Tsoureki Rolls

20170416_173641The Easter season has come and gone for another year so today I bring you one of the items I served at our table. Tsoureki is a very popular sweet bread in Greece similar in texture to a French brioche. It is traditionally served at Pascha (Easter) but is also commonly consumed at other holidays or as a daily accompaniment to coffee/tea.

20170416_172825Most Greeks will tell you that making your own tsoureki is a daunting task to perfect, which is why many simply purchase it from local Greek bakeries verses making it homemade. I myself have purchased the bread for many years since I always place more focus on preparing other traditional offerings. However this year I decided to take up the task of making tsoureki homemade for Easter and the process honestly did not live up to the horror portrayed.

20170415_143020The perfect Tsoureki is a buttery soft yet flaky dough flavored with the distinct aromatic spices ground masticha (mastic) and ground mahlepi. Masticha or Mastic is a tree resin found on the Greek island of Chios. Mahlepi or mahleb is a spice derived from ground cherry seeds. These two spices are what give tsoureki its distinct taste and alluring sweet aroma. Without them the bread becomes no different from a French brioche.

20170416_173625If you are a regular follower of mine you’re probably wondering what my take on this traditional bread will be. Although I love tsoureki in its traditional loaf form I always like to make a fresh twist to established recipes as my own signature of sorts. With tsoureki, I sought to streamline the traditional braided design into a more portable portion. Tsoureki is traditionally braided into a long loaf or a crown shape. For my recipe, I portion out the dough into equal sized rolls and braid them the traditional way. I then place each braided roll into a muffin tin. This strategy makes it easy to provide the perfect amount of tsoureki for the expected amount of guests for holidays and is a far less messy alternative for kids, especially since they do not have patience to wait for a slice to be cut. If you want to try tsoureki and share it with family and friends, I highly recommend giving this recipe a try. You will be delightfully surprised at how great of a roll this is!

Tsoureki Rolls

Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg. Dry Yeast
  • 1/3 cup Warm Milk (100° to 110°)
  • 15.75 oz. (about 3 ½ cups) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Ground Mahlepi (may also be labeled mahlab/mahleb)
  • ½ tsp. Ground Masticha (may also be labeled mastic)
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • 4 Large Eggs; lightly beaten
  • 6 ½ tbsp. Unsalted Butter; softened & cut into large cubes
  • 1 tbsp. Water
  • 1 Large Egg White
  • Sliced Almonds; optional

Preparation:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine yeast and warm milk. Dissolve yeast in milk and let stand for 5 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, mahlepi, masticha, salt, and eggs. Add flour mixture to the milk mixture. Set mixer to low-speed and beat until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl with spatula as needed. Continue to beat dough on low speed for 5 minutes or until dough is soft and elastic and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
  3. Set mixer to medium speed and add half of butter to the dough until just incorporated. Add remaining butter cubes to dough and beat until incorporated. Continue to beat dough at medium speed for 4 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
  4. Coat a large bowl with cooking spray. Place dough into the bowl, turning to coat top. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place free from drafts for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Once risen, gently press two fingers into the dough. If indentation remains the dough has risen enough to proceed. If indentation does not remain allow more time to rise. Once indentation remains, punch dough down then form into a ball. Return dough to bowl; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
  5. Uncover dough and let stand 90 minutes or until dough is at room temperature. Divide dough into 4 equal portions. Working with one portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent it from drying out), cut dough into 6 equal pieces.
  6. Working with one piece at a time, break into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long log. Pinch together the 3 logs at the top and braid down like you would hair. Pinch the end of the braid and pull braid into a ball formation, tucking the end of the braid underneath the ball to secure. Repeat procedure with remaining dough portions to make 24 rolls total. Place rolls into cups of a muffin tin coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise for 45 minutes or until almost doubled in size.
  7. Preheat oven to 350°. Combine water and egg white; stir with a whisk. Gently brush rolls with egg mixture. If using almonds, gently press 3-4 onto the top of each roll. Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Serve.

