Povitica: A Recipe Review

Povatica 3 Povatica 2

This recipe is from the Great British Bake Off tv show. It’s a festive Croatian bread, filled with ground walnuts and cocoa. I first made it a couple of months ago, following the traditional recipe. Then for Easter, I made two more loaves. The first was filled with chocolate (I used the recipe for the traditional filling, minus the walnuts and adding more cocoa and egg yolks) and the second was a cinnamon and sugar.

Povitica is the most beautiful bread I’ve ever seen. After baking each loaf, we cut right into the middle of it for an incredible big reveal. Each loaf has its own special swirl pattern.

As for the taste, I’m not a big fan, though my family seems to enjoy it. Each time, I didn’t put enough filling inside, and so it’s rather plain. That, and I over baked it. One hour is the perfect time, but I went ten minutes longer, and the bread was dry and dense.

While the taste is slightly disappointing, it’s very fun to make. I love rolling it out thin and looping around the pan. Visually, it’s so pleasing to look at.

All in all, if I had any stars to give, I’d give this povitica 3.5. The recipe is here. 

Macarons!

Macarons 2

Macarons 1

I still can’t believe I’ve made macarons successfully. A bit wonky looking macarons, but incredibly delicious ones at that. I watched them the whole twenty minutes they baked, so if they cracked I’d know immediately. I was so surprised when they started rising and developing feet, and euphoric when they came out of the oven with perfect, smooth shells.

Perfectly smooth until I accidentally smashed them while still hot, that is.

The shells were a bit denser than I excepted, though. Maybe I over mixed or undermixed, I’m not sure. I made another recipe a couple of days later with a plain shell and a blueberry buttercream filling. Those shells were lighter and fluffier, although they cracked because I didn’t rap them on the counter enough times. Or maybe because they didn’t rest for half an hour before baking. Then again, I didn’t rest the chocolate ones either. The macaron mystery.

Those plain macarons were slightly disappointing after the chocolate. A rich, gooey ganache simple can’t be beat. I will be making macarons again, but I’ll stick with the chocolate instead of experimenting with other flavors and colors. As Cogsworth says, “If it isn’t baroque, don’t fix it.”

These chocolate macarons wouldn’t be possible except for this recipe, at How to Cook That. There are also a couple of helpful videos and an FAQ.

-E.D.

Chocolate Soufflés

  “I made you a soufflé, but it was too beautiful to live,”

-Clara Oswald, The Asylum of the Daleks; Doctor Who

chocolate souffle 1 I’ll be honest. Other than making this recipe twice, I’ve never eaten a soufflé. I’m not even sure what they’re supposed to taste like, or what consistency they’re supposed to have. But if you’d like a decadent, warm, melt in your mouth confection for a relatively quick chocolate dream, these are the soufflés for you. The first time I made these, they baked for 18 minutes, and when they were cut into, the middle was completely raw. And not in a delicious molten lava cake way. This second time around, I baked the soufflés for 24 minutes and they were a soft texture; not over baked or under baked. We cut the first one open as soon as it came out of the oven and were loath to give it up for a picture. I couldn’t believe how high they rose! But like all soufflés (I’ve heard it said, at least), they deflate just minutes after coming out of the oven.

The only thing these soufflés wanted was more chocolate. They needed more than a scant half cup, so I adapted the recipe some more.

Chocolate Soufflés                                             375 degrees; 21-23 minutes 

  • 1 c. milk
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1 c. chocolate chips, or bakers chocolate
  • Dash or two of salt

Butter each ramekin thoroughly. Unbuttered spots will cause the soufflé to stick and not rise. Coat the insides of the ramekins in sugar.

Combine flour, butter, and salt with your hands until well combined. Don’t leave any dry flour.

In a small pot, brink milk and sugar to a boil on medium heat. Add flour mixture to the milk and whisk. Let cook for four minutes, or until the mixture is thick and gummy. Add in the chocolate and stir until melted. Take off the heat and let cool until just warm before adding the egg yolks, so as not to cook them. Whisk the mixture.

Using a whisk or a stand mixer, whip the egg whites until stiff, glossy peaks form. Fold the meringue into the soufflé base in the stages. Stir gently, so as not to deflate the meringue. Fill the ramekins almost to the top. Wipe extra batter off the ramekins and place into the oven. Bake for 20 or so minutes.

