Easter, bread and sunshine

pleteničke

First really warm spring sunny days made me think of summer. It’s approaching so quickly. Two, three months. I’m counting my days by the pages I’ve written. By the books waiting to be read. A morning. An afternoon. A night. Whole day. Day by day. And one month has past. One month after another. Where have they gone?

After today’s four hour Easter breakfast at my grans I’ve been wondering why can’t we just have a normal coffee & cereals breakfast… Too much of everything. Except for bread…
The base. The life. Nothing more. Just people to share it. Braids, easter buns and potica. It’s a part of our tradition. And this year I let the real masters in our family do the thing.
I went for something else. Simple. Savory. The best to be shared with the people you love. Bread.

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dough*:

  • 40 g fresh yeast
  • 350 g plain flour T500
  • 150 g wholegrain spelt flour
  • 10 g salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 120 g butter at room temperature
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 150 -170 ml milk
  • 1 egg for egg wash

preparation:

  1. Prepare yeast: crumble the yeast, mix with 50 ml of warm milk and 1 tsp of honey. Let double in size.
  2. Mix both flours and salt. Add the yeat mixture, beaten eggs, butter and the rest of the milk (depending on the flour you will need more or less of it, so add some 100 ml at first and then you’ll see if it needs more). Mix and work the dough. It takes some 8 – 10 mins. It should be very soft, but not sticky. Form a ball and transfer to a bowl sprinkled with flour. Let rise.
  3. Divide the dough in three parts if making three different fillings* (check below). Roll out to about 0,5 cm thick into a rectangle. Spread one of the fillings, leaving aprox 2 cm blank on one side of the dough. Roll. Use sharp knife to cut lenghtwise. Open each side facing up and make a braid. Transfer to a baking tray and let rise.
  4. Meanwhile preheat oven at 220ºC. Before putting the braids into the oven, brush with egg wash. Bake for 10 mins, then turn the tin and bake for another 10 mins. Reduce the heat to 190ºC and bake for aprox another 10 mins.

* this was enough for 3 braids

 

filling*:

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1. Brie & pecans

  • 200 g of brie cut into pieces
  • 3 handfuls of roughly crushed pecans

Sprinkle equally over the dough.

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2. Black olive pesto

  • 250 g pitted black olives
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil

Mix everything into a smooth paste using a food processor.

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3. Sundried tomatoes & mediterranean herbs

  • 200 g sundried tomatoes (from oil, drained)
  • 5 small capers
  • 2 tbsp dried mediterranean herbs
  • 1 big garlic clove

Mix everything into a smooth paste using a food processor.

 

Easter bread, spring and sunshine

velikonočnapletenica

It’s funny how all my life people have been telling me I had no sense for writing. Today I write a blog. And blogging mostly is about writing. Or I might just be writing some nonsense that no one is reading… That’s fine too. At least I’m leaving traces behind me. One way or another, it’s true, the words don’t get here out of nowhere. Usually it’s the image that inspires me to write something down. A brief episode. A distant memory. A life worth living.

As I was looking at this photo it made me think of my grandparent’s Easter bread. My grandparents actually owned a bakery. And the most important thing for them was quality and good ingredients. You can’t make good bread out of nothing. True.

Flour has changed. Food has changed. Gluten is an issue, lactose is an issue, sugar is an issue. And probably, we have changed too.

I set off my blog as something to reinvent traditional recipes. But Easter time is special. And I’m saying this without any religious intentions. I don’t see all my family as often as I would like to, so I love it when we all gather at least for Christmas and Easter. I respect this family tradition and I recpect traditional recipes that go along it. It’s all about gathering, sharing and enjoing the moment. And so is bread.