 

PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2017

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No Bake Crispy Date Bites

3When I initially went to work on these no bake bites I was having quite the rough week. My daughter was sick with a severe cold and I had caught the dreaded bug myself. I spent many hours wiping boogies, picking up spit out food, and changing sweat soaked, vapor rub scented pj’s. If I managed to get her to sleep for longer than a few minutes without waking up in a coughing fit or needing consolation, I had to work on my 20 pounds of homework I had waiting for me each week to figure out how to complete. Since my focus had obviously been everywhere else but the blog, I needed another quick fix and what could be more quick than something you do not have to bake.

These bites are perfect for mommy’s/daddy’s and all the worker bees out there who simply do not have the time or energy to make anything elaborate. My no bake crispy date bites come together quick (only 5 minutes of cook time on the stove) and taste like they have had hours spent on them in a confectionery getting the flavor and texture just right. Everyone that sampled these tasty treats thought they had been slaved over and they were shocked to find out these dainty treats were practically as simple as the traditional back of the box Rice Krispie favorite. These really are a simple treat that can be made to give kids after school or as an additional treat at a holiday table or office party.

2Being as this recipe is a quick one I will also keep my discussion about it brief. The following recipe prepares about 3 dozen bites, which is adequate for entertaining or munching over several days. The bites should be stored at room temperature and kept for no longer than three days.

 

Note: When toasting the nuts be sure to stir them frequently to prevent them from burning. Also please be sure that the date mixture does not reach a rapid boil as you may risk curdling the eggs.

 

NO BAKE CRISPY DATE BITES

 Ingredients:

  •  8 tbsp. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter
  • ¾ cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 cup Chopped Dates
  • 1 Egg; lightly beaten
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 2 cups Rice Krispies Cereal
  • ½ cup Pecans; toasted & chopped

Formula:

  1. In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add the sugar, dates, egg, and salt to the butter and cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the vanilla, Rice Krispies, and pecans until the mixture is well incorporated (there should be no areas of dry cereal pieces). Allow the mixture to cool for about 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Once the mixture has cooled it is time to shape them into bite size portions. Grab a portion of the mixture and shape it into a 1-inch ball. Transfer the shaped ball onto the prepared baking sheet. Continue until all of the mixture has been shaped into bite size portions. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator and chill the bites until firm, about 15 minutes. Remove from the refrigerator and serve or store in an airtight container at room temperature.

 

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: PAMELA GRAHAM
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

 

 

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2015

Tiramisu Cupcakes

 

20140930_091256I love cupcakes. I love how they are the perfect portion, easy to transport, and the options for cake flavors and frostings are seemingly endless. I also enjoy how they open up one’s creativity. I like adapting flavors of other desserts I enjoy and transforming them into a cupcake. With that said, it is clearly obvious I love the Italian trifle Tiramisu and set out to make its cupcake counterpart.

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I began with the base, the cake itself. It was here that I wanted the coffee flavor to stand out so I didn’t want to over complicate the cake. I used a simple white cake recipe and laced it with a little bottle of Kahlua liquor. This not only gave it the kick of coffee flavor I was looking for but also fools my brain that I am indulging in a boozy cupcake… and who doesn’t like the thought of a boozy cupcake.

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Next up was the frosting. This is where I integrated the traditional mascarpone and things got a bit tricky. My first trial run, I used too much marscapone, which lent a very heavy and overly sweet frosting. The base cake layer is very light and airy and the frosting was just too much for it. In my second trial run, I wanted to make the frosting be more light and airy like the cake beneath it. I didn’t want the cake to be weighted down. So I used less marscapone and more heavy cream. The result…perfection. A light dusting of cocoa powder to bring out the swirls of the frosting was all I needed and there you have a delectable and easy Tiramisu Cupcake worth sharing.

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I made my own white cake batter from scratch but if you are in a pinch you can surely use a white cake mix. Also be sure to use a nonstick muffin tin and do not grease it. This will allow the white cake to brown nicely.

