22 September 2017

OVERNIGHT BAKERY-STYLE CRESCENT ROLLS

Crescent rolls are one of my most favourite things to bake. These are commonly found in bakeries, but also very frequently made in homes by many. Usually split down the middle and enjoyed with sweet or savoury fillings, they are so soft and fluffy, with a gorgeous crispy and crunchy exterior. The ingredients are simple, but the baked rolls are very delicious, as almost all old-fashioned pastries are.


Ingredients
For the crescent rolls
400 grams soft bread flour
250 ml warm water
100 ml vegetable oil
2 teaspoons instant dried yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
For brushing
100 ml vegetable oil

Preparation
Mix the yeast with the sugar in a small bowl, pour in the warm water and let it sit in a warm spot for about 15 minutes. Sift the flour, set about 100 grams aside and put the majority in a large bowl, make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast, oil, salt and apple cider vinegar. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the dough starts to form, then knead with your hands for 5-10 minutes, gradually adding the flour you reserved, until you get a smooth and elastic dough that doesn't stick to your hands. Once the dough is ready, oil the bowl, place the dough in, oil the dough surface, then tightly cover it with cling film, and let it rise overnight in the refrigerator. After the dough has slowly risen, knead it briefly or a floured work surface, then divide it into 12 pieces.
Shape each piece into a round, arrange them on a baking sheet lined with baking paper, brush them with oil, cover them with cling film, and let them rise for another 30 minutes. Once the have risen, using a rolling pin, roll each piece into a irregular oval shape, then roll it up from one narrow end to the other, forming a crescent roll. Put the rolls on a baking sheet lined with baking paper, brush them again with the oil, cover with a kitchen cloth and let them rise for 30 more minutes. Bake them in a preheated oven, at 200˚C (395˚F) for 15-20 minutes. If you wish, you can brush them with butter as soon as you take them out of the oven, for a soft crust.

15 September 2017

MINI PIZZA CRESCENT ROLLS

These mini pizza crescent rolls are great to pack as a snack or even in a lunch box. Very easy to make, they can be filled with any cheese you like. The dough is pretty simple and flavourful, just make sure to knead it well. As with any dough, it is quite difficult to over-knead it by hand, so do not be afraid to knead it for longer than 5 minutes, if you think the dough needs it. If you are using a mixer with a dough hook, watch it carefully, as it is very easy to over-knead and make the dough dense and tough.

Mini pizza crescent rolls tinascookings.blogspot.com

Ingredients
350 grams plain flour
1 ½ teaspoon dried yeast
120 ml warm whole milk
1 teaspoon sugar
100 grams cottage cheese or Ricotta cheese
100 grams butter, softened
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dried oregano
100 grams crumbled Feta cheese (optional)
50 grams butter, melted

Mini pizza crescent rolls tinascookings.blogspot.com

Preparation
Pour the warm milk in a small bowl, add the yeast and sugar, along with a teaspoon of flour, mix well and let the yeast activate in a warm spot, for about 10 minutes. When the yeast is bubbly, combine the softened butter, room temperature cheese, tomato spice and the rest of the spices in a large bowl, and blend them really well with an electric mixer. Add 4 tablespoons of flour and activated yeast and blend well again. Sift in the rest of flour, mixing the dough first with a wooden spoon, then with your hands, until you get a soft, pliable dough that doesn't stick to your hands. Transfer it to a floured surface and knead it by hand for about 5 minutes (add a bit more flour if the dough keeps sticking to your hands).
Cover the dough and let it rise in a warm spot for about an hour. Gently knead the risen dough, then divide it into two equal parts. Roll out each dough part into a circle (about 5 mm; ¼-inch thick) on a lightly floured surface, then using a pizza wheel, cut each circle into 12 triangles. If you like Feta cheese, add a bit of it on the wider part of the triangle, then roll it up towards the smaller side. Brush each crescent roll with melted butter and arrange them on a non-greased baking sheet. Repeat with the second part of the dough. If there is some melted butter left, drizzle it over the rolls on the baking sheets. Let them rest for about 30 minutes, and bake them in a preheated oven, at 200˚C (400˚F) for 10-12 minutes. Yields 24 mini crescent rolls. © Tina Vesić

08 September 2017

VICKY'S HONEY BAGELS

Bagels are a breakfast staple for many, sometimes with savoury spreads, sometimes with sweet spreads, and sometimes even on their own. And these honey beauties are just that good. The honey does give them sweetness, but they are simply great with cream cheese. If you would like a more balanced flavour, you can increase the salt amount ever so slightly, so they are of a more neutral flavour, which would, in turn, be fantastic with smoked salmon and freshly cracked black pepper.
These ones are specially crafted to be full of honey, soft, fluffy, and amazing, as the recipe itself is entirely inspired by and dedicated to the dearest friend of ours.