Serve immediately out of the oven. They begin to deflate after a minute or two.

Homemade Bread

“When the girl returned, some hours later, she carried a tray, with a cup of fragrant tea steaming on it; and a plate piled up with very hot buttered toast, cut thick, very brown on both sides, with the butter running through the holes in great golden drops, like honey from the honeycomb. The smell of that buttered toast simply talked to Toad, and with no uncertain voice; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfasts on bright frosty mornings, of cosy parlour firesides on winter evenings, when one’s ramble was over and slippered feet were propped on the fender, of the purring of contented cats, and the twitter of sleepy canaries.”                                                                               -The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Graham

The Wind in the Willows perfectly captures what homemade bread means to my family. Some of our favorite memories are made in the kitchen, standing around, eating bread fresh from the oven, slathered thickly with golden butter. Our recipe is from our Great-great-grandmother, and we’ve been eating it ever since we can remember. The aroma of baking bread fills the house, making our mouths water; and when it comes out, it disappears in less than twenty minutes.

We eat it in sandwiches, as french toast, in an egg-n-a-nest; sliced and baked with cheese and garlic on top- oh my. Toast and top with cinnamon and sugar, with jam or honey. There can hardly be anything more delicious and home-like. Before baking, you can roll it out, spread cinnamon-n-sugar, or cheese on top, roll it up, and plop it in the pan. When you cut it open, you’ll have a beautiful, tasty swirl inside.

The recipe is reasonably foolproof. Every time I’ve made it, it has always come out well.

Bread Photos

Bread DoughIn this last photo, the bread is ready to go back into the oven, (or any warm place) to rise again.

Make this recipe in a stand mixer, or mix it up by hand.

Makes 2 loaves

Homemade Bread                                                           25 min. 350 degrees

  • 2 Tbsp. yeast
  • 2 c. lukewarm water
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2-4 Tbsp. oil (or melted butter/margarine)
  • 5-6 c. flour

Add ingredients in the order given. Knead into a soft dough, not stiff or sticky. (I’ve heard it said that if you can stretch it out and see light through it, it’s good) Let rise in a warm place until double- 45 min to 1 hr. Knead a few times. Divide in half and place in greased bread pans. Let rise in 45 min. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 min. Brush tops with butter, and let cool out of pans.

If you’ve never made bread before, don’t worry. It’s much simpler than it sounds, and the end result is worth it.

-E.D.

Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry Muffin

Why use a Jiffy mix when you can make these homemade muffins with only a little more elbow grease? They have a perfect texture and a bakery-like top that pulls off nicely. Next time, I’ll probably add more blueberries than the recipe suggests. Before baking, sprinkle them with sugar. This will give them a nice crisp top. Slather the muffins with butter while they’re still warm and serve with a spot of tea for a yummy breakfast or snack.

I used whole wheat flour and frozen blueberries instead of fresh, but other than that, followed the recipe to a T.

The recipe is from Allrecipes.com, by Colleen. It can be found here: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/to-die-for-blueberry-muffins/

Makes 8 muffins.

Peppermint Stick Ice Cream

IMG_1162

This peppermint stick ice cream has become a Christmas tradition in our house. We like to eat it when we decorate the tree, or sit by the fire listening to Bing Crosby’s Christmas album. However, it would taste just as delicious on a hot summer day as on a chilly winter evening.

Feel free to store this in your freezer for a while. Even after a week or so, it will have a fresh taste and consistency. We used candy canes in this batch, but starlight mints, spearmints, or even Andes chocolate mint candies would work well. Serve it with hot fudge sauce drizzled on top for an extra special treat.

  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 c. milk
  • 9 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. vanilla
  • 2 c. chilled whipping cream
  • 4 c. chilled half and half
  • 2 tsp. peppermint flavoring
  • 3-4 candy canes, crushed

Mix sugar, salt, milk and egg yolks in a sauce pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until bubbles appear around edge of mixture in pan. Cool to room temperature. Stir in vanilla, peppermint flavor, cream, and half and half. Freeze to ice cream machine’s directions. During the last few minutes of freezing, add in crushed candy canes.

Top with hot fudge and enjoy!