Šape…or…Bear Paws shortbread cookies

Šape are one of the most loved, traditional Bosnian treats. When translated to English, šapa (sing.) simply means a “paw”. The old tins were shaped like bear paws, hence the name. I remember playing with my grandmother’s šape tins when I was a little girl. They had that gray and brownish patina from years of use and I wish I had somehow saved them…Today the tins come in all different shapes and can be purchased here. A madeleine tin can also be used to make šape.

Bear paws are made from simple ingredients, readily available in every household. Biting into a šapa can instantly take me back to my grandmother’s little kitchen, with wooden floors, green credenza and an old tin box she kept them in. Šape are made for birthdays, feasts, weddings, christenings, Christmas and almost every other special occasion. They are sort of a shortbread cookie, originally made with lard, but are just as good made with butter. Traditionally, walnuts are used in the cookie, but I’ve seen them made with shredded coconut, poppy seeds or spiced with cinnamon. The crumbly dough is pressed into tin forms, placed onto a cookie sheet, baked and tossed in powdered sugar. They simply melt in your mouth!

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Šape or Bear Paws

[print recipe]

Yields about 30-35 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 120 g /4.2 oz lard (or 140 g /4.9 oz butter)
  • 120 g / 4.2 oz sugar
  • 1 vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 egg
  • 120 g / 4.2 oz ground walnuts
  • 300 g / 10.5 oz / 2 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 13 g / about 1 tsp baking powder
  • A few tsp of milk (if needed)
  • 1 – 2  tbsp honey (optional)

+

  • Powdered sugar
  • Baking tins
  • Butter (melted) to brush the tins

Preparation:

  1. Beat lard (or butter), sugar and vanilla for about 3-4 minutes, then add egg and lemon zest and mix for couple of more minutes.
  2. Add ground walnuts.
  3. Combine flour and baking powder; add to the lard mixture.
  4. The dough will be crumbly. If too dry, add a tbsp or two milk
  5. Brush the tins with melted butter, fill them about 2/3 with dough.
  6. Place the tins on a cookie sheet and bake at 180 C / 355 F for about 15 minutes or until golden-brown color.
  7. Let them cool down for a minute or two, remove from tins and liberally dust with powdered sugar.

Enjoy with a cup of coffee, tea or dip in milk! 🙂

Sape preparation

Šape forms

Šape

Šape

Šape

Easy Chocolate Cake with Hazelnuts

Hello friends! Oh, how happy I am to say that Spring is in the full swing in my neck of the woods! I’ve been so distracted by its beauty, I could hardly manage to do anything inside the house (including baking). Family wasn’t happy about not having goodies for a while, so that’s why I resorted to this easy cake recipe from an old German baking book. It doesn’t require much time or skill and the result is more than satisfying.

This simple chocolate cake can be paired up with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or topped with  fresh berries or berry sauce. It is easy enough to make for those who are new to baking or for the times when you learn that friends are coming over and you don’t really have a lot of time to prepare a dessert.

Enjoy this fine chocolate cake and Happy Spring! 

easy chocolate cake with hazelnuts

Easy Chocolate Cake with Hazelnuts

{print recipe}

Ingredients:

  • 115 g (1 stick) unsalted butter (softened)
  • 150 g (3/4 cup) sugar
  • 1 TSP vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 125 g (1 cup) flour
  • 1 TSP baking powder
  • 3 TBSP cocoa (sifted, unsweetened)
  • 75 g (2.6 oz) chopped and toasted hazelnuts

Preparation:

Beat butter and sugar at a high speed until nice and fluffy, add vanilla extract and eggs.

In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and add to the butter mixture.

Reduce the mixing speed and mix until creamy; add hazelnuts.

Rub a bottom and sides of a tart pan with butter and pour the cake batter in.

Bake at 175 C (350 F) for about 20 – 25 minutes.

If desired sprinkle the cake with some powder sugar.

Simple, Easy and Yummy!

Bon Appétit!

cake preparation

cake batter

chocolate cake with hazelnuts

chocolate cake with hazelnuts

16th Birthday: Jelly Roll Cake and a Sunny Spring Day

Last weekend we celebrated our daughter’s 16th Birthday! It was the first sunny and really warm weekend this year, so in addition to going out for lunch and having a piece of birthday cake at home, we also spent some time in the park with our pups, enjoying the warmth and noticing the first signs of spring.

A 16th birthday cake had to be (almost) as special and as pretty as our daughter! She wanted to have something with strawberries and chocolate, and this is what mom came up with: A strawberry jelly roll, cut into slices and used to cover the bottom and sides of a cake form; filled with cream cheese, whipped cream and blended fresh strawberries filling.