My Easter braid variations:

Basic recipe for Easter braid

Ingredients:

  • 500 g wheat flour T400
  • 60 g sugar*
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 30 g fresh yeast
  • 80 g softened butter
  • 1,8 – 2,2 dl warm milk*
  • 1 egg + 3 egg yolks
  • 2 Tbsp rum
  • peel of 1 organic lemon
  • egg yolk + 2 Tbsp of milk for brushing

* I used 40 g of honey instead and it was sweet enough. The quantity of milk depends largley on the quality of the flour. Plus if using honey, you will need a bit less liquid. Add gradually! Also, you can replace flour with another one, like spelt or wholegrain, but do use at least one half of flour T400.

Preparation:

  1. Mix fresh yeast, 50 ml warm milk and one tablespoon of honey. Let double in volume.
  2. In a big bowl combine the two flours and salt.
  3. In a seperate bowl mix softened butter using a hand mixer. Gradually add eggs, rum and lemon peel.
  4. Mix the rest of the milk and the rest of the honey so it dissolves evenly.
  5. Add yeast and egg mixture to the flours. Add milk gradually, not all at once. Mix with wooden spatula. When the ingredients start to combine, start kneading. Flour the working surface. It takes something like 8 – 10 mins for gluten to activate, so you’ll be probably kneading for about 10 mins. The dough should be firm and silky.
  6. Let rise. When doubled in volume, divide in three equal parts and knead once more. Make three rolls and braid. Let rise once again.
  7. Before baking, brush with mixture of egg yolk and two tablespoons of milk.
  8. Preheat oven at 200°c and place in a baking tray filled with water to create steam. Bake for 10 mins, than lover the temperature to 180°c and bake for another 15 – 20 mins.

Tarragon, lemon and ricotta braid

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The sun right now is absolutely amazing. It actually made me clean up my balcony and this is what I found. A surviver. Tarragon that has successfully made it through another winter.

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One of my favourite Easter cakes is tarragon potica, a traditional rolled cake that is similar to gubana or in the end, to babka. It’s usually filled with fresh cheese like ricotta or sour cream, sweetened and mixed with tarragon. I added some homegrown lemons that I was offered at Šibav vinery on my  weekend trip to Goriška Brda. And they were just like pictured: bright, juicy, full of flavour.

Ingredients:

  • 500 g wheat flour T400
  • 40 g honey*
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 30 g fresh yeast
  • 80 g softened butter
  • 1,8 – 2,2 dl warm milk*
  • 1 egg + 3 egg yolks
  • 2 Tbsp rum
  • peel of 1 organic lemon
  • egg yolk + 2 Tbsp of milk for brushing

filling:

  • 15 g finelly chopped tarragon
  • 2 Tbsp sugar (I used sucralose instead)
  • peel of 2 lemons
  • 1 small egg yolk
  • 3 Tbsp drained ricotta

* The original reipe has 60 g of sugar. The quantity of milk depends largley on the quality of the flour. Plus if using honey, you will need a bit less liquid. Add gradually!

Preparation:

  1. Mix fresh yeast, 50 ml warm milk and one tablespoon of honey. Let double in volume.
  2. In a big bowl combine the two flours and salt.
  3. In a seperate bowl mix softened butter using a hand mixer. Gradually add eggs, rum and lemon peel.
  4. Mix the rest of the milk and the rest of the honey so it dissolves evenly.
  5. Add yeast and egg mixture to the flours. Add milk gradually, not all at once. Mix with wooden spatula. When the ingredients start to combine, start kneading. Flour the working surface. It takes something like 8 – 10 mins for gluten to activate, so you’ll be probably kneading for about 10 mins. The dough should be firm and silky.
  6. Let rise. When doubled in volume, divide in three equal parts and knead once more. Make three rolls and roll them out lenghtwise. Than add some filling in the middle, close up and roll and braid. Let rise once again.
  7. Before baking, brush with mixture of egg yolk and two tablespoons of milk.
  8. Preheat oven at 200°c and place in a baking tray filled with water to create steam. Bake for 10 mins, than lover the temperature to 180°c and bake for another 15 – 20 mins.

