Heat until the mixture thickens and becomes like a syrup, then let cool.
  5. Remove the mini cheesecakes from the pan onto a serving dish. Top each cheesecake with 1 ½ tablespoons berry syrup and 2-3 fresh raspberries; add a mint leaf, if desired.
Notes
  1. If you don;t have a 12-well Mini Cheesecake pan, you could also use a regular muffin pan. Line the individual wells with baking paper to help lift out the cheesecakes after baking.
Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine
Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Delicious Breakfast Pizza

Is it Pizza or Focaccia?

This Breakfast Pizza is thick and chewy and truly a meal in itself- served with an egg, sausage pieces and a tomato sauce flavored with fire-roasted red bell peppers and a jalapeño chile.

I was inspired by this recipe after thumbing through Uri Scheft’s cookbook Breaking Breads. His recipe for focaccia shows the dough being shaped into a small round circle, instead of a large dimpled rectangle. “Hmm, this looks like pizza to me,” I said to myself. This got me thinking, “What is the difference between focaccia and pizza?”

It turns out that the ingredients for focaccia and pizza are basically the same: flour, water, yeast and a bit of olive oil. However, while pizza is usually rolled out into a thin crust, focaccia is pressed into a thick rectangular shape and allowed to rise before baked in the oven. Also, the ingredients for a pizza (pepperoni, etc) are usually placed on top of the crust while ingredients are usually pressed into the dough for focaccia.

For my recipe, I’ve decided to combine the best of both worlds: a pizza that has a thick and chewy dough like focaccia bread, served with a jalapeño- infused tomato sauce on top.  Whatever you call it- focaccia or pizza- you’ll be starting your day off with a delicious breakfast!

Ingredients

For the Pizza Dough:

  • 7 g dry yeast (1 packet)
  • 325 ml (1 1/3 cups) tepid water
  • 500 g (4 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 20 g (3 tbsp) semolina
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 30 ml (3 tbsps.) olive oil
  • Black sesame seeds or poppy seeds for garnish

Directions:

Dissolve the packet of dry yeast in the tepid water. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, semolina, salt and olive oil. Mix with a large spoon until the dough starts to come together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured work surface and knead through a stretch and fold technique. First, grab a hold of 1/3 of the dough and stretch it away from you:

Then fold it back towards you so that the ends meet together. Do a quarter turn of the dough and then repeat for several more minutes.

Place the kneaded dough in a lightly-oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rest until the dough doubles in size. While the dough is rising, prepare the sauce (below):

Ingredients

For the sauce:

  • 1 can (14 oz) canned tomatoes
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, diced
  • ½ jalapeno or red chilli pepper, diced
  • 1 fire-roasted red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • Salt to taste
  • Garnish: 1 egg + sausage slices for each mini pizza

Directions

Finely chop the onion, garlic cloves and jalapeño pepper. Add some olive oil to a fry pan and cook over medium heat for several minutes until the veggies become soft. Add the tomatoes and roasted bell pepper strips and salt; cook for around 10 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken.

While the sauce is thickening, place a pizza stone on the bottom of a cold oven and pre-heat at 425 F (210 C).

To assemble the pizza:

After the dough has risen, turn it back onto the floured work surface and cut into 6 equal pieces. Stretch one piece of dough into a circle about 5-6 inches in diameter.

Spoon some of the sauce onto the dough, leaving a margin of one inch around the edges of the dough. Arrange 5-6 pieces of the sliced sausage in a circle, then crack an egg in the center. Sprinkle some black sesame seeds or poppy seeds around the edge of the mini pizza. Drizzle with olive oil and some coarse salt. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.

Place one mini pizza onto a floured ‘pizza peel’ and slide onto the pre-heated pizza stone (or you could cook two pizzas at a time). Cook for 10-15 minutes until the dough turns crisp and brown. Remove from oven and drizzle with a little more olive oil and course salt.

Note: If you don’t have a pizza stone, place the pizzas on a pizza or baking tray and cook in a pre-heated oven at 425 F.

Thick and Chewy Breakfast Pizza

P.S. I’d love it if you would subscribe to my blog- it would make my day!!

