Lebkuchen – A Baker’s Odyssey Challenge #58

Lebkuchen is a spicy German cookie synonymous with Christmas. Soft in the centre and slightly crunchy on the edges, fragrant with spices and sticky molasses. What this cookies lack in looks it makes up for in flavour and like all good things, improves with age!

Lebkuchen adapted from A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent

 

Ingredients

1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup molasses
115g/ 1 stick salted butter
30mls/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup castor sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
3 1/4 cup plain flour, sifted
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3 teaspoons cocoa powder
pinch salt
1 cup chopped walnuts

 

Icing

1 cup icing sugar
15g/1 tablespoon butter, at room temp
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 to 4 tablespoons water

 

Method

  1. To make the dough stir together in a bowl the buttermilk and soda. It will become bubbly and thick.
  2. Add the honey and molasses and stir to combine. In a bowl of a stand mixer beat the butter until smooth, add the oil, sugar and vanilla.
  3. Beat for 3 -4 minutes until light and fluffy.
  4. Beat in the egg, followed by the molasses and honey mixture. It will look curdled but that’s ok.
  5. Stir in the remaining ingredients. The dough will be thick and slightly wet. At this point it’s a good idea to wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or even a few days to allow the flavours to mature.
    When ready to bake, heat the oven to 180C/350F.
  6. Line baking trays with baking paper.
  7. Use baking paper dusted with flour to roll out the dough. It will be sticky so be liberal with the flour.
  8. Roll the dough to about 1 cm/1/3inch thick.
  9. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters or simply squares with a knife.
  10. Arrange on prepared baking trays allow a little room for spreading.
  11. Bake for 12-13 minutes. Don’t overbake.
    Make the icing as soon as the trays go into the oven, by beating all the ingredients together until a smooth consistency.
  12. Once the cookies are out of the oven and still warm, paint with the icing.
  13. Leave as is or embellish as desired.
  14. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

 

Spiced Bread Rolls – A Baker’s Odyssey Challenge #53

What could smell better than baking bread?
Baking spiced bread.
This bread has the most amazing combination of exotic spices. Mahlab a spice made from the kernels within the seeds of  the St Lucie cherry.  I bought mine online at Gewurzhaus Herb and Spice Merchants. This is a wonderful store in Melbourne can not be passed by. The scent of spices drifts up and down the street luring customers in. I dare you to try to walk past and not be enticed into the store. Go in, it’s worth it!
 And so are these rolls. Not just any dinner rolls. These bread rolls are a traditional Syrian bread roll. Gorgeous and alluring just like Gewurzhaus Herb and Spice store!
Kleecha (adapted from A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent)
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
2 teaspoons freshly ground mahlab seeds
1 1/4 cups warm water
115g salted butter
1/3 cup olive oil
5 cups bread flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons nigella seeds
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
2 teaspoons anise seeds
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoons freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten, for egg wash
In a small bowl mix the yeast, mahlab and 1/4 cup of the water. Allow to stand for 10 minutes in which time it will start to froth. While your waiting melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add in the oil. The mixture should be warm not hot. Check it with a thermometre, it should be 50C/120F. Remove the pan from the heat.
To prepare the dough I prefer a stand mixer but the dough can also be mix by hand. In a stand mixer bowl place flour, sugar, nigella, sesame and anise seeds and the cloves, nutmeg and salt. Add the yeast mixture, the butter mixture and the remaining cup of water. Using the dough hook, knead on a medium-low speed for 5 -8 minutes. Scrape down the sides if ingredients get stuck. The dough should be smooth but not sticky. Add more flour or water to get the correct consistency. 
Form the dough into a ball and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Allow to rise until tripled in size – about 2 hours.

Once risen, turn out the dough on a work surface. Pat the dough down and divide into 18 equal portions. Allow to rest for 10 minutes cover with a clean cloth.

Prepare a large baking sheet or two smaller pans by lining with baking paper. Roll each portion  20cm/8inch long rope then form into a knot.Brush with the egg wash and leave the rolls to rise for another 45 minutes.
In the meantime preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

Bake risen rolls for about 20 minutes.