Strawberry Birthday Cake

Jelly Roll Cake with Strawberries and Chocolate

[print recipe]

For the jelly roll:

  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 egg white
  • 100 g (1/2 cup) sugar
  • 1 pack vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 135 g (1 cup) cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 120 g (1/2  cup) seedless strawberry jam

For the filling:

  • 450 strawberries (1 lbs)
  • 750 ml (3 cups) heavy cream
  • 100 g (1/2 cup) sugar
  • 225 g (8 oz)cream cheese
  • 65 g (1/2 cup) powder sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100 g (3.5 oz)semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 envelopes plain gelatin
  • 6 TBSP water

Also needed:

√ 10 inch ( 25 cm) round spring cake pan

√  18 x 13 (46 X 33 cm) inch jelly roll pan

√  parchment paper

√  a small sauce pan

√  Plastic wrap

Make jelly roll:

Prepare a large baking sheet and cover it with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 395 F or 200 C.

Add 6 eggs and an egg white into the mixer bowl. Mix at high speed until eggs start foaming. Slowly add sugar and vanilla and mix for another 2-3 minutes.

Combine cake flour and baking powder, mix well and slowly start adding to the eggs and sugar, mixing slowly at the lowest setting.

Pour the batter into the baking sheet and bake until edges start getting lightly brown (about 15 minutes).  Take a large kitchen towel, place it under the whole cake and roll it up lengthwise (together with the parchment paper)to form a roll. Keep it inside of the kitchen towel until completely cooled down.

Now lightly heat strawberry jam, unroll the cake and remove the parchment paper.  Spread the jam in an even, thin layer all over the cake. Roll the cake back into a firm roll, wrap again in kitchen towel and leave it in the fridge until needed again.

Filling:

  1. Wash and quarter strawberries, place them in a blender and puree them.
  2. Melt the chocolate and spread in a very thin layer over a bottom of a flat surface (such as a cookie sheet or a tray that can fit into freezer)
  3. Whip the heavy cream, add sugar. Reserve about 1/4 of it for decoration.
  4. Mix the cream cheese, powder sugar and vanilla until smooth.
  5. In a sauce pan mix two envelopes of plain gelatin with 6 TBSP of water until smooth and leave it to rest for about 10 minutes.
  6. Remove the chocolate from the freezer. Holding  a metal spatula or a knife under 45 degree angle, start pushing the chocolate to form shavings, later to be used for the filling and decoration. Place all the shavings in the fridge.

At this point take the jelly roll out of the fridge and slice it into 1/2 inch thick slices. Line your cake spring pan with plastic wrap. Lay the jelly roll slices all around the wall and on the bottom of the pan. Now it’s time to finish the filling:

  1. Place the sauce pan with gelatin on the stove and on a low heat and melt the gelatin. Do not let it boil!
  2. Pour the gelatin into cream cheese and stir in thoroughly, add whipped cream and stir until well combined.
  3. Pour half of the mixture into a second bowl, add chocolate shavings and spread it all on the cake. This filling will be firm.
  4. Add strawberry puree into the remaining cream cheese-whipped cream mixture and pour it over the first filling. The second filling will be kind of liquidy, but don’t worry it will solidify because of the gelatin. Now cover the cake with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge at least for 4 hours or best over night.
  5. When you’re ready to serve the cake, remove it from the spring cake pan and place it on a serving plate. Pull all the plastic wrap from underneath the cake, decorate with fresh strawberries, whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

Bon Appetite!

Birthday girl enjoying her cake!
Birthday girl enjoying her cake!

♥♥♥

Jelly Roll Cake with strawberries

˜™♥♥♥

Indiana Spring

˜™♥♥♥

Jelly Roll Cake with Strawberries

♥♥♥

˜™

Spring 2

… a great ending to a great day!

˜™

Poppy Seed Challah

The month of March was just not very productive for me in any segment of my life… After shredding a part of my finger early in the month, I didn’t have much desire to cook, bake or type. Lack of sunshine and warmth took its toll… I was so hoping for spring to come and all we got was snow and bitter cold. As I write this it’s still cold out, but the sun is shining, the trees and flowers are budding and it makes such a difference. I also took a few days off from work to spend with my family and to do the things I love – bake and paint.

