Saturday, March 28, 2020

Lemon Waffle Rolls - Zitronenwaffelröllchen


We have had a lot of sunshine this past week, flowers and colors everywhere. My favorite being all those bright and light, yellow and orange daffodils. The harbinger of spring, warm weather, and, these days, a lot of time spent in the garden.




Unto this lovely spring recipe which comes together in no time and will fill your kitchen with wonderful lemony waffle aroma – that certainly always manages to lift all those culinary spirits around here.

The dough requires only a few ingredients that I usually find in my cupboard and fridge. I enjoy the lemony flavor with a bit of vanilla but you could omit the vanilla sugar or substitute it with anis for example which is also nice, and you could, of course, use any other citrus here that you happen to have on hand. But the one thing you will need is a specialty waffle maker - the one I use is a so-called 'Eiserkuchen Waffeleisen' that I inherited a while ago. 'Eiserkuchen' aka 'Neujährchen' or 'Hippen' are quite popular around here, so normally these waffle makers are easy to come by. You could use an ice cream cone waffle maker instead or, alternatively, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a baking mat and spread out the batter to a very thin round and then bake as you would bake your cookies - all the while watching very carefully so the waffles will not get too dark. And remember to roll them up while they are still hot and bendable.






Lemon Waffle Rolls - Zitronenwaffelröllchen
(yields about 16 waffle rolls, depending on the size of your waffle iron)

Ingredients
  • 100g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 100g superfine baking sugar
  • finely grated zest from 2 to 3 untreated/organic lemons (depending on the size, 2 large or 3 small ones)
  • 2 eggs (L), free-range or organic
  • 8g pure vanilla sugar 
  • 200g plain (AP) flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of fine sea salt
  • 125ml lukewarm water
  • 2 tbsps freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preparation
  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition.
  3. Add the vanilla sugar and mix again.
  4. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 3 additions, alterating with the water and mix well.
  6. Then at the end add the lemon juice and mix one last time until the batter is smooth.
  7. In the meantime, pre-heat your waffle iron and bake the waffle rolls immediately.
  8. Make sure to trasnfer each roll onto a cooling rack and then roll the dough while the waffle ist still piping hot – I highly recommend using gloves here.

Notes
  • Serve the waffle rolls the day they were made or store them for a day or two in a cookie tin with a tight fitting lid, as these rolls will turn soft if they attract moisture.
  • Just before serving, dust liberally with icing sugar, or serve plain, or fill with whipped (lemon) cream, or serve fresh fruit and whipped cream alongside (which is the way I usually go).





Sunny spring days just call for bright lemony, pretty, and preferably crunchy, desserts it seems.




Thursday, March 26, 2020

Wild Garlic & Wild Garlic and Cheese Focaccia (Bärlauch & Bärlauch Parmesan Focaccia)


Wild garlic aka ramsons (or 'Bärlauch' as we call it in German) is found in many areas of North-, East-, Western- and Middle Europe and some parts of Asia, including Germany, Austria and Switzerland. It is mostly found in damp woodlands, shady lanes and some hedgerows. And, lucky me, it is also growing abundantly in our garden.




It begins to show up at the farmers’ markets in early March, and by the middle of the month it’s wild garlic frenzy, with Bärlauch appearing in countless recipes.

The German name Bärlauch literally means 'bear leek', and my favorite name origin story involves sleepy bears coming out of hibernation and munching on the pungent leaves as they fully wake up.




The wild garlic season lasts only for a few weeks. The leaves can be picked in most years from March to June. They are at their best and most flavorsome when bright green before the flowers open. As they age and start to turn yellow, the flavor is less strong.

There are a few other plants that it is possible to confuse with wild garlic. The usual sources of confusion are lily of the valley (Maiglöckchen) and autumn crocus (Krokus). These are both poisonous, so do be careful. If in doubt, the best test is to crush a leaf and use your nose, if it smells of garlic it is garlic.




You should harvest leaves, stems, flowers and seed pods using scissors. Pick a little here and there rather than too much in one place and watch where you are putting your feet. As you pick, it is easy to bruise the leaves so put them gently into a basket or bag without packing them in. Like many wild leaves, they will wilt after picking so use quickly or refrigerate. Give any flowers a shake to remove any insects, wash in cold water. If required, pat dry with a kitchen towel or a tea towel to remove moisture.




