21 July 2012

Variations On A Theme - Salmon Pie Version 4

Looking through my list of recipes, I see that there are already three salmon pies on it, not to mention the salmon and spinach pie. But here I go again - there was salmon in the fridge, Lundulph and I are massively hungry and I'd bought a packet of ready made puff pastry, I really can't remember the reason why.

I had planned the pie for Thursday night, that's why both salmon and puff pastry were thawed and ready to go. But work was extremely busy and I didn't finish until well in the evening, so we had salad instead.

But yesterday Lundulph had a day off from work and I finished up a little earlier.

Other left-over ingredients in the fridge were also happily used up - the whipping cream I had planned to use with my sticky muffins and never used and the remaining créme fraîche from the nougat muffins.

I also realise that this pie is very similar to my last one, it seems my mind is fixed and I keep thinking along the same lines.

Ingredients

600 g ready rolled puff pastry - two sheets
600 g fillets of hot smoked salmon
1 tsp hot chilli flakes
3 eggs + 1 egg white
3 dl whipping cream
2 dl créme fraîche
black pepper
1 dl finely cut chives
1 tbsp dried mint
1 tbsp dried dill
1 tbsp dried thyme
3 tbsp fresh finely chopped parsley
1 egg yolk for decoration
Method
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees C.

  2. Line a deep (5 - 7 cm) pie dish with one of the puff pastry sheets, making sure it goes right up to the edge of the dish and even a little above.

  3. Remove the skin from the salmon steaks, then shred it and put in the pie dish.
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  4. Sprinkle in the hot chilli flakes and stir in a little.

  5. In a bowl, stir together the eggs, whipping cream, créme fraîche, black pepper, chives, mint, dill, thyme and parsley, then pour carefully over the salmon.
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  6. Cover the pie with the second sheet of puff pastry, pinch in along the edges, so that it doesn't run out, make some holes to allow steam out and brush with the egg yolk.
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  7. Bake until golden brown, 1h to 1h 30 min. Let cool a little before serving.
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I made a couple of mistakes (as usual) - I added salt to the liquid mixture, not thinking about that hot smoked salmon tends to be quite salty, so the whole pie was a bit on the salty side.

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I also should have blind-baked the bottom pastry layer, knowing that my oven doesn't bake at all underneath. Probably this wouldn't be necessary in an electric oven with heating elements at both bottom and top.

I think this pie would have been rather nice with my standard white sauce that normally do for barbecues.

It could also have taken on more chilli flakes.

17 July 2012

Vaniljhjärtan

During my last trip to Sweden, I was not able to resist going into the kitchen shop where I found metal heart shapes, which I just had to buy.

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After all, I'd promised Lundulph some time ago to make him vanilla hearts and with a recipe for these classic Swedish pastries from my new patisserie book I got to work. With the usual swap of vanilla sugar for icing sugar and vanilla extract. It also calls for fleur de sel, which I didn't have, so I used regular cooking salt instead, however, I will get some for my next batch. The recipe was for 30 hearts, which I felt was a bit too much to make, so I halved the recipe. Besides I only have 12 of the little heart tins, which incidentally measure 7.5 cm along the line of symmetry and they have a small lip around the edge.

Ingredients

240 g plain flour
200 g unsalted butter from the fridge
55 g icing sugar
1 g fleur de sel (or salt)
5 g vanilla extract
20 g egg yolk (from 1 large egg)
3 dl vanilla custard
icing sugar for decoration

Method
  1. Place the flour on a work surface and form a well.
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  2. Cut the butter in a few pieces and place in the middle of the well along with the icing sugar and the salt.

  3. Pinch together into a crumbly dough, but careful not to over-work.

  4. Add the vanilla and the yolk and mix in.

  5. When well incorporated, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge to rest for at least 1 h.

  6. Line up the heart tins together as closely as possible. Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees C.

  7. Take out half of the dough from the fridge and roll out to 3 mm thickness on a lightly dusted work surface, making sure it doesn't stick.

  8. Carefully roll up the dough onto the rolling pin and roll out over the heart tins.

  9. Using a small piece of dough, gently push the rolled out dough into each heart tin.

  10. Carefully roll the rolling pin over the hearts, then cut around the edge to free them and remove excess dough.

  11. Spoon or pipe in the custard, filling each heart to about three-quarters.

  12. Take out the remainder of the dough and roll out to 3 mm in the same way.

  13. Roll up on the rolling pin, then roll out over the heart tins, then roll the rolling pin over the tins to seal in the filling.

