Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Coconut sour cream buns and polarizing flavors

Coconut sour cream buns / Pãezinhos de coco e creme azedo (sour cream)

I thought I was crazy for sweets until I started working at my current job, two years ago: my coworkers are addicted to all kinds of sweets, and being a Swiss company you can imagine the ridiculous amounts of chocolate coming every time someone travels from headquarters to Sao Paulo. :)

One of the executives at the office keeps a jar of candy on top of his desk, and the group is welcome to get some whenever a sugar high is needed. Everyone that travels brings candy for the jar, which I find very nice and generous. Last week we started a debate about flavors because of the jar: my boss reached out for some candy, and since she does not speak Portuguese I warned her that those were coconut-filled candy bars. She told me she loved coconut, and then someone else replied that they hated it, while another person said they loved it too, and my boss said she believed that coconut is one of those flavors that polarize people: you either love it or hate it – like cilantro. :)

I am part of the coconut fan club for I love it in absolutely anything, including savory dishes. For that reason I wanted to come up with a recipe for buns made with coconut, but no only in the filling, as most recipes I have seen – I wanted a double splash of coconut, both in the dough and in the filling. I came up with these delicious buns that look super cute by being baked in a muffin pan, and they taste oh, so good. The addition of both sour cream and butter to the dough makes them insanely tender.

Coconut sour cream buns
own recipe

Dough:
2 ¼ teaspoons dried yeast
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
½ cup (120ml) lukewarm water
½ cup (120ml) sour cream*
1 large egg yolk
2 ½ cups (350g) all purpose flour
pinch of salt
1/3 cup (33g) unsweetened desiccated coconut
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup (56g) unsalted butter, very soft

Filling:
¼ cup (56g) unsalted butter, very soft
2/3 cup (66g) unsweetened flaked coconut
4 tablespoons demerara sugar

For the egg wash and sprinkling the buns:
1 egg, + 1 teaspoon water, lightly beaten with a fork
3 tablespoons unsweetened flaked coconut

Start by making the dough: in the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough attachment, mix yeast, pinch of the sugar and water with a fork. Set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the sour cream, yolk, remaining sugar, flour, salt, coconut and vanilla and mix for 8-10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Gradually beat in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition – dough will be soft. Transfer to a lightly buttered large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 1 ½ hours.

Generously butter a 12-hole nonstick muffin pan. Set aside.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and roll it into a 30x40cm (12x16in) rectangle. Spread the butter over the dough leaving a 1cm (½in) border. Sprinkle the butter with the sugar, then with the coconut. Starting from the longest side, roll the dough into a tight cylinder, then slice into 12 equal pieces. Place each piece into a cavity of the muffin pan. Cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and set aside to prove again, 40-45 minutes – in the meantime, preheat the oven to 200°/400°F.

Brush the rolls with the egg wash and sprinkle with the coconut. Bake for about 25 minutes or until risen and golden. Cool in the pan over a wire rack for 5 minutes, then carefully unmold the buns and transfer them to the rack to cool completely (they are delicious served warm, too).

* homemade sour cream: to make 1 cup of sour cream, mix 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream with 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice in a bowl. Whisk until it starts to thicken. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 1 hour or until thicker (I usually leave mine on the counter overnight – except on very warm nights – and it turns out thick and silky in the following morning; refrigerate for a creamier texture)

Makes 12

Friday, August 11, 2017

Orange, blueberry and olive oil muffins and a lactose problem

Orange, blueberry and olive oil muffins / Muffins de laranja, mirtilo e azeite de oliva

I know how rare it is nowadays to post recipes on the blog on two consecutive days, and I am still running around like a headless chicken trying to do everything I have to do lately, but since next week will be even busier than the week ending today I decided to go crazy and bring you these muffins: again a speedy recipe, but a very delicious one. These muffins are golden and really moist, very tender and perfumed with orange zest.

I am a complete sucker for citrus as you all know and in these muffins the orange flavor compliments the blueberries in the most wonderful way. The addition of olive oil is a nice surprise, not to mention that this became my go-to muffin recipe after I was diagnosed as lactose intolerant, a month ago or so: I have made it using lactose-free milk with good results (next time I will try making them using almond milk).

Orange, blueberry and olive oil muffins
own recipe

¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 2 oranges
1 ½ cups (210g) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1 large egg, room temperature
½ cup (120ml) whole milk, room temperature
1/3 cup (80ml) extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (140g) blueberries, fresh or frozen (unthawed)

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with 8 paper cases. Fill the empty cavities halfway through with water (this will prevent the pan from warping).

In a large bowl, place sugar and orange zest and rub them together with your fingertips until sugar is fragrant. Whisk in the flour, baking powder and salt.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, olive oil and vanilla until smooth. Pour over dry ingredients and stir lightly with a fork just until combined – do not overmix or your muffins will be tough; muffin batter is not smooth as cake batter.
Stir in the berries. Divide the batter among the paper cases, then bake for about 20 minutes or until risen and golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan over a wire rack for 5 minutes, then carefully remove the muffins from the pan and transfer to the rack. Cool completely or serve warm.