Delicious Breakfast Pizza
Serves 6
A thick and chewy breakfast pizza topped with an egg and sausage
Write a review
Print
For the Pizza Crust
  1. 7 g dry yeast (1 packet)
  2. 325 ml (1 1/3 cups) tepid water
  3. 500 g (4 cups) all-purpose flour
  4. 20 g (3 tbsps) semolina
  5. 1 tsp salt
  6. 30 ml (3 tbsps.) olive oil
  7. Black sesame seeds or poppy seeds for garnish
For the sauce
  1. 1 can (14 oz) canned tomatoes
  2. ½ onion, chopped
  3. 3 garlic cloves, diced
  4. ½ jalapeno or red chilli pepper, diced
  5. 1 roasted red bell pepper, cut into strips
  6. Salt to taste
For the garnish
  1. 1 egg (for each mini pizza)
  2. 5-6 slices of sausage
To make the dough
  1. Dissolve the packet of dry yeast in the tepid water. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, semolina, salt and olive oil. Mix with a large spoon until the dough starts to come together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured work surface. Knead the dough for several minutes: first grab a hold of 1/3 of the dough and stretch it away from you, then fold it back over towards you so that the ends meet together. Do a quarter turn of the dough and then repeat for several more minutes.
  2. Place the kneaded dough in a lightly-oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rest until the dough doubles in size.
To make the Sauce
  1. Finely chop the onion, garlic cloves and jalapeno pepper. Cook in a fry pan over medium heat for several minutes until the veggies become soft. Add the tomatoes and roasted bell pepper strips and salt; cook for around 10 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken.
  2. While the sauce is thickening, place a pizza stone on the bottom of a cold oven and pre-heat at 425 F (210 C).
To assemble the pizza
  1. After the dough has risen, turn it back onto the floured work surface and cut into 6 equal pieces. Stretch one piece of dough into a circle about 5-6 inches in diameter.
  2. Spoon some of the sauce onto the dough, leaving a margin of one inch around the edges of the dough. Arrange 5-6 pieces of the sliced sausage in a circle, then crack an egg in the center. Sprinkle some black sesame seeds or poppy seeds around the edge of the mini pizza. Drizzle with olive oil and some coarse salt. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
  3. Place one mini pizza onto a floured ‘pizza peel’ and slide onto the pre-heated pizza stone (or you could cook two pizzas at a time). Cook for 10-15 minutes until the dough turns crisp and brown. Remove from oven and drizzle with a little more olive oil and course salt.
Notes
  1. You can also add or substitute other toppings, such as sliced mushrooms or bacon strips
Adapted from 'Breaking Breads' by Uri Scheft
Adapted from 'Breaking Breads' by Uri Scheft
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Cranberry Nut Bread with Crumb Topping

It’s that time of year when fresh cranberries grace the aisles of American supermarkets.  The growing season for cranberries ends in mid-November, so I thought I’d better grab a few bags for myself before they are all gone. After all, I wouldn’t want to miss out on making my annual fresh cranberry recipe (not to mention all the healthy vitamins that cranberries provide)!

To honor the brief fresh cranberry season, I decided to make Cranberry Nut Bread with chopped pecans. This no-yeast bread is easy to make and is flavored with orange zest and orange juice. But to go that one step further, I made a crunchy topping made of finely diced cranberries, orange peel, pecans and butter/brown sugar mixture- a perfect recipe for Fall!

