Sunday, April 19, 2020

Dalgona "Coffee" - A Coffee Free Version

You may have seen one of the latest internet beverage sensations, the Dalgona Coffee, somewhere on YouTube, or Instagram, or floating around the web.  This popular Korean coffee drink is an impressive looking, but super easy concoction made with... instant coffee.  That's right, good old coffee crystals.  Now I do love coffee flavored things, but caffeine and I don't really get along very well.  So I wondered if I could make a Dalgona coffee work with something else.

I have seen YouTube creators try it with cocoa powder and matcha powder, neither of which works, but they did at least yield a tasty syrup.  But the appealing part about a Dalgona coffee is that the thick, silky foam floats on top of the drink, making for that interesting presentation before being stirred into the drink to consume.
Anyway, I really wanted to try it out with a coffee substitute.  I keep Pero on hand for caffeine free coffee flavor and I was fairly certain that it would work as well as instant coffee crystals.  I don't know whether it is the spray drying process, the acidity of the coffee crystals in reaction with the sugar, or what makes this foam possible, but it's cool and yes, it definitely works with Pero!  And it's super easy!  I might have some other coffee substitutes hiding in the pantry, if they are instant, I will try them out too to see if they work as well.

Dalgona "Coffee" Foam with Pero
serves 2

2 tbsp Pero instant beverage powder
2 tbsp sugar (I used light brown muscovado for this experiment, but any granular sugar should work)
2 tbsp hot water

14 oz. milk (I am told hot or cold works)
 Ice (optional)

Combine the pero, sugar, and hot water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  (A hand mixer and bowl will work as well.)  Whisk lightly to combine, then mix and increase speed slowly to high and whip until the mixture becomes thick and glossy. This will take a few minutes.
Put ice, if desired, into two glasses, then fill each glass with 7oz milk, hot or cold. Top with dollops of the whipped coffee, and then swirl the tops with the back of a spoon for a pattern, or leave a little twist for visual appeal.  Mix the two layers together before drinking. 
These would be lovely with a sprinkle of cocoa or cinnamon as well.  The foam is fairly strong tasting, so it does need to be mixed in before drinking the beverage.  Another little fun thing about this drink is that it starts with the milk on the bottom and the dark coffee foam on top, but if you let it sit for a moment after stirring, you get the cappuccino effect of coffee on the bottom with light foam on the top.  My eldest teen loves coffee drinks and she was not willing to give back the first test glass that I brought to her for a sip.  I guess that means it was a winner!  And I don't have to worry about her having caffeine before bed time.  Just a nice, coffee flavored treat!


One or two stirs...

All stirred up...


Thursday, April 16, 2020

Kürtőskalács or Chimney Cakes #BBB

Oh wow, I really hope y'all have some flour available, because this bake is a real treat!  Kürtőskalács, or Chimney Cakes are a kind of Hungarian sweet yeast pastry cooked on a spit and were the choice of our host this month, My Diverse Kitchen.  According to Aparna, "Kalács means sweet pastry. These Chimney Cakes are more specific to Transylvania in Hungary and Szeklerland, the Hungarian-speaking region of Romania. They’re also known as Cozonac Secuiesc in Romania. Kürtőskalács can be found in other parts of Eorope. German-Saxons call this pastry Schornstein Kuchen. A variation that is baked without the caramelized sugar glaze is made the Czech Republic and Slovakia called Trdelník. It’s called Kurtoszkalacz in Poland."  Be sure to check out her post to hear more history on these awesome pastries.  Traditionally, each strip or rope is wrapped around a wooden dowel, brushed over with melted butter and rolled in granulated sugar. The dough encased dowels are turned and slow roasted over charcoal or in a specialized rotisserie machine until they turn crisp and a shiny golden brown. These treats can be further sprinkled with cinnamon, finely chopped nuts, chocolate, sprinkles, or a variety of toppings.  The pastries are typically eaten hollow, but the middle of the pastry can be filled with whipped cream if desired. The pastry is unraveled into strips and eaten. It is crunchy on the outside and soft and cake-like on the inside. They were originally made for special holidays and celebrations but today, are enjoyed as an everyday treat. You can find them in shops, on street corners, and at carnivals and fairs.

Oh my goodness, these are so good.  Golden and crispy sweet on the outside, delightfully soft in the middle.  If you like the middle parts of a cinnamon roll for their softness, you will likely love these.  My youngest preferred a plain sugar coating, while the rest of the family chose the cinnamon sugar option.  And I can now attest that these pastries reheat fantastically with just a 10-15 second burst in the microwave.  Oh, and the dough is beautifully soft too.