You can use wild garlic anywhere where you would use regular garlic, the flavor is however milder. The leaves can be used raw but sparingly in salads and finely chopped as a garnish. A popular use is in pesto in the place of the usual basil. When cooked the leaves can be used in many different ways. The simplest use is as a vegetable as you would prepare and serve spinach. It can also be used blanched and puréed as a sauce, in soups, stews, pasta sauces, risottos, quiches and frittatas, focaccias, dumplings, mashed potatoes, omelettes, scrambled eggs and lots more. Simply let your taste buds be your guide. The stems and unopened flowers can be added to salads and other dishes such as Asian stir-fries. They can also be pickled or preserved by salting. The opened flowers can also be eaten. The flavor is stronger than that of the leaves. I find that they make a pretty and tasty addition to salads and can be used as a garnish.




Wild Garlic Focaccia with Parmesan

Ingredients
  • 300g strong white baking (plain) flour (around here ‚Type 550‘)
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 16g fresh yeast OR use dry yeast (you can use 8g active dry yeast or 4g instant yeast instead)
  • 2 tbsp mild olive oil (suitable for cooking)
  • 200g lukewarm water
Topping
  • 50g wild garlic leaves, washed, dried and finely sliced
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 30g freshly grated parmesan cheese (plus some)
  • about 25g mild olive oil (suitable for cooking)

Preparation
  1. Place the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl and and mix together with a wooden spoon. Either turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic, OR use a stand mixer and knead for 5 minutes on the lowest speed.
  2. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place until double in size. This will probably take anywhere between 30 minutes or up to an hour.
  3. In the meantime, line a pie/pizza dish (about 22cm) OR one baking sheet with baking parchment.
  4. Lightly dust the work surface with flour (if you have corn flour/semolina on hand, it’s nice to use that here), turn out the dough and flatten with your hands, roll out to the size of the pan or push out with your hands. If the dough stiffens and will not flatten, then leave it to relax for 5 to 10 minutes and try again. Place in the pan and leave to rise again for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180°C (356°F).
  6. In a small bowl, mix together the wild garlic, salt, pepper, parmesan and olive oil. Set aside.
  7. When the dough has risen, use your fingers to dimple the surface. Dribble the top generously with the oil and drizzlele with the prepared wild garlic mix.
  8. Place in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes - at that point the focaccia should be a pale golden brown. Sprinkle with a bit more parmesan and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
  9. Lift out of the pan or from the tray using the paper and place on a cooling rack, sliding the paper from underneath so the steam can escape and preventing the bread from going soggy. Serve warm or at room temperature - if you have got any wild garlic leaves left over, make some wild garlic oil and serve alongside.





Enjoy wild garlic season while it lasts. It's always nice to use ingredients while they are in season, so, if you can, get some of these lovely wild garlic leaves during the next couple of weeks and enjoy being creative in your kitchen. Wild Garlic and Cheese Focaccia is just the beginning.




Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Sweet Cotton Bread for Saint Joseph's Day - Baumwollbrot zum Josefstag am 19. März


The feast day of Saint Joseph falls on March 19, right in the middle of Lenten fasting. To allow the many Josephs and Josephines to celebrate their name day on St Joseph’s Day, certain special festive foods can be served but, traditionally, none will contain any meat.




Saint Joseph is believed by Christians to have been the husband of Mary and the earthly father of Jesus. Although the veneration of Joseph seems to have begun in Egypt, the earliest Western devotion to him dates from the early 14th century, when the Servites (Ordo Servorum Mariae) an order of mendicant friars (Bettelorden), observed his feast on March 19, the traditional day of his death. Among the subsequent promoters of the devotion were Pope Sixtus IV, who introduced it at Rome about 1479, and the celebrated 16th-century mystic St. Teresa of Ávila. Already patron of Mexico, Canada, and Belgium, Joseph was declared patron of the universal church in Roman Catholicism by Pope Pius IX in 1870. In 1955 Pope Pius XII established the Feast of St Joseph the Worker (Fest des hl. Josef des Arbeiters) on May 1, meant to honor all workers and as a counter-celebration to the communists’ May Day.




In some countries including Canada, Poland, Peru and the Philippines, St Joseph Day is a Patronal Feast Day, while in some Catholic countries such as Italy and Spain, it is Father's Day. St Joseph is also the Patron Saint for the Archdiocese of my hometown, Cologne (Erzbistum Köln). In Switzerland, it is a public holiday in some of the cantons, banks and schools are usually closed but many businesses may still be open. While this holiday was traditionally popular in many countries, it has begun to lose some of its popularity over the last several years. Saint Joseph's Day is not only the Patronal Feast Day for religious institutes, schools and parishes bearing his name, and for all workers, especially carpenters, but allso for all couples, adolescents, children, families and orphans, to name but a few.




