Quite frankly, I am still feeling the after effects of the holidays. It was a nice time with my family but it also meant, with a full house for about two consecutive weeks, I was on my feet…..cooking, mostly.
I found an amazing bread recipe that looked deceptively complicated; it’s twisty and round and all kinds of delicious but I was glad I made it.
As always, a quick audit of my fridge and pantry assured me that I had almost everything I needed. The things I didn’t have, I simply substituted without missed a beat.
I present to you a wonderful cranberry and almond filled wreath; although I served it up for breakfast on Christmas Day, this will delight anyone at anytime of the year.
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You must to be pretty organized to follow through on the preparation of this bread so I advise that you measure and set everything out ahead so that you can go through the process seamlessly.
Ingredients
For the bread:
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (about 50 degrees C)
1/2 cup warm milk (about 50 degrees C)
3 tablespoons sugar
60 grams butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ginger powder (the original recipe called for cardamon)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons good quality lemon essence (grated lemon zest is ideal but I didn’t have any)
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
For the cranberry-almond filling:
3/4 cup raisins soaked in 1/2 cup rum (recipe called for dried cranberries or cherries soaked in brandy; I got creative with what I had to hand)
90 grams butter, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup finely chopped blanched almonds
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon lemon essence or freshly grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons cranberry preserve
For the sugar glaze:
1 cup icing sugar
3 tablespoons water
1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon essence
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
* if you have fresh lemon juice, you should the substitute the Lemon essence and vinegar for lemon juice wherein you will require 2 tbs water and 1 tbs lemon juice.
 
The “How To”
Preparing the dough:
In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water and let it foam up for at least two minutes. Then blend in the milk, sugar, butter, salt, ginger, eggs and lemon essence. Stir in two cups of the flour, a cup at a time and beat for 2 minutes. Add the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until you have a soft, workable dough — I used up all my flour but you might not need to use all so be attentive to the consistency of the dough.
Place the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, 5 to 10 minutes; WARNING! This is a great arm work out and also a good way to get rid of any pent up emotions…..lol :-)…..just saying………Dust with more flour if needed to prevent the dough from sticking.
When you are done, place the dough in a lightly oiled mixing bowl large enough to accommodate it as it doubles in size. Cover with cling film or a clean damp tea cloth and let it rise in a warm place until doubled. This will take about 1 1/2 hours.
The filling
Drain the dried fruit from the liqueur and reserve the liqueur for another use. In a small bowl, combine the drained fruit with remaining filling ingredients. Once you are done, cover it and refrigerate.

NOTE: I noticed that the cranberry preserve I added made the filling a bit wet and somewhat made the dough slightly difficult to work with when I filled it and tried to cut and twist it. I applied the preserve because I wanted a tart kick to it since I didn’t have dried cranberries. All-in-all it turned out great but maneuvering it was tricky.

Now for the fun part! Shaping the dough.
When dough has doubled in size, punch it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured board, kneading it just enough to release any air bubbles.
Let me add here that you need a a big, clean surface to roll it on. Roll the dough into a 9×30-inch rectangle; it helps to use a ruler to measure the dimensions.
Crumble the filling over the dough to within 1 inch of the edges. Starting along a long side, tightly but carefully  roll up the dough, pinching edge against loaf to seal. With a sharp knife, cut roll in half lengthwise. Carefully turn the halves so the cut sides are facing up, and then loosely twist the halves around each other, keeping cut sides up.
Line a baking sheet with parchment and carefully transfer the “rope” to the baking sheet and shape into a wreath, pinching the ends together to seal it. Let it rise, uncovered, in a warm place until  it is puffy for about 45 minutes.
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Preheat the oven to 175°C and bake the wreath until it is lightly browned which should take about 25 minutes. While the wreath is baking, stir together the ingredients for the glaze and set aside.

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When wreath is done, transfer to a cooling rack by picking up the sides of the parchment and then sliding the parchment out from underneath it. Cool for a few minutes then drizzle the glaze over the warm wreath. The glaze is very forgiving and helps to mask any imperfections your wreath may have.
You may serve he wreath with your favourite jam, butter or even some lemon curd but I assure you that you will gobble it all up before you even add anything to it. It is that good!

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I served mine with some fresh fruits and juice and it was a real treat.
 
FFF Tip of the Day
It is always a great idea to be guided by recipes especially when baking things like bread but don’t be afraid to apply your intuition. If the dough feels too sticky sprinkle on some more flour. Remember YOU are in control

This recipe was adapted from thekitchn

Quite frankly, I am still feeling the after effects of the holidays. It was a nice time with my family but it also meant, with a full house for about two consecutive weeks, I was on my feet…..cooking, mostly.

I found an amazing bread recipe that looked deceptively complicated; it’s twisty and round and all kinds of delicious but I was glad I made it.

As always, a quick audit of my fridge and pantry assured me that I had almost everything I needed. The things I didn’t have, I simply substituted without missed a beat.

I present to you a wonderful cranberry and almond filled wreath; although I served it up for breakfast on Christmas Day, this will delight anyone at anytime of the year.