Delicious warm or a room temperature with a good dose of butter!
Any leftovers freeze beautifully.

Buttermilk Cardamom Waffles – A Baker’s Odyssey Challenge #52

Want a great breakfast on Sunday morning without too much bother? Dust off your waffle irons, everyone! This is one not to miss!
These waffles are light with buttermilk, perfumed with cardamom and taste heavenly!
All it takes is a bowl and a whisk. Not madly beating egg whites to stiff peaks or waiting around for the batter to take a “rest”. Just get straight into it and share them with someone who will thank you for it!
Happy weekend!

Buttermilk Cardamom Waffles – A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent

2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons freshly ground cardamom
4 large eggs
2 cup buttermilk
60g unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the waffle iron

On a sheet of baking paper sift flour, baking soda, salt, castor sugar and cardamom. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs and  buttermilk. Pick up the paper on top opposite sides, pour into the egg mixture and whisk gently until just combined. Fold in the melted butter. Like muffins, don’t over mix!
Follow the instructions for your waffle iron to make the waffles.

It might take a couple of times to get the correct amount of mixture for each waffle –  it did for me.

Stack up your waffles and bring them to the table with your choice of toppings. 

These Norwegian waffles are traditionally topped with sour cream and fruit or jam. Nothing wrong with icecream and syrup, though!

Norwegian Fattigman – A Baker’s Odyssey Challenge #48

A fried pastry is always good! Many traditional cuisines fry pastry for special occasions. In the Italian tradition the fried thin pastry goes by many names crostoli, cenci, galani, sfrappole, bugie, stracci… the list seems endless. In Australia for some reason we have renamed the Italian fried pastry – storch…perhaps a form of stracci! In any case, I’m not making Italian fried pastry! I am making Norwegian fried pastry called Fattigman which is flavoured with cardamom. This recipe is the 48th recipe I have made from A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent.

Fattigman

6 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon brandy
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups plain flour
oil for deep frying

Beat the egg yolks with an electric mixer until thick and pale, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar gradually and continue to beat for another 5 minutes until the mixture is thick. On a low speed add in the butter, brandy, vanilla, cardamom and salt.

In a small bowl beat the cream until it thickens a little. Fold in the egg mixture and then with a wooden spoon mix in the flour. It will be a thick, sticky dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The next day prepare to fry the fattigman. I used a deep frying pan which I filled with oil to about 2 – 3cm of oil. Use a deep fry thermometer to ensure the oil stays between 180C – 190C and heat the oil as you roll out the dough.

Dust a work surface with flour and divide the dough into quarters. Take one quarter and keep the others covered so they don’t dry out. Dust with flour and roll out the portioned dough until very thin. It should be no more the 1/16 of an inch which is about 1.5mm. If you can get it thinner, all the better.
Flour the work surface to prevent sticking.

Traditionally fattigman is cut into large diamond shapes

with a slit in the middle of each piece.

The tip on the diamond is pulled through the slit. However I think it is perfectly ok to cut the fattigman anyway you wish,

Lower each pastry into the hot oil. Wait about 5 seconds then flip them over to brown on the other side. Flip them over again after about 5 or 10 seconds and keep repeating until the fattigman are blistery all over. It should only take 30 seconds in all. Remove to paper towel to drain.

Repeat with all the dough,

It is not traditional but you can give them a dusting of powdered sugar before serving.

These will keep for 2 to 3 weeks in an airtight container.

Pfeffernüsse Cookies – A Baker’s Odyssey Challenge #43

How many cookbooks do you own? Can you count them? Do you want to? I don’t even want to count the amount of cookbooks I own. I am mad for cookbooks! I can’t resist them! I am probably a cookbook addict, I would say. As much as I love to buy, read and own cookbooks, I rarely cook more than 10 recipes in each. A few year ago I came across A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent. A book showcasing “recipes from America’s rich immigrant heritage”. The recipes within the pages of this book intrigued me so much so that I wanted to bake every single one. And with that thought I started my own personal challenge to bake my way through the book. This is recipe number 43. Pretty good for a cook who barely gets through 10 recipes in any one cookbook. Admittedly it’s taken some time but in the next few months I hope to change that.
This time one of my favourite recipes in the book, Pfeffernüsse, a deliciously spicy sweet recipe from Germany.

