Daisypath - Vacation

Friday, 31 May 2013

Polish Gingerbread - "Piernik"

You see, even Eddie likes the look of this one...





To go back to the beginning, Pawel was off the other day and after seeing me struggle to make a variety of complex cakes etc for a long time, has treated me(!) to a stand mixer - as a sort-of get well present!

It makes light work of everything and definately worth having if you're a long-suffering baker.

So what better way to say thanks, than to help him make a polish gingerbread - or "Piernik" as it is known in his native language!

It's the first time we've actually baked together and we had a really nice time. However, because we had the new gadget to play with, we were both fighting over who was "turning it on" or "having a go next"....!!! Boys and toys, you know.

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Polish Gingerbread - "Piernik"










The problem with us Brits, is that if a dish isn't Chinese, French, Spanish or Italian, we have our reservations about it! I know I am certainly guilty of that - and I was especially so about this cake.

I'm not too fond on cakes that use "All-Spice" as an ingredient - nutmeg and cloves aren't my favourite ingredients in a sweet dish. However, this was a lot different to what I was expecting, and just goes to show, that other countries outside of what we perceive as the "norm", in terms of cuisine, have some fantastic food.

It's hard to describe how this cake really tastes as the ingredients also vary by region and not to mention that families add their own "twists" to a recipe. Some are plain, others add dried fruit or nuts, some are coated in chocolate....the list goes on!





All I can tell you is that I was pleasantly surprised when I first tasted it and I think it probably has to be one of my favourite cakes now. There's not much hint of the ginger, cloves or nutmeg and I would describe it as rather like a very mild cocoa cake - the hint of cocoa being especially prevalent, but yet still subtle at the same time.

The addition of a layer of plum jam running through the middle followed by a bitter dark chocolate ganache topping means it's an explosion of bitter and sweet which works really well.

We loosely followed Pawel's old family recipe, although I jigged it about a bit just to add a new edge to it.

It's something different and incredibly more-ish!


Ingredients:

* 300g plain flour
* 90g dark brown sugar
* 2 medium eggs, separated
* 2 tbsp dark cocoa powder
* 1 1/2tsp of All Spice
* 1 1/2tsp of baking powder
* 100g butter
* 120ml of honey
* 120ml of strong, freshly made coffee
* 4 tbsp of plum jam (more or less to taste)

for the ganache
* 100g dark chocolate ( at least 70%)
* 60ml of double cream
* 1/2tsp of instant coffee
* chopped hazlenuts (optional)

Method:
1. Preheat your oven to Gas 4. Grease and line the bottom of a 2lb loaf pan.

2. In a saucepan, place your honey, coffee, all spice and butter and melt on a low heat. Once the butter is melted, take off the heat and allow the mixture to cool a little until it is just warm.






3. Then, in your mixer or by hand, combine your egg yolks, brown sugar, cocoa and baking powder until evenly mixed. Slowly add your warm liquid, beating continuously at a low speed.








4. Once that is a nice and well combined mixture, add the flour - mixing again until you have a smooth, glossy-brown liquid.






5. In a seperate bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff. Then, add your wet mixture into the egg whites and fold until only just combined.









6. Pour your mixture into your prepared loaf pan and bake for 45minutes to an hour or until a skewer comes out almost clean.





7. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the pan for around 10 minutes before tipping out onto a wire rack to finish cooling





( TIP: This can be applied to almost any cake - it's less likely to crumble and break if you leave it to cool in the tin for 10 minutes or so first!)

8. Once cool, split the cake in half lengthways and spread the jam on. Then put the two halves back together.




9. To make the ganache, simply put the chocolate, cream and coffee into a bowl above a pan of simmering water and leave until the chocolate is melted, stirring occasionally until it is well combined and glossy smooth.





10. Then spread a thin layer of this ganache onto the top and sides of the cake. At this stage you can add the crushed hazelnuts, if using.








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This is great for after dinner or with a coffee in the afternoon.... Definately my new favourite!








Sunday, 26 May 2013

Coconut Cocoa Cupcakes

It's been another scorcher of a day here today. I thought I'd take a picture of my radish shoots I was telling you about yesterday:





There's still no sign of my dwarf French beans yet though but rest of the garden is looking pretty good. I'll leave more about that though for another day.