You will be seeing some innovative ways that our Bread Baking Babes came up with molds on which to form the chimneys.  Aparna used conical kulfi molds that worked beautifully!  I saved some tall, narrow soda cans to cover with foil, then I found an old rolling pin that could have been set to hang over the edges of a long pan or roaster.  Then I decided to take the easy way out.  I ordered a trdelnik form.  Ha!  Worked like a charm!  Though I did stuff the inside with parchment paper to insulate the middle a bit.  These wonderful pastries are normally formed on a wooden spit, like a rolling pin with extra long handles.  There is no heat on the inside, so they stay super soft and fluffy in the middle.  So I did my best to reduce the conduction of heat on the inside.  It must have worked because these were wonderfully soft and fluffy in the middle.  The very outside edges did get slightly more done on the inside, so I'm glad I stuffed the molds.  The other thing about this mold is that the cakes are baked horizontally and you are supposed to rotate them by a third, three times during the baking time.  The silicone ends have marks to show a perfect third rotation, I, II, and III.  If using an upright mold, you won't have to worry about rotating.  The traditional chimney cakes are baked in a rotisserie style baker made just for that purpose and rotate constantly.

We tried a plain sugar coating and a cinnamon sugar coating before baking, as well as brushing a plain sugar cake with butter after baking and then rolling in cinnamon sugar.  Both are good, the sugaring before baking yields a less messy end product, whereas rolling in sugar after baking gives a treat more reminiscent of fair food.  Nice and sugary and messy.  Unless you want that extra mess and decadence, these are just lovely sticking to coating before baking.  I would suggest splitting one with someone and honestly there are three good servings in each of my chimneys, but I certainly won't tell anyone if you happen to demolish an entire chimney yourself, in one sitting.

Now I assume the name chimney cakes came about because there is a cloud of steam released when the cakes are first removed from their molds.  It continues for just a minute until it cools sufficiently.  I did manage to catch some of it:

You simply must try out this delicious recipe!  Well, you don't have to, but you'll seriously be missing out if you don't.  You don't have to have a blog to participate, a picture will do. Just send a picture or your post of your finished loaf to our host kitchen by the 30th of this month.  You will receive a Bread Baking Buddy graphic to keep or add to your post, and be included in our Buddy round up at the end of the month.  New recipes are posted every month on the 16th. Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.

Kürtőskalács or Chimney Cakes
makes ~4 chimneys or about 12 servings

2¾ cup all-purpose flour
1¼ tsp instant yeast (I used active dry yeast)
1/8 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp salt
70 g melted butter
¾ - 1 cup milk (70-80ºF) (I think I only used the ¾ cup amount)
more melted butter for brushing  (a generous 2 tbsp was sufficient for all four of my cakes)
sugar for sprinkling, or cinnamon sugar, or shredded coconut, or finely chopped nuts or anything else you would like to use to coat your Chimney Cakes
Molds to shape the chimney cakes

I started my dough with a sponge since I was worried about my yeast.  So I started my sponge with ½ cup of the flour, 1 tbsp of the sugar, the yeast, and ¼ cup of the milk.  I also added a spoonful of sourdough starter for good measure!  I let that proof for about 30 minutes until it was puffy.

Place the flour, yeast, sugar, egg, salt and butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. (I added the remaining ingredients to my sponge at this point.)  Add about half the milk and start kneading. Add more milk as required and knead dough until it is soft, smooth and elastic.

Shape dough into a ball and place back in bowl.  Cover and let rise for about 2 hours until it is double in size.

Deflate the dough and divide into two. Work with one portion at a time. Lightly dust your working surface with flour. Roll the dough out into a rectangle just under ½ cm thick. Cut into 1 cm wide strips lengthwise. (Based on the recipe amounts included in my mold directions, I figured I would have the right amount of dough to make four cakes.  The space in between the silicone caps is about 7" and it calls for making a rope of dough about 1 meter long.  So I aimed for that and rolled each quarter of dough out into ropes long enough to fit my mold.)

Directions for my trdelnik mold.

Tightly wrap the dough strips around the mold without gaps between strips, slightly stretching the dough to keep it thin, and tucking under the edges to seal. Lightly roll the wrapped mold on the counter to seal the edges of the strips/rope together.

Brush the surface of the dough lightly with melted butter. Dredge with sugar or cinnamon sugar to coat completely.  Place upright on a baking tray.  (If using a hollow mold, I recommend stuffing it with parchment or something to reduce the heat conduction to the inside.  Something oven safe, of course.)

Bake them at 190ºC (375ºF) for about 20 to 25 minutes till done, (21 for me), golden brown and sugar has caramelized. (If using a horizontal setup like a rolling pin, you will need to rotate the cakes periodically during baking.)  Take out of the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes. Using the blunt edge of a knife, slide the pastry off the molds.  (I let mine sit for a couple minutes, took one cap off and gave the cakes a good knock straight down onto the counter.  The chimneys released very well and let out their steam.)  Let them cool.  Repeat with remaining dough.