Pfeffernüsse adapted from A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent

1/2 cup castor (superfine) sugar
1/2 cup honey
125g unsalted butter
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoon ground anise seeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 3/4 cups plain all purpose flour
1/2 finely chopped almonds

Glaze
1 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup water

Prepare the dough a few hours ahead or even overnight
Put the sugar, honey and butter into a saucepan and heat gently until the butter in melted and the mixture is smooth. Allow to cool until tepid. Whisk in the egg and add the anise, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, coriander, cardamom, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Stir in with the whisk. Mix the flour and almonds in with a wooden spoon. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 160C/325F. Line two baking pans with baking paper. Shape the chilled dough into a 20cm by 10cm (8in x 4in) rectangle and cut into 32 pieces. ( I love this method of portioning the dough!). Roll each square into a ball and place on the baking trays leaving room between each for spreading. Put about 16 biscuits on each tray.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until cracks appear on top. Allow to cool slightly then complete cooling on racks.

Set the racks over a tray or baking paper to catch the glaze the will drip off the biscuits.Make the glaze by mixing the icing sugar and water in a small saucepan. Heat the mixture over medium heat until boiling. Stir occasionally. Remove from the heat and brush the biscuits with the glaze immediately. Allow the glaze to set

Roll in icing sugar or dust with icing sugar as I have done.

Samosas – A Baker’s Odyssey Personal Challenge #40

Growing up in an Italian household one would never think curries were even thought of. However my Italian parents seemed to acquire a taste for curry and a tin of Keen’s Curry Powder was ever present. In fact, my father made a great prawn curry which everyone loved. And so it is that I have never lost my taste for curry spices.
As I continue my slow journey cooking through this wonderful book by Greg Patent, I find myself gravitating towards recipes with spice such as this delicious recipe for samosas. Greg tells us that this pastry recipe by Bipin Patel is not a traditional one. Bipin likes to add cabbage and corn. I substituted carrots for the peas and parsley for the cilantro (coriander). But it would seem, whichever combination you choose, these spicy vegetable samosas are enjoyed by everyone.

Samosas adapted from A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent

Filling:
500g/ 1lb potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm dice
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
1/2 to 1 tablespoon finely chopped chilli
2 teaspoons garam marsala
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup finely chopped cabbage
1 cup finely diced carrots
1 cup corn kernels
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup parsley
1/2 cup finely chopped spring onions

Dough:
1 1/2 cups atta flour ( or 3/4 cup wholewheat flour plus 3/4 plain flour)
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons oil
1/2 cup tepid water

Vegetable oil for frying

Filling:
Boil the potatoes in salted boiling water for about 8 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the mustard seeds and fry off until they pop which should only be a matter of seconds. Add the cumin to brown a little but careful not to burn them. Quickly add the onion, stir and cook until tender, 3 or 4 minutes. Don’t allow to brown.

Add the ginger, chilli, garam marsala, tumeric and salt. Cook for 5 minutes until fragrant. Stir in the cabbage and allow to wilt for 5 minutes or so. Add in the potatoes, carrots, corn and lemon juice. Cook for a few minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir through the parsley and spring onions. With the back of the spoon crush the potatoes a little. Taste and adjust the seasoning. You might need a little more lemon juice.
Allow to cool. This can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator.

Dough:
Mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the oil and rub into the flour. Gradually add the water, mixing with a fork until the mixture clumps. I needed more water to bring the dough together. Form into a ball and wrap in plastic. Allow to rest at room temperature for about 1 hour. This can also be made ahead and refrigerated but allow to come to room temperature before using.

To prepare the samosas:
Divide the dough in half and roll each half into a log about 20cm (8 inches) long. Cut each log into 8 equal pieces and roll into balls. Allow to rest for 10 minutes covered with a tea towel.
Have ready a small cup of water and little extra flour. Lightly flour a ball of dough and press out with your fingers to a 5 to 7 cm (2 to 3 inch) circle. Then roll out to about 15 cm (6 inches) with the rolling pin, flour if necessary. Cut the circle in half.