  14. Prick the tops of the hearts before baking them for 25 minutes until golden brown.

  15. Prepare a piece of baking paper large enough to fit all the hearts. Turn out the hearts immediately after taking them out of the oven, then carefully prise off the little tins and allow the hearts to cool.

  16. Dust with icing sugar before serving. The hearts keep for one day if kept in room temperature and a couple of days if kept in the fridge.


I made several mistakes in baking these. First I over-worked the dough.
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So that when I added my egg yolk and a bit and the vanilla extract, I ended up with sticky goo.
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Using a dough scraper made it a bit easier. I wrapped the thing in cling film and left it in the fridge overnight.

To avoid it going sticky again, I tried to work as fast as I could and ended up adding a lot of extra flour to the dough.

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Unfortunately I also mis-understood the instructions on how to get the dough into the heart tins, so ended up doing each individually and had to wait inbetween turns as the dough kept warming up and going gooey.

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I think this below is what filling up to three-quarters meant...
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I also didn't succeed with covering the filling according to instructions and rolling the rolling pin over each individually was a precarious work, but I got there in the end. Here they are, ready for baking:

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And straight out of the oven:

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Unfortunately upon turning the hearts out, I once again had a confirmation that I need a new oven. I had to bake the hearts for 40 minutes and still they were barely cooked underneath. Luckily, dusting icing sugar on top covered it.

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After day 2 in the fridge (only Lundulph and me to eat the little beauties), I started warming the hearts up in the microwave a little. This resulted in the crust becoming very soft and impossible to touch, so they required a spoon for eating. Also the custard inside changed and became more solid. I think I'll make real crème pâtissière next time.

On the whole the hearts were good, but I would have preferred them a little sweeter on the inside. Lundulph said they were really good, which is nice.

13 July 2012

Vanilla Dreams

A few weeks before I moved back to the UK, I finally managed to buy a new baking book. One that I'd had my eye on since it came out the year before.

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It's by Jan Hedh (in Swedish), one of the leading pastry chefs in Sweden, and is called "277 sorters kakor". This translates to "277 types of biscuits/cakes" and is a play on the Swedish concept of "kafferep" and "sju sorters kakor". That is "coffee rope" and "seven types of biscuits" and refers to a very old Swedish tradition where women would gather and drink coffee and eat biscuits. According to Swedish wikipedia, this was usually done for a wedding or a funeral, but I'm not sure those were the only reasons for such a gathering. For starters, ladies could get a few hours' break from husband and children. These events are expected to last for a whole afternoon I would think.

The seven types of biscuits is what kafferep-etiquette required as a minimum! This doesn't count bread rolls, buns and other such items. Another must was of course the Princess cake.

So, for Lundulph's last Swedish lesson for the term, he asked me to bake something Swedish for him to take along and I picked one very Swedish biscuit - vaniljdrömmar or vanilla dreams. And the recipe is from my new book. The only change I made was with respect to vanilla sugar - this is found in most Swedish recipes calling for vanilla, but I haven't had any in years since I discovered the wonderful bottles of vanilla extract. The original stated 25 g vanilla sugar, which I have replaced with 20 g of caster sugar + 1 tbsp vanilla extract.

Ingredients
Makes 70
300 g plain flour
4 g ammonium carbonate (baker's ammonia or salt of hartshorn)
225 g unsalted butter at room temperature
220 g caster sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees C. Line a couple of baking sheets with baking paper and cut out a couple of additional pieces of baking paper as well.
  2. Sift together the flour and ammonium carbonate, making sure they are well blended.
  3. In a separate bowl, stir together with a spoon the butter, sugar and vanilla extract until the mixture is smooth.
  4. Add all the flour mixture and mix to a soft dough, using only your fingers, so the butter doesn't start melting. Don't over-work it, but just enough so that it comes together and is homogeneous.
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  5. Divide up into 5 - 6 pieces and roll each one into a longish sausage, about 2 cm thick.
  6. Cut up each sausage into chunks of 11 g.
  7. Roll each chunk briefly into a ball and place on the baking paper, starting with the two sheets. Don't be tempted to place them too closely together, but leave some 6 - 7 cm inbetween.
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  8. Bake in the middle of the oven for 20- 25 minutes. They should preferably remain pale. If the oven is too hot, they will run out more and become too thin.
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  9. Remove and let cool, while the next batch is baking. Then just before that is ready, carefully slide the dreams off the baking sheet along with the paper, then slide the next batch onto the baking sheet.
  10. Remove very carefully and store in an air-tight box, but line the box with some kitchen tissue beforehand, as these biscuits are very delicate and break extremely easily.

