Friday, March 17, 2023

Kiwi Swirled Buns or Babka

Who knew that kiwi filling would be so amazingly tasty??  Originally, I just wanted to use up the rest of the candied dried kiwi I got for last year's fruitcake.  I decided to use half of my dough from last month's potato Feather Rolls to make a kiwi babka.  The resulting babka was insanely delicious for me.  I definitely wanted to make it again and figured the lovely green filling would be perfect for a St. Patrick's Day recipe.  Trouble was, candied dried kiwi seems to be a seasonal item.  At least, I didn't want to make multiple trips to try to find it when the original store no longer had it in stock.  So for the second batch, I ended up candying my own!  Both were equally good, though the home candied were easier to blend into a filling as they were significantly softer.  Kiwi seeds have a delightful, light crunch and were more apparent in the filling made with home candied kiwi.  If you are wondering about the flavor, it is a sweet, tart, and citrusy flavor with a hint of green apple candy.  I absolutely love it and want to make kiwi jam based off the filling now.

Since the filling needs to be spread fairly thinly to prevent a lot of leakage when shaping, I made a full batch of feather roll dough so that I could make both swirled buns and another babka with alternate shaping.  I did add one drop of forest green gel food color to my candied kiwi.

You could use any plain or sweet roll dough or a simple white bread dough to make these tasty pastries.

Kiwi Swirled Buns or Babka
makes 6 buns and one small babka

One batch of favorite roll or sweet roll dough ~2.75-3 pound lb batch (1250-1360g)

Kiwi filling:
¾ cups candied dried kiwi*
¼ cup orange juice
3 tbsp lemon juice
5 tbsp sugar 

To make the Kiwi Filling: Combine dried kiwis, orange juice, lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan.  Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat.  Cook uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the kiwis are softened and liquid is reduced by half.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  When cool, transfer mixture to a food processor and process until a puree forms. Cover and set aside at room temperature.  

*Store bought dried kiwi, candied with sugar and dried; homemade was also candied with sugar and dried.

Storebought candied kiwi based

Home candied kiwi based

Yes, you can make your own.  I partially
dried mine in a dehydrator overnight.

To make 6 swirl buns:

Roll out half the dough into a long rectangle, about 18x8 inches.  Spread with a thin layer of filling.  It is easiest to use an offset spatula.

Fold the dough over itself by thirds to create a letter tri-fold packet.

Turn the dough so the open ends are on the sides and slice into 6 equal strips.

Gently tease each strip a little longer and twist around into a knot, folding the ends underneath.  This can get messy, especially if you use too much filling.

Allow buns to rise until just about double, then bake at 375ºF for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Allow buns to cool slightly and top with a simple glaze of 1 cup powdered sugar and 2-3 tbsp milk, or as needed to get desired drizzling consistency.  (I prefer a thicker drizzle but you can also make a thin glaze and use it to wash the whole top.)

Buns are best eaten the day they are made and since the feather roll dough can be chilled overnight, this is a great morning recipe that doesn't require getting up super early.  To reheat later, a toaster oven on warm or reheat, or medium low oven works great.  Heat until the glaze starts to bubble a little.

To make a small babka, there are a few different shaping methods.

One is to roll the dough out into a rectangle, the width of your loaf pan.  I recommend an 8x4 inch pan for a half batch of dough.  This is how I made the first batch last month.

Spread on the filling thinly and roll up jelly roll style as for cinnamon rolls, pinching the edges to seal.    Cut through the roll lengthwise and turn the cut sides up.  Gently lift and crisscross the pieces, always keeping the filling side up.  Carefully lift into a buttered loaf pan.  (This will be extremely messy if too much filling is used!)

First batch, too much filling, needed to be thinner.

Ended up scooping out some of the oozing filling.

Let dough rise until doubled.

Tent top with foil at end to prevent over-browning.

Glaze as desired.

Cover the pan and let rise until doubled, bake at 375ºF for 25-35 minutes until done.  Internal temperature should be around 200ºF.  Cool and glaze as desired. 

Outrageously good toasted and buttered!

Another method for a babka:

Roll out and spread filling as above. Fold dough in
half and cut 1 inch strips to about 2 inches from fold.

Twist each strip well and roll back to rest
on the un-sliced portion.

Carefully lift into the buttered pan and let rise.

Bake as above.

Glaze as desired.

I am totally tempted to try this method out with home candied strawberries now!