IMG_3639.JPG

IMG_3644.JPG</a

You must to be pretty organized to follow through on the preparation of this bread so I advise that you measure and set everything out ahead so that you can go through the process seamlessly.

Ingredients
For the bread:
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (about 50 degrees C)
1/2 cup warm milk (about 50 degrees C)
3 tablespoons sugar
60 grams butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ginger powder (the original recipe called for cardamon)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons good quality lemon essence (grated lemon zest is ideal but I didn’t have any)
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

For the cranberry-almond filling:
3/4 cup raisins soaked in 1/2 cup rum (recipe called for dried cranberries or cherries soaked in brandy; I got creative with what I had to hand)
90 grams butter, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup finely chopped blanched almonds
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon lemon essence or freshly grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons cranberry preserve

For the sugar glaze:
1 cup icing sugar
3 tablespoons water
1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon essence
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder

* if you have fresh lemon juice, you should the substitute the Lemon essence and vinegar for lemon juice wherein you will require 2 tbs water and 1 tbs lemon juice.

 

The “How To”
Preparing the dough:

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water and let it foam up for at least two minutes. Then blend in the milk, sugar, butter, salt, ginger, eggs and lemon essence. Stir in two cups of the flour, a cup at a time and beat for 2 minutes. Add the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until you have a soft, workable dough — I used up all my flour but you might not need to use all so be attentive to the consistency of the dough.

Place the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, 5 to 10 minutes; WARNING! This is a great arm work out and also a good way to get rid of any pent up emotions…..lol :-)…..just saying………Dust with more flour if needed to prevent the dough from sticking.

When you are done, place the dough in a lightly oiled mixing bowl large enough to accommodate it as it doubles in size. Cover with cling film or a clean damp tea cloth and let it rise in a warm place until doubled. This will take about 1 1/2 hours.

The filling
Drain the dried fruit from the liqueur and reserve the liqueur for another use. In a small bowl, combine the drained fruit with remaining filling ingredients. Once you are done, cover it and refrigerate.

NOTE: I noticed that the cranberry preserve I added made the filling a bit wet and somewhat made the dough slightly difficult to work with when I filled it and tried to cut and twist it. I applied the preserve because I wanted a tart kick to it since I didn’t have dried cranberries. All-in-all it turned out great but maneuvering it was tricky.

Now for the fun part! Shaping the dough.

When dough has doubled in size, punch it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured board, kneading it just enough to release any air bubbles.

Let me add here that you need a a big, clean surface to roll it on. Roll the dough into a 9×30-inch rectangle; it helps to use a ruler to measure the dimensions.

Crumble the filling over the dough to within 1 inch of the edges. Starting along a long side, tightly but carefully  roll up the dough, pinching edge against loaf to seal. With a sharp knife, cut roll in half lengthwise. Carefully turn the halves so the cut sides are facing up, and then loosely twist the halves around each other, keeping cut sides up.

Line a baking sheet with parchment and carefully transfer the “rope” to the baking sheet and shape into a wreath, pinching the ends together to seal it. Let it rise, uncovered, in a warm place until  it is puffy for about 45 minutes.

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Preheat the oven to 175°C and bake the wreath until it is lightly browned which should take about 25 minutes. While the wreath is baking, stir together the ingredients for the glaze and set aside.

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When wreath is done, transfer to a cooling rack by picking up the sides of the parchment and then sliding the parchment out from underneath it. Cool for a few minutes then drizzle the glaze over the warm wreath. The glaze is very forgiving and helps to mask any imperfections your wreath may have.

You may serve he wreath with your favourite jam, butter or even some lemon curd but I assure you that you will gobble it all up before you even add anything to it. It is that good!

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IMG_3635.JPG

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I served mine with some fresh fruits and juice and it was a real treat.

 

FFF Tip of the Day

It is always a great idea to be guided by recipes especially when baking things like bread but don’t be afraid to apply your intuition. If the dough feels too sticky sprinkle on some more flour. Remember YOU are in control

This recipe was adapted from thekitchn

Incredibly, it is the 2nd day of 2015…….2014 ended on a bitter sweet note for me but I am still grateful to God for His mercies.

I dedicate this post to the angels that went up to Heaven in the past year……We love and miss you very much.

I am about to share a recipe who’s flavours and making process echo a bitter sweetness…….it’s a chocolate no it’s a TRIPLE chocolate mousse cake. It echoes deep tones of earthy dark chocolate with a gentle graduation to the light airy sweet top layer of white chocolate mousse. For all the gluten free diners, yes this one is 100% gluten free!!!

However, the making process is not for the faint of heart. It is daring, messy and a little bit painstaking; having said all that it is NOT difficult to make but requires a fair bit of attention or it could all end in splodgy, sticky, gooey mess! I used a recipe I found on the sugar duchess.

For this delightsome treat you will need;

For the cake:

300 grams (1-2/3 cup chopped) high-quality semisweet chocolate (I used Lindt’s À cuisiner 70% cocoa chocolate)

5 medium eggs, separated, room temperature

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

116 grams (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature

For the middle layer:

300 grams (1-2/3 cup chopped) high-quality semisweet chocolate (I used Lindt’s À cuisiner 70% cocoa chocolate)

1-1/2 cups heavy cream, divided

1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin, softened in 2 tablespoons cool water

For the top layer:

1 cup chopped high-quality white chocolate (I used nestlé’s white chocolate morsels)

1-1/2 cups heavy cream, divided

1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin, softened in

1 tablespoon cool water

The How to:

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celcius.