And they are ready to enjoy. But don't even think of dunking them, they will disintegrate!
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There are several interesting aspects to these I think. The main point is the use of ammonium carbonate. This is a predecessor to today's bicarbonate of soda and baking powder and this is the only recipe where I have encountered this before. In Sweden, every supermarket sells packets of salt of hartshorn probably for precisely this recipe. I'm not sure how easy it is to find in the UK or elsewhere. My packet was purchased several years ago and has been kept dry and relatively cool in the larder. It does behave differently to the modern chemical leavening agents and so can't easily be substituted for them.

Another very good aspect is that it was very much easier to make than I expected. I can't remember if I've made these biscuits before, but blending things together, then dividing up into the 11 g portion (and yes, I did weigh each one!) felt a lot easier and quicker than I thought, when I read the recipe originally.

The oven temperature for my bake was 145 degrees actually and comparing to the picture in the book, my dreams ran out perhaps a bit more. Also after 25 minutes of baking, they still retained a slight chewiness in the centre. This is not traditional, but both Lundulph and I found it very appealing.

Mr Hedh also adds the following variations:
Kokosdrömmar - Coconut dreams - add 80 g dessicated coconut to the above recipe. Nötdrömmar - Nutty dreams - add 70 g finely ground roasted hazelnuts. Chokladdrömmar- Chocolate dreams - replace 30 g of flour with cocoa powder.

And he finishes that for Christmas, he adds a little ground saffron to the basic recipe and make saffron dreams. Saffron is very much associated with St Lucia and Christmas in Sweden.

Lundulph commented that the biscuits were very well met in his Swedish class.

8 July 2012

Sega Chokladmuffins

While searching for a suitable recipe for my bake-off cup cakes, I also came across another recipe, which combines the concept of a muffin with that of so called chocolate mud cake, or Kladdkaka in Swedish. Which I thought was a fabulous idea. The Swedish name means literally "gooey cake".

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I haven't made this since university for the simple reason that last time I made it, it was so sticky we ended up throwing away the tray we baked it in, after carving out as much as we could of course.

The name of the recipe I did on Thursday is Sega Chokladmuffins, which roughly translates to "chewy chocolate muffins". The original recipe in Swedish is here and what caught my attention was the photo - they looked very beautiful.

Makes 8 - 14, depending on size

Ingredients

2 medium eggs
2.5 dl caster sugar
100 g unsalted melted butter
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
1 ml salt
4 tbsp cocoa powder
2 dl plain flour
1 tsp baking powder

Method
  1. Line a muffin tin with paper cases, or place double paper cases on a flat baking sheet and pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C.

  2. Whisk together the eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy.

  3. Slowly add the melted butter, while still beating the mixture. Make sure the butter is about finger warmth.

  4. Follow up with the vanilla extract, still whisking.

  5. In a separate bowl, sift together salt, cocoa powder, flour and baking powder and make sure they are well blended.

  6. Whisk in the dry mixture until well incorporated.

  7. Fill the paper cases to about two-thirds and bake for 12 - 20 minutes, but not until fully baked!

  8. Take out of the oven and let cool completely. The muffins will sink back as they cool, possibly also their surface will crack up, that's as it should be.


These can be eaten as is or with a dollop of whipped cream (without sugar!). They can also be rather nice if warmed up a little and with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

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I didn't bake mine for long enough. The recipe was very strict on the duration - 12 minutes precisely, but I left them in for 18 minutes and they could have baked a few more minutes, they were a bit too gooey for me. Lundulph of course had nothing bad to say about them.

They also weren't as sweet as I expected them to be. Don't get me wrong, they were very sweet, but I expected more. I might dig out that old recipe and try it in cup cake form, that was definitely sweet to the point where the tongue would stick to the roof of the mouth. That's why it's so important not to add any sugar to the whipped cream, if serving with it.