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Greek Village Bread #BBB (sourdough version)

Our Bread Baking Babes challenge this month is an easy Greek Village bread baked in a Dutch oven.  I love that method for its reliability to turn out a lovely loaf.  The original recipe our host provided was a yeast risen bread but my sourdough is so happy that I decided to do a sourdough version.  The recipe I found was quite similar and easily adaptable.  The sourdough version turned out with a nice moist crumb and a good bit of sourdough flavor.  Very enjoyable, just what the kids really enjoy in a sourdough.

I am really quite pleased with how it turned out, especially since I found out after making my dough that my substitute of peeled wheat for the durum I could not find was a soft wheat, (lower gluten).  Wasn't sure how the structure of the loaf would turn out, but as we see, the loaf baked up just beautifully!

We would love to have you try out this easy and tasty bread with us this month and share how it turned out!  New recipes are posted every month on the 16th. Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.  If you would like to post your results with a Buddy badge on a blog, let us know in the comments or on the Facebook page.

Crusty Sourdough Greek Horiatiko Psomi
makes one medium boule

½ cup/ 226g 100% hydration sourdough starter,  ripe
4 cups/500g of flour, part semolina  (I used 390g all purpose flour, 55g fresh ground rye and 60g fresh ground peeled wheat because I couldn't find the durum for semolina)
½ Tbsp/10g sea salt
1¼ cups/300g water
1 Tbsp/15g milk
1 Tbsp/13g olive oil
1 Tbsp/21g honey

Optional Topping:
1 egg white, beaten with 2 tsp water
3 tbsp sesame seeds

In a stand mixer, combine all the flours and mix in the oil, honey, milk, sourdough starter and 1 cup of water until you have a shaggy mass.

Mix in the salt and remaining water and knead until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky.

Cover the dough and let proof at room temperature for 8 or more hours.

Turn the dough out and shape each into a round boule.

Place the loaf, seam side up, in a floured (rice flour) banneton, and allow to rise for another hour in a warm place.  (I let my dough rise in the fridge overnight and let it come close to room temp before baking.)

Preheat your oven to 450ºF (230ºC) for at least half an hour while the loaf is having its final rise. Place a lidded pot (Dutch oven) in the oven to preheat.

Gently turn the bread seam side down onto a piece of baking parchment.  If adding the optional topping, brush with egg wash and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.

Use a razor or lame to slice the top of the loaf with a cross shape. Carefully remove the pot from the oven. Lower the loaf into the pot on its parchment, cover, and bake for 30 minutes.

Reduce the temperature to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Take the lid of the hot pot and bake for another 15-20 minutes.

Lift the bread out of the pot and allow it to cool on a wire rack.

    Cool the bread several hours before slicing.

The rest of the Bread Baking Babes


Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Onion and Bay Loaf #BreadBakers

There are quite a number of allium-centric recipes on this blog.  We love onions, garlic, leeks, scallions and chives and have baked all of them into bread.  And it is very yummy!  This recipe is no exception and the bay brings an extra elevation to the flavor punch.  I must admit to glutting on toasted, buttered  pieces for the first couple days.  

This loaf is a half batch
Since I had this King Arthur recipe pinned for a while, I was quite happy when the BreadBakers theme was bread with onions/alliums.  And it is very delicious!  Now it does make quite a large loaf so yes, the recipe may be halved.  Of course the Dutch oven method yields a beautiful loaf with lovely ears.  I used all purpose instead of bread flour and with the fresh ground flour I did end up adding a fair bit more AP to achieve the proper dough texture.  Somewhere around ¾-1 cup more, 90-120g.  I also mixed all of my dough with a mixer.

Onion and Bay Loaf
makes one large or two medium loaves

2 cups (283g) onions, medium diced (if you end up using more onions, it will take more flour in the dough)
1¼ cups (283g) milk, whole preferred
3 bay leaves

strained milk, from above
¾ cup (170g) ripe (fed) sourdough starter
1 cup (113g) King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour (I used fresh ground Edison white wheat)
2¼ to 2½ cups (270g to 300g) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
drained onions, from above
1½ tsp (9g) salt
1 tsp instant yeast

For the onions:  Combine the onions, milk, and bay leaves in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, strain the milk into a glass measure, and cool to room temperature. Discard the bay leaves, and reserve the milk and onions, transferring the onions to a bowl.

For the dough: Put the reserved, cooled milk in a mixing bowl with the starter. Add the whole wheat flour and 1 cup (120g) of the bread flour.  Stir in the onions, salt, yeast, and another 1¼ cups (150g) of bread flour.  Cover and rest for 10 minutes.  If the dough is still sticky, stir in the remaining ¼ cup (30g) of bread flour.