Poppy seed challah

I really missed getting my hands sticky with dough and having the aroma of fresh baked goods around the house. All I could think of was to bake something good, warm and familiar and nothing sounded better than this challah bread topped with poppy seeds. Every bakery in Bosnia sells this bread. Their sizes range anywhere from a small knot, to an individual size challah to a large family challah. For me, it is an essential part of a good breakfast! It can be eaten just plain or spread with butter, jam, honey, paté or anything you may like. It can be used for a sandwich or for the bread pudding. It looks great on a holiday table!

I painted this while taking a break from baking
I painted this while taking a break from baking

Poppy Seed Challah

{print recipe}

Ingredients:

  • 500 g (4 cups) all-purpose flour (+ flour for kneading)
  • 21 g (0.7 oz) fresh yeast
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 200 ml (3/4 cup + 2 TBSP) warm water
  • 1 egg
  • 50 ml (about 1/4 cup) sunflower or vegetable oil
  • ½ TBSP salt
  • Milk for brushing
  • 2 TSBP poppy seeds

Preparation:

  1. Place the flour in a mixing bowl. Make a deep indent in flour, add 1 TBSP of sugar and crumble up the yeast. Lightly mixing by hand, add ¼ of the quantity of water. Mix only inside the indent, just to get a small ball of starter. Cover and let it rest for about 10 minutes.
  2. Combine the rest of the water with oil, egg and salt and stir well. Put the flour bowl back on the mixer and mixing at a slow speed start adding the liquid. Switch to medium speed setting and mix for about 3-, rest for about 3- and then mix for 3 more minutes.
  3. Dough will look nice and smooth. Cover it and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  4. Lightly dust your working surface with flour and knead the dough by hand for a few minutes. Divide the dough into 3 or 4 pieces, depending on what you want to make, a three- or four-strand challah.
  5. Shape each piece into a foot long strand. Transfer all the pieces onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Braid the strands to form a challah. Cover the bread and let it rest and rise for about 30 minutes.
  6. Brush the bread with milk and sprinkle with poppy seeds.
  7. Bake at 200 C or 395 F for about 35-40 minutes or until challah gets a nice,  golden-brown color.

***More about shaping a four-strand challah here.

Proofing yeast for challah dough
Proofing yeast for challah dough

Making challah dough

Making challag

Poppy Seed Challah

Poppy Seed Challah

Poppy Seed Challah

Poppy Seed Challah

Poppy Seed Challah

Poppy Seed Challah

Chicken Soup with Farina Dumplings

As per request of one of my dear readers, I wanted to introduce this much loved soup of our grandmothers. I am not sure where the soup originates from (Austria perhaps), but it is well known all over the old continent. It is delicious, easily made and filling.

The base for the soup can be chicken or veal stock and dumplings are made from farina flour. This flour is coarse and resembles grits, but unlike grits, it is made from wheat. Apparently for many years I was confusing the name for semolina and farina flour. I recently learned that semolina is mainly used for making pasta and gnocchi and farina is used as cereal (cream of wheat). In Bosnia farina is called griz and in Germany grieß. We mainly use farina for dumplings and desserts. If you happen to go through my recipe index, my Semolina Pudding should actually read farina pudding (I promise I will change that).

chicken soup with farina dumplings

Chicken Soup with Farina Dumplings

{print recipe}

Chicken stock:

  • 1. 5 – 2 l (1.5 – 2 quarts) water
  • 100-200 g (3.5 – 7 oz) chicken (I usually use breast without skin, but dark meat can be used as well) or veal
  • 2 medium carrots (cut once lengthwise and once across)
  • 1 parsnip (cut once lengthwise and once across)
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 parsley twigs
  • Vegeta
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Parsley (finely chopped)

Farina dumplings:

  • 100 g (3.5 oz) farina flour
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 1 pinch of fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 50 g butter (1.7 oz)- at room temperature
  • 1 egg

Preparation:

  1. In a stock pot filled with water add chicken and all the vegetables. Bring it to a boil and then lower the temperature and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  2. Strain the stock and set aside all that’s left in the sieve.
  3. Return the clear stock into the pot. Finely chop chicken, carrots and parsnip and put back into the stock.  Onion, celery, and parsley can be discarded. Spice with vegeta, salt and pepper. Let it simmer lightly.
  4. Dumplings need to be prepared immediately before you want to add them to the soup. Do not let the dumpling mixture sit and wait, because they will not turn out good.
  5. For the dumplings combine farina with salt, pepper and nutmeg in a small bowl. Add softened butter and egg and make a mixture gently mixing with a fork. Do not use electric mixer. Do not over mix.
  6. Take a small spoon and grab some of the mixture. With another spoon help shape the mixture into a nice oval and put it into simmering soup. Work fast. Dumplings will start expanding and coming to the surface.
  7. When they are about triple in size, turn off the stove, add chopped parsley to the soup and let it sit for about 5 minutes before serving. If dumplings are made right they will have a soft consistency, somewhat grainy texture and will not be hard or fall apart.

