Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bread Baking Buddies : Brunkans Langa

This month's Babe, Gorel of Grain Doe chose a bread made in a Stockholm's bakery which usually is baked in a very long loaf.
The bread is made with a sourdough made with Graham flour and Muscovado sugar.

I really fell in love with this wonderful loaf, I usually eat my bread for breakfast spread with some jam but this was so good it didn't need any jam. Even Andrea who is not so into bread loved it particularly, what can I tell you more ? Go and bake it !
I already own a sourdough starter so I just fed it with graham flour three days before baking but I didn't find the real flour so I just made it following Gorel's recipe.

Graham flour* sourdough:

Day 1, morning:
Mix 60g/100 ml/0,42 cups graham flour
with 120 g/120 ml/0,5 cups water.
Cover with cling film and leave at room temp.

Day 1, evening:
Add 60g/100 ml/0,42 cups graham flour and
60 g/60 ml/0,25 cups water.
Mix, cover with cling film and leave at room temp.

Day 2, morning:
Add 60g/100 ml/0,42 cups graham flour and
60 g/60 ml/0,25 cups water.
Mix. By now, the sourdough should be a little active (bubbly). If not, add a teaspoon of honey, some freshly grated apple or a teaspoon of natural yoghurt. Leave at room temp.

Day 3, morning:
Feed the sourdough with 60g/100 ml/0,42 cups graham flour and 60 g/60 ml/0,25 cups water.
Mix, cover with cling film and put in fridge.

Day 4
By now, the sourdough should be ready to use. If you don’t want to use it right away, you can keep in the fridge if you feed it as above a couple of times/week.

*Graham flour can’t be found everywhere. If you want to recreate an exact substitute, here’s what to do, according to Wikipedia:

Graham flour is not available in all countries. A fully correct substitute for it would be a mix of white flour, wheat bran, and wheat germ in the ratio found in whole wheat. Wheat comprises approximately 83% endosperm, 14.5% bran, and 2.5% germ by mass. For sifted all-purpose white flour, wheat bran, and wheat germ having densities of 125, 50, and 80 grams/cup, respectively, one cup of graham flour is approximately equivalent to 84 g (~2/3 cup) white flour, 15 g (slightly less than 1/3 cup) wheat bran, and 2.5 g (1.5 teaspoons) wheat germ.


Brunkans långa
The long (tall?) loaf of Brunkebergs bageri
2 large loaves
600 g/600 ml/2,5 cups water
1125 g/2,48 lb high-protein wheat flour
375 g/13,2 oz graham sourdough (see above)
20 g/0,7 oz fresh yeast
150 g/5,3 oz dark muscovado sugar
25 g/0,88 oz honey
30 g/1 oz sea salt

Day 1
Mix all ingredients except the salt. Work the dough in a stand mixer for 10 minutes or by hand for 20. Add the salt. Knead the dough for 5 minutes more. Put the dough in a oiled, plastic box and put the lid on. Leave the dough for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes: fold one side of the dough against the centre of the dough, then fold the other end inwards, finally turn the whole dough so that the bottom side is facing down. Put the plastic box with the dough in the fridge and let it rise over night.

Day 2
Set the oven temp to 250 C/480 F. Leave the baking stone in if you use one.

Pour out the dough on a floured table top and divide it lengthwise with a sharp knife. Put the dough halves on a sheet covered with parchment paper and place another parchment paper or a towel on top. I dusted them with some flour at this point. When the oven is ready, put in the sheet or shove the parchment paper with the loaves onto the baking stone. Put a small tin with 3-4 ice cubes at the bottom of the oven. (The water releases slowly which is supposed to be better.) Lower the oven temp. to
175 C/350 F immediately after you have put in the loaves.
After 20 minutes, open the oven door and let out excess steam.

Bake for 35 minutes or until the loaves have reached an inner temp of 98 C/208 F.

Let cool on wire.

Ciao a tutti cari panificatori con lievito madre, questa settimana per il Sourdough baking Wednesday di Zucchero & Cannella vi propongo un pane fantastico dal sapore leggermente dolce che per la prima colazione è ideale. Il procedimento è un po' lungo ma ne vale proprio la pena.. il problema è che non ce la faccio a tradurre la ricetta di Gorel spero che vi accontenterete del traduttore, se non funziona traduco la ricetta fatemelo sapere !