Knead the dough on an oiled surface for 10 seconds, return to the bowl, and cover. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Repeat the brief kneading for 10 seconds more, return to the bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour.

Line a deep 8" bowl with a rice flour-rubbed dish towel, or generously flour a banneton with rice flour. Deflate and fold the dough over on itself, then shape it into a ball. Place it, seam-side up, in the prepared bowl or banneton. Cover and let rise until doubled (~1½ hours).

Preheat the oven to 430°F for at least half an hour toward the end of rising.  Place a lidded pot (Dutch oven) in the oven to preheat.

Gently invert the bread onto a piece of baking parchment.

Use a razor or lame to slice the top of the loaf as desired.  Carefully remove the pot from the oven. Gently lower the loaf into the pot, pour 2 tbsp of water into the base of the pot outside the parchment, quickly cover, and bake for 20 minutes.

Reduce the temperature to 375ºF and bake for another 20-30 minutes until golden brown, the center of the bread reads 205°F when measured with a digital thermometer, and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when you tap it.

Lift the bread out of the pot and allow it to cool on a wire rack before slicing.

Be sure to check out the rest of our awesome allium bakes:

 #BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. 


Monday, March 13, 2023

Hibiscus Lime Ginger Cream Pie

For pi day this year, we have a pie inspired by one of my and my kids' favorite comforting drinks, a honey lemon tea with ginger.  My youngest adores lemon ginger tea as one of her first tea loves.  She is now a tea fiend and discovers new tea loves every month.  It's her Christmas and birthday present of choice.  More importantly, this child approved the pie!  That's huge, she is very picky about her desserts.  Actually, the pie got a thumbs up from all family members, which is rare.  It is light and creamy, balanced with sweet tartness and a touch of warmth, a very enjoyable dessert.

Don't be intimidated by the multiple steps, the pie dough and crust can be made ahead and the curd can be made ahead.  Final assembly isn't that difficult and well worth the effort.

Hibiscus Lime Ginger Cream Pie

1 baked and cooled 9-inch pie shell (use your favorite recipe or even store bought)

For the hibiscus curd (makes a little more than needed):
4 large eggs
2 egg yolks
198g (1 cup) sugar
79ml (76g or ⅓ cup) + 15ml (14g or 1 tbsp) fresh lime juice, divided
¼ cup dried hibiscus
28g (¼ cup) cold butter, cut into pieces (½ a stick) (add a pinch of salt if using unsalted butter)

(Also 1 tsp gelatin + 2 tsp water for filling later)

For the ginger crème bavaroise (Bavarian Creme)
240 ml (1 cup) whole milk
½ vanilla bean - or ¾ teaspoon of vanilla paste
1 tsp ground ginger (you could use a few slices from 1 inch of fresh ginger for a more pronounced flavor as well)
4 Egg Yolks - at room temperature
50 gr (¼ cup) granulated sugar
6 gr (1½ teaspoon) gelatin Powder - plus 1 tbsp cold water
240 ml (1 cup) heavy cream, divided after whipping

Topping and garnish
1 cup heavy whipping cream
¾ tsp unflavored gelatin
4 tsp cold water
1 tbsp honey
tsp ginger
1-2 tbsp crystallized ginger, finely chopped

Bake your pie shell ahead of time so that it is cooled for assembly.

To make the hibiscus lime curd:
The day before making the pie, combine the dried hibiscus and ⅓ cup lime juice in a glass measure.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to make the curd.  (It will hold for a couple days if needed.) 
The next day, whisk
the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar for about 2 minutes, until the sugar starts to dissolve and the mixture is fully homogeneous and has lightened slightly.
Whisk in the lime juice with the hibiscus.  (The hibiscus will be strained out later.)
Cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Turn off the heat once the mixture thickens significantly, it will happen quickly around 170ºF.  Do not over cook or the curd will become lumpy.
Immediately add the butter all at once, and whisk constantly until the butter has been completely incorporated into the mixture.
Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl.  Discard the hibiscus petals.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble pie.
Reserve ¼ cup curd for garnish, (optional).

(This is amazing curd and would be good on anything, like pancakes, scones, muffins, ice cream, cheesecake, cake filling...)