*** I suggest not to make these dumplings with hands as you may squeeze and press the mixture too much and then they will be too hard after they are done.

Chicken stock

Making Farina Dumplings
Making Farina Dumplings
Farina Dumplings Mixture
Farina Dumplings Mixture
Make Farina dumplings using two spoons and shaping them into an oval
Make Farina dumplings using two spoons and shaping them into an oval

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Chicken Soup with Farina Dumplings

Chicken Soup with Farina Dumplings

Bosnian Bean Soup {Grah}

Just when I thought the winter has lost its grip on us, it’s snowing again and it’s bitter cold outside. I guess I’ll have to patiently wait for the spring.. In the meantime I decided to cure the winter blues with a cup of familiar, good Bosnian Bean Soup. In Bosnia and the regions of Balkan, this soup has been around for hundreds of years. It is simply called “beans” (grah) and when you say “grah” everyone knows what you’re talking about. Most families have their own, family recipe which they swear to be the best one around. I think my recipe is pretty darn good too! 🙂 This flavorful, hearty soup is made from dried beans, so it takes a while to be done, but I’ll tell you the wait is absolutely worth it. If you would find yourself in a conversation with an older Bosnian lady and if you (God forbid) mentioned that you have used canned beans to make grah, she would be seriously mad (if not offended) and she would use all of her powers of persuasion to change your mind and to point you in the right direction when it comes to preparing grah. 🙂

Although I am not going to be mad if you use canned beans, I would strongly suggest – don’t. I am speaking from my own experience here. Take the time and make this soup the proper way and you will be rewarded with a best cup of bean soup you ever had.

Since I don’t have a way to get the real Bosnian beans here in the US, I tried substituting them with pinto beans, black eyed peas and kidney beans. None of these have worked too well. Recently I found peruano beans which are just perfect for this soup and if not the same, then they are very similar to my favorite Bosnian beans.

As we (Bosnians) are pretty serious meat eaters, we like to add some nice smoked meat to the soup. I usually add authentic Bosnian smoked beef, but smoked pork ribs or similar will also give it a great flavor. Smoked meat from Balkans would require a whole new post, so I will just say that if you would really like to have some, try any store with products from Balkan. Serve the soup with some good, crusty bread. This is essential because you will be dipping that bread into soup and using it to pick up the last drops from your cup! In the winter time we also might serve this soup with pickled vegetables such as pickles, pickled peppers, sarena salata (a mix of various pickled veggies), pickled peppers stuffed with sauerkraut, etc.)

Bosnian Bean Soup (Grah)

Bosnian Bean Soup (Grah)

{print recipe}

Ingredients:

  • 500 g (17 oz) dry peruano beans
  • 1-2 l water
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1/4 of a green bell pepper
  • 250 g (9 oz) smoked beef (cubed)
  • 1 TSP salt
  • 1 TSP vegeta
  • 1/4  TSP fresh ground black pepper
  • Bay leaf (optional)
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste
  • 2 TBSP cooking oil
  • 3-4 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • 2 TBSP flour
  • 1 TSP ground paprika

Preparation:

*** Soaking the beans in cold water over night will reduce the cooking time.

  • If you have pre-soaked the beans, rinse them, place in a large cooking pot and go to number 1.
  • If you didn’t soak the beans, place them in a cooking pot, add water and let it boil for a few minutes, rinse and add fresh water.
  1. Finely chop onion, carrot and the bell pepper. Add it to the beans and let it boil. Reduce the temperature to medium, cover the pot slightly and let it cook for about 1 hour. Occasionally check if water level has decreased, add additional water to always keep the same level of liquid in the pot.
  2. After 1 hour add all spices and cubed smoked meat (polish sausage or similar can be used too, but then you will add them at the last half hour of cooking time). Cook for another 1 to 1.5 hours. To check if beans are ready take a few out of the pot and squeeze them between your thumb and index finger. If they are soft and creamy, and the peel comes off they are ready. The soup will look thick and it will smell wonderfully.
  3. Now add tomato paste and let it incorporate well into the soup.
  4. It is time now to make the roux to thicken the soup.
  5. Peel and finely chop 3-4 garlic cloves. Using medium setting, heat 2 TBSP oil in a small frying pan. Toss the chopped garlic in oil just until fragrant.
  6. Add flour and mix it with a wooden spoon until all crumbs disappear and flour starts changing its color to a very light brown. Now add paprika and again mix well. Pour the roux into the soup. This might produce a lively reaction. Give it a nice stir, reduce the heat and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste and add more salt if needed.
  7. Serve warm with a slice of a nice, crusty bread.
  8. This soup freezes well and keeps well in the fridge for at least 3-4 days.
Smoked beef meat
Smoked beef meat
Steps of making roux
Steps of making roux

