Wednesday, December 16, 2020

St. Lucia Saffron Buns (Lussekatter) #BBB

Our December Bead Baking Babes challenge was the easy and delightful saffron bun known as Lussekatter.  St. Lucia's Day is celebrated most commonly in Italy and in Scandinavia. In Scandinavia, it falls on December 13th, considered to be the shortest day of the year (Julian calendar). Lucia means light, with the saffron providing the color of light. In Swedish tradition, young girls wear a crown of candles and wake their families bearing Lussekatter, special sweet yeast buns flavored with saffron and studded with currants or raisins. The shape is said to resemble the curl of a cat’s tail.  They are soft and light as a feather, with a beautiful creamy yellow from the saffron.

I was a Lucia Princess once, a long time ago, in a play about Christmas traditions around the world.  I explained about the Lucia, Queen of Light tradition and sang a solo.  It was the first time my parents had ever heard me sing.  Mom still talks about it; they didn't know I could sing. Somewhere under their house, we still have my wreath of candles that I wore.  I grew up in a town with strong Scandinavian roots and tradition, with a festival and royal court each year.  I was never a princess in that court but have a strong appreciation for Scandinavian baking!  This dough is soft and beautiful to work with and I love anything with cardamom in it.

These lovely little buns are not something to be missed, no matter what shape they come in.  Do try them out and bake along with us this month!  No blog is necessary to participate, a picture will do. Just send a picture or your post of your finished focaccine to our host by the 29th of this month.  New recipes are posted every month on the 16th. Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.

St. Lucia Saffron Buns (Lussekatter)
Makes 12 to 14 good sized buns

¾ cup milk (175 ml)

½ teaspoon saffron threads (I crushed mine with a mortar and pestle to release more color and flavor)
¼ cup (50 g) + 1 tsp white, granulated sugar, divided
One ¼-ounce packet active dry yeast
3½ to 4 cups (490 g to 570 g) all-purpose flour (I only used the 3½ cups 490g)
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ cup (1/2 stick, 4 Tbsp, 56 g) unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup of sour cream (I imagine yogurt would work or quark if you can find it)
2 large eggs
Raisins, currants, dried cherries or cranberries

1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp water

In a small pot, heat the milk, saffron, and 1 teaspoon of the sugar together until the milk is steamy.  (Scald the milk.) Remove from heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the butter and stir until melted. Let cool until about 110-115°F.  That's warm to the touch, but not hot.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together 3½ cups (490g) of the flour, yeast, remaining ¼ cup of sugar, salt and ground cardamom (if using).  Add the milk mixture, the eggs, and the sour cream. Mix the ingredients until well incorporated.

Switch to the dough hook of your mixer (if using, otherwise knead by hand). Start kneading on low speed. Slowly add additional flour, a tablespoon at a time, kneading to incorporate after each addition. Do this until the dough is still a little sticky to the touch, but does not completely stick to your hands when you handle it.  (I did not need to add any additional flour beyond the 3½ cups.)

Cover dough with plastic wrap. (Note at this point you can make ahead and refrigerate overnight if you wish.) Let sit in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours, until the dough has doubled in size.  (This time is forgiving, I forgot to set a timer and went long, mine had more than doubled.)

When the dough has doubled in size, gently deflate and knead it a couple of times. Break off a piece and form it into a ball about 2 inches wide.  (I divided my dough into 12 portions of ~76g each.) Roll the ball out into a long rope, about 14 inches long.

Curl each end in opposite directions, forming an "S" with spirals at each end. Place on a lined baking sheet and repeat with the rest of the dough. 

Cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel and place in a warm spot until the dough shapes double in size.  About 30 minutes to an hour.

Preheat oven to 400°F (205°C). Using a pastry brush, gently brush the egg wash over the tops and sides of the uncooked buns. Place raisins or cherries in the centers of the "S" spirals.  Press down lightly.

Place in the oven and bake at 400°F (205°C) for about 10 to 11 minutes (turning halfway through cooking to ensure even browning), until the buns are golden brown.  (I probably should have used two trays as my buns puffed up enough to touch at the ends and the middle row needed a couple more minutes to brown properly.)

Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before eating.

The only picture of all my Lucia buns.  The cats decided
they were very tasty and nibbled the tops off of seven!

You can't prove anything.

I'm too cute to be in trouble.

Soft and light as a feather. And we
salvaged the nibbled ones!

The rest of the Bread Baking Babes



Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Baklava Sunburst Tear and Share Treat #BreadBakers

As soon as I saw the theme of holiday tear and share for December, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.  Well, somewhat exactly.  I knew I wanted it to be a breakfast goodie, I knew what pastry dough I was going to use, and I knew what flavor I wanted the filling.  I merely had to settle on a shape and debate on whether it wanted a traditional baklava glaze.  I did, it did, and it turned out amazing!  This treat is fantastically and dangerously good and I quickly gave half of it away to avoid temptation.  It's actually not that sweet, especially without the glaze, but it surely is rich!  It got approval from all teens in the house as well.  (Though I can't believe one wanted to put whipped cream on top!  I mean yes, delicious, but oh my richness.) One of these twists will hold you quite well from breakfast all the way to lunch.  Good stuff.

One of the really cool things about this recipe is that it can all be done ahead.  That's right, every part up to baking can be done ahead and frozen, then thawed and baked to endless ooo's and ahhh's of family and friends.  It can also be done in stages, as time permits.  Pretty much perfect to reduce holiday stress.  I actually made the rough puff pastry and pre-rolled it out, then rolled the pieces up in parchment and froze them overnight just like you would have store bought puff pastry in the freezer.  I thawed them the next morning and rolled to smooth any cracks from unrolling too quickly (as we all do with puff pastry), then filled, shaped, proofed, and baked!  I love this dough.  So dare I say, even though there are multiple steps, this impressive looking loaf is easy to put together!

Just look at those layers!

Special thanks for Felice of All That's Left Are The Crumbs for hosting and coming up with this theme!

Baklava Sunburst Spiral Danish

3 cups (15 oz) all purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
2¼ tsp instant yeast
¾ tsp salt
20 tbsp (1¼ cups or 2½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into ¼-in slices and chilled
1 cup sour cream, cold
¼ cup orange juice, cold
3 tbsp ice water
1 large egg yolk

(makes enough for 2 batches)
 ½ cup/98 g granulated sugar
1¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ cup/25 g pistachios
¼ cup/27 g walnuts
¼ cup/30 g pecans
Zest of ½ lemon
¼ tsp sea salt
2¼ tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup/57 g unsalted butter, melted

Honey syrup glaze
(makes enough for 2 batches)
½ cup/170 g wildflower honey
½ cup/120 ml water
1 tsp rose water (optional, but you won't even notice it - give it a try!)
Pinch of sea salt

Prepare the filling and honey syrup.  This can be done a day in advance and refrigerated.
In the bowl of a food processor combine the pistachios, walnuts, pecans, lemon zest and sea salt. Process until the nuts are ground fine. Add the vanilla extract and process until the mixture forms large moist clumps. Add the sugar and cinnamon and pulse until combined back into fine crumbs.  Half can be set aside for another batch, or some can be used to sprinkle on top after glazing.  (Each separate batch will require ¼ butter for the top of the dough.)

For the honey syrup glaze, combine the honey, rose water and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally until the mixture has reduced by one third.  (There should be about 2/3 cup left.)  Let the syrup cool slightly then transfer it to a liquid measuring cup to cool further.  (After using the syrup, the rest may be saved for a few days in the refrigerator for another loaf, or frozen for a month until you've worked off enough calories to make this again.)

For the pastry dough:
(Can be made in advance and frozen in a block or rolled out and rolled up in parchment and sealed, then frozen.)
Combine flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a large (gallon size) zip top bag. Add butter to bag and seal. Shake bag to coat butter. Press all the air out of the bag and seal.  Gently pound all over the bag to flatten all the chunks of butter.  Flip the bag over and repeat.  Be careful not to pound too hard close to the seal just in case it pops open.  Transfer flour mixture to a large bowl. Toss the flour and butter pieces and sheet any lumpy pieces with your fingers.  Combine sour cream, juice, water and yolk in a 2-cup glass measure and mix to combine. Stir and fold into flour mixture until combined.

Turn the shaggy dough onto a floured counter and pat into a rough rectangle.  Using a bench scraper, bring up the sides and fold into the middle a couple times on each side, pressing down between folds.  Knead briefly to form a cohesive mixture. Roll the dough out into a 20x12-in rectangle. Starting at a short edge, roll the dough up into a tight cylinder. Flatten the roll by patting into a 12x4-in slab. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Freeze for 15 minutes.  Remove dough from freezer and place on lightly floured counter. Roll into two 12-inch squares, or 12½-inch circles.  (The dough may be rolled up in parchment and frozen at this point.)  
Working with one piece of dough on parchment, spread the filling over the top to within ¼-in of the edges. Place the second piece over the filling and lightly press together.  Mark the center by lightly pressing with a small glass to make a circle.  Cut out from the circle to form four quadrants, then cut each section into five pieces.  Trim the edges to form a tidy round shape.  Starting with one and twisting in the same direction each time, twist each piece around to form a spiral. Slide the loaf onto a rimmed baking sheet (You do not want any butter oil leaking onto the oven floor.)

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a least 4 hours or up to 1 day.  (Or freeze and wrap very well to bake within two weeks.)

Adjust the oven rack to the middle and place a dish with 3 cups of boiling water on the bottom of the oven. Remove plastic and place loaf in the oven. Do not turn on the oven yet. Close oven door and let the buns proof for 30-45 minutes until slightly puffed and softened. Remove loaf and water dish from oven. Now heat oven to 425ºF.  Bake until loaf starts to rise, about 5 minutes, then reduce heat to 325ºF.
Bake for another 40-50 minutes until deep golden brown, rotating pan halfway through. 
Remove from oven and brush honey syrup over spiral using two coats.  Best served warm but good at room temperature as well. 
Keep the goodie covered with plastic wrap or in a sealed container at room temperature for up to three days.  Reheat in an oven or air fryer.  (5-7 minutes at 350ºF for the oven, 3 minutes at 350ºF for the air fryer.)

Each pat of butter should
be sliced into four bars.

You can sheet the butter with a
 rolling pin, or your fists.

Toss together and sheet any
lumpy pieces with fingers.

Turn out rough dough.

Pat into rectangle.

Fold in edges with bench scraper.

Fold and/or knead until cohesive,
then roll out flat, roll up and press
down into rectangle again. (Layers.)

For now, or later.  Just like
store bought, only better.

Spread filling close to edges.

Mark center and cut into 20 sections.

Trim the edges neatly.  Put the
scraps in a ramekin to bake for
taste testing!

Twist, twist, twist.

It won't rise much, but will puff just
slightly and soften a bit.

You have no idea how good this smells!!

All glazed and ready to indulge!

OMG.  So good.

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. This month the Bread Bakers are making Tear & Share Holiday Breads, a theme chosen by Felice from All That's Left Are The Crumbs.


And don’t forget to check out all the amazing breads baked by our talented bakers ~

Rough puff is so awesome.


Monday, November 16, 2020

Potato Focaccine #BBB

We made cute little snack-sized, mini focaccia this month!  They are wonderful little snacking bread bites with fresh herbs, or really anything you would use in regular focaccia.  I picked fresh sage out of the garden, which smelled lovely when chopped but was almost undetectable after baking.  So I would either double/triple the sage or switch to the stronger and perhaps more traditional rosemary next time.  Use a really good olive oil for the brushing!  And a baking potato with a mealy (starchy) flesh will yield a lighter crumb than a waxy potato which may turn gummy when you mash.  A mealy potato will also incorporate more easily into the dough.  Fresh herbs are always preferable, but dried will do in a pinch.

 Come, bake along with us this month and try these little snack sized focaccine out!  No blog is necessary to participate, a picture will do. Just send a picture or your post of your finished focaccine to our host by the 29th of this month at plachman at sonic dot net.  New recipes are posted every month on the 16th. Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.

Potato Focaccine
Makes 10-12 focaccine

150g of yellow or white mealy potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
400g of Italian flour ‘0’ (Manitoba flour) – or 200g Italian flour ‘0’ (Manitoba flour) mixed with 200g durum wheat flour (I just used all purpose flour)
1 tsp of salt
Fresh yeast, 15 g or dry instant yeast, 8 g

3 tbsp Evoo – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
200 ml Lukewarm water (I used my potato water and needed a couple extra tbsp)
7-8 fresh sage leaves, to chop (I would use more next time, it was not noticeable for flavor)
flake salt, to taste


Boil or steam the potatoes in unsalted water.  Drain and let cool slightly but not completely or it will be difficult to mix them to the flour.  Once lukewarm mash or puree and add to the bowl with the flour.  (I pressure steamed and then put mine through a food mill.)  Dissolve the dry yeast in lukewarm water, about 100 ml, or the crumbled fresh yeast.

Chop the sage leaves with a knife or with scissors.
In a large bowl add the flour(s) and add the freshly chopped sage. Add the water with the dissolved yeast and mix with a wooden spoon.  Pour in the olive oil and start kneading the ingredients with your hands.

Add the rest of the water with the salt dissolved in it, and knead well for 10 minutes until you get a soft and moist dough that will be a bit sticky as well.  Cover with plastic wrap or a cloth and let it rise for at least 2 hours in a warm and dry place. 

When the dough is doubled, roll it out with your hands, no rolling-pin (these are focaccine and not pizza). The tip of the fingers will help create the characteristic dimples where the oil collects in little puddles. Add a bit of flour on the chopping board or the kitchen table so you can work it better. Form discs of about 1 centimeter thickeness with a pastry cutter or with an upside-down glass.  Place them on a baking tray covered with parchment paper and leave them for another 30 minutes.  (I portioned mine into balls first rather than cutting out the dough, and pressed them out with my fingers.)


Once also this last leavening is finished, press focaccine in the center to form the edge and brush with olive oil. 

Bake at 180 ° C (160 C fan) (350 F) for about 20-25 minutes, depending on your oven. When cooked, flavor your focaccine with a drizzle of olive oil and rock salt.

While potato focaccine are best eaten the same day they are baked, you can store them in a paper bag for a day.  They are good toasted the next day, or a full steam refresh can be done if you want them just as good as day one.

These are good with soups, stews, even Chinese food!  I had one split and toasted with poached eggs on top this morning.

The rest of the Bread Baking Babes

Friday, October 16, 2020

Bierocks/Runzas - Nebraska Comfort Food #BBB


Welcome to Fall and October!  I decided to have the Babes try out a Nebraska specialty this month known as runzas or bierocks.  They are common in regions with strong Eastern European and German heritage, and similar to Pirozhkis, and reminiscent of Cornish pasties.  Basically a yeast dough, pocket sandwich or bun, filled with a savory filling, usually meat, onion, and cabbage based.  There are whole Runza restaurants in Nebraska with flavors like Original (meat, onion, cabbage), Cheese, Swiss Mushroom, Cheeseburger, BBQ Bacon, BLT, Spicy Jack, Vegetarian, etc.  So it really can be built to taste.  I left the choice of dough and filling open to whatever our bakers desired to try out.  I have even seen an Italian flavored Runza out there though I suspect that it is closer to a Stromboli than a runza at the point!

When seasoning the filling, err on the side of over-seasoning.  Once it is wrapped in the dough, all the flavors are muted and you don't want to end up with something bland.  I even added Mongolian fire oil to my filling and could not taste it at all after baking!  Interestingly, my family was just okay with these, I guess they prefer a stew with bread rather than a neat little package!

Have you ever had a runza?  What is/would be your favorite filling?  Bake along with us this month and try it out!  No blog is necessary to participate, a picture will do. Just send a picture or your post of your finished flatbread to me by the 30th of this month at eleyana (AT) aol (DOT) com.  New recipes are posted every month on the 16th. Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.

Nebraska Runza/Bierocks
makes 12 

Runza dough:
(Serves 12)
4½ cups all-purpose flour (feel free to use part wholemeal or add flax meal for speckles, I used 70g fresh ground sprouted spelt and the rest all purpose)
2 tbsp sugar 
2 pkg. (¼ oz) yeast (One pkg worth works fine (2¼ tsp))
1 tsp salt 
¾ cup milk 
½ cup water 
½ cup butter 
2 eggs, beaten

Start by placing half the flour, and the sugar, yeast, and salt into a large mixing bowl.
Gently heat the milk, water, and butter to 115º F.
Pour warmed wet ingredients into flour mixture. Stir slightly before adding beaten eggs.
Add remaining flour, one cup at a time, until the dough comes together and is smooth and elastic.
Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour. 


Filling ingredients:
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
2 pounds ground beef
4 cups shredded cabbage (about ½ a head of cabbage)
(optional) - 1 small can sauerkraut, with the juice (I used ~1 cup Bubbie's kraut, which is jarred and not cooked and tastes fantastic)
salt and pepper to taste (be liberal here, the bread tempers the seasoning) I added some Worcestershire too
(optional) cheese of your choice

Chop onions and garlic and sauté in a large frying pan with a little butter or olive oil until tender.  Add ground beef along with generous amounts of salt and pepper.  Cook until beef is cooked through and drain well.
Put browned ground beef into a large pot or crockpot. Stir in cabbage and kraut.  Simmer 3-4 hours, stirring often, and seasoning and tasting.  If using a crockpot, cook on "low" for 5 to 6 hours

Punch dough down, and divide into 12 equal portions. 

Working with one piece of dough, roll out a circle of dough approximately ¼″ thick.  It shouldn’t be so thin that it is breaking up into holes when you handle it.  To help with the shaping, place the round into a bowl. Dump the filling (~½ cup) on top of the dough, and then pull the dough around the filling and pinch sides together to seal.  Flip the runza out, seam side down.

Place onto a greased or parchment lined baking sheet (edges can touch).  I made a half batch of six.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.  

Optionally, brush tops with melted butter during the last 10 minutes of baking for color and flavor!

The rest of the Bread Baking Babes