To make the Bavarian Creme:
Place milk in a medium size saucepan.  Slice the vanilla bean in half, scrape out the seeds and place them in the milk along with the pod and optional fresh ginger. Whisk in the dried ginger.  Bring to a simmer over low heat. Turn off the stove, cover, and leave to steep for 10 to 20 minutes.  Discard the vanilla pod (and fresh ginger if using).
In a heat-proof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar.
Slowly pour the infused milk over the egg yolk mixture while whisking. Mix until fully combined and then transfer the whole mixture into the saucepan.
Cook over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes or until the cream has thickened.  Remove from the heat.
In a small bowl, mix the gelatin into the cold water. When it has bloomed and become a solid paste, add the gelatin mixture to the warm custard.  Whisk until completely dissolved.
Transfer the custard into a large clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap touching its surface. Place in the fridge to cool down to room temperature, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Whip the heavy cream in a large mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer until it reaches stiff peaks.  (Reserve ½ - ⅔ cup for the curd filling.)
Take the custard out of the fridge and loosen it with a whisk. Slowly and gently fold in the remaining whipped cream in 3 additions.

To assemble:
Bottom layer: Bloom the 1 tsp gelatin in 2 tsp water and let sit for a few minutes.  Heat for about 10 seconds in the microwave or over low heat to melt the gelatin.  Measure a generous cup of the hibiscus lime curd into a bowl and whisk in the melted gelatin.  Then fold in the reserved whipped cream from the bavarian.  Spoon into the bottom of the baked pie shell and smooth to level.  Place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to set slightly.

Creme layer: Fold the bavarian creme to loosen if it has started to set, then pile in scoops over the curd filling.  Gently spread to the edges and slightly smooth the top.

Garnish topping: Take the reserved ¼ cup curd and transfer to a piping or ziptop bag with the end snipped.  Pipe straight lines across the top of the pie at intervals, then draw a bamboo skewer across perpendicular to the lines in alternating directions to make a decorative pattern.  Chill to set for at least four hours.

Garnish edge: Bloom the gelatin and water for the whipped cream garnish, this is optional but makes it last perfectly.  Once the gelatin has hydrated, combine it with the honey and heat on low or in microwave just until melted, just 10 seconds.  Start whipping the cream and add the ginger powder and gelatin mixture.  Whip to stiff peaks and pipe onto the edges of the pie in rosettes.  Sprinkle with finely chopped candied ginger.

Chill the pie to set for at least four hours.

Enjoy!  We sure did.

But do enjoy this pie!

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Cypriot Flaounes (Greek Easter Cheese Bread) #BBB


I've been curious about flaounes since seeing them on Great British Bake-off years ago, and especially since I have mastic and mahleb on hand.  Mahleb, which is made from the small pits of wild St. Lucy’s cherries, is just such a delightful aroma.  I should add it to more things.  Very lightly almondy and sweet with a hint of floral note.  If you don’t have mahlab, the suggested substitute is for almond extract (at half the called for amount) and cardamom (at 1/4 the called-for amount) or a pinch of anise. 

As for the mastic, it has a not so subtle resin aroma, like pine sap.  The typical substitute is vanilla, but I wondered if a pinch of rosemary or even juniper berry added in would get closer to the effect.  Vanilla is not piney!  I absolutely loved the Greek Tsoureki bread I made that uses both and am keeping my mastic in the fridge.  The mahleb stays in the freezer and I have both whole and ground.

Flaounes are a traditional Easter pastry since milk and eggs were not eaten during the fasting season of Lenten before Easter.  So in order to preserve the 40 days of milk that was not being drunk, people made cheese and the eggs were simply stored in a cool place.

Traditional flaounes were made with a local Cypriot goat’s milk cheese called paphitiko.  As the pastries became popular across Greece, other cheeses also began to be used, like halloumi.

In even farther removed regions where Greek cheese was not accessible, mild cheddar and Romano became popular substitutes.  I was able to pick up a little package of halloumi right at the local grocers.  For those like me that had not tried halloumi, it is soft, salty, and slightly squeaky.  Quite similar in my opinion to the fresh cheese curds I grew up with, living relatively close to the Tillamook cheese factory.  Indeed, it is described as similar in texture to fresh white cheddar cheese curds or a very fresh mozzarella.  In terms of flavor it is mild, and a bit salty; somewhat reminiscent of feta or Romano but less intense because of the mild profile and softer texture.

The filling should be made the day before to let the flavors meld, or "awaken".  Some recipes called for sourdough in the filling, some don't.  I added a little bit though this recipe does not use it.  Feel free to use whatever recipe you like.  If you happen to be dairy free, I found a vegan version posted here: Vegan mini flaounes

I am tempted to try the mini versions: "Small, 3 inch, triangle flaounes, called flaouniteses or flaounoudes, can be found year round and are eaten as a snack or appetizer. "  Apparently these can be made as a sweet version, although I did not find a single recipe for that.  In this recipe the pastry is more neutral and the accompaniments determine whether it is enjoyed as sweet or savory.