Now you need to shape each semicircle into a cone. Dampen half of the straight edge with water, bring the other half of the straight edge over it to overlap. Press to seal. Holding the in one hand as in the photo, spoon a generous amount of filling in but  don’t overfill and pack it lightly.

Dampen the edges of the dough and bring together to seal and form the triangle samosa shape. Cute, aren’t they?
And so continue until all the pastry has been used up. If you happen to have leftover filling it is delicious served with yoghurt.. Allow the samosas to dry for an hour or so, turning them over once or twice and checking that they are well sealed.

When ready to fry heat the oil and fry a few at a time until bubbled and browned. I shallow fried but Greg recommends deep frying for even browning and crisping.

Either way the samosas are yummy!

Cardamom Coffee Rolls – A Baker’s Odyssey Personal Challenge #38

Growing up in a farming community that was quite multicultural one of my favourite foods was “Finish Bread” or “Coffee Buns”. I now know this was Pulla, a wonderfully fragrant Finish bread.  The Finns, like we Italians, had come to the area to make it “good” in the sugar cane industry. My mother swapped recipes with the Finn ladies so pizza became a staple in their homes and “Finnish Bread” in ours. I still have a great fondness for the beautiful spice cardamom and for the gentle Finnish people.

Today I continue my slow journey through A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent. I had baked these delicious buns quite some time ago and have just rediscovered them. So similar to the wonderful bread of my childhood with freshly ground cardamom the key to their beauty. Inside the green cardamom pods you will find brown seeds, crush them to release their fragrance.

I dedicate this post to the amazing Finish people and their families who brought joy into my life.


Cardamom Coffee Rolls

Sponge

1 c whole milk
1 1/2 c plain flour
1 package (2 1/4 tsp) active dry or instant yeast

Dough

1/2 c sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1/2 stick (4 tbsp or 60g) butter, soft and room temperature
1 tsp ground cardamom (slightly more if you use pre-ground)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 c plain flour

Topping

1/4 c slivered almonds, chopped
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp pearl sugar
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 tsp water, for the egg wash

To begin make the sponge

Heat the milk to between 38C/120F to 55C/130F. Whisk together the flour and yeast then add the milk and whisk until smooth and thick. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let is rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubles…

… and is bubbly like this.

Scrape the sponge into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the sugar egg, egg yolk, butter, cardamom and salt. Using a flat beater beat on low for a minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes until the dough gathers around the beater and pulls away from the sides. Remove the flat beater and attach the dough hook. Add in the flour and knead on a low speed, scraping the sides if needed. Increase the speed and knead for 5 minutes. It should be soft and elastic.

Sprinkle the dough with a spoonful of flour, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled about 1 1/2 hours.

Scrape the risen dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Flip the dough over so both surfaces are coated with flour. Divide the dough into 15 portions. Cover loosely with a cloth and allow to rest for 10 minutes. In the meantime butter a 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan. Now shape each portion into a ball and arrange in the buttered tray. Allow to rise for 1 hour covered with a cloth.

Heat the oven to 190C/375F. Make the topping by combining all the ingredients.

When the rolls have risen brush with egg wash and sprinkle with topping. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until well risen and browned.

These are delicious warm!

Dutch Sweet Bread – December 2014 daring bakers challenge

For the month of December, Andrea from 4pure took us on a trip to the Netherlands. She challenged us to take our taste buds on a joyride through the land of sugar and spice by baking three different types of Dutch sweet bread.

As this year draws to a close, I know many reevaluated the past 12 months. The past 12 months are pulled apart and put back together and New Years Resolutions are made. In the coming year we will exercise more, spend more time with loved ones, slow down, learn to say “no” and generally turn over a new leaf.

Often my resolutions are put aside sometime in the first month of the year but many years ago when my children were young I decided on a resolution that as a family we would pray before our evening meal. We would take turns each night and no matter what happened during the day we would thank God and name one thing we were grateful for that day. Today with my children in their late teens we still maintain this resolution. Learning to be grateful for each day has helped us get through some difficult times this year as my dad declined as he suffered from dementia and then passed away in April of this year. In 2015, we will be grateful for the many blessings in our lives of family, friends and love.

On a lighter note, I am also grateful the the December Daring Bakers’ challenge was simple and absolutely delicious! Thank you Andrea from 4pure – this was a perfect challenge for this time of the year. My house smelt amazing, it didn’t take too much time and we had something tasty for breakfast!

Happy New Year, dear friends! Blessings.


Ontbijtkoek – from The Dutch Table

1 cup rye flour
1 cup all purpose flour
3 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon each of cardamom, coriander, ginger and ground cloves
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses (I used treacle, because that’s what I had)
1/2 cup honey
1 cup milk
pinch salt

Heat the oven 150C/300F and line a loaf pan with paper.

Mix everything together to a smooth batter. 

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 80 minutes or until done.

 Cool on a wire rack and serve with a slick of butter.

CINNAMON ROLLS – The Daring Bakers’ June 2014 Challenge


This month the Daring Bakers kept our creativity rolling with cinnamon bun inspired treats. Shelley from C Mom Cook dared us to create our own dough and fill it with any filling we wanted to craft tasty rolled treats, cinnamon not required!
Sweet bready dough, cinnamon, sugar, butter…. all my favourite food groups so how could this month fail to impress. 
Cinnamon buns are something I have always wanted to make but have never really got around to it. And Sticky Cinnamon buns can only be better. Shelley provided a great recipe from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart plus a couple of others. But Shelley also gave us free reign to be as creative as we pleased – sweet or savoury, with or without cinnamon. However I couldn’t go past the recipe by Peter Reinhard in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.  I have a copy of this book so I followed the Sticky Bun version of the recipe. And….wow…delightful, delicious and divine! Thank you, Shelley!
Please take note of this oozy caramel dripping down the buns like molten lava!

Cinnamon Buns

(from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart)
Makes 8-12 large or 12-16 smaller buns

Ingredients
6½ tablespoons (100 ml) (3 oz) (90 gm) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt
5½ tablespoons (85 ml) (2¾ oz) (80 gm) shortening, unsalted butter or margarine, at room temperature
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon extract OR 1 teaspoon (5 ml) grated lemon zest
3½ cups (840 ml) (16 oz) (450 gm) unbleached bread (or all-purpose/plain) flour
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (¼ oz) (6 gm) instant yeast (active dry worked as well)
1 1/8 – 1 ¼ cups (270-300 ml) whole milk or buttermilk, at room temperature
½ cup (120 ml) (3½ oz) (100 gm) cinnamon sugar (6½ tablespoons (100ml) (3 oz) (90 gm) granulated sugar plus 1½ tablespoons (20 ml) (1/3 oz) (10 gm) ground cinnamon)
pecans

Caramel Glaze

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks/15 Tbsp) butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1 tsp lemon, orange or vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together sugar, salt and shortening (though it is not difficult to do by hand, using a strong spoon).
  2. Add the egg and lemon extract to the creamed sugar and shortening and mix together until smooth.
  3. Add the flour, yeast and milk to the mixer and mix on low speed until the dough begins to form a ball.
  4. At this point, switch to the dough hook attachment and knead for 10 minutes (if kneading by hand, you will probably need to do so for closer to 12 – 15 minutes). The dough will be silky and supple, but not overly sticky. You may need to add a touch of flour if your dough is too sticky – that is okay.
  5. Lightly oil a bowl, turn the kneaded dough out into it, turning to coat, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  6. Allow the dough to rest (ferment) until it has doubled in size, approximately 2 hours.
  7. Once the dough has rested and risen, you are ready to shape the cinnamon buns. Prepare your a sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper.
  8. Spray your work surface lightly with cooking spray and turn the dough out onto the work surface.
  9. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough, into a rectangle about 2/3 an inch (15 mm) thick, 14 inches (350 mm)wide and 12 inches (300 mm) long (for large buns) (or 18 inches (450 mm) wide by 9 inches (230 mm) long for smaller ones). You may need to sprinkle the dough and/or work surface with a bit of flour to keep the dough from sticking. This is okay. 