The following recipe for Sweet Cotton Bread (Baumwollbrot) was created way back for St Joseph's Day celebrations. It was traditionally baked in the Berchtesgardener Land (a district in Bavaria, Germany, bounded by the district of Traunstein and by the state of Austria). Carpenters (of course, St Joseph was said to have been a carpenter) used to bring it to church on St Joseph's Day to have it blessed during Mass and happily consumed the loafs after church service. Why it disappeared for years from the food map is not entirely clear but, thankfully, it was re-discovered about five years ago by a local historian and a cooking instructor who then proceeded to re-create the recipe for the forgotten St Joseph Day festive bake. The origin of the name is not entirely clear either but it is said that it hails from the fact that the shape of the bread resembles a cotton capsule.




Sweet Cotton Bread for St Joseph Day -  Baumwollbrot zum Josefstag

Ingredients

For the Dough
  • 500g strong (bread) flour (around here I use ‚Weizenmehl Type 550‘)
  • 5g fine salt (I like to use fine sea salt)
  • 60g superfine (baking) sugar
  • 8g pure vanilla sugar
  • 75g unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 200ml milk (I like to use 3.5%)
  • 30g fresh yeast
  • 1 egg (L), free-range or organic
  • zest from am untreated/organic lemon
  • 100g raisins that have been soaked in rum, tea or water

For the Egg Wash
  • 1 egg (L), free-range or organic
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp cream or full-fat milk

For the Glaze
  • 500g powdered sugar
  • a bit of lemon juice

Preparation
  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, mix together the flour, salt, sugar and vanilla sugar.
  2. Create a well in the center of the mix.
  3. Melt the butter, then add the milk, yeast and egg.
  4. Stir well and add to the well in your dry mix.
  5. Knead on low for about 5 minutes (stand mixer about 5 minutes; by hand for abour 8 to 10 minutes).
  6. Place dough in a large bowl and cover with a warm damp cloth. Leave it to rise in a warm and draft-free place for about 45 minutes OR until it doubles in size. 
  7. Turn the dough out onto your work surface, scatter the raisins over, knead briefly, just until the raisins are distributed throughout the dough. Then cover the dough again and let rise for an additional 15 minutes.
  8. Turn the dough out onto your work surface and divide the dough into four, form large balls.
  9. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and place the four dough balls close to each other (so they almost touch). Remember to leave some room between the rounds. The dough will rise some more and join together. Cover the dough again with a damp cloth and leave to rise for another 15 minutes.
  10. Mix the egg with the salt and the cream or milk and glaze the bread.
  11. Preheat your oven to 180°C (356° F).
  12. Bake on the middle rack for about 20 to 25 minutes. 
  13. When the bread is golden, transfer to a cooling rack. When it has cooled completely, mix the ingredients for the glaze and brush liberally over the bread.
  14. Enjoy freshly baked with butter and local honey or as is.




St Joseph's Day proverbs usually allude to the fact that this particular feast day was always associated with the end of winter and the beginning of spring (March 20), new life and renewed hope:
  • 'St Joseph shakes his beard, and see, winter has disappeared!'
  • 'It's on St Joseph's Day clear, so follows a fertile year.'




Please note that this blog post is part of my series for a 'local' radio station, where, throughout the years, I present different baked goods that are closely tied to various holidays and seasons. If you are interested, have a LOOK & LISTEN (in German) HERE.