Monday, September 27, 2010

TWD : Tarte Fine

This wonderful recipe was chosen by my friend Leslie of Lethally Delicious, I never actually met Leslie, but whenever I visit her blog and are welcomed by her kind smile I really think of her as a dear friend.
She chose a very special recipe because it's quite fast and easy (if you buy your puff pastry) but looks extremely elegant.

I had huge apples on hand and they were new ones so very crunchy ... impossible to cut a quarter in seven slices ! After destroying a couple of apples I decided to use them in the middle of the tarte and to cut the thin slices with a potato peeler !
Wonderful choice Leslie !!!

Daring Baker's Challenge: Decorated Sugar Cookies

The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of What the Fruitcake?! Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

I must say that with this month's challenge the kids and me had lots of fun. I would have loved to achieve those perfect cookies we could find on the suggested sites but I had to settle for fun and good cookies to eat. We shared them at school and all the kids loved them too and Anita advertised the blog promising the recipe.

Mandy chose a very good recipe, not too sweet and easy to handle. I'm sure I will make more trials hoping to become a better cookie decorator.

You can download a printable pdf of the recipes HERE


Basic Sugar Cookies:
Makes Approximately 36x 10cm / 4" Cookies

200g / 7oz / ½ cup + 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
400g / 14oz / 3 cups + 3 Tbsp All Purpose / Plain Flour
200g / 7oz / 1 cup Caster Sugar / Superfine Sugar
1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
5ml / 1 tsp Vanilla Extract / Or seeds from 1 vanilla bean

• Cream together the butter, sugar and any flavourings you’re using. Beat until just becoming
creamy in texture.
Tip: Don’t over mix otherwise you’ll incorporate too much air and the cookies will spread during
baking, losing their shape.

• Beat in the egg until well combined, make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the sifted flour and mix on low until a non sticky dough forms.
Tip: I don’t have a stand mixer so I find it easier to switch to dough hooks at this stage to avoid
flour flying everywhere.

• Knead into a ball and divide into 2 or 3 pieces.
• Roll out each portion between parchment paper to a thickness of about 5mm/1/5 inch (0.2 inch)
• Refrigerate for a minimum of 30mins.
Tip: Recipes commonly just wrap the whole ball of dough in clingwrap and then refrigerate it for an
hour or overnight, but by rolling the dough between parchment, this shortens the chilling time and
then it’s also been rolled out while still soft making it easier and quicker.

• Once chilled, peel off parchment and place dough on a lightly floured surface.
• Cut out shapes with cookie cutters or a sharp knife.
• Arrange shapes on parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate for another 30mins to an hour.
Tip: It’s very important you chill them again otherwise they’ll spread while baking.
• Re-roll scraps and follow the above process until all scraps are used up.
• Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C Fan Assisted) / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.
• Bake until golden around the edges, about 8-15mins depending on the size of the cookies.
Tip: Bake same sized cookies together otherwise mixing smaller with larger cookies could result in
some cookies being baked before others are done.

Tip: Rotate baking sheets half way through baking if your oven bakes unevenly.
• Leave to cool on cooling racks.
• Once completely cooled, decorate as desired.
Tip: If wrapped in tinfoil/cling wrap or kept in airtight containers in a cool place, un-decorated
cookies can last up to a month.

Royal Icing:

315g – 375g / 11oz – 13oz / 2½ - 3 cups Icing / Confectioner’s / Powdered Sugar, unsifted
2 Large Egg Whites
10ml / 2 tsp Lemon Juice
5ml / 1 tsp Almond Extract, optional


• Beat egg whites with lemon juice until combined.
Tip: It’s important that the bowls/spoons/spatulas and beaters you use are thoroughly cleaned and
grease free.

• Sift the icing sugar to remove lumps and add it to the egg whites.
Tip: I’ve listed 2 amounts of icing sugar, the lesser amount is good for a flooding consistency, and the larger amount is for outlining, but you can add even more for a much thicker consistency good for writing. If you add too much icing sugar or would like to make a thinner consistency, add very small amounts of water, a few drops at a time, until you reach the consistency you need.
• Beat on low until combined and smooth.
• Use immediately or keep in an airtight container.
Tip: Royal Icing starts to harden as soon as it’s in contact with air so make sure to cover containers with plastic wrap while not in use.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mellow Bakers : Cheese Bread

This is one of the breads the Mellow Bakers chose to bake in September from J. Hamelman Bread book.
As I read that some found the crust bitter from the cheese pieces sticking out I tried to push them in but some pieces came out anyway not causing too much damage. Actually we quite enjoied this bread.
I used Parmigiano Reggiano as cheese.