Braid with tarragon

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It follows the basic recipe for Easter braid. I’ve just added some tarragon to the dough.

Ingredients:

  • 500 g wheat flour T400
  • 40 g honey
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 30 g fresh yeast
  • 80 g softened butter
  • 1,8 – 2,2 dl warm milk*
  • 1 egg + 3 egg yolks
  • 2 Tbsp rum
  • peel of 1 organic lemon
  • egg yolk + 2 Tbsp of milk for brushing
  • 15 g finelly chopped tarragon

* The quantity of milk depends largley on the quality of the flour. Plus if using honey, you will need a bit less liquid. Add milk gradually!

Preparation:

  1. Mix fresh yeast, 50 ml warm milk and one tablespoon of honey. Let double in volume.
  2. In a big bowl combine the two flours and salt.
  3. In a seperate bowl mix softened butter using a hand mixer. Gradually add eggs, rum and lemon peel.
  4. Mix the rest of the milk and the rest of the honey so it dissolves evenly.
  5. Add yeast, chopped tarragon and egg mixture to the flours. Add milk gradually, not all at once. Mix with wooden spatula. When the ingredients start to combine, start kneading. Flour the working surface. It takes something like 8 – 10 mins for gluten to activate, so you’ll be probably kneading for about 10 mins. The dough should be firm and silky.
  6. Let rise. When doubled in volume, divide in three equal parts and knead once more. Make three rolls and braid. Let rise once again.
  7. Before baking, brush with mixture of egg yolk and two tablespoons of milk.
  8. Preheat oven at 200°c and place in a baking tray filled with water to create steam. Bake for 10 mins, than lover the temperature to 180°c and bake for another 15 – 20 mins.

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Wreath with sundried tomatoes and goat cheese

velikonočnapletenica-10

I have first fresh herbs at my garden, so I was thinking, why not a savoury braid with a hint of summer. Wholegrain challah with sundraied tomatoes, fresh herbs and goat cheese.

Divide the dough in three equal parts, roll them out lenghtwise. Than add some filling in the middle, close up and braid.

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Ingredients:

  • 250 g wheat flour T400
  • 250 g wholegrain flour
  • 1 – 2 tsp salt
  • 30 g fresh yeast
  • 80 g softened butter
  • 1,8 – 2,2 dl warm milk*
  • 1 egg + 3 egg yolks
  • egg yolk + 2 Tbsp of milk for brushing

filling:

  • 60 g crumbeled feta or goat cheese
  • 50 g chopped sundried tomatoes
  • dried or fresh herbs (rosemary, oregano, basil)
  • small finely chopped garlic clove

* The quantity of milk depends largley on the quality of the flour. Add gradually!

Preparation:

  1. Mix fresh yeast, 50 ml warm milk and one tablespoon of honey. Let double in volume.
  2. In a big bowl combine the two flours and salt.
  3. In a seperate bowl mix softened butter using a hand mixer. Gradually add eggs.
  4. Add yeast and egg mixture to the flours. Add milk gradually, not all at once. Mix with wooden spatula. When the ingredients start to combine, start kneading. Flour the working surface. It takes something like 8 – 10 mins for gluten to activate, so you’ll be probably kneading for about 10 mins. The dough should be firm and silky.
  5. Let rise. When doubled in volume, divide in three equal parts and knead once more. Make three rolls and roll them out lenghtwise. Than add some filling in the middle, close up and braid. Let rise once again.
  6. Before baking, brush with mixture of egg yolk and two tablespoons of milk.
  7. Preheat oven at 200°c and place in a baking tray filled with water to create steam. Bake for 10 mins, than lover the temperature to 180°c and bake for another 15 – 20 mins.

Chocolate coconut wreath

babka

Here in Slovenia, or at least in my family, we have an Easter tradition. There’s alway potica on the table. I think there’s no accurate translation for it but it’s something like north Italian gubana or like poppy seed stollen. It’s a rolled cake, usually filled with walnuts, hazelnuts, tarragon or poppy seeds. I would dare to say that almost every family has its own recipe. So, meaningless to argue the grand masterpiece.