I made some coconut cupcakes today, which are amazing - I only wish I had a stand mixer though as doing everything by hand is a bit tiresome and having a mixer would just speed things up quite a bit! You never know....

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Coconut Cocoa Cupcakes



Makes 9 cupcakes




I love these cupcakes, mostly because the coconut in the mixture just makes a really light, yet moist cupcake. The cream cheese icing also adds a sweet indulgence without overpowering the whole cake as its a lot more subtle than a lot of icings. It also remains soft rather than 'crusting' over.

It was a great day today to make these - even though it was a really hot day, they weren't sickly like most cakes or puddings can seem when the weather is warm. They just tasted all the more exotic. Eating one made me feel like I was in the Caribbean - piƱa coladas all round please!


Ingredients:

for the cake:
* 200g plain flour
* 200g caster sugar
* 170g room temperature butter
* 3 medium eggs
* 3/4 tsp of vanilla extract
* 3/4 tsp almond extract
* 1/2 tsp baking powder
* 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
* 120ml buttermilk, or you could use Greek/natural yogurt
* 150g desiccated coconut
* pinch of salt

for the icing
* 200g of cream cheese, room temp
* 170g of butter, room temp
* 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
* 1/4 tsp almond extract
* 325-400g icing sugar
* cocoa powder for dusting
* 1tbsp of either desiccated or freshly grated coconut

Method:

1. Preheat oven to Gas 3 and make sure all your ingredients are really room temperature.

2. Beat the sugar and butter together in a bowl until smooth


3. Then, add the eggs one by one to the butter and beat well between each egg you add.





4. Add the vanilla and almond extracts after beating in the eggs.





5. In a separate bowl, sift your flower, baking powder, bicarb and salt together. Then, add these sieved, dry ingredients to your butter mixture, at about a third at a time and beating in continuously.







6. After the flour mix is fully combined, add the buttermilk.





7. Finally, fold the desiccated coconut - at this stage, don't over mix, just gently fold in.









8. Now, spoon the mixture into 9 muffin cases and pop in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Take out of the tins and allow to cool on a wire rack.




to make the frosting...

1. Whilst the cupcakes are baking, get on with the icing by beating the butter and cream cheese together - again make sure it is all really room temperature.



2. Add the almond and vanilla extracts and continue to beat well until its all nicely combined and smooth, it should at this stage look a nice buttery yellow colour.

3. Slowly add the icing sugar (slowly so you avoid the icing sugar cloud!) and mix until smooth - you can add less or more icing sugar depending on the consistency you want, but ideally it should just be able to hold soft peaks.

4. You can either add the extra coconut into the icing mixture or sprinkle on top.

4. Once the cupcakes are cool, you can ice them with a generous tablespoon of this decadent pastel-yellow icing.





5. Swirl it around to make a decorative design and top with a final dusting of cocoa powder.







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....for me these were perfect with a cup of coffee....

Enjoy!


Saturday, 25 May 2013

Yesterday was Winter...

...and today was gorgeous. It's been roasting all day - it's made such a nice change to all the wintry weather we're still having. It's also so nice just to have the doors open and not even have to worry if the stove is still going or not.

I wonder if it will last?

Regardless, it still lifted mine and Pawel's mood

A summer's deck:



Oh and I noticed that the radish seeds I planted just last week have already popped up under the poly tunnel. I'm imagining all those salads already!

Friday, 24 May 2013

Almond Pastries

Well, they're one of Pawel's favourites and also one of mine, but unfortunately, we live in England whereby you can't find a decent patisserie with properly made pastries. That leaves me with one option - making them myself!


Almond Pastries

Serving Size: 2

We were in Poland visiting Pawel's friends a few years back, and one of his friends showed me how to make these pastries stuffed with an almond 'paste-like' filling which was so delicious. They are very popular in the city of Poznan and you can find them in most cafe's there.

The ones I make now are slightly different as I make them into 'lattices' rather than into a traditional croissant shape and I think this works better and also looks better on the eye.