The various recipes of my series can be found here:
  • in January, for Three Kings Day (Dreikönigstag) two kinds of Galette des Rois (Dreikönigskuchen) (HERE)
  • for Lent (Fastenzeit) Lenten Soup with Lenten Beugel (Fastenbeugel) (HERE)
  • for Good Friday (Karfreitag) the delicious Hot Cross Buns (HERE)
  • for Pentecost /Whitsun (Pfingsten) the fun Allgäu Bread Birds (Allgäuer Brotvögel) (HERE)
  • for the beginning of the summer vacation, the lovely Sacristains (Almond & Sugar Puff Pastry Sticks) (HERE)
  • for St Christopher's Day (St Christophorus), the energy-packed Müsli Power Bars (Müsli Energieriegel) (HERE)
  • for Mary's Assumption Day (Mariä Himmelfahrt) my Tear & Share Herb Bread (Kräuterbrot) (HERE)
  • for Mary’s Birthday (Mariä Geburt) some very pretty Mary’s Sweet Rolls (Süße Marienküchlein) (HERE)
  • for Thanksgiving (Erntedankfest) a delicious and seasonal Thanksgiving Apple Tart with Frangipane (Erntedank Apfeltarte mit Mandelcreme) (HERE)
  • for Halloween a Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake (Kürbis-Gewürzkuchen)
  • for St Martin's Day (Martinsfest) the cheerful Sweet Dough Men (Weckmänner) (HERE)
  • for St Andrew's Day (Andreastag) a classic Petticoat Tails Shortbread (HERE)
  • for Christmas Day (Weihnachten) these Traditional German Gingerbread (Elisenlebkuchen) (HERE
  • for New Year's Eve New Year's Eve Pretzel (Neujahrsbretzel)
  • for Candelmas Day (Mariä Lichtmess) some delightful Navettes de Saint Victor (HERE)
  • for Carnival Season (Karneval) these lovely Carnival Doughnuts (Karnevals-Krapfen) (HERE
  • for St Patrick's Day a traditional Irish Brown Soda Bread (Irisches Sodabrot)(HERE
  • for St Joseph's Day a long-forgotten but thankfully re-discovered Sweet Cotton Bread (Baumwollbrot)(HERE) -  more delicious treats to come very soon.




Saturday, March 14, 2020

Irish Brown Soda Bread for St Patrick's Day - Sodabrot zum St. Patrick's Day


So what’s better than to make some beautiful fresh Irish Soda Bread in time for St. Patrick’s Day. Saint Patrick's Day, or the Feast of Saint Patrick, is a cultural and religious celebration held annually on March 17th, the death date of Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461), the patron saint of Ireland.




Born in Roman Britain in the late 4th century, he was kidnapped at the age of 16 and taken to Ireland as a slave. He escaped but returned about 432 to convert the Irish to Christianity. By the time of his death on March 17, 461, he had established monasteries, churches, and schools. Many legends grew up around him for example, that he used the shamrock to explain the Trinity. Ireland came to celebrate his day with religious services and feasts.

It was emigrants, particularly to the United States, who transformed St. Patrick’s Day into a largely secular holiday of revelry and celebration of things Irish. Cities with large numbers of Irish immigrants, staged the most extensive celebrations, which included elaborate parades. Boston held its first St. Patrick’s Day parade in 1737, followed by New York City in 1762. Since 1962 Chicago has coloured its river green to mark the holiday. Irish and non-Irish alike commonly participate in the 'wearing of the green' - sporting an item of green clothing or a shamrock, the Irish national plant, in the lapel. Corned beef and cabbage but also soda bread are associated with the holiday, and even beer is sometimes dyed green to celebrate the day.





The sweet quick bread reflects the fact that the average Irish cupboard lacked or had limited quantities of sugar and butter. The traditional Irish Soda Bread is indicative of other limits, like the way that flour works in bread dough, and how wheat grows. The moist climate of Ireland is suited to growing soft or pastry wheat, which is better for making pastries and quick breads rather than yeasted or naturally leavened breads.

All wheats have gluten and the amount and quality of gluten varies in hard and soft wheats. That's why flours made from different grains work differently. Soft wheats work great for quick breads like Soda Bread.

Soda bread is perhaps the easiest bread to make by hand - with little kneading and no waiting around for it to rise.




In general, a soda bread is a bread leavened with bicarbonate of soda aka baking soda together with an acid, either lactic acid in the form of buttermilk (as in this recipe) or yogurt or a chemical agent like cream of tartar. The resulting reaction releases carbon dioxide bubbles into the dough. Though simple soda breads were common throughout Britain up to the late 1960s, people now usually associate soda bread with Irish baking.

Soda bread is best eaten fresh and can be made at home easily. Traditionally a recipe for Soda Bread includes only four ingredients, namely flour, baking soda, buttermilk and salt; ingredients that would have been available in Ireland when the bread was developed.

Today, as is the case with this recipe, part of the white flour is often replaced with wholewheat flour and a bit of sugar is added as well. Sometimes I sprinkle a few oats of top of the loaf before baking it, sometimes I don't. I also have come across less traditional versions including some with stout and grated cheese, or raisins and warm spices, etc. Some would call these versions tea cakes rather than Soda Breads.