With this bread I'm partecipating to Zucchero & Canella's Sourdough Baking Wednesdays

Questo pane al formaggio viene da un bellissimo libro di J. Hamelman che si chiama Bread. Ho un po' di difficoltà con i pesi in caso vi sembri troppo provate con la metà.

820 gr farina
492 gr acqua
50 gr olio extravergine
1,5 gr sale
1 gr lievito secco
288 gr lievito madre
200 gr Parmigiano (metà grattugiato e metà a pezzettini)

Unire tutti gli ingredienti escluso il Parmigiano nella planetaria e lavorare per 3 minuti a velocità minima. L'impasto dovrebbe essere abbastanza sodo. Lavorare a velocità media per altri tre minuti. Aggiungere il formaggio e lavorare al minimo fino a che è incorporato.
Far lievitare per 2 ore e mezza.
Dare le pieghe a metà lievitazione
Dividere l'impasto a metà e formare in filoni lunghi o tondi.
Far livitare 1 ora circa o mettere in frigorifero fino a 8 ore.
Cuocere in un forno caldissimo per 40 minuti abbassando la temperatura dopo i primi 15 minuti.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

TWD : Coffee - Break Muffins

Rhiani of Chocoholic Anonymous chose these great muffins for us and I really felt in love with them, I added bitter chocolate and really found this a wonderful recipe , little or no fuss and wonderful results, who could ask for more ? You have to go get your recipe here and if you wish to see what the others made go here.
I started my new job yesterday, we'll work on a Pontificial Zuave Uniform who met too many moths !!

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Cake Slice : Fresh Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Icing

This is the last recipe from Nancie McDermott's Southern Cakes and it is a very low cholesterol, fast, easy and delicious cake to bake. I made the glaze which makes it more special but it would be much faster but still good without it.
It isn't the most beautiful cake but I think is great for an afternoon snack with a glass of milk.
From the next month we will bake from a new book, if you wish to join the group please send an email to Katie with name, blog name and URL to ‘appleandspice[AT]hotmail.co.uk’ with ‘Cake Slice Member’ in the object before Oct.20th.

Fresh Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Glaze
(Recipe from Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott)

Fresh Apple Cake
3 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 eggs
1½ cups vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups finely chopped apples
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts

Brown Sugar Glaze
1 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp evaporated milk, half-and-half or cream

Method – Fresh Apple Cake
Heat the oven to 350F. Grease a 13 by 9 inch pan or two 8-9 inch cake pans.
In a medium bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Stir with a fork to mix everything together well.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a wooden spoon or a mixer at low speed until pale yellow and foamy. Add the oil and vanilla and beat well. Stir in the flour mixture with a wooden spoon and continue stirring the batter just until the flour disappears. Add the apples and nuts, stir to mix them into the batter until fairly uniform. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans.
Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the cake is golden brown, springs back when touched lightly near the centre and is beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. Place the cake (still in the pans) on a wire rack and spoon over the glaze while still hot.

Method - Brown Sugar Glaze
Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture comes to a gentle boil. Then cook for 3-5 minutes.

To Finish
Spoon the hot glaze all over the hot-from-the-oven cake. Let the glazed cake cool completely before serving straight from the pan.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I Heart Cooking Clubs : Say Cheese

I'm finally back to this fun group, which cooks every six months with a different chef, just in time for the final weeks with Mark Bittman. I hadn't heard much about him before six month ago and really appreciate his way of seeing food even if I didn't join my friends too many times.
I'm about to make cottage cheese thanks to the kindness of Heather who shared the recipe with me but I was afraid not to be in time so I quickly assembled a bayleaf flavoured macaroni and cheese found in the How to cook everything site.

In Italy we would simply call it pasta al forno con la besciamella, italians not having ever even imagined you could buy such a thing as boxed mac and cheese (or canned ravioli for that matter).
I had some mozzarella on hand so I used it along with Parmigiano.
My finnicky children loved it as Andrea e Stefano (and me, of course); I loved the subtle smell of the bayleaf which we grow on the terrace with big success since when I found it in the vase of a camelia I had just bought.
Please visit the site for more Bittmaned cheese dishes


Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Makes 4 to 6 servings
Time: About 45 minutes

It's a shame to think that some people only know mac and cheese out of a box. The real thing is rich, filling, and delicious. Use nearly any pasta-tube, corkscrew, or cupshaped ones work best because they grab the sauce-just be sure to slightly undercook whatever pasta you use since it will continue to cook in the oven. Vary the type of cheese you use too: try blue cheese, goat cheese, smoked Gouda, or even mascarpone for a decadent version; see the variations.