 

Tiramisu Cupcakes

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe homemade white cake batter or white cake mix prepared according to box directions
  • 1 (50 ml) Kahlua Mini Bottle Liquor
  • 1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 4 oz. Mascarpone Cheese; room temperature
  • ½ cup Confectioners’ Sugar; sifted
  • Cocoa Powder; for dusting

 

Formula:

  1. Preheat oven according to white cake recipe instructions or box mix instructions. Use two nonstick muffin tins. Do not use paper liners or grease. Prepare a recipe for white cake either from scratch or from a box mix according to recipe instructions or box directions. Once batter is mixed, add in the mini bottle of Kahlua. Mix until just incorporated. Do not overmix. Fill each muffin cup halfway. Bake until toothpick in center comes out clean, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in muffin tin for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, remove the cupcakes gently from the tin and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
  2. After cupcakes have cooled completely prepare the frosting. In a large bowl using a hand mixer or by hand, whip the cream to stiff peaks. Be sure not to overbeat or the cream will become grainy. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip together the mascarpone and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the whipped cream until completely incorporated and no streaks of white remain.
  3. Fill a piping bag fitted with a large star tip with the frosting. Using firm pressure and a clockwise motion, pipe large rosettes onto the cupcakes, passing the 12 o’clock position twice. Using a small sieve, sift a light amount of cocoa powder over the frosted cupcakes. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

 

SPECIAL THANKS TO:

PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2014

 

Sugar & Spice Apple Turnovers

In most areas of the country, the leaves have fallen, temperatures feel closer to winter, and most importantly, the orchards have been cleared of their fruit before the frost and measurable snow sweeps in. Perhaps the two most significant fruits which remind me of fall are the apple and orange. Having already covered oranges in my previous post, I move on to apples. Since it is the holidays and time is certainly limited for all, finding a formula which is quick and simple to make is dire. These apple turnovers are sure to please with their comforting sweetness, warming spice, and short preparation time.

Although I enjoy the better flavor and texture of homemade puff pastry, who honestly has the time or patience these days to do such a laborous task. Certainly not I!!! For those never have attempted making homemade puff pastry, I will give you a word of wisdom. For the average home baker, the frozen stuff is just as good 😉 I say this because I have personally done the homemade version of puff pastry in my Bread’s class at Le Cordon Bleu, and I know what goes into this process. Believe me, it is not fun. Of course once those turnovers come out of the oven they certainly are worthwhile having known the process it took to get to that point but then you forgo your waistline as you feel compelled to eat every last one of those suckers knowing you worked so hard at them. Up you go 10 pounds like that. I will describe the process of making homemade puff pastry so those who have no idea what I’m talking about can get a better understanding of its complexity. First step of the process is to mix up your dough. Next it is rolled thin and into a large rectangle then spread with heaping amounts of butter. *Another quick word of wisdom…if you make this homemade you will never want to eat a turnover again because the amounts of butter which go into puff pastry can be nauseating. Continuing on with the process, the dough is folded over itself to cover the dough. This is called the puff pastries first turn. There need to be at least four turns in this process before you can move on to cutting the shapes for turnovers and after each turn the dough must rest in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. It is a time consuming and especially aggravating process when your dough decides to tear on the last turn exposing your butter pack in the center as did mine in class. That is why I choose use the trusty and reliable frozen puff pastry from Pepperidge Farm for this formula.

So with all of that said, we will begin this formula by thawing our frozen puff pastry sheets. Besides, even the greatest pastry chefs take shortcuts sometimes. It’s nonsense to believe they don’t. Bakery profits can double with little tricks such as these. Another trick of this formula is making use of all the apple has to offer. Not only will I use the apple for the filling, but also the juice it excretes. Less waste = more profits for businesses and the better the home cook feels about baking at home more often. It is important when buying apples to select a variety which can hold up to the harsh heat without turning to mush. The best choice for this formula is Granny Smith Apples. This variety is firm enough to hold it’s shape and also provides a tartness which compliments the sweetness added later. Now that we have the correct apple variety, let’s make sure it’s prepared properly. If left sliced, the apple would not cