My new pastel painting from the Bosnia series – Part 2

Here is the progress from this week. I had a lot of problems with the small boat in the background, so I had to re position it and change the shape of it. Now I think it looks better. I have mainly worked on the lower left corner and somewhat on the big boat. The big boat supposed to show reflection of the clouds since it has some leftover rain inside… I plan to work on the big boat and hopefully finish it next week… Stay tuned my friends.

My new pastel painting from the Bosnia series – Part 1

Busy summer days are over, so I can finally concentrate on painting again. I started this one last Tuesday and this is the result of 2.5 hours of painting. The medium I’m using is soft pastel, and the size is 28 3/4 X 20 3/4 in (or 73 X 52.6 cm). More progress photos coming next week…

Yeast Strudel with Hazelnuts

I haven’t baked in a while, partly because the summer calls for the resfreshing, no bake, fruity desserts and partly because I was on vacation and just didn’t feel like doing much except relaxing, painting, shopping, and such… Well, last night I got a huge urge to bake! Without a particular reason, without an occasion in sight I just HAD TO BAKE SOMETHING! Those passionate about baking will understand! 😀

Ideas started forming in my mind while I was still at work – something yeasty, but not too heavy and good for breakfast… Strudel! That’s it! We, Eastern European People love our strudel! I think most of every nation of Eastern (and some of Western EU) has one or the other version of the strudel. I usually make two types of strudel – one with a very thin, phyllo-like dough and the other with the yeast dough. Fillings can vary – from a lighter cherry, apple or jam filling to a richer poppy seed, walnut, hazelnut, almond or cream cheese and raisins filling. More info about strudel here.

Yeast Strudel with Hazelnuts                      Printable recipe

Yields two 5 X 9 inches (13 X 23 cm) loafs

Filling:

  • 12-14 oz (350-400 g) ground hazelnuts
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) milk
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
  • 1 pack vanilla sugar (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
  • 2-3  tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Dough:

  • 1 pack of dry yeast (or 20 g fresh yeast)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 4 cups (512 g) all-purpose flour (used King Arthur)
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (if desired)
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 1 cup (236 ml)warm water
  • 6 tablespoons (85 g) butter (very soft)

Preparation:

Filling:

Pour the milk into a cooking pan and let it boil lightly. Add hazelnuts, sugar, vanilla, honey and cinnamon and mix well for a few minutes until the filling thickens. Make sure the filling is spreadable. If is too runny add more hazelnuts. ***You may divide filling into two parts and add 1 tbsp of cocoa or melted chocolate in one half (or add some different flavor to it).

Dough:

  1. Mix the yeast, 1 tsp sugar and 2 tbsp warm water. Set aside for 5 minutes until becomes foamy.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest. Make an indent in the flour and pour in the yeast mixture. Mix lightly, add the egg and then start adding water. When almost combined, work the butter into the dough.
  3. Lightly dust your working surface with flour and knead the dough by hand for about 5 minutes. Grease a bowl with butter and place the dough ball into the bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise until double in volume.
  4. Prepare two 5 X 9 inches (about 13 X 23 cm) loaf pans, grease them with butter. Cover your table with a cloth which will be used for rolling the dough. Sprinkle the cloth with flour.
  5. When the dough is ready, divide it in two. Using a rolling pin roll the dough as thin as possible. Make sure it keeps its rectangular shape. The size of my dough was approx. 12 X 20 inches. Spread the filling as thinly as possible. Lift up the cloth and roll the dough as a jelly roll. Do the same with the second piece of the dough.
  6. Shape one roll into “S”, form the other dough into a two-strain braid and place each into a loaf pan. Cover and let is rise for about 1 to 1.5 hours.
  7. Bake at 375 F (190 C) for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 F (175 C) and bake for another 30 minutes. Cool for at least 30 minutes in the pan. Remove from the pan and cool for another 30 minutes, slice and serve.