Using a 9″ or 10″ springform pan grease the bottom with cooking spray or butter and line it with a parchment round. This cake must be baked in a Bain Marie, that is, a water bath (a pan with about 1-1/2 inches of hot water) to keep the edges of the cake moist. Before placing the baking pan in the water bath, wrap it in at least two layers of aluminum to prevent water from seeping in while the cake bakes; I used three layers of aluminum. I was so nervous I just had to be extra sure that the cake didn’t drown…….lol…

Now for the first layer, the flourless cake:

Chop the chocolate into small chunks. Melt it slowly in a heat proof bowl set over pot of gently simmering water until it is about 75% melted. Continue to stir slowly until the rest of the chocolate melts.

While the chocolate melts, place the room temperature egg whites in a large, grease-free mixing bowl with about a third of the sugar. The bowl must be devoid of any impurities and the egg yolks as well if not you won’t get the desired results. Using an electric mixer, start beating the mixture on low speed and gradually increase the speed. Continue beating until the whites begin to look fluffy then add the remaining sugar, salt, and vanilla, and continue to beat until the sugar has dissolved and the meringue is shiny and nearing the soft peak stage.

Then use a whisk to stir the soft butter into the melted chocolate until you have an even mixture. Whisk in the egg yolks next and then fold half of the meringue into the chocolate mixture with a whisk. Be careful not to knock all the air out of the meringue during the folding in process. Now, fold in the remaining meringue with a rubber spatula ensuring that you mix in the heavier batter at the bottom of the bowl. Keep folding until there are no streaks.

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Ok, so you survived the first step, now pour the batter into the prepared pan. Place the cake in the oven and bake for 25 – 28 minutes. The top will be shiny, and a cake tester inserted into the center will come out clean. Mine was done at the 25 minute mark so keep an eye on it.

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At the end of this phase, your sink should look something like this.

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So wash up and prepare for stage two. Oh I forgot to mention…..there’s a lot of washing up involved!

When the cake is done, take it out of the oven immediately, and let it cool to room temperature. As it cools, it may sink and lose some of it’s volume; this is perfectly normal. Place the cake in the fridge for 1 hour, then carefully run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert the cake onto a serving plate. Remove the bottom of the pan and the parchment circle, and replace the ring from the springform around the cake; this will act as the mold for the two mousses.

Round two – The middle layer:

Chop the chocolate and place it in a medium-sized heat-proof bowl. Bring 1/2 cup of the cream to a boil and pour it over the chopped chocolate. Stir the chocolate and cream mixture gently, until smooth; if the chocolate doesn’t melt completely, heat it briefly on low over a pan of simmering water and continue to stir until melted.

Once, the chocolate is melted, soften the gelatin in a small pan with the cool water. Once it has softened, heat it on low heat stirring to dissolve. When the gelatin mixture is completely free of lumps, incorporate it into the melted chocolate. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream, being very careful not to overwhip it; over whipping will yield butter. You want it to just hold a soft peak. (Be sure to have chilled the bowl and whisk for at least 15 minutes in the freezer before whipping)

Check the chocolate mixture; it must be free of lumps and the temperature should be about 27 degrees Celcius. It should be warm enough to keep the chocolate from hardening but not so hot the whipped cream melts when it’s whisked in. Add about half of the whipped cream to the chocolate and whisk and fold as you did while making the cake. Fold in the remaining whipped cream once the first half is whisked in. When the chocolate and cream are evenly blended, pour the mousse over the top of the cooled cake in the ring. Use an offset spatula to smooth the top and return the cake to the fridge.

This should be your washing up stash at The end of this round 🙂 We’re more than halfway there!

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For the top layer:

Round 3 – The top layer

Repeat the directions for the middle layer, using the white chocolate.

Now, I must confess that this stage did not go as smoothly for me but I blame it on the quality and possibly the quantity of white chocolate I used. I ended up with a liquidy mousse which I KNEW I daren’t pour over my cake so, I whipped up an extra cup of cream, added some gelatin and then added about half the mixture of the “liquid” mousse to it. Then spread it over the cake. I opted to set the cake I’m the freezer, for a couple of hours, so that the top layer would set up quickly. My tactic work beautifully!

When it’s ready to serve, remove the ring by running a thin knife gently around the circumference of the pan, then open the lock and lift it off.

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Slice the cake with a warm, wet knife, wiping it off between slices; this will ensure that slices come out cleanly. Garnish with chocolate shavings or curls, chocolate sauce, or fruits.

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This cake was very satisfying to make. I highly recommend it especially of you’re entertaining.

FFF Tip of the Day:

Making this cake requires a fair bit of preparation. Ensure that things, like the bowl and whisk for whipping the cream is adequately chilled before using. The cream should be chilled too.

It is so much easier to separate cold eggs. This recipe calls for room temperature eggs so you must allow them come up to room temperature.