Sunday, March 31, 2019

Baklava Croissants

I've been feeling adventurous lately and have been going outside my comfort zone with baking. 
I have never made croissants before because of how time consuming the process is and because of how important it is to get the technique right. Who wants to spend two days making something only to have it not turn out? Not me. 
I decided that I was going to give it a try and, because that wasn't enough of a challenge, I was going to make a fancy hybrid with a baklava twist. I mean, if you're going to fail, fail big. 
Can I just say, I had soooo much fun making these. Like, a ridiculous amount. I tossed and turned all night while the dough chilled in the fridge and even woke up super early so I could finish them! 
I had my doubts along the way: was it supposed to look like that? would my recipe work? did I do everything correct?
Seeing the end result had me doing my happy dance. The dough was so flaky and crispy on the outside and soft with a bit of a chew on the inside, and the baklava filling and syrup put these over the top. I can hardly wait to make these again!
My advice for first timers to croissant making? Research it. Watch videos on Youtube and on food blogger sites. Read the recipe and instructions all the way through... several times. Be patient and don't rush things. 

Baklava Croissants

1/2 cup warm water
4 tsp active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup lukewarm milk
1 1/2 cups butter

Baklava Filling
2 cups walnuts
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted

Egg Wash
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp milk

Baklava Syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp water
1/4 cup honey
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Prepare dough - Stir together the 1/2 cup warm water and yeast. Let sit 5 minutes to activate. 
In a large bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, and salt. Stir in the lukewarm milk and yeast mixture. 

Stir until dough comes together. Add more flour, a Tbsp at a time if the dough is very sticky. 
Turn onto a floured work surface and knead 4 minutes. Cover and let rest 15 minutes. 

Roll to a 10 X 9 rectangle, cover with plastic wrap and chill dough for 30 minutes. 
About 10 minutes before that time is up - roll your butter between 2 pieces of plastic wrap into a 6 X 8 1/2 rectangle and chill for 10 minutes. (Note - I sliced my cold butter into slices, laid them on a piece of plastic wrap and smushed them together with my fingers, then rolled them to be smoother. I chilled it for 15 minutes instead of 10 to ensure it was thoroughly chilled.) 
Place dough on lightly floured work surface and roll to a 10 X 15 rectangle. Place butter on top, in the center. 

Fold the sides over the butter and then the bottom and the top, pinching to seal the dough.

Flip dough over so seam is on the bottom. Roll the dough to a 10 X 15 rectangle (about 1/4 inch thick). Fold in 3 with the top covering the bottom fold. 

Cover and place in fridge for at least an hour, up to 4 hours. 
Do this 3 more times for a total of 4 "turns". (Always start your roll with the short end towards you.) 
On your last turn, cover well in plastic wrap and set in the fridge to chill overnight. 
In the morning: 
Prepare baklava filling - In a blender or food processor, pulse walnuts, sugar, and cinnamon until well combined. You can leave these as coarse as you like. Personally, I prefer mine quite fine. 
Place the melted butter in a separate bowl. 

Set aside. 
Prepare egg wash - in a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and the milk. Set aside. 
Remove your dough from the fridge. (Note - I don't think it is supposed to rise quite this much. My recipe has more yeast than most croissant recipes so I believe that is why. It still works fabulously.) 

On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough to a 13 X 24 rectangle (about 1/4 inch thick). 

Cut into 5 inch wide strips. (Note - in the photo below I have turned the dough so it was easier to cut)

Then cut each strip into 2 triangles.

Brush each triangle with the melted butter. Then generously sprinkle on the baklava filling. (Use about 2/3rds of the filling and save the remaining 1/3rd for topping!) 

Make a small cut in the wide part of each triangle. Starting at the wide end, roll up the croissant.

Place on a parchment paper lined cookie tray. Repeat with the remaining triangles. Make sure the point is tucked under the roll so it doesn't unroll during cooking. 

Cover with a tea towel and set somewhere free from drafts to proof for an hour (until doubled in size). While they are rising, preheat the oven to 400. (I usually set them on top of the stove to rise. You don't want them to rise in a place that is too warm, like regular bread, as the butter will start to melt and you don't want that!)

They should start to look very croissant-y.

While the croissants are rising, prepare the syrup - In a large saucepan, stir together the sugar, water, honey, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and then boil for 4 minutes, stirring every so often. After 4 minutes, remove from heat and set aside until croissants are done. 

When the croissants have risen: brush the tops of them with the egg wash using a pastry or basting brush. 

Bake at 400 for about 15 - 20 minutes, until tops are deep golden brown and they are puffy.

When the croissants come out of the oven, using a pastry or basting brush, liberally brush syrup on the tops. Then sprinkle with the remaining baklava walnut filling. I did one at a time so the syrup didn't sink in and the filling would adhere better. 

Remove to wire racks to cool.

So flaky and puffy. 

Maybe not as puffy as some croissants but I have no complaints. 