7 July 2012

Bake-off at the Village Fete

I always look forward to the Village Fete where I live. Over the years, what started as a trendy food market, has grown to a quite big event. And a wonderful opportunity for me to stock up on some exotics that otherwise would require a special day trip to London.

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New for this year was a bake-off, following in the steps of The Great British Bake-Off show from TV. Of course I signed up, well knowing that I would be in Brussels the day before and would have a tough week work-wise in general. There were four categories - tray bake, cake, cup cakes and cookies/biscuits. I opted for cup cakes, having acquired that bug last year.

I had several ideas for a design and shared with Lundulph, who said no to most of them as being "not technically cup cakes". Bah! OK, so one of the ideas was to use ice cream cones instead of the traditional paper cups. But I was toying with the idea to use meringe as topping or maybe marshmallow fluff. I even bought red cocktail cherries so as to complete the illusion of a real ice cream cone.

My plan was also to use some of the Viennese nougat I brought back from my last trip to Sweden. Viennese nougat is also known as German nougat or gianduja and is a solid form from which Nutella evolved. So I googled around for recipes and found one that seemed good.

Nougat Muffins
12 - 18, depending on size

Ingredients

150 g unsalted butter at room temperature
2.5 dl caster sugar
2 medium eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp cocoa powder
2.5 dl plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 dl créme fraîche
75 g Viennese nougat finely diced
200 g Viennese nougat for decoration
sprinkles of choice

Method
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Line a muffin tray with paper cases, alternatively place double paper cases on a flat baking sheet.

  2. Whip together the soft butter with the caster sugar until fluffy in a large bowl.

  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract and incorporate well in between.

  4. In a separate bowl, sift together cocoa powder, flour and baking powder and mix well. Then sift into the cake mixture, a little at a time and whisk to incorporate.
  5. Finally whisk in the créme fraîche and the diced nougat.
  6. Pour into the cups, filling to about two-thirds, then bake until ready. This can be between 15 - 30 minutes, depending on the oven, test with a toothpick. Muffins are ready when the toothpick comes out clean.

  7. Take out of the oven and let cool, they will sink back a bit as they do so.

  8. For decoration, melt the 200 g nougat over a bain marie and spread over the cooled down muffins, then add sprinkles.


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I prepared and filled 12 muffin cases and still had quite a lot of the mixture left, so I thought I'd try to make some ice cream cones as well, as a proof of concept. I did this on the Wednesday and was planning to decorate them this morning and take to the Village Fete.

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Sadly this was not to be - the air traffic control systems in Munich decided to pack it in yesterday afternoon, resulting in a number of delays and cancellations across Europe and so I spent most of the late afternoon and evening at Brussels Airport. Hot tip - if you don't have a connecting flight, you can get checked in to the following flight at the regular check-in desk, rather than stand in line for 2 h at the customer service desk, which is what I ended up doing and in high heel shoes too.
The last flight was delayed by over an hour too and I didn't get home until 23:55, having gotten up at 4:00 in the morning. Thus I was not in any condition to do fancy decorations of muffins this morning. Besides, I wanted to do a meringue topping, but today it seems the skies had opened up and it looked like the whole house was going through a car wash, looking out of the window. This means massively high levels of humidity, no way meringues would be possible.

Fine, then marshmallow fluff. But oh, no! My whisk is in the dishwasher which is midway through a cycle. This wouldn't finish on time and there is no way I would whisk manually. Thus I decided to skip the bake-off. But I did decorate with melted nougat and used daim sprinkles on top. Lundulph approved.

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The ice cream cones on the other hand were just that - a proof of concept. I didn't bake them enough and they remained raw inside and collapsed badly back to the innards of the cones when they cooled down. Also unbaked - the mixture didn't taste at all nice. But my concerns about the cones soaking up moisture from the cake mixture were unfounded, I even let them stand for about 20 minutes before baking, no problems at all. But I'll need to experiment to get the right duration of the baking.

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I'll take a proper day off today and get my strength back. Luckily I won't be going to Brussels again until October and I have more baking to do next week for Lundulph's last Swedish lesson - he's supposed to bring some typical Swedish sweet treat into class.

As for using meringue and marshmallow fluff as topping, I'll have to try it out another time.