Estonian Kringel or A Really Delicious Chocolate Yeast Cake

I only had to take a look at this picture of an Estonian Kringel to decide that it had to be good. 




I've changed the recipe slightly...used cocoa instead of cinnamon and margarine instead of butter. Most people will probably prefer to use butter but I really don't like the taste of butter so I usually  substitute.


Dough
450 gm flour
a pinch of salt
180 ml lukewarm milk
1 1/2 teaspoon active dry  yeast
45 gm melted margarine
2 egg yolks 
1 1/2 tbsp sugar

Filling
30 gm melted margarine
50 gm sugar 
1 tbsp cocoa

Method 
Mix the yeast with the lukewarm milk and sugar and let it sit a few minutes. Put the flour and salt in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Add yeast mixture, egg yolk and melted margarine. Knead for about 10 minutes.

Roll into a ball and put into a bowl. Cover and leave in a warm place to double in size. 
Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. 

Roll dough on surfaced dusted with flour to about 1mm thickness. Mix cocoa and sugar. Brush melted margarine over dough and then sprinkle with sugar/cocoa mixture. Roll up your dough. 

Follow the photo tutorial HERE for a really nice way to shape you Kringel. You can brush the top of your Kringel with some melted margarine and a little sugar if you want. I prefer less sugar and less margarine in my cakes so I leave this step off.

Bake for 10 minutes at 200 degrees C and then reduce the oven to 180 degrees for about another 20 minutes.



Ok…the shape isn't perfect…that rolling twisting business takes a bit of practice…but the dough tastes great…and next time I want to replace the cocoa and sugar filling with melted chocolate mixed with melted margarine for a stronger flavour and moister texture.

Pickled Carrots

When I came across this recipe I knew I'd love these pickles...and it was the perfect excuse to buy a julienne peeler...I've left out the spices in my recipe but you can add fennel seeds, dill seeds, anise seeds, ginger, bay leaves, whatever you like really...I've used white wine vinegar but you can use whatever vinegar you have on hand.



INGREDIENTS

3 or 4 carrots in julienne strips

100ml white wine vinegar

100ml water

50gms sugar

1 teaspoon salt

METHOD

1. Tightly pack a sterilised glass jar with the carrot strips.

2. Put the vinegar, water, sugar and salt into a small pot and bring to boil.

3. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and leave to steep for a few minutes.

4. Pour the vinegar mixture over the carrots making sure all the carrots are covered. If the liquid doesn't quite cover the carrots you can press the carrots down with the back of a spoon.

5. Refrigerate overnight...or if you are like me and have run out of pickles and just can't wait...then refrigerate till they have cooled down and they're ready!

home made vanilla extract

I first came across a post on home made vanilla extract at the italian dish. I loved the idea straight away and was surprised at how easy it was to make...the only down side was that you had to wait a couple of months before it was ready to use...I'm not sure exactly how long you need to wait...opinions range from 6 weeks to 2 years...but I guess all that really means is the longer you wait the better your vanilla extract will be...anyway the waiting didn't really matter in the end because it took me 2 months to decide on what bottles to use!

All you need to make vanilla extract is alcohol and vanilla beans. I use vodka for the alcohol but I've seen other recipes that use rum. I simply pour a cup of vodka into a jar, add 3 vanilla beans slit lengthwise and then cut in half  to make them short enough to fit in the bottles. You need to store it in a cool dark place and give the jar a shake every week or so. When my bottles finally arrived I decanted the liquid into the bottles and popped 2 pieces of vanilla bean in each bottle.


The bottles I finally chose were 75ml round glass bottles that I found at Gala Imports. If you're interested in knowing a little about all the different varieties of vanilla beans and their different flavours then go to vanilla garlic for a great run down.

In Search of the Perfect Quiche

On the way home from my recent trip to Austria we decided to stop for four days in Amsterdam.  We'd never been to Amsterdam so I had lots planned for those four days. What we ended up doing though was quite different to what I had planned... we LOVED Amsterdam... and everyday we walked along the streets and canals... we tasted cheese at Henry Willig, ate herring and stroopwafel at the Albertcuyp markets, walked and found amazing shops in little streets that you almost missed and every time we turned a corner we found ourselves looking down at another beautiful canal. And in between all the walking we would stop and eat at these amazingly tiny little cafes... once, when we were wandering down this old cobbled backstreet near the university, we found this little cafe called Hartig & Zoet:


... where we ate the most delicious leek and goats cheese quiche. Now the last time I made a quiche was a very very long time ago and it wasn't the most successful meal I've ever made! So when we returned to Australia I was determined to make a delicious quiche and perhaps in some way  relive our amazing time in Amsterdam.