There was a time when I was really into babkas. I especially like how you cut and bride the dough. I made couple of them, but the best was the one with coconut butter, chopped chocolate and pistachios. Coconut butter can always be replaced with some other nut butter, like walnut or hazelnut. More on coconut butter, how to make it and other, here.

babka-2

Ingredients:

dough

  • 100 g wholegrain spelt flour
  • 200 g wheat flour T400
  • 2 eggs and 1 egg yolk
  • 10 g fresh yeast
  • 15 ml milk
  • 50 g softened butter
  • 45 g agave syrup or honey
  • ⅓ tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp rum
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • peel of 1 organic orange

filling

  • 130 g coconut butter or any other nut butter
  • 120 g chopped chocolate
  • handfull of chopped unsalted pisachios (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Prepare coconut butter: mix coconut flakes at high speed using a blender. It takes about 3-5 mins to make it. You will need at least 300 g of coconut, but definitely more info in the link! You can use hazelnut or walnut butter instead.
  2. Prepare yeast: mix 15 ml warm milk, tablespoon of agave or honey and fresh yeast. Let double in size.
  3. In a big bowl mix both flours and salt.
  4. In a seperate bowl mix softened butter using a hand mixer. Gradually add eggs, agave syrup, vanilla, orange peel and rum.
  5. Add the yeast and the egg mixture to flours and mix with wooden spatula. When the ingredients start to combine, transfer to work surface and start kneading. Knead for 10 – 15 mins. Starch needs some time to soak up. You should form a compact silky dough ball.
  6. Cover and let rise until doubled in volume.
  7. Knead once again than roll to 0.5 – 1 com thick.
  8. Spread coconut butter and sprinkle with chopped chocolate and pistachios.
  9. Roll and cut lenghtwise. Bride the two ends and form a wreath. Let rise.
  10. Bake in preheated oven at 170 to 180 °C for 30 minutes. After first 15 mins cover with damped baking paper and bake for another 15 mins.

This recipe was created as a part of a project for Spar Slovenija and their magazine Dobro zame.

Torta Pasqualina. Kind of.

pasqualina

When I asked my friend what I should prepare for Easter, she was like, please do something to use those cooked eggs. I never know how to use them. There’re just too many…

Torta Pasqualina is a tipical Ligurian Easter dish. Mine is a bit fake. Somewhere in between my quiche recipe and spinach strudel. Normally the recipe uses filo pastry made of flour and olive oil. And there are artichokes, marjoram, onions and of cours lots of grana added to the base. Oh, and usually it’s a round tart. But hey, have fun playing with this one!

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Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 1 pack puff pastry (rectangular)
  • 2 eggs
  • 100 g ricotta
  • 150 g feta
  • 400 g fresh spinach
  • 1 big garlic clove
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cooked and pelled eggs
  • nutmeg
  • pepper
  • egg yolk/white for brushing

Preparation:

  1. Finely chop garlic clove. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil and quickly saute garlic (be careful not to burn it). When it starts to smell nicely, add fresh spinach. Cook until the most of the liquid has evaporated. Transfer into a strainer. Let cool and drain the excess liquid.
  2. Crumble feta using a fork, than mix with ricotta and eggs. Add spinach, season with nutmeg and pepper.
  3. Roll out puff pastry. Divide it in three parts lenghtwise, but don’t cut in.
  4. Put spinach mixture and cooked and pelled eggs in the middle part.
  5. Diagonally cut 2 cm wide stripes on both outer parts of the pastry.
  6. Fold the left and the right stripe towards the middle and press to stick. repeat lenghtwise to close up the pie.
  7. Brush with egg and bake at 200ºc (ventilation) from 20 to 25 mins.

 

This recipe was created as a part of a project for Spar Slovenija and their magazine Dobro zame.