Cranberry Nut Bread with a crunchy topping
Serves 8
Cranberry nut bread flavored with an undercurrent of orange juice and orange peel- with a crumb topping to give an added crunch.
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. ¾ cup sugar
  2. 6 tbsp softened butter
  3. 2 cups flour
  4. 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  5. ½ tsp baking soda
  6. 1 tbsp grated orange zest
  7. ½ tsp salt
  8. 1 egg
  9. ¾ cup orange juice
  10. 1 cup coarsely chopped cranberries (fresh or frozen)
  11. ½ cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts preferred)
For the crunchy topping
  1. 3 tbsp pecans or walnuts, finely chopped
  2. 3 tbsps cranberries, finely chopped
  3. Peel from ½ orange, diced
  4. 2 tbsp flour
  5. 2 tbsp brown sugar
  6. 2 tbsp cold butter, cut into pebble-sized cubes
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F (180 C). Cream together the sugar and softened butter using electric beaters. Add the baking powder, baking soda, orange zest, salt, egg and orange juice. Combine until smooth. Coarsely chop the cranberries and nuts either by hand or by food processor (be careful not to over-process), then fold into the mixture. Transfer mixture to a lightly oiled rectangular bread pan.
For the crunchy topping
  1. Finely chop the nuts and cranberries using a food processor. Remove the peel from ½ orange, being careful to avoid the white pithy part, then finely dice. Combine the chopped nuts, cranberries and diced orange peel. Add the flour, brown sugar and cold butter cubes. Using your fingers, work the butter into the mixture. Sprinkle the mixture on top of the cranberry bread dough and bake for around 30 minutes or until a knife inserted into the bread comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Flaky Mexican Empanadas

Since I had some dough left over from my previous post Dutch Apple Pie, I decided to make some Mexican Empanadas. These empanadas are flaky, tender and full of flavor- you can use them as a main course, an accompaniment at breakfast time, or for a snack  when you open the fridge bleary-eyed at 1:00 am looking for something to eat.

‘Empanada’ comes from the Spanish word empanar which means ‘coated in bread’, but I think of them as being like a ‘turnover.’ Originating in Spain, empanadas are now served in many countries, including Argentina, India, Indonesia and the Philippines. Even Australia  has its own version of an empanada with its meat and vegetable-filled pasty. Imagine my embarrassment when I first came to Australia in 1979 and asked for a pastie- I was quickly told that the correct pronunciation is pah-stie!

I’m calling my recipe a ‘Mexican empanada’ because I’ve used ingredients such as Mexican pork (or beef) chorizo, jalapeño peppers, cumin and Mexican chili powder. Mexican pork chorizo is different than Spanish chorizo since it is sold raw in a casing and must be cooked before eating.

Mexican Pork Chorizo

The Process

To assemble the empanada, first roll-out 50 grams (3 tbsps) of dough into a small circle, then place several tablespoons of the meat filling in the middle of the circle.

Next, fold the dough in half, neaten-up the raw edges using a knife and then press the raw edges together firmly. Crimp the ends of the dough either using the tines of a fork or ‘fluting’ the ends like a pie crust.

Or, maybe you are brave enough to try the repulgue technique, which is so pretty:

Finally, brush each empanada with an egg wash and bake at 420 F (215 C) until golden in color. And please let me know how your empanadas turn out- I am dying to know!

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog- you give me inspiration to keep on going to explore the fascinating world of food!

Flaky Mexican Empanadas
Yields 12
A flaky and flavorful Mexican 'turnover'- also known as an Empanada
Write a review
Print
For the filling
  1. 1-2 tbsps oil
  2. 1 lb lean beef
  3. ¼ lb Mexican pork (or beef) chorizo
  4. ½ onion, diced
  5. 2 garlic cloves
  6. ½ red bell pepper, chopped
  7. jalapeño or red chili pepper, diced
  8. 1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes
  9. Salt to taste
  10. Splash of cumin
  11. Splash of Mexican chili powder
For the dough
  1. 2 1/2 cups (300 g) white flour
  2. 11 tbsps (150 g) cold butter, cubed
  3. 1 1/2 eggs
  4. 2 - 3 tbsp. cold water
For the egg wash
  1. 1 egg combined with splash of water
To prepare the empanada filling
  1. Over medium-high heat, cook the chopped onion, garlic, red bell pepper and jalapeno pepper in oil until the veggies turn soft and translucent (2-3 minutes). Add the lean beef and Mexican pork (or beef) chorizo and fry until brown. The chorizo is rather fatty so the mixture will turn rather liquid and ‘bubbly.’ Add the can of diced tomatoes and season with salt, cumin and Mexican chili powder- adjust the seasoning to suit your taste. Let cool completely before adding the filling to the prepared dough.
To prepare the dough
  1. Place flour in large bowl. Add cold butter cubes and rub mixture with palms and finger tips until mixture resembles fine sand. Alternatively, place flour and butter in food processor bowl and pulse until mixture resembles texture of fine sand.
  2. Add 1 1/2 eggs and stir until mixture starts to form a ball. If required, add 2-3 tbsps. of ice cold water and mix until dough hangs together in firm ball shape.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead several times until it forms a firm ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in fridge for at least 15 minutes.
To assemble the empanadas
  1. Remove dough from fridge and divide into balls weighing about 50 grams (3 tbsps) each. On a lightly-floured surface, roll out each ball into a circle, about 1/8 inch thick. Add 2-3 tbsps of the filling into the center of each dough circle, fold the dough in half then press the bottom edges of the dough together with your fingers. Crimp the bottom edges together using the tines of a fork or fluting the edges as you would do in making a pie.
  2. Brush each empanada with the egg wash and bake at 420 F (215 C) for 20 minutes or until the crust turns golden brown. Serve warm with a little tomato sauce or salsa on the side.
Notes
  1. If you can't find Mexican pork (or beef) chorizo in your supermarket, substitute regular pork (or beef) and increase the amount of cumin and Mexican chili powder seasoning in the recipe.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Dutch Apple Pie- from my Grandma’s 1909 diary