Ingredients
For the bagels
400 grams strong bread flour
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons raw honey
1 ½ teaspoons salt
300 ml warm water
For the baking soda solution
500 ml boiling water
3 tablespoons baking soda
2 tablespoons raw honey
For the glaze
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon raw honey


Preparation
Take a large bowl, and sift in the bread flour. Add the yeast, and mix really well. Add in the warm water, honey, and salt, then mix with a wooden spoon until a ball of dough forms. Once the dough ball forms, transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead it with your hands for about 5 minutes, until the dough is soft, smooth, and elastic. Depending on your flour, you might need to add another tablespoon or two of flour. Place the dough into a large, greased bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and let it rest and rise, in a warm spot, for about 2 hours.
Once the dough has risen, press to deflate it in the bowl, then transfer it to a floured surface, and divide it into 12 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a sphere, and let them rest for 30 minutes, covered. When they have rested slightly, working quickly, shape each piece into a bagel by pinching a hole through the centre of it. Keep the rest of the dough pieces covered whilst working and shaping them. Let the formed bagels rest and rise for another 30 minutes.
While they are resting, prepare the baking soda solution – let the water come to a boil in a deep pot or a saucepan, then reduce the heat and let the water just simmer. Add in the baking soda and honey (it will bubble up, so be careful, and use a deep pot), and prepare for dipping the bagels.
Dip each bagel completely into the baking soda solution, and let it bathe for 10 seconds, then remove it, and place it onto a silicone mat on a large baking sheet. Continue doing the same with the rest of the bagels, then immediately place the baking sheet into a preheated oven, at 200°C (400°F), and bake the bagels for 15-20 minutes. While they are baking, mix together the softened butter and honey, and keep it ready for the bagels. Once you take them out of the oven, use a silicone pastry brush to generously coat them with the honey butter. Serve warm. Yields 12 small bagels.

01 September 2017

RUSTIC BUTTERY BISCUITS

This recipe is one of my very favourites from the childhood. When we were kids, we ate them warm, actually, hot off the baking sheet, with icy cold strawberry jam. Later on, I started having them with cheese spreads, or even as a mini turkey salad sandwiches. If you wish, you can flavour the butter spread to your liking.
A few pinches of crushed red pepper flakes, if serving them savoury, can be a delicious addition. Or even a sprinkling of chives before the dough is rolled up. If you are serving them sweet, add a bit of vanilla or even a bit of icing sugar to the butter. They may not be the quickest biscuits to make, but they are certainly one of the most delicious ones.


Ingredients
300 grams plain flour
120 ml warm water
120 ml warm whole milk
2 teaspoons dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
50 grams butter, softened
2 tablespoons whole milk

Preparation
Sift the flour twice, add the yeast, sugar and salt and whisk well to combine. Set the bowl aside. Take a medium bowl and combine the milk and water, then make a well in the centre of the flour and pour it in. Mix with a wooden spoon until a dough starts to form. Start kneading it with your hands for about 5 minutes, until a soft dough forms. If it starts to stick too much, add a tiny bit of flour more. Once the dough stops sticking to your hands, add the oil and knead it in. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and leave it in a warm place for about an hour and a half, or until doubled in size. While the dough is rising, beat the softened butter with an electric mixer on high, for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy.
Take the risen dough out of the bowl and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll it out to a very large rectangle, the largest your work surface will allow you to. Do not force the dough to roll out; if it keeps shrinking while you roll, let the dough rest for 5 minutes, then roll it out again. When you're satisfied with the size of the rectangle, gently lift the dough off the surface to make sure it didn't stick anywhere. Take a spatula and gently spread the whipped butter all over the dough rectangle in an even layer. Roll the dough tightly, starting from the longer side. The tighter the roll, the better. Once the dough is evenly rolled up, shape the roll into a pinwheel, tucking the ends underneath.
Cover the swirl with a kitchen towel and leave it to rest for about 30 minutes. Take a large rolling pin and gently flour it. Lift the dough swirl off the surface, to see it is not sticking to it and roll it out in a square shape (about 25x25 cm; 10x10"), about 1 cm thick. Using a large knife, cut the square into 25 little pieces and arrange them on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Let them rest for 15 minutes, and brush them with some milk just before baking. Bake them in a preheated oven, at 200˚C (400˚F), for about 10-12 minutes. Yields 25 biscuits.