The pastry should be crunchy on the caramelized sugar outside and soft on the inside. Serve warm with coffee, tea or hot chocolate.  Try to share.

The rest of the Bread Baking Babes

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Polish Babka and remember to proof your yeast! #Breadbakers

Happy Belated Easter to everyone!  Our Bread Bakers Tuesday falls just a couple days after Easter this year, but our theme is still Easter breads around the world, hosted by Culinary Adventures with Camilla.  These breads will be splendid for other celebrations as well!  You may be saving up special recipes for when we can all relax our social distancing for that matter.  So enjoy all the ideas you will see from all our bakers.  Pin and save for later, for now, or for when ingredients are available!

Now I realize it may be getting difficult to find flour and yeast in the grocery stores.  If you have yeast sitting around or in the fridge that you may not have used in a while, do yourself a favor and check to see that it is still active.  I am telling you this so you can avoid wasting precious and/or expensive ingredients by using kaput yeast.  I actually tried out two different recipes and three different bakes this month.  The first worked fine, but I forgot to adapt to use a sponge, which I had wanted to try.  The second was a total fail, though I tried to rescue it and its fillings.  I have been baking so much with sourdough this past year that I guess I have not used up my instant yeast as quickly as normal and it really was a total dud.  I gave it over a day to rise, even added more yeast and remixed it.  Well, if the yeast is dead, that's no help!  It was so gutting to throw it out, there was no saving it.  But fortunately I had some active dry yeast in the fridge as well that I had shared with my mom and when I tested it, woohoo!  It was still active.

By the way to test your yeast, and you can do this with sugar or without, dissolve one package of yeast (2¼ tsp) and 1 teaspoon sugar in ¼ cup warm water (110° to 115°F).  Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. If the mixture foams up nicely, the yeast mixture can be used because the yeast is active.  If it does not foam, the yeast should be discarded.  (This works for both active dry and instant yeast.)

I tested both a Babka and Kugelhopf style recipe and ultimately decided to go with the Babka, though both are good.  The syrup soak just means the Babka will last a bit longer before going dry and stale.  The Kugelhopf is a bit more rich.  My original Babka had golden raisins and chopped dates for filling and while I love dates, they were probably a bit sweet for the cake.  All raisins and some citrus peel would have been excellent.  My other attempts included chopped dried apricots and chocolate, and for the cake pictured below, dried cranberries, white chocolate and dark chocolate.

Polish Babka
makes one medium bundt cake or an 9x5" loaf
from King Arthur Flour

½ cup (113g) lukewarm milk
3 large eggs, at room temperature
heaping ½ tsp salt
¼ cup (50g) sugar
¼ cup (4 tbsp, 57g) softened butter
2 cups (241g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, divided
2 tsp instant yeast
¼ cup (43g) currants or raisins (golden raisins preferred)
¼ cup (43g) candied mixed fruit or candied mixed peel, or mixed dried fruit, chopped

Rum syrup
½ cup (99g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (57g) water*
1-2 tbsp (14g to 28g) rum or spirit of choice*
*Or substitute apple juice for the water and rum.

Icing (optional) (I prefer to serve with whipped cream!)
1 cup (113g) confectioners' sugar
pinch of salt
2 tbsp (28g) milk

Place milk, yeast, and 1 cup flour in a mixing bowl.  Allow to rest for 30 minutes in a warm place until slightly puffy.  Add remaining ingredients except for the fruit and beat at medium speed until cohesive.  Increase mixing speed to high and beat for 2 minutes.   Add the fruit and beat gently, just to combine. 

Cover the bowl and let the batter rest/rise for 60 minutes; it may not appear to do too much. 

Scoop the batter into a well greased 10-cup Bundt pan. Cover the pan, and let the dough rest/rise for 30 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 350°F.

Bake the babka for 30 to 40 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf or cake reads at least 190°F.
While the babka is baking, prepare the soaking syrup.  Combine all of the syrup ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat and boil, swirling the liquid in the pan, until the sugar dissolves.  Remove from the heat.
Remove the babka from the oven when it tests done.  Poke it all over gently with a toothpick, skewer, or fork, and slowly pour the syrup over the babka's surface. 

When the syrup is fully absorbed (about 20 minutes or so), carefully loosen the babka's edges, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack.
If you choose to use the icing: Mix all of the ingredients together, stirring until smooth. Drizzle over completely cool babka.

I think this babka is just divine served with whipped cream.  Lots of whipped cream.  We're all isolated right now, nobody is watching, cover that sucker in a giant pile of cream.  
It is also delicious toasted and buttered!

Be sure to check out our other extremely edible Easter treats this month:

BreadBakers#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 of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the Bread Bakers home page. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020


Happy biggest super-moon of 2020!  #pinkmoon #lookup!

Stay safe, keep washing!