I was recently going through some old family papers and found my grandmother’s diary from 1909. The diary wasn’t bound in a fancy book, it was simply 50 loose pages of paper that thankfully stayed in tact after more than 100 years.

Grandma was a farmer’s wife- she and Grandpa lived on a farm in Payne’s Point, Illinois near Rockford. She had a rather hard life, complaining of having to clean the thick grease off the kitchen walls and of the terrible headaches that made her bedridden for days on end. But Grandma played a very important role on her farm, preparing three meals a day for her family and the hungry farmhands who worked at threshing time.

One diary entry describes the amount of food she had to cook for the threshers:

August 11, 1909

Had threshers for dinner. Anna and I worked like dogs all day: 4 Dutch Apple pies, 4 cakes, doughnuts, bread, 4 chickens and 2 kettles of potatoes. Had lots of stuff left, all ready for supper. Had some terrible hot weather the last three weeks, everything dried up and dusty.

One thing that struck me in her food entries was the important role that pie played in her cooking. Pie was a way to provide comfort and happiness to her family and farmhands  at the end of a long day- it also provided a feeling of community and a sense of being home. I can just picture my Grandma’s table over a hundred years ago: spread with chickens, corn cobs, bread, doughnuts, potatoes and vegetables. But it was the pie at the end of the meal that probably sent each person away with a little more happiness.

As Beth Howard says in her book Ms. American Pie:

There is always someone who could use a homemade pie to remind them that life still holds some hope, promise, and a little taste of happiness. And so I get busy baking …

In order to honor the spirit of my grandma’s love of Dutch Apple Pie, I am providing a recipe adapted from Beth Howard’s book. There is nothing better than Dutch Apple pie- if you like apple crisp or apple crumble, you’ll like this pie!

Here are a few helpful hints about making pie:

  • pie is not complicated- if our grandmothers, pilgrims and pioneers could make pies (with no electric stoves or refrigerators available), we can too!
  • don’t be afraid to ‘get you hands dirty’ when making pies- use your bare hands to mold the butter into the flour to make the dough.
  • Be a little flexible and don’t worry about measuring things precisely. If your dough is a little too dry, then try adding a little more cold water, etc.
  • For more tips on pie crust making, refer to my post on Pumpkin Bourbon Pecan Pie.

 