And the insides?

So much deliciousness. I cut this while it was still hot so it looks a little damp. It was not. It was the perfect amount of crispy and chewy. 

I cut them into 5 inch wide strips and ended up with 9 giant croissants. 
I'm definitely doubling this recipe next time. My taste testers gave rave reviews. I just love the sound when you bite into one or pull it apart - that crunch of a crispy exterior is exciting. 
The baklava filling and syrup elevate this to the status of a fancy-schmancy croissant that needs to be made the new food trend. 
Spread the word.... baklava croissants are "in" now. 

Be sure to pop over to Carol's Chatter for some fun foodie links!

Monday, March 25, 2019

Bienenstich (Bee Sting Cake)

I've seen photos of this cake on Pinterest and Instagram for years and was always curious about it. It's a very eye catching cake and the recipe is so different. It looks like a cake but is a yeast dough, but it's not "bread". I had added it to my "must try" list a long time ago but never got around to it until just recently. Our mom was reading a novel (forgive me, I can't remember the title of it!) in which the author included recipes among the pages. A bee sting cake was one of the recipes and our mom was intrigued. I tried it, as written in the book, and it was a flop. It didn't work at all and I ended up throwing it out. I took the book recipe, did a little more research online about bienenstich and came up with the recipe here. 
Are you ready for a culinary adventure? This cake is a roller coaster of flavors and textures and scents that will have you hooked after just a few bites! 

Bienenstich (Bee Sting Cake)

2 tsp active yeast
1/2 cup very warm water
2 cups flour
4 Tbsp butter, soft
2 Tbsp honey
scant 1 tsp salt
2 eggs

6 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup sugar
3 Tbsp honey
pinch salt
2 Tbsp whipping cream (heavy cream)
1 1/2 cup sliced almonds

2 cups whipping cream (heavy cream)
1 pkg vanilla instant pudding
1 Tbsp honey

Lightly grease a 10 inch springform pan. Place a piece of parchment paper on the bottom. Set aside. 
Prepare dough - place yeast and warm water in small bowl and stir. Let sit for about 5 minutes to activate yeast.
After 5 minutes, place flour, butter, honey, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and turn on low. Add in the eggs. Then add in the yeast mixture. Turn mixer to medium and beat for about 5 minutes, until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. If dough is really sticky you may need to add up to 1/2 cup more flour. (Add it about 2 Tbsp at a time, if needed.)
Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover, and place somewhere warm for an hour.

After an hour it should be risen. NOTE - it won't double in size like regular bread would BUT it should still rise so you notice it.

Place the risen dough into the prepared 10 inch springform pan and press it out to cover the bottom. 

Cover and let rest while you prepare the topping.
Preheat the oven to 350. 
Prepare topping - Melt the butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add in sugar, honey, salt, and cream and bring to a boil. Boil for 3 - 5 minutes, until it starts to turn golden. Stir in the almonds. Cool about 2 minutes and then gently spread on top of the dough in the springform pan.

Bake at 350 for 25 - 30 minutes. Toothpick inserted near center should come out clean and top should be golden brown. (NOTE - if topping still looks a little pale but the cake is done; simply turn oven to broil for a minute and watch cake closely! It should brown very quickly.) 

Let sit in pan on wire rack to cool down to room temp. 
When cool, carefully remove sides of springform pan and bottom of pan. Let cool completely. 

Prepare filling - In a mixing bowl, combine whipping cream, pudding mix, and honey. Beat until it becomes a thick, spreadable consistency. 

Cut the cake in half horizontally. 

Spread all of the filling on the bottom half of the cake. and then carefully place the top half back on top.

Serve now or chill until ready to serve. 

The topping is addictive. So crunchy and sweet and amazing. 

But that cream filling is also not terrible....

A suggestion to make things easier for you - cut the cake with a serrated knife before you chill it. The topping can be quite difficult to cut through once it is chilled and you end up squishing the cream out. 

Even easier? When you have the top off the cake to spread the cream on the bottom layer, cut the top into slices BEFORE you place it back on top. That way you can follow the cut marks and only have to cut through cream and bottom layer - no squishing necessary. 

I didn't do that here for presentation sake BUT I will definitely pre-cut the top next time to make it easier. It's still super beautiful and that way you can pre-proportion your slices too! 
We decided that this is definitely more of a treat you serve with coffee/tea at break time instead of a dessert. It isn't very sweet and the yeast-iness lends itself more towards tea time than after a meal. 
I will be making this for so many occasions now that I know how amazing it is!

We're sharing over at Carole's Chatter. Be sure to stop by and say Hi!