This is a very simple recipe, the loaf can be baked on a baking sheet or in a preheated cast iron casserole dish, which is also very nice for a chance.




Irish Brown Soda Bread  (Irisches Sodabrot)

Ingredients for the Loaf
  • 225g plain wheat (AP) flour (around here 'Type 450') 
  • 225g wholemeal flour 
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp sugar 
  • 350ml buttermilk (I suggest using an organic buttermilk here which is nice and thick or use ons that is fresh from a local farm shop, whenever possible)
  • a bit of milk (I like to use 3.5%)
  • oats (either porridge oats or coarse oats) - optional

Preparation
  1. Preheat the oven to 190° C (375°).
  2. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment (or use a Silpat baking mat).
  3. In a large bowl, mix the flours, sea salt, baking soda and sugar.
  4. Pour in the buttermilk, bringing the mixture together as a soft dough. Work quickly as the baking soda will start working immediately.
  5. Once the dough has come together and is not sticking to the bowl any more, shape the dough into a shallow round loaf about 4 centimeters (1½ inches) thick.
  6. Brush the top of the loaf with some milk and dust the top with oats (if using).
  7. Using a kitchen knife, score a cross in the top of the dough or leave as is.
  8. Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes. 
Remove from the oven and leave in place for 5 minutes before turning out and leaving to cool slightly before enjoying.

This bread has a lovely, crisp crust and a very tender inside. The crumb looks dense, but it is not heavy at all.

Remember that soda bread like this is best when eaten fresh and while still a bit warm and slathered with good quality butter - it just does not get better than enjoying a big slice with farm-fresh butterSo, make sure to serve your Soda Bread fresh from the oven with butter and your favorite kind of jam, honey or a nice cheese. And if you do have any leftovers, Soda Bread tastes wonderful when toasted the next day.




This recipe certainly proves that making your own bread does not have to be time-consuming or hard work. If you are looking for some almost instant bread gratification, the comforting smell of baking bread, and the irresistible taste of homemade bread, then you should really try his quick Brown Soda Bread.




Please note that this blog post is part of my series for a 'local' radio station, where, throughout the years, I present different baked goods that are closely tied to various holidays and seasons. If you are interested, have a LOOK & LISTEN (in German) HERE.

The various recipes of my series can be found here:
  • in January, for Three Kings Day (Dreikönigstag) two kinds of Galette des Rois (Dreikönigskuchen) (HERE)
  • for Lent (Fastenzeit) Lenten Soup with Lenten Beugel (Fastenbeugel) (HERE)
  • for Good Friday (Karfreitag) the delicious Hot Cross Buns (HERE)
  • for Pentecost /Whitsun (Pfingsten) the fun Allgäu Bread Birds (Allgäuer Brotvögel) (HERE)
  • for the beginning of the summer vacation, the lovely Sacristains (Almond & Sugar Puff Pastry Sticks) (HERE)
  • for St Christopher's Day (St Christophorus), the energy-packed Müsli Power Bars (Müsli Energieriegel) (HERE)
  • for Mary's Assumption Day (Mariä Himmelfahrt) my Tear & Share Herb Bread (Kräuterbrot) (HERE)
  • for Mary’s Birthday (Mariä Geburt) some very pretty Mary’s Sweet Rolls (Süße Marienküchlein) (HERE)
  • for Thanksgiving (Erntedankfest) a delicious and seasonal Thanksgiving Apple Tart with Frangipane (Erntedank Apfeltarte mit Mandelcreme) (HERE)
  • for Halloween a Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake (Kürbis-Gewürzkuchen)
  • for St Martin's Day (Martinsfest) the cheerful Sweet Dough Men (Weckmänner) (HERE)
  • for St Andrew's Day (Andreastag) a classic Petticoat Tails Shortbread (HERE)
  • for Christmas Day (Weihnachten) these Traditional German Gingerbread (Elisenlebkuchen) (HERE
  • for New Year's Eve New Year's Eve Pretzel (Neujahrsbretzel)
  • for Candelmas Day (Mariä Lichtmess) some delightful Navettes de Saint Victor (HERE)
  • for Carnival Season (Karneval) these lovely Carnival Doughnuts (Karnevals-Krapfen) (HERE
  • for St. Patrick's Day a traditional Irish Brown Soda Bread (Irisches Sodabrot)(HERE)
  • for St Joseph's Day a long-forgotten but thankfully re-discovered Sweet Cotton Bread (Baumwollbrot)(HERE) - more delicious treats to come very soon.