Bosnian Bean Soup (Grah)

Valentine’s Cake {honey sweet}

The recipe for this torte (cake) comes from my old recipe book that I started when I was about thirteen years old. There are so many good memories of love and friendship preserved on its yellowed pages. Today is just a perfect day to share with you my recipe for this rich and fragrant Valentine’s cake.

Happy Valentine's

Its sweet and satisfying taste will definitely charm your taste buds. Talking about love at the first bite! 🙂

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Valentine’s Cake

{print recipe}

Cake:

  • 250 g (8.8 oz) honey
  • 50 g (1/4 cup) sugar
  • 1 pack vanilla sugar (or 1 TSP vanilla extract)
  • 50 g (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 lemon (zest and juice)
  • 1 TSP cinnamon
  • 1/2 TSP ground cloves
  • 2 eggs
  • 250 g (8.8 oz) flour
  • 3 TSP baking powder

Frosting:

  • 130 g (1 pack) vanilla pudding powder (not instant)
  • 200 g (2 sticks less 1 TBSP) butter (at room temperature)
  • 100 g (3.5 oz) cherry jam (red currant jam can be used too)

Also needed:

  • 8 inch (20 cm) round cake pan
  • Same size piece of parchment paper

*** The recipe for the chocolate swirls I found here and it worked perfectly!

PREPARATION:

  1. In a larger sauce pan combine honey, sugar, vanilla and butter. Heat at medium temperature until well blended. Set aside and let it cool completely.
  2. After honey mixture has cooled down, add zest and juice of one lemon, cinnamon and cloves.
  3. Lightly beat two eggs and also add it to the mixture.
  4. Combine flour and baking powder and fold into honey mixture.
  5. Pour the batter into the cake pan lined with parchment paper. Bake at 365 F (185 C) about 30-35 minutes.
  6. For the frosting prepare vanilla pudding as directed on the box. Instead of 3 cups of milk use only 2 cups since a thicker pudding is needed. When pudding is cooked and cooled down, mix it with 200 g whipped butter until well combined.
  7. To assemble the cake, first cut it once across to get two equal pieces. Spread the bottom piece with cherry jam and then with the half of the frosting. Put the second piece on the top. Frost the cake all around with the remaining frosting. Decorate as desired.

Valentine's Cake

Valentine's Cake

Chocolate Swirls

Citrus Tart

Isn’t this time of the year perfect for making some citrussy treats?! This past weekend I was totally obsessed with thoughts of making a dessert with the citrus fruits that were waiting in my fridge for their turn to be used. I went through pages and pages of familiar recipes but nothing was really calling my name.

That same weekend my daughter asked me to take her to the library, and while I was waiting for her to checkout her books, a displayed cookbook caught my eye. I went over to take a look and saw that it was John Barricelli’s “The Seasonal Baker”. I picked up the book, which suddenly flipped open to a recipe for a French Lemon Tart. Ha! It sounded super delicious so I decided to give it a try. Instead of just using only lemons I used some oranges and a lime. I also adapted ingredients for the filling and maybe next time I would reduce the baking time because my crust turned out quite dark. Nonetheless, the tart was to-die-for, citrussy, sweet with a hint of pungent lime. For those who don’t favor lime taste, I would suggest to go for oranges and lemons only (or lemons only as the original). And yes, I am totally ordering this cookbook from Amazon! 🙂

S

Citrus Tart

[print recipe]

Crust: this quantity of ingredients is enough for one double crust or two single 9-inch crusts

  • 2 cups (255 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (225 g) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk.