For a few weeks the quiche was a work in progress.Working out how to make the pastry so it didn't taste hard and leathery was the first hurdle. After reading lots of posts( this one is pretty informative ) I realised that overkneading your dough was the most likely culprit and mixing together your ingredients quickly and lightly was all you needed to fix that problem. The next hurdle was getting the right balance of eggs, milk and goat's fetta... and I think I've found the perfect balance... well my family gave me 10/10 so I think that's pretty good.




INGREDIENTS

PASTRY

1 1/2 cups plain flour

130 gms margarine

1 egg yolk

1 1/2 tblsps lemon juice (approx)

pinch salt

pinch baking powder

FILLING

olive oil

2 leeks, white part finely sliced 

6 eggs

180 gms goat's cheese fetta

milk

METHOD

PASTRY

Sift flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl. 

Rub in margarine until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

Add egg yolk and enough lemon juice to mix to firm dough. 

Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Roll out to fit a 23cm quiche dish. Trim edges. Line tin with baking paper, fill with dry beans or rice and bake in moderately hot oven for 10 minutes.

Remove paper and beans and bake for a further 5 minutes.

FILLING 

Finely slice the white part of the leeks (I like to slice up into the dark green part just a little). 

Lightly sauté the leek in olive oil.

Crack eggs into a large measuring cup and add enough milk to make 3 cups of liquid.

Add fetta, leek, salt and pepper.

Pour into pastry case.

Bake in moderately hot oven for about 45 minutes.

For a richer taste you can use cream instead of milk and you can use any other cheese you like instead of fetta. Look here for a guide on how to change and balance your ingredients to make a delicious quiche that works every time.

Frau Ferle's Nusskuchen

On a recent trip to visit family in Mondsee, a half hour drive from Salzburg in Austria, we stayed at a small guest house run by Frau Ferle. One day Frau Ferle made a nusskuchen (nut cake) to take with us when we visited my aunt. She made us check first though that my aunt had shlagobers (cream) at home because she insisted that the cake was too dry to eat without it. Actually, in Austria it seems that shlagobers is the usual addition to almost everything you eat. Well...we loved the cake...didn't even think of adding shlagobers...and lucky for me Frau Ferle was more than happy to share the recipe that had been handed down to her from her grandmother. And there's one thing I know about Austrian grandmothers, when they give you a cake recipe, you know it's going to be really really good.



INGREDIENTS

4 eggs, separated

200 gms plain flour

200  gms sugar

100 gms ground nuts

125 ml sunflower oil

125 ml water

half a lemon, juiced

8 gms baking powder

20 gms vanilla sugar



Set oven to 180 C.

Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.

Mix water, both sugars and the egg yolks, slowly add the oil and mix together until the mixture begins to froth, add the lemon juice.

Combine the flour, baking powder and ground nuts.

Add this mixture and the beaten egg whites carefully into your egg yolk/oil mixture.

Bake for about 45 minutes.


Frau Ferle made her cake from walnuts...I wanted to make it as soon as I got back to Australia...I only had whole almonds at home so I ground the almonds...I didn't grind them up real evenly and finely but left in lots of little coarser fragments because I like the texture that this gives the cake when you eat it.


Maria, my mother's childhood friend (left), Frau Fehrle (centre), and me 

Yeast Buns with Sultanas and Mixed Peel

I love baking with fresh yeast. I love the smell of the yeast frothing and bubbling in the warm milk and the warm yeasty smell as you take the buns from the oven. But it's not always easy to get the yeast to work as it should.  I find it's always easier working with yeast on a nice warm sunny day. I like to mix and knead my dough in the sun if I can. My kitchen doesn't get any sunlight so I take the bowl to a sunny spot and knead it there...and I like kneading the dough by hand.

The original recipe calls for more sultanas and more sugar but I always reduce the sugar content in recipes by at least half and still find that pretty sweet. The trickiest part of yeast recipes is knowing when the dough has doubled in size. Many recipes give times but in the end I think it's best just to look at your dough and judge it by size and not how long it has rested. On a warm sunny day it will always rise much quicker. 


YEAST BUNS


INGREDIENTS

200 ml milk

40gm brown sugar

30gms fresh yeast

500 gms '00' flour

1 tsp salt

60gm margarine

1 large egg, beaten

50gms mixed peel, finely chopped

30gms sultanas


Heat milk to lukewarm, add 1 tsp of sugar and yeast and stir till dissolved.
Cover with cling wrap and leave in a warm place for about 15 mins or until frothy.

In the meantime sift the flour, salt and the rest of the sugar into a large bowl. Rub in the margarine and make a well in the centre of the flour. Pour in the yeast mixture and the beaten egg and mix together. until it forms a ball of dough. Now knead it for about 8 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling wrap and leave it in a warm spot until it doubles in size.

Knead the dough for a few minutes working in the sultanas and mixed peel as you continue kneading.

Set your oven to hot.

Divide into 12 pieces and shape each piece into a bun. Arrange on a tray, cover with cling wrap and leave in a warm place for about 20 minutes.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.