Ingredients:

* 1 sheet of ready rolled puff pastry (14"x 9"roughly)
* 4tbsp of ground almonds
* 3tbsp of sugar
* 3 teaspoons of room temperature butter
* 2-3 drops of almond extract
* Flaked almonds to decorate
* Icing sugar to decorate
* 1 egg

Method:

1. Preheat oven to Gas 5. Take your almonds, sugar, butter and almond extract into a bowl and blend together until it becomes a smooth looking paste.









2. Split the paste into two and sort of mould each into a fat cigar shape about 6-7"inch long. Wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge for at least half hour - overnight is better. You want this mixture really cold.

3. Next, take your pastry sheet and cut it into two - so you end up with two individual sheets approximately 9" length x 7" wide.

4. Score two lines in the centre of each pastry, about an inch and a half away from each other - this is where your filling will be. DON'T cut all the way through - just lightly score:




5. On each side of the scored lines, cut diagonal strips - later you will then pull these over your filling to make a cross-cross pattern.

6. Take your filling from the fridge and pop each cigar shape length in the middle of your pastry and start taking the slit strips from one side and pulling them over your filling.




7. Brush all of those strips with a beaten egg - then when you cross over the other side, it will easily stick to the other side and seal.




8. Once you've completed the cross cross design brush the entire top of the finished croissant in egg and then sprinkle on plenty of flaked almonds.




9. Pop into your oven for approximately 15-20 minutes until puffed, flakey and golden.





10. Leave on a wire rack to cool for 5-10 minutes and then give them a dusting of icing sugar. These are so good still just slightly warm!

Perfect!



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Chilling of the butter mixture before hand means it melts much more slowly in the oven, meaning that there should be no leaking out of the pastry and it will still all be inside :)

Thursday, 23 May 2013

I Just Can't Live Without it Anymore!!

I've lived on the boat for nearly 2 years now and had to do without....

Six months before that I also had to do without despite having such a helping hand beforehand.

To be honest, now I think about, it I don't know how I've gone so long without this helping hand. Or more to the point, why I let Pawel talk me out of one for so long!!

So what the hell am I talking about?!

A DISHWASHER!!!!!


So, six months before we left the house to move on to the boat, the dishwasher packed in and we didn't bother repairing it - just threw it out instead. It's a long story but it was something we both agreed on at the time!

Anyway, fast forward to life on that boat, and despite how serene life is on the boat(mostly) I've always been fed up of washing pots! Mostly as it's me that always does it! It's a nightmare especially as I cook mostly from scratch everyday, make the bread and do loads of baking.

So despite me wanting/needing one for ages, we've just not bothered, mostly due to electricity being quite limited with us not being on shoreline.

Also, when looking even into slimline ones, the wattage was too high for our inverter to cope with so I thought that it was never going to happen. Oh, not to mention zero space in the kitchen to fit one.

Well, I've been on a mission since just before my op to finally get a dishwasher after seeing some great offers on table top ones, which will:

A) go inside our cupboard
B) be under the maximum wattage of our inverter - 1600w.

I didn't want to buy brand new incase it still wouldn't work through the inverter or it wouldn't work with plumbing through a pump etc, so I scowled on eBay for people around the Macclesfield area selling second hand. What a bargain!!!

I got one and they delivered it! For cheaper than the cost of washing up liquid for a year ;)

It came yesterday, and Pawel got to work installing it, which ended up much more complex, and involved removing the cupboard floor and creating a new platform for it to sit on - it wouldn't fit underneath the sink waste pipes otherwise. We also needed to create a plug socket for the mains as we don't have any on that side of the boat!

Cutting the cupboard - I was quite nervous that this whole side of the kitchen was going to collapse!:







Pulling the base out - literally!



Pipe work:



It's in - just the waste to attach!



Final touches and checking for leaks!:


So, it took most of the day and the boat was in bits after!

But it's in!!! It's not perfect and the cupboard door is now only on one hinge(!) (for now anyway) but....IT'S A DISHWASHER !!!

Dinner was great last night, just knowing I don't have to worry about washing up after!

Bliss.

Thanks Pav!