Makes 8

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Peanut cinnamon amaretti and no time for blogging

Peanut cinnamon amaretti / Amaretti de amendoim com um toque de canela

My days have been pretty busy lately, and I guess that some of you already know that given my disappearing from the blog. :)

However, I wanted to stop by quickly today and give you a recipe that I simply adore - and that is also quick to put together: the amaretti I make by replacing the almonds with a very Brazilian ingredient, peanuts, and adding a touch of cinnamon. Let’s call this an Italian-Brazilian cookie (I do like to mix and match countries in my kitchen). :) They go wonderfully with coffee and tea, and are also delicious broken into smaller pieces and sprinkled on top of ice cream.

Peanut amaretti
own recipe

2 ½ cups (250g) peanut meal (finely ground peanuts)
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 large egg whites (56g)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line two large baking sheets with baking paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the peanut meal, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add the egg whites and the vanilla and mix until a dough forms.

Roll 2 teaspoons of dough per cookie into balls and place onto prepared sheets 2.5cm (1in) apart. Press down slightly with your fingers. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Cool in the sheets over a wire rack.

Cookies can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Makes about 35

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Broccolini, caramelized onions and mozzarella frittata, or eggs are my kitchen heroes

Broccolini, caramelized onions and mozzarella frittata / Frittata de brócolis, cebola caramelizada e mozarela fresca

I can surely say that eggs are one of my favorite things to eat and to cook with: I love how tasty, healthy and versatile they are. No matter how empty your fridge and cupboards are, if you have eggs on hand you have dinner, and usually quickly.

I make frittatas quite often for in them I can use whatever I have begging to be used in the fridge. The one I bring you today is one of my favorite combo flavors, and I sometimes buy broccolini and/or mozzarella especially to make it – the broccolini tastes amazing paired with the gooey pieces of cheese, but to me what really makes this dish are the sweet, delicious onions, so take your time to caramelize them, even if it sounds like a boring chore, I assure you it is worth it. I have used fresh oregano to replace thyme a couple of times and it worked beautifully, too.

Broccolini, caramelized onions and mozzarella frittata
own recipe

½ large onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
salt
1 ½ cups (60g) broccolini florets
3 large eggs, room temperature
freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1/3 cup (60g) fresh mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Heat the olive oil in a 20cm (8in) frying pan over medium heat – make sure you use a frying pan that can go into the oven. Add the onions and stir to coat them in the oil. Sprinkle with the sugar and a pinch of salt, then lower the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until onions are golden brown and soft.

Stir in the broccolini and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. In the meantime, crack the eggs in a medium bowl, season with salt and pepper and whisk. Whisk in the thyme leaves. Give the broccolini and onions a good stir to avoid the onions being all in the bottom of the pan, then pour over the egg mixture. Tear the mozzarella into pieces and place them around on top of the eggs. Cook on the stove over low heat for 2 minutes without stirring, then transfer to the oven and cook for 8 minutes, or until puffed up and golden. Serve immediately.

Serves 2

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Almond poppy seed cake to celebrate the simple things

Almond poppy seed cake / Bolo de amêndoa e sementes de papoula

I was thinking the other day of things that have the power of making my days better and it was sort of a surprise to acknowledge that most of them are really simple: to arrive home from work and immediately remove my shoes (especially when I am wearing heels), to take a piping hot shower in these cold days – I know it is not good for the skin, but who can resist? –, to put on my pyjamas and relax at the couch with a mug of hot chocolate… Some days can be really difficult and it amazes me how much comfort can be found in small things like these (or maybe I am easy to please, who knows?). :)

As I was cooking lunch last Saturday, it suddenly hit me: I hadn’t baked a cake in a long time – and baking cakes is something that really makes me happy: it falls into the category of simple things that can brighten up my day, the ones I mentioned on the beginning of my post. And there is always the advantage of reaching out for a slice of freshly baked cake between meals when you are half hungry/half craving something sweet and a fruit just won’t do.

This is a recipe I baked a couple of times in the past and like the things I describe on this post it is very simple and yet very good: moist and flavorsome. It goes well on its own, with tea or coffee, but I had such pretty and sweet strawberries in my fridge that I served the cake with them and some whipped cream on the side. Still simple, still good and comforting – like being barefoot after a day on top of stilettos. :)

Almond poppy seed cake
own recipe

¾ cup (105g) all purpose flour
1 cup (100g) almond meal
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
1/8 taspoon salt
1 ½ tablespoons poppy seeds
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 1 orange
½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons Amaretto
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup (130g) plain yogurt

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Lightly butter a round 20cm (8in) cake pan and line the bottom with a circle of baking paper. Butter the paper as well.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, rub sugar and orange zest together with your fingertips until sugar is fragrant. Add the butter and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy – scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and the Amaretto.

On slow speed, beat in the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the yogurt in two additions (start and end with the dry ingredients). Beat just until incorporated. Pour into prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until cake is golden and risen and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan over a wire rack. Unmold carefully, peel off the paper and transfer cake to a serving plate.

Serves 8

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