Dutch Apple Pie
Serves 8
Traditional Apple Pie topped with a cinnamon apple crumble that melts in your mouth!
Write a review
Print
For the pie crust
  1. 2 1/2 cups (300 g) white flour
  2. 11 tbsps (150 g) cold butter, cubed
  3. 1 1/2 eggs
  4. 2 - 3 tbsp. cold water
For the pie filling
  1. 7 to 10 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced (number of apples depends on the size of your pie)
  2. ½ tsp salt
  3. 1 to 2 tsp cinnamon
  4. ¾ cup sugar
  5. 1 tbsp lemon juice
  6. ¼ cup corn starch
For the crumble topping
  1. 1 cup (120 g) flour
  2. ½ cup (1 stick) butter, chilled and cut into marble-sized chunks
  3. ½ cup brown sugar
  4. ¼ cup pecans, crushed (optional)
To prepare the pie crust
  1. Place flour in large bowl. Add cold butter cubes and rub mixture with palms and finger tips until mixture resembles fine sand. Alternatively, place flour and butter in food processor bowl and pulse until mixture resembles texture of fine sand.
  2. Add 1 1/2 eggs and stir until mixture starts to form a ball. If required, add 2-3 tbsps. of ice cold water and mix until dough hangs together in firm ball shape.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead several times until it forms a firm ball. Wrap in plastic and place in fridge for at least 15 minutes. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin until it measures about 1.5 inches larger than the dimensions of your pie pan. Trim the dough using kitchen scissors so that 1 inch of dough overhangs the pie pan. Tuck the edges of the dough under at the edges and then form into fluted edges. Set the dough aside.
For the pie filling
  1. Peel, core and slice the apples into pieces about 1 inch long. In a large bowl, combine the apples, salt, cinnamon, lemon juice and corn starch.
For the crumble topping
  1. In a separate bowl, rub the chilled butter, flour, brown sugar and crushed pecans (optional) together with your fingers until the texture resembles marbles. (If the butter becomes too soft, the mixture will become like a ‘melted, sticky glob.’ In this case, place the mixture in the fridge for a few minutes until the butter hardens again).
  2. Pour the apple filling into the prepared pie dough until it reaches the rim of the pie pan. Top with the crumble mixture. Bake for 10 minutes at 425 F (220 C) for 10 minutes, then reduce to 375 F (190 C) for another approximate 25 minutes, or until the apples turn soft when inserted with a fork or probe. If the crust starts to burn, cover with foil for the remainder of the baking time. Cool slightly and serve plain or with whipped cream or ice cream.
Notes
  1. The crushed pecans are optional but they do add a bit of added texture to the crumble topping.
Adapted from Beth Howard's 'Ms. American Pie' recipe book
Adapted from Beth Howard's 'Ms. American Pie' recipe book
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Mixed Berries and Cream Cheese Mug Crumble

Mug crumbles are fast and easy to make. A few ingredients are added to a mug, microwaved then finished off with a crumble on top. Being a non-coffee drinker, I used to eye my husband’s coffee mugs lying around the house with suspicion, now the mug is my new best friend!

This recipe contains some of the ingredients you would use to make a cheese cake, such as cream cheese, fruit and a crumb mixture. But if you want to have your dessert ready in less than 10 minutes, give this method a try instead!

There are many ‘mug recipe’ variations- how about a ‘Pear and Chocolate Mug Crumble’ or ‘Apple and Caramel Mug Crumble’?- the possibilities are endless!

Mug Crumbles require a minimum of equipment and less than 3 minutes in the microwave. To make a successful crumble mixture, rub the ingredients together using your finger tips, rather than using a spoon.

To make my crumb mixture I used Lotus ® biscuits, a light caramelized cookie with a light cinnamon flavor. If you can’t find that brand in your supermarket, you could also use a shortbread or gingersnap cookie instead.

lotus-biscoff-caramelised-biscuits

Mixed Berries and Cream Cheese Mug Crumble
Serves 2
Mixed Berries , lemon-flavored cream cheese and a crumble prepared in a mug- ready in less than 3 minutes in the microwave.
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
3 min
Total Time
13 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
3 min
Total Time
13 min
Fruit
  1. 6 tbsp cream cheese, softened
  2. Juice of 1 lemon
  3. 4 tsp caster sugar
  4. 1 apple, cored and diced
  5. 4 tbsps mixed berries, fresh or frozen
Crumble
  1. ½ inch slice of salted butter (30 g)
  2. 2 tbsps soft brown sugar
  3. 6 Lotus® caramelized biscuits (cookies) or 45 g shortbread cookies, crushed
  4. 2 heaping tbsp. white flour
  5. Zest of 1 lemon
Instructions
  1. In a bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, lemon juice, 2 tsp of the sugar. Spoon the mixture into the bottom of two mugs. Add the apple slices on top, then the mixed berries; sprinkle 1 tsp sugar each onto the top of the mixture. Cover the mugs with plastic wrap, pierce the wrap several times, then microwave for about 1 minute 15 seconds.
For the crumble
  1. Slice the cold butter into small cubes and transfer to a bowl. Add the brown sugar, crushed biscuits (cookies) flour and lemon zest. Work the mixture with your fingertips to form the dough. Crumble it into the mug and microwave for 1 minute. Let cool for a little before serving.
Adapted from Mug Crumbles by Christelle Huet-Gomez
Adapted from Mug Crumbles by Christelle Huet-Gomez
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Sole Meunière – when Julia Child first came to France