ENJOY!

Homemade Phyllo Dough

In Bosnia and neighboring countries phyllo dough (orignally jufka – read yoofkah) is often made for pastries such as pita/burek or baklava. Even though phyllo can be bought at the store or bakery, fresh, homemade phyllo is always the best! In the past it was very desirable for a young woman to know how to make jufka. Often after a girl learned how to make phyllo, family members would jokingly say “Well now you CAN get married!” Sooo, I hope you can imagine how important phyllo dough is in a young girl’s life and in what kind of pressure I was to learn how to make it! 🙂 A Bosnian husband wants a wife who knows how to make pita and baklava! All jokes aside, I really like that I’ve learned how to make jufka, to keep tradition alive and to treat my family and friends with this delicious food of my ancestors.

Phyllo dough can be made two ways (that I know of). One, with a very long rolling pin and other, with pulling and stretching dough by hand until paper thin. I use the second technique because it’s easier and somewhat less time consuming.

When making phyllo dough, give yourself plenty of time, as this is a process of kneading – resting – kneading – resting – resting – stretching – baking… plus preparing the filling. It is time consuming, but so well worth it in the end!

There are different recipes for phyllo, which warry in adding or excluding one or two ingredients. The key ingredients are flour, warm water and salt. Some add an egg to it, some add vinegar, some oil, depending on how it’s made in their family. I also want to point out that you can’t use any kind of flour for phyllo. I’ve tried 4-5 different brands with horrible results (the dough wouldn’t stretch, it was rubbery and ended up in the trash can). In the US the best flour for phyllo (in my opinion) is King Arthur all-purpose flour.

Also, there are different ways of shaping phyllo pastries. Two traditional Bosnian ways are to shape it as swirls or layer it. Here I will show how to make pita/burek swirls.

Homemade Phyllo Dough or Jufka (Yufka)       Printable recipe

*** This is a recipe for a larger quanity. You may use just half the measure.

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups (640 g) flour (King Arthur all-purpose flour)
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 2 ¼ cups (530 ml) warm water
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp oil

Also needed:

  • Cotton table cloth or fabric to cover the table for stretching the dough
  • Pizza knife or any sharp knife
  • Large baking pan
  • Oil to grease the pan

***FILLINGS (For the above quantity of dough use about 1 lb of any two fillings below)

Cottage cheese filling (cottage cheese, sour cream, egg and salt)

Ground beef feeling (finely chop onion and sauté in a bit of oil, add ground beef and sauté just until brown, salt and pepper to taste)

Spinach filling (blanched spinach, cottage cheese or ricotta cheese, sour cream, egg, salt)

Preparation:

  1. Combine flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Combine warm water, vinegar and oil and slowly start pouring into flour mixing the whole time. If the dough is sticky add more flour.
  2. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces (3 pieces if using ½ above measure). Knead each piece on a flour dusted surface about 50 times and form it into a ball. Make sure each ball is dusted with flour, cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for 20-30 minutes.
  3. After resting the dough balls will be soft to touch and smoother than before. Repeat the kneading process and again form them into balls, just this time coat every piece with cooking oil so they look nice and shiny. Cover again with plastic wrap and let rest for another 20-30 minutes.
  4. Brush your working surface with oil and roll out the ball of dough into an approx. 12 X 7 inch oval (30 X 18 cm). Brush the top of it with oil and let it rest for at least 15 minutes.
  5. Cover the table with cloth, grease the baking pan and pre-heat the oven to 425 F (218 C).
  6. Place the rolled out dough piece on a rolling pin and transfer it onto the cloth. Put both hands under the dough with palms up and stretch gently from the middle to the sides. The dough is supposed to be elastic and stretchy (if not, let it rest for about 10 more minutes then try again). After that, stretch the sides so the whole piece covers the table.
  7. Please see the photos on how to add filling and wrap it.

Bake until golden brown and enjoy!