 10. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar filling over the surface of the dough.

 11. Starting with a long end, roll the dough, creating a spiral, into a log shape, making sure to end with the seam side down

 Make the glaze: in the bowl of an electric mixer, combine sugar, brown sugar, salt, and butter, at room temperature. Cream together for 2 minutes on high speed with the paddle attachment. Add the cup corn syrup and 1 teaspoon lemon, orange or vanilla extract. Continue to cream for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Use as much of this as you need to cover the bottom of the pan with a 1/4-inch layer. Refrigerate and save any excess for future use; it will keep for months in a sealed container. I made half this quantity and used the whole lot.

I sprinkled a few broken pecan over the caramel glaze.

12.Cut the dough into pieces approximately 1¾ inches (45 mm) thick (for large buns) (1¼ inch (30 mm) for smaller buns).
13. Place buns approximately ½ inch (15 mm) apart on the prepared pan. They shouldn’t be touching at this time. (Mine were)

 14. Allow the shaped buns to proof at room temperature for 75 – 90 minutes until they have nearly doubled in size. They will now be touching each other. If you are not planning on baking the buns the same day as you are preparing them, you can place them into the refrigerator after they are shaped (before this rise) for up to 2 days. If you do so, you will need to allow them to return to room temperature prior to baking, which means removing them from the refrigerator about 3 or 4 hours before baking.

15. Preheat the oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 degrees at the end of this proofing time.

16. Bake the buns for 20 – 30 minutes, until golden brown

17. Allow to cool for 5 minutes then turn over onto a serving plate. Don’t let the buns sit in the pan for too long because then you will have trouble turning them out.

These rolls have a beautiful tender crumb combined with the oozy caramel…yum… who can resist!

Nougat Torrone – THE DARING BAKERS’ MARCH, 2014 CHALLENGE

The March 2014 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Rebecca of BakeNQuilt. She challenged us to learn to make classic nougat and to make it our own with our choice of flavors and add-ins.

This month we Daring Bakers were challenge by Rebecca of BakeNQuilt to learn to make nougat. The first sentence of the notes went like this “Success in nougat (as with most candy-making) relies on an accurate thermometer, dry weather, no distractions, and preparing everything in advance so it’s ready to go when you need it.” Hmmmmm, since we had had over 400 mm of torrential rain in the past week and humidity of 80% and above, it probably wasn’t the “dry weather” that nougat calls for. But I thought I would still try my hand at making Nougat Torrone by the recipe Rebecca supplied. 
Growing up in  an Italian family torrone was an essential part of every Christmas with at least several bars of the imported Italian nougat consumed during this time. Homemade Torrone is an often served at weddings and other special events in our regional town. It is brittle, filled with almonds and flavoured with cinnamon, made by descendants of Sicilians who immigrated to Australia many years ago bringing with them their traditions and recipes. Even though my family always had store bought Torrone, I have watched and helped with the making of this Italian Torrone. So with this idea and Rebecca’s recipe, I persisted.
The honey I purchase is a delicious and delicate light coloured and light flavoured honey from the blossom of a eucalyptus tree, Yellow Messmate. I would have liked to team it with the macadamias fresh from the tree but this was not to be. So instead I toasted almonds, hazelnuts and pistachios and ground a cinnamon stick to fine powder for flavouring.

But alas! The humidity dealt a cruel blow! Even though I took the sugar syrup and honey to a higher temperature the recommended the resulting torrone is soft and chewy not hard and brittle as I would have liked. Kept in the refrigerator the nougat doesn’t reduce itself to a sticky mess.  Photos are taken quickly but then the torrone is hastily returned to the refrigerator. Sad!
I think the recipe is great but one must do what one is advised – You need DRY WEATHER to successfully make nougat. Check out Rebecca’s post for all the details and the recipe.

Thanks Rebecca, I do think it is a delicious recipe that will work in the right conditions!