I have always been intrigued with the idea of cooking Sole Meunière, the classic French dish first tasted by Julia Child on her arrival in France in 1948. However, I always thought the dish might be a bit too simple (a piece of fish pan-fried in butter!) and also thought it would be difficult to photograph to look good on the plate.

However, after re-reading my copy of Julia’s book, My Life in France, I realized that this recipe was much too important to pass by. After all, this was the dish that re-awakened her gastronomic senses to transform the experience into “the most exciting meal of my life.” Prior to this meal eaten at Rouen’s La Couronne restaurant, Julia had experienced only mundane fish dishes of “broiled mackerel for Friday dinners and codfish balls with egg sauce.”

However, Sole Meunière became a real epiphany for Julia. As she ate the sole “perfectly browned in a sputtering butter sauce with a sprinkling of chopped parsley on top,” she experienced “fish and a dining experience of the highest order than I’d ever had before.” After reading this, I realized that I now had to take the plunge and try this recipe.

In French, a meunière is a miller’s wife, so Sole Meunière literally means sole cooked the way a miller’s wife would prepare it. More prosaically, it refers to fish that has been floured and fried in butter. If you can’t find any sole, you can use other thin fillets such as flounder, John Dory, trout or whiting- I used John Dory fillets.

There are a few tips and variations for this recipe. Julia Child recommends using unsalted clarified butter for frying the fish. This is butter where the milk solids have been removed, thus preventing the butter from burning. You could also use a combination of cooking oil and butter (1:3 ratio) to achieve the same result, although I prefer the clarified butter option.

In order to test whether the fish is cooked, Julia recommends pressing your finger tip against the fish; it should feel ‘springy rather than squashy.’ If it has turned flaky, it is over cooked. She also recommends seasoning the fish with ground white pepper, otherwise it might look like the fish has ‘fly specks.’ You can use black pepper if you wish, but just season the ‘non-presentation side’ to avoid viewing the fly specks.

After you have readied all of your ingredients, this dish is very quick to prepare. The decorative lemon pieces are optional, but I recommend including them; they really dress up the plate. And as for my previous comment about Sole Meunière being too simple a dish to try- this is not true. It turns out that the simpler dishes are often the most delicious!

In order to make this dish, I recommend starting by preparing the decorative lemon slices, using a ‘channeller’ to make grooves in the lemons. First you carve grooves in the lemon going vertically, spacing the grooves about 1/4 inches apart. Then slice the lemon in half horizontally to make ‘star shapes’- then slice these in half.

After preparing the decorative garnish, the rest of the recipe goes quickly. Please note that the recipe says to fry the fish in 3-4 tbsp clarified butter. The amount you use depends on the size of your frying pan and the amount of fish you cook; obviously you would use a smaller amount of butter if using a smaller fry pan, etc. Bon appétit!