21/2 cups milk (low-fat is fine)

2 bay leaves

1 pound elbow, shell, ziti, or other cut pasta

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

11/2 cups grated cheese, like sharp cheddar or Emmental

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup or more bread crumbs, preferably fresh

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it.

2. Cook the milk with the bay leaves in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. When small bubbles appear along the sides, about 5 minutes later, turn off the heat and let stand.

3. Cook the pasta to the point where it is almost done but you would still think it needed another minute or two to become tender. Drain it, rinse it quickly to stop the cooking, and put it in a large bowl.

4. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter; when it is foamy, add the flour and cook, stirring, until the mixture browns, about 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaves from the milk and add about 1/4 cup of the milk to the hot flour mixture, stirring with a wire whisk all the while. As soon as the mixture becomes smooth, add a little more milk and continue to do so until all the milk is used up and the mixture is thick and smooth. Add the cheddar and stir.

5. Pour the sauce over the noodles, toss in the Parmesan, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Use the remaining 1 tablespoon butter to grease a 9 x 13-inch or similar-size baking pan and turn the pasta mixture into it. Top liberally with bread crumbs and bake until bubbling and the crumbs turn brown, about 15 minutes. Serve piping hot.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Focaccia Pugliese

Few evenings ago I made this focaccia to serve as an appetizer for dinner to two very nice friends 'forgetting' that Salvatore is from Puglia where this focaccia is very very common... but he didn't complain !
In fact I hope you will apologize me for the horrible photo but it went away very fast !

I used sourdough, but I'll give you both versions.

I'm submitting this focaccia to Yeastspotting ! If you do not know Susan and her big work at Wild Yeast you should visit soon !


250 gr flour
250 durum wheat flour (semola rimacinata di grano duro)
(using sourdough I replaced 200 gr of the flours with it and omitted the yeast)
150 boiled potatoes
6 TBS olive oil
one envelope dried yeast or one cube fresh (20 gr)
1 tsp salt
300 ml water
20 cherry tomatoes
olive oil

Wash and halve the tomatoes , season with olive oil, salt and oregano and set aside.
Combine the flours, mashed potatoes, (the sourdough), olive oil, the yeast and the salt and slowly add water until you get a soft and a bit sticky dough. Knead (I used a mixer) around 6 minutes and let it rest until doubled.
Oil a round pan, put the dough in the pan and decorate it with the tomatoes . Drizzle the precious juice you got on top of the focaccia and cook in a hot oven until done.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Daring Cook's Challenge : Food Preservation

The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.

This month is hosted by John who wrote a very interesting article about food preservation that you will find here along with his recipes.

I made the oven roasted tomatoes sauce, cooking the tomatoes this way makes peeling them very easy so my kids won't complain !
As you can see above I made also some kiwi and carrot jam, a lemon marmalade and a plain basil and tomatoes sauce.

The tomatoes' sauce is made simply by washing the tomatoes, boiling them for five minutes and processing them in a strainer .Put the sauce in jars with some basil leaves and sterilize.

All the rest is made following the recipes from Christine Ferber whose books are a great source for me.

Carrots oranges and cardamom
1.300 kg carrots (1 kg once clean )
1 kg sugar
1 tsp orange zeste
250 ml orange juice
the juice of one lemon
5 gr cardamom

wash , peel, trim and grate the carrots. Add all the other ingredients and bring to the boil. turn off the heat cover and let steep for a whole night.
The next day bring again to a boil and cook on low heat for 10 minutes, let boil once again and mesure the temp when it reaches 105° Centigrade it's ready !

Kiwi and lemons
1,150 kg kiwi (1 kg once peeled)
800 gr sugar, plus 100 gr
200 gr apple jelly (I didn't have it and cooked the jam longer)
the juice of two lemons
1 lemon organic
100 gr water

peel and cut in rounds the kiwis. Wash the lemon and cut in thin slices.
Cook the lemon slices with 100 gr sugar and 100 gr water, cook until the lemon becomes transparent. Add the kiwis, the lemon juice and the sugar.
Bring to a boil, turn off the heat cover and let steep for a whole night.
The next day bring again to a boil, add the apple jelly, and cook on low heat for 10 minutes, let boil once again and mesure the temp when it reaches 105° Centigrade it's ready !