We would love to have you try out this uniquely flavored pastry with us this month and share how it turned out!  New recipes are posted every month on the 16th. Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.  If you would like to post your results with a Buddy badge on a blog, let us know in the comments or on the Facebook page.

* I might suggest going easy on the mastic if you have never tried it before, starting with half or less.  I chewed on a couple tears to try it out and liked the flavor.  For me, it was really nice when pounded with the sugar, an odd combination of sweet and fresh sharpness with a little chew.  For me, the flaounes were fun to try but not a repeat.  The Tsoureki will be made again for certain, and will include the mastic as it is fairly subtle in that recipe, though I would increase the mahleb, so good. 

(Recipe may be halved.)
Cypriot Flaounes (Greek Easter Cheese Bread)
makes 12 (3 inch x 4 inch) flaouna

 Filling (make ahead)

    1 tsp mastic (if you have never tried mastic before, you might wish to start with half the amount!)  
    1 tsp mahleb *  
    1 tsp sugar
    8 oz (228 g) halloumi cheese (I used all halloumi)
    8 oz (228 g) soft, mild cheddar
    1c (115 g) raisins
    ½ c (84 g) semolina flour (I used fresh ground durum wheat)
    1 tsp baking powder
    ½ tsp dry mint, crushed (I used fresh mint, twice as much)
    2 eggs


    2¼ tsp active dry yeast
    1¼ c (300 ml) lukewarm milk, divided
    1 tsp mastic, optional   
    1 tsp mahleb *   
    1 tsp sugar
    4 c (512 g) flour
    1 tsp baking powder
    ½ tsp salt
    ⅓ c olive oil

For The Topping

    1 egg, beaten
    ½ c (70 g) sesame seeds (I used toasted black sesame seeds that I have on hand, but regular sesame seeds are the traditional option!)

The day before baking - Make the Cheese Filling

With a mortar and pestle, combine the mastic and mahleb together with 1 tsp sugar and pound together until it is a fine powder.  In a bowl, grate the cheese and mix with the raisins, semolina flour, baking powder, pounded sugar and spices, and crushed mint.

Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until the cheese has come together firmly enough that it can be shaped into a ball. (More or fewer eggs may be needed depending on the moisture level of the cheese used.)

Cover the filling and chill overnight, or at least 4 hours, to let the flavors come together.

Day 2 – Prepare dough, assemble and bake

Remove the filling from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature while you prepare the dough.  Mix yeast with ½ cup lukewarm milk and set aside to activate for 5-10 minutes. 

Pound the mastic and mahleb with 1 tsp sugar until fine.  In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar mixture.  Add the oil and rub it into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture has a sandy texture.  Pour the activated yeast into the flour and mix well.  Add the remaining ¾ cup of lukewarm milk gradually, kneading by hand and adding just enough to incorporate all the dry ingredients and create a firm dough that does not stick to your hands.

Cover dough and set aside to rise for 1-2 hours, or until nearly doubled.  Place the sesame seeds onto a wide plate or tray.  Roll out the dough 1/8-inch thick (a full batch should measure roughly 15x20 inches).  Cut the dough into 5 inch squares. (Or cut the dough your desired shape and size if making the smaller triangular or other mini versions.)  Brush one side of the cut dough with the beaten egg and place it egg-side down onto the seeds.  Place a heaping ¼ cup of the cheese filling on top of the dough (on the un-seeded side).  (Be sure to not compact it, so that the filling stays light and airy!  Just pick it up lightly with fingers and plop it down onto the center of the dough square.)

I compacted my filling and it yields a much more
dense result.  Try to place the filling lightly.

Brush the egg wash on the outer edges of the dough and fold them up towards the center (leaving the top center of the filling uncovered). Pinch the un-seeded side of the corners of the dough together to keep the sides in place over the filling.

Place the shaped flaounes on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Brush the exposed filling with a little beaten egg.

Let the pastries rise for 30-45 minutes, until slightly puffy.  Near end of rising time, preheat oven to 375ºF.  Bake the flaounes for 30 min, until deeply golden.  


Serve with honey and cinnamon for a sweet treat or olives and sliced meat for savory.  (I'm sure my approach of eating them warmed with vanilla ice cream on top was very non-traditional, but it sure was tasty!)

*If you don't have mahlab, substitute 1 tsp with ½ tsp almond extract and ¼ tsp cardamom (or a pinch of anise).

Flaounes can be stored in the freezer, double wrapped, for a few months. Thaw them and reheat and they are just as good as the fresh ones. 

The rest of the Bread Baking Babes