 

Sole Meunière
Serves 4
This classic French dish transformed Julia Child from a person who loved to eat into a woman who loved to cook!
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
6 min
Total Time
26 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
6 min
Total Time
26 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 – 6 Sole fillets or other thin fish fillets without skin
  2. Salt and white pepper for seasoning
  3. 1 cup or so white flour
  4. 3 – 4 tbsp clarified butter for cooking the fish
  5. 3 tbsp minced fresh parsley
  6. 4 – 6 tbsp additional butter for the sauce
  7. Juice from ½ lemon for the sauce
  8. 2 lemons to decorate the plate
Instructions
  1. Prepare the decorative lemon slices as illustrated in the photos above.
  2. Season both sides of the fish fillets with salt and pepper. Place the flour on a plate and lightly coat each side of the fish with the flour; shake off any excess.
  3. Over high heat, place enough of the clarified butter in a fry pan to form a thin film about 1/16 inch thick. Heat the butter until it becomes very hot, but not turning brown. Reduce the heat slightly and then fry each fish fillet in the butter for about 2 minutes each side; cook only as many fish at one time that will easily fit into the pan. The fish should feel ‘springy’ to the touch when finished rather than ‘squashy.’ Remove the fish from the pan and keep warm while the remaining fish are cooking.
For the sauce
  1. After all fish have been cooked, wipe the pan clean with a paper towel. Over high heat, add the 4- 6 tbsp unsalted butter (not clarified) and heat until it bubbles and starts to turn a nut brown color. Be careful the butter does not burn and turn black. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the juice from ½ lemon. Pour the sauce over the fish fillets, sprinkle with the diced parsley and then arrange the lemon slices decoratively around the plate.
Notes
  1. The amount of butter used in the recipe should be adjusted to both the size of your fry pan and also the amount of fish you are using. If you don't want to use clarified butter, then use a combination of 1 tbsp cooking oil (vegetable or olive oil) to 3 tbsp unsalted butter.
Adapted from 'The Way to Cook' by Julia Child
Adapted from 'The Way to Cook' by Julia Child
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Chocolate + Peanut Butter Molten Lava Cake

Chocolate Molten Lava Cake (akaEasy Chocolate Fondant’) was my very first blog post over three years ago. I keep on coming back to this recipe since it is rather easy (only 5 ingredients) and it’s also awe-despairingly delicious. At that time, I didn’t know much about photography: I just pushed the ‘automatic’ button on the camera and hoped for the best:

My first blog post- February 2013

Chocolate Fondant

To experiment further, I thought, “What would happen if I added a dab of peanut butter to the cake batter?” Well, the ‘molten lava’ continued to flow from the cake, but this time it was even more rich and decadent, with the peanut butter weaving through the flow of chocolate.

To make the Chocolate and Peanut Butter Molten Lava Cake, the process is the same; first you prepare your molds by brushing the insides with melted butter then dusting with some cocoa powder. The butter and chocolate are then melted together over a pan of simmering water and the eggs and sugar are beaten together until frothy. The flour is then folded into the combined ingredients.

To get the special peanut butter and chocolate lava effect, you first fill each mold halfway with batter, then add a dab of peanut butter, followed by more batter. In other words, the peanut butter is ‘sandwiched’ in the middle.

Note: for my molten lava cakes, I used a rather large mold: about 4 inches wide and 3 inches deep. This helped to create the effect of the center of the cake ‘collapsing’ inward. You could also use the smaller dariole type molds, although the effect will not be as great.

Also, baking time depends on the size of your molds; for my larger molds, I baked them for 13 minutes and only 11 minutes for the smaller dariole molds. To test for ‘doneness’, the center of the cake should spring back when pressed with your finger.

P.S. I’d love it if you’d ‘like’ my G’day Souffle’ Facebook page- it would really make my day! 