Lemons with honey and cinnamon

1,500 kg lemons so that you get 500 gr juice
900 gr granny smith apple so that you get 500gr juice
700 gr sugar
900 gr water and 200 gr
200 gr honey
3 organic lemons
1 cinnamon stick

wash the apples cut them in four and cover them with 900 gr of water, bring to a boil and let slow cook for another half hour. Collect the juice with a strainer and let rest for the night.
weight 500 gr of the apple juice.
Press the lemons and keep the lemons seeds in a sachet.
Wash the lemons and cut in thin slices.
Cook the lemon slices with 200 gr sugar and 200 gr water, cook until the lemon becomes transparent. Add the apple and the lemon juice, 700 gr sugar, the honey, the cinnamon and the seeds.
Bring to a boil and cook on low heat for 10 minutes, take out the cinnamon and the seeds, let boil once again and mesure the temp when it reaches 105° Centigrade it's ready !

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sourdough Baking Wednesday # 3 : Apple and Carrot Quick Bread - Pane Veloce con mele e carota Italiano a seguire

Few days ago I found out that Zucchero & Cannella just started a new group : it's called Sourdough Baking Wednesday and the name says it all ...

I thought of baking a cake with the sourdough leftovers that I hate throwing away and I found the recipe on what was Recipezaar and now is Food.com.
It's a very simple quick bread to make and I found it quite tasty. I decided to bake it in muffin sized hearts so they took around 30 minutes to bake.


1 cup sourdough
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 apple shredded
1 carrot shredded
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup chopped almonds

Mix everything together, let it rest 10 minutes ad bake in 350° oven for about one hour.

Ho scoperto da pochissimo il blog Zucchero & Cannella dove ogni mercoledì si usa la pasta madre e così ho provato questa ricetta per usare anche gli avanzi della creatura...

  • 236.59 ml pasta madre
  • 158.51 ml zucchero
  • 59.14 ml burro (io ho usato olio)
  • 2 uova grandi
  • 236.59 ml mela sbucciata e a pezzettini
  • 118.29 ml carota grattugiata
  • 9.85 ml cannella
  • 4.92 ml lievito chimico
  • 2.46 ml sale
  • 414.03 ml farina
  • 118.29 ml mandorle tritate
  • 118.29 ml cocco
Mescolare tutti gli ingredienti, far riposare 10 minuti e infornare in forno caldo a 180° per un'ora (per i muffin 30 minuti)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

TWD : Peach Upside Downer

Ciao a tutti ! This week Sabrina of Superfluous chose Cranberry Upside Downer but Cranberries are a very rare fruit around here so I settled for peaches which were a more summery alternative Dorie offered. I even had a few (someone stole the others!!) raspberries to make the cake even more cute. I must say this cake was greatly welcomed even by my pickiest taster Carlo (who decided he will be a restaurant critic in his bright future !) and as aways my problem is how not to eat all the leftovers.
Visit Sabrina for the recipe and all my twd colleaugues for more variations !

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

TWD : Peanut Butter Crisscrosses

This week we baked with Jasmine of Jasmine Cuisine and she chose this that in my ideas is an American classic.
When I lived in Santa Barbara I worked in an house where we were so lucky to have Joanne a cook who would bake cookies and fill two cookie jars for all the workers with all kind of cookies but PB cookies were always there !

I must tell you that in Italy we almost never use peanut butter, I was amazed to find out kids eat peanut butter sandwich almost every day .....

But you know what ? My kids loved these cookies !
Not to mention the fun Anita and I had decorating them with chocolate... this is Anita mad at me because she wants to decorate alone.

Please go here for the recipe and visit the Tuesday with Dorie site to find out what we are up to !!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Tomatoes, Potatoes and Onion Casserole

Roz at La Bella Vita started Fresh, Clean, Pure Friday where everybody can post things we do to make our lives 'cleaner' and fresher.

A few days ago I made this very simple dish layering sliced potatoes, tomatoes and onions in more layers ending with a tomatoes layer. Sprinkle with origano, salt and pepper to taste, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and top with bread crumbs if you like a little crunch.

Bake in a hot oven until nice and brown (not too long like I did!). Let cool 10 minutes before serving.
Enjoy !