Monday, March 18, 2019

Keto Reuben Skillet

Following a keto plan has been pretty easy thus far; specially with super easy dishes like this one. 
With only 5 ingredients, it is fairly inexpensive AND it literally takes 15 minutes to make. THAT'S IT! I made it for about the 110th time for St. Patrick's Day - corned beef and all that...
Even if you aren't following keto this is a great meal for those busy weekdays or for on the weekend when you don't want to have to do a lot of prep! 
According to MyFitnessPal, a serving is (recipe as written is 4 servings): 439 calories, 8 carbs, 28 fat, 39 protein, 4 fiber, and 3 sugar. This, of course, will vary according to what brands you use, etc... But for 8 carbs (plus 4 fiber = 4 net carbs), it is one of my go to keto dinners!

Keto Reuben Skillet

1/4 cup butter
20 oz (about 600 gr) deli sliced corned beef, coarsely chopped
1 jar (20 oz) sauerkraut (rinsed and drained)
2 Tbsp prepared mustard
8 oz Swiss cheese

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add in the chopped corned beef and fry for a few minutes. Add in the sauerkraut and stir to combine. Cook until heated through - about 4 - 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Drizzle the top with the mustard and then lay the Swiss cheese on top. 

Reduce heat and cover the pan until cheese is melted - about 2 - 3 minutes.

Serve immediately. 

Serve with a few slices of pickle!

Easy to reheat for lunch the next day or freeze and reheat later. 
Super simple, am I right? Can all dinners be this easy and delicious, please?
I'm not even that huge of a sauerkraut fan but I enjoy this for dinner. Something different and filling and easy, what's not to love?

Friday, March 15, 2019

Kilkenny Glazed Doughnuts

St. Patrick's Day always means we break out the Guinness (or, in this case, the Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale) and start baking. I've been on a bit of a donut baking bender lately so I figured making a beer donut would be the perfect thing. I was originally going to use Guinness as that is my go to Irish beer but I saw this lovely new Irish Cream Ale and had to give it a go. 
I think Homer Simpson would be proud of this one. It is probably the lightest and fluffiest donut I've made to date with a hint of the Kilkenny and not as much sweetness as the usual donuts I make. 
I'm filing these ones in the "must make again" pile. I'm thinking of trying it with a good old Canadian beer for Canada Day to see how they stack up!

Kilkenny Glazed Doughnuts

1/2 cup hot water
4 1/2 tsp yeast
4 - 5 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale (heated about 1 1/2 minutes in the microwave)

3 cups icing sugar
1/2 cup Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale

Oil for frying (about 1 liter) 

Place hot water and yeast in a small bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to let yeast bloom.
In the bowl of a stand mixer add 4 cups of flour, sugar, and salt. 
Turn the mixer on low and add in the vanilla, eggs, heavy cream, and softened butter. Add in the proofed yeast. Then add in the heated Kilkenny. Turn the mixer to medium speed and mix until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. Add in enough flour so it is not sticky. 
Place dough on floured work surface and knead for about 2 - 3 minutes more. Place into an oiled bowl, cover, and set somewhere warm to rise for an hour. 
After an hour - roll out the dough on a floured work surface to about 1/2 inch thick. Cut with round biscuit or cookie cutters, and then take a smaller round cutter and cut out the center. Reroll the dough scraps for more donuts. Place on parchment paper lined cookie sheets, cover with a clean tea towel, and set somewhere warm to rise for another hour. (NOTE - a handy tip to make things easier: cut your parchment paper into individual squares and it is much easier to lift each donut off the tray and slide it into the oil.) 
At about the 45 minute mark, start heating your oil to cook the donuts in. You want the temperature to be 350 degrees. (If you don't have a deep fryer then a large, deep pot will also work.) 
When oil is ready your donuts should also be risen and ready to deep fry.

Fry 3 or 4 donuts at a time, but don't crowd the pot or it will lower the temperature of the oil too much. It's best to use a thermometer to monitor the temperature of your oil. (Too low and the donuts absorb too much grease, too high and the outside will burn while the inside remains raw.) 350 degrees is where you want to stay. 

Cook for approximately one minute on each side. 
Remove from the oil using a slotted spoon and place on paper towel lined cookie sheets. 

Continue until all donuts are cooked. Let them cool to room temp before applying glaze. 
Prepare glaze - in a mixing bowl, whisk together icing sugar and Kilkenny Ale until smooth. 

Dip the tops of each donut in the glaze...

Then flip and let sit on a tray so the excess glaze can drip off. 

Continue until all donuts are dipped.

They look so glossy.

I can't believe how squishy and light these are. 

The Ale adds a little tang that is a nice contrast to the sweet glaze. 

These also freeze quite well, in case you want to make up a batch ahead of time.
I believe I got about 32 palm-of-your-hand sized donuts from one batch - which is quite a large amount - you could easily half the recipe if you wanted to. (But, really?)

These have earned themselves a top 5 placement on my favorite donuts list. The unique flavor and the amazing texture just can't be beat. Plus... beer + donuts = *fireworks* 
A definite must to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Sure, they take some time to complete BUT they are totally worth it. 
FYI - If you are going to freeze them: freeze them in a single layer so the glaze doesn't stick them together.