Filling:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • 6 TBSP (85 g) melted butter
  • 3 TBSP crème fraiche or sour cream
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) heavy cream
  • Zest of 1 organic orange, 1 organic lemon and 1/2 organic lime (coarsely grated)
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/4 TSP salt
  • 1/2 TSP almond extract

Candied lemon and orange slices:

  • 2 cups (400 g) sugar
  • 1/2 lemon and ½ orange sliced thinly
  • 1 cup (236 ml) water
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) of orange jam
  • 1 TBSP of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 TBSP water

Preparation:

  1. In a mixer bowl beat the butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy. Add the whole egg and the yolk and mix to combine. Add the flour and mixed until it has been absorbed. Divide the dough in half, flatten each half into a disk, wrap in plastic and leave to rest in the fridge for about 2 hours.
  2. On a floured surface roll out the half of the dough and press into a 9 –inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Chill 15-20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 365 F. Put the tart pan on a cookie sheet and place it all together into the lower part of the oven. Bake until edges just start to darken (about 15 minutes). Remove from the oven and cool completely.
  3. To make the filling in a medium bowl whisk together eggs, sugar, melted butter, crème fraiche, citrus zest, lemon/orange juice, salt and almond extract. Let stand for 5 minutes.
  4. Place the tart shell on to a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet into the oven. Carefully pour the filling mixture into the tart shell. Bake until filling is completely set and no longer jiggles in the center (about 30 minutes). The filling will remain bright yellow.
  5. Transfer baked tart to a wire rack and let cool. Chill completely in the refrigerator.
  6. To make the candied citrus slices place the sugar and water in a medium sauce pan and bring it to boil. Reduce to a simmer. Add the lemon and orange slices and poach at very low simmer until the rinds are translucent (about 40 minutes). Let cool completely in the syrup. Drain the slices and pat dry with paper towels.
  7. Set the cooled tart on a top a large can and allow sides of the pan to fall. Place the tart on a serving plate. Arrange candied lemon and orange slices on the top of the tart. In a small saucepan, stir together jam, lemon juice and water. Bring to boil. Set a fine strainer over a small bowl. Strain the glaze into the bowl. With a pastry brush, brush the glaze over the candied fruit slices and crust.

 

S

S

Citrus Zest

Citrus Tart

Orange slices

Citrus Syrup

Citrus Tart

 

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2013 To Do List… and some things I dream about

happines

Hello friends! I hope everyone had a great start into the New Year. I think of this year as a year of changes and improvements.

My first resolution is to focus more on spiritual as opposed to material. I plan to spend more time doing things I love, things that make me and people around me happy. Inspired by my friend Korena’s post The List, here is what I plan to bake, make and do this year (and not necessarily in this order):

Hungarian Dobos Torte or here

All colors macaroons

Esterhazy Torte

Vacherin framboise et chocolat √

Croissants from the The Bourke Street Bakery, AU √

Baguette from the Bourke Street Bakery

Baked Alaska

Poppy Seed Strudel

Traditional Bosnian corn bread

Poulet chasseur

Bosnian Begova Corba (or Bey’s Soup)

Stuffed Adriatic Squid

Reproduce a master painter piece or this one

Make a child portrait in pastel

Improve my watercolor skills

Paint a large scale painting or a mural

Travel here and here (very possible)

Travel here, here or here  (dreaming about)

Explore my surroundings,

et cetera…

I would be happy to hear about your plans! 🙂

Love to you all!

Sibella

Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake topped with toasted hazelnuts

Another year! Another chance to live, laugh and do what I love! There are a lot of plans and resolutions in mind which I will put on paper one of these days. For a sweet beginning to the new year, here is a recipe for a scrumptious cheesecake requested by my son for his birthday. When I asked him what kind of cake he wanted to have, he said “Can a cheesecake be made with chocolate and hazelnuts?” Well, no doubt it can! 🙂

My basic cheesecake recipe comes from one of the numerous Dr. Oetker cookbooks. I have changed a thing or two over the years to suit my taste. This time I added chocolate and hazelnuts to it and I didn’t pre-bake the crust as recipe directs, since it always turns too dark and burnt tasting. I just poured the cheesecake batter right onto the unbaked crust and it turned out just right baked together. I also prefer quark cheese for the cheesecake since it is so much lighter than the common American cream cheese, but it was way too expensive, so I went for what is known in the US as Neufchâtel or Farmers’ cheese and has a lower fat content.