25 August 2017

MINI WEDDING CAKE

Who says wedding cakes have to be very large? This adorable little cake generously serves a small party of four and it has two tiers of rich chocolate cake and an amazing Mascarpone buttercream filling. As the cake is baked in a large pan, you will have some cake left over, but don't discard it. Use the cake to make some cake pops, or freeze it for some future snacks. If you do not wish to use a buttercream icing for the entire decoration, you can just halve the ingredients, then only crumb coat the cake, and cover it in fondant.


Ingredients
For the chocolate cake layers
300 grams granulated sugar
150 grams butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 medium eggs
200 grams plain flour
2 tablespoons cornflour (corn starch)
50 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
50 grams instant chocolate pudding powder
240 ml whole milk
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
For the Mascarpone buttercream
250 grams butter
150 grams Mascarpone cheese
400 grams icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 teaspoon unflavoured gelatine
2 tablespoons cold water
assorted food colouring (optional)

Preparation
Before you start working on the cake layers, mix together the milk with the lemon juice, and let it sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. Place the softened butter in a large bowl, add in the sugar, and beat with an electric mixer on high, until lighter in colour and creamy, about 3-4 minutes, depending on the speed of your mixer. Add in the eggs, and the vanilla, along with a teaspoon or two of flour, to help with emulsifying. Blend really well, on low. Sift together the dry ingredients, and add them to the batter, alternating with the milk, in a few additions.
The batter should be smooth, and rather thick. Take a large rimmed baking sheet (33x33 cm; 13x13”), line it with baking paper, then spread the cake batter evenly. It is not a self-levelling batter, so you will need to use an offset spatula to do so. Bake the cake in a preheated oven, at 180°C (350°F), for about 15-18 minutes, checking carefully for doneness. Because it will be quite thin, it can burn quickly. Once baked, remove it from the oven, and let it cool completely before cutting and frosting.
While the cake is cooling, make the frosting. Take a large bowl, add in the softened butter, and beat with an electric mixer on high, for at least 3-4 minutes, until the butter becomes smooth, and lighter in colour. Add in the Mascarpone, and blend it in on low. Sift in half of the icing sugar, blend it well, then blend in the rest of the icing sugar. Take a small bowl, add in the gelatine powder, then pour the cold water over it, and let it bloom. Back to the frosting, add in the milk, and the food colouring (if using), and continue beating on high, for another 2-3 minutes.
By this time, the gelatine should be ready, so melt it over very low heat, or in the microwave, until it becomes clear and liquid. Take a few teaspoons of the frosting, and mix it well with the melted gelatine, then pour everything back into the frosting, and blend really well with an electric mixer. The gelatine will act as a stabilizer, so that the frosting will stay smooth and airy, like a mousse, but stable enough to be piped, and transported. Once everything is blended, set the frosting aside for 10-15 minutes, to rest.
To assemble the cake, take the cooled cake off the baking sheet very carefully, or leave it on the sheet, to prevent possible cracking. Take two biscuit cutters – 12 cm and 8 cm in diameter, and proceed to cut out circles from the cooled cake. Take out three 12 cm circles, and three 8 cm circles. Place some of the frosting into a decorating bag with a plain round nozzle and pipe a layer of the hazelnut buttercream on one of the largest circles, then place the corresponding cake circle on top of it. Repeat that one more time, then place that layer on a cardboard cake circle, and crumb coat it.
Do the same for the smaller circles. It can be very fiddly, but just be patient. Place the layers in the freezer for about 10 minutes, so the frosting can set up. Once the layers have been chilled, remove them from the freezer and generously frost each layer as you like. You can leave the cakes with some crumbs showing, or you can completely frost them, there is enough frosting to fill and ice the cake completely. Decorate the layers further, if desired. Stack the tiers on a cake pedestal, and let the cake chill and set up in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. Just before bringing the cake to the table, add a desired topper. Yields 8 servings. © Tina Vesić 2017
Baker's note: Even though the cake has two tiers, the top tier is very light, so it does not require a dowel or a cake board beneath it.