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Lava Cake
Serves 8
Chocolate and Peanut Butter lava flowing from a decadent chocolate cake
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
13 min
Total Time
43 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
13 min
Total Time
43 min
Ingredients
  1. Melted butter for greasing – Cocoa powder for dusting the ramekins
  2. 1/2 cup butter (110 grams)
  3. 200 grams (7 ounces) dark chocolate chips
  4. 1/2 cup white sugar (100 grams)
  5. 4 eggs
  6. 4 egg yolks
  7. 1 cup plain flour (110 grams), sifted
  8. 1 tbsp peanut butter for each mold
  9. Thickened cream to serve, icing sugar to dust (optional)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 360 °F (180° C). Grease ramekins (pudding molds) with melted butter and dust insides with cocoa powder. Place on baking tray.
  2. Place a round piece of baking paper to fit the bottom of each ramekin to ensure the fondant lifts out easily after baking.
  3. Combine the butter and chocolate together and place over a saucepan of simmering water- stir until melted.
  4. In a separate bowl, add together 4 eggs and 4 separated egg yolks with the sugar- mix on high speed with an electric mixer until the mixture is thick and foamy (but not stiff).
  5. Now gradually add the egg mixture to the chocolate mixture, folding in small amounts at a time until glossy and smooth.
  6. Fold in the flour until smooth. Fill each mold half-way with the batter, add 1 tbsp peanut butter, then finish filling the mold almost to the top. Place the molds in fridge for at least 1/2 hour or until ready to serve.
  7. Bake for 11- 13 minutes on a tray – fondants should appear to be cooked on top but do not over-cook. The center of the cake should spring back slightly when touched.
  8. Remove from oven and let stand for several minutes – then run a knife gently around the rim of each mold and turn each fondant out onto a serving plate or bowl.
  9. Sprinkle with white icing sugar; add thick cream on the side if desired, for extra ‘yumminess.’
Notes
  1. This recipe will yield about 5 serves if you use the larger molds and about 8 serves if you use the smaller dariole molds
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Mini Chicken Enchilada Bake

Arriving back last week from tropical Darwin to our home in chilly Adelaide (see my post Darwin Chili Mud Crab), I was ready for something hot and spicy- what better way than to whip up some mini Chicken Enchiladas!

The tomato sauce for the enchiladas is spiced with chili, cumin, Mexican chili powder, corn and an optional splash of white wine. Already I can feel (taste) the heat!

I filled the enchiladas with shredded chicken breast: I normally think chicken breast is too dry for my taste, however after I poached it in water for several minutes, the meat was nice and tender. I used mini-tortillas since they are ‘cute’ and easy to handle.

Mini enchiladas ready to go into the oven

A friend of mine once said that she doesn’t cook Mexican-inspired food at home since “there are already so many Mexican restaurants and fast-food places around.” But it’s ‘game on’ for me- I’ll take the heat anytime!

P.S. I’d love it if you’d ‘like’ my G’day Souffle’ Facebook page- it would really make my day! 

Mini Chicken Enchilada Bake
Serves 8
Easy chicken enchiladas made with mini tortillas
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
45 min
For the sauce
  1. 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  2. 2 garlic cloves, diced
  3. 1 long red or green chili, chopped
  4. 1 tsp cumin
  5. 1 tsp Mexican chili powder
  6. 1 small can of corn
  7. Splash of white wine (optional)
  8. 1 can (14 oz or 400 g) diced tomatoes
For the chicken mixture
  1. 2 cups (280 g) shredded cooked chicken breast
  2. 1/2 cup (115 g) sour cream
  3. 2-3 tbsp of the sauce (from above)
  4. 1 cup grated extra tasty cheddar cheese
  5. 1 fire roasted red pepper (from jar), diced
  6. Salt to taste
  7. 8 mini tortillas
For the garnish
  1. 1 sliced avocado
  2. 1 spring onion, sliced
  3. Coriander (cilantro)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F (180 C). Add a little olive oil to a fry pan and sauté the onion, garlic and chili over medium-high heat until soft. Add the cumin, Mexican chili powder, can of diced tomatoes, corn and splash of white wine (optional); reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes until thickened and set aside.
  2. Prepare the shredded cooked chicken breast (see Notes below). In a medium-sized bowl, combine the chicken meat, sour cream, 2-3 tbsps. of the sauce, cheddar cheese and chopped fire-roasted red pepper. Add salt to taste.
  3. Place each mini-tortilla onto a flat surface and top with several tablespoons of chicken mixture. Roll up each tortilla and place seam-down into a rectangular baking dish. Add the sauce and then top with the cheddar cheese. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the enchiladas turn golden and are cooked through. To serve, add the sliced spring (green) onion, avocado slices and coriander.
Notes
  1. To cook my chicken breast meat, I first chopped the breast up into 3-4 pieces, then poached the meat for 6-7 minutes in a saucepan filled with water, several pieces of crushed garlic and a splash of white wine and some chicken stock. This made the meat tender and flavorful.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/