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Chocolate swirl cheesecake topped with toasted hazelnuts

[print here]

Crust:

  • 150 g (5.3 oz) flour
  • ½ TSP baking powder
  • 75 g (2.6 oz) sugar
  • 1 pack of vanilla sugar (or 1 TSP vanilla extract)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 75 g (2.6 oz) butter (softened)
  • Flour for kneading

Filling:

  • 750 g (26 oz) cream cheese (used Neufchâtel, but quark cheese is the best)
  • 200 g (7 oz) sugar
  • 3 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 50 g (1.7 oz) corn starch
  • 3 eggs (divided)
  • 250 ml (1 cup+2 TBSP) heavy cream (whipped)
  • 100 g (3.5 oz) semisweet chocolate
  • 50 – 75 g (1.7 – 2.6 oz) toasted hazelnuts (coarsely chopped)

Also needed: 25 cm (10 inch) round cake spring pan

Preparation:

  1. For the crust combine all dry ingredients, add 1 egg and butter and mix it at medium speed until well blended. Transfer the dough on a floured surface, knead it for a minute, wrap in plastic and leave in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  2. While the dough is resting prepare the filling. First divide eggs and beat egg whites until firm. Set aside. Next whip the heavy cream and set aside. Lightly toast hazelnuts and chop them coarsely.
  3. Mix the cream cheese, sugar, egg yolks and lemon juice until smooth and creamy, add corn starch and mix for another minute.
  4. Now add in whipped cream and fold in egg whites by hand. Melt the chocolate over the hot water bath. Take about 1/5 of the cream cheese mixture and place it a small mixing bowl. Pour melted chocolate inside and mix well.
  5. Take the dough out of the fridge and divide into 3 equal parts. Roll 2/3 of the dough and place it onto a greased spring cake form. From the remaining 1/3 of the dough make a long rope and press it into the wall of the cake pan. Pour the filling into the unbaked crust, pour the chocolate mixture on the top and make swirls all around with a tooth pick. Top with toasted hazelnuts and bake at 175 C or 345 F for about 45-50 minutes. ***Since I made the cake at night, preparation photos were too dark, so I will not post them this time.

 ♥

Happy Birthday son!
Happy Birthday son!

Here Birthday Cheesecake just ready for the oven:

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Baked, cooled down and ready to cut into it:

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First slice for the Birthday boy:

Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake

The next day, a break from painting and a piece of cheesecake. Yum!

Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake

Best Wishes for the New Year and a finished soft pastel painting

As we are counting the last hours of the old year and looking forward to the new one, I just want to reflect on the past year and say that it went pretty well for me. I tried to focus on doing things I love. I’ve baked a lot, trying to be inventive and try new things. I’ve tried to take better photos of my food and my surroundings. I tried to spend more time painting. I have actually finished several paintings out of which two were sold in a charity event helping needy Bosnian families and one got an award and it is still displayed in our local museum gallery. I tried to spend more time with my kids, be a better parent, be a good friend and a listener. I tried to keep an open mind and an open heart to the new things that came along. Have I succeeded? Not sure. I am sure of one thing though: I will not stop trying and hoping that this new year will be better in every way not only for me, but also for all of you that are reading this post and for the whole world.

peace on earth

This is my latest painting. The original photo comes from a Croatian photographer Boris Stromar and can be seen at Boris’ website. With Boris’ permission I have used this photo as a reference. The painting depicts river Una, one of the most beautiful rivers of Bosnia and Europe.

This is how I started:

Remembering Bosnia_first drawing

Completed painting:

River Una

Ginger Polenta Cookies (with cranberries and walnuts)

My Christmas Bakery is in full swing. This week I made a ton of Razz-Ma-Tazz Bars which seem to be everyone’s favorite. I made my first brittle and a whole bunch of different Christmas cookies, which I will be posting in the next few days. For today I chose the ginger polenta cookies. These are new to me and they have exceeded my expectations. I adapted the recipe from one of the many holiday cookie magazines that I’ve collected over the years.

Ginger Polenta Cookies

Ginger Polenta Cookies (with cranberries and walnuts)

[printable recipe]

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups (320 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2  cup (80 g) polenta or yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2  cup (50 g) toasted nuts (walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, etc. – I’ve used walnuts)
  • 1/2  cup dried (50 g) cranberries (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 orange (zest + 1 TBSP juice)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 sticks (225 g) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
  • 1 large egg  + 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup (40 g) crystallized ginger (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 TSP ground ginger

Preparation:

  1. Stir together flour, polenta, nuts, cranberries and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. Beat butter and sugar in a mixer bowl at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, egg yolk, orange zest and juice, chopped ginger and ground ginger. Add flour and mix at low speed until combined.
  3. Gather dough into a ball and divide in half. Shape into 2 (9 inch) logs and wrap in plastic wrap with ends sealed. Refrigerate 4 to 6 hours or until firm.
  4. Preheat oven to 300 F (150 C). Cut logs into 1/4  inch slices and place them onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake 15-18 minutes or until slightly golden at edges. Cool  completely and serve.

*** I added a bit of chopped candied lemon peel for a hint of green color.

Bon Appetite!

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Ginger polenta cookies

Ginger polenta cookies

Easy Honey-Wheat rolls from scratch

Last week I  was experimenting with the bread dough again. Not so much because I wanted to experiment, but more because of lack of necessary ingredients and being lazy to go to the story at a late hour. I would usually make these kinds of rolls for a party, because they are easy to make, look pretty on the table and taste delicious just warm from the oven. However, there was no party, I just wanted to spoil my family a little, because I had a day off and I felt like baking. Reason enough to do so, don’t you think?! Even with limited ingredients, these turned out far, far better than I thought. My husband said I should write down the recipe so I can make them again. He suggested they would be also excellent as burger buns. So here they are:

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Easy Honey-Wheat rolls from scratch

[printable recipe]

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups (385 g) all-purpose flour (used King Arthur)
  • 1 cup (125 g) wheat flour (used King Arthur)
  • 1 ½ TSP salt
  • 0.7 oz (20 g) fresh yeast
  • 1 ½ cup (350 ml) warm water
  • 1/2 cup (115 ml) heavy cream
  • 2 TBSP honey
  • a bit of cooking oil
  • 1 TBSP heavy cream
  • Flax and sesame seeds

Preparation:

*** If you are going to make these rolls for dinner, I suggest make the dough in the morning and let it rest until ready to make them. I made my dough at night since I wanted to make the rolls for breakfast.

  1. Combine all-purpose flour, wheat flour and salt and mix it thoroughly. Combine warm water and cream and dissolve fresh yeast in the liquid.
  2. Set your mixer on slow and start pouring the liquid into the flour mixture, add honey and now switch to medium speed and knead for about 5 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle your work surface with a bit of flour and transfer the dough on it. Knead the dough by hand for a minute or two, make it into a ball, brush with a bit of oil, cover and let it rest for several hours, best overnight.
  4. Prepare a greased large round baking pan.
  5. Empty the dough on a floured surface and knead it a few times. Weigh the dough and decide how many rolls you need.  Cut the dough into desired number of pieces. I weighed mine so they can be a similar size.
  6. Knead each piece of dough 8-10 times and form a ball. Place all the dough balls into the greased pan, cover lightly and let rise for at least 1 ½ – 2 hours.
  7. When they have doubled in size, brush them with some heavy cream and sprinkle with flax and sesame seeds.
  8. Bake at 400 F (200 C) for about  20 minutes or until golden.

All is left is just to enjoy them!

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Honey-Wheat dough

Honey-Wheat dough

Honey-Wheat rolls from scratch

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Honey-Wheat rolls from scratch

Honey-Wheat rolls from scratch

Honey-Wheat rolls from scratch

Honey-Wheat rolls from scratch

Date-Orange Swirl Cookies

It’s that time of the year again when I open up a Christmas Bakery in my own little kitchen to do labor of love. Baking has always been one of my favorite hobbies but baking Christmas cookies goes into a special category. I try to involve the whole family in the process. Kids and I are usually mixing, baking, assembling, decorating and guess who is tasting? The man of the house! That was easy to predict, wasn’t it? 😀 These cookies are one of my favorites. You should try and see how date and orange filling fits perfectly into the cream cheese pastry!

Date Cookies

Date-Orange Swirl Cookies

[printable recipe]

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cup dates (pitted and finely chopped)
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 3 cups + 1 TBSP all purpose flour
  • 2 TSP vanilla extract
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 oz cream cheese (softened)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 TSP baking soda
  • 1/2 TSP salt

Preparation:

  1. Mix dates, orange juice, sugar, butter and 1 TBSP flour in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook stirring often, for about 10 minutes or until thick. Add 1 TSP vanilla; set aside.
  2. Beat brown sugar, cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until creamy. Add eggs and remaining TSP vanilla; beat 2 minutes.
  3. Combine remaining 3 cups flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Add to cream cheese mixture and stir until blended. Divide dough in half. Roll one half of the dough on a lightly floured surface into 12 X 9 inch rectangle. Spread half date mixture over dough and tightly roll it up jelly-roll style. Wrap in plastic wrap and leave it in the freezer for at least 1 hour. Repeat with remaining dough and date mixture.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 F ( ). Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Cut dough into 1/4 inch slices. Place them 1 inch apart and bake about 12 minutes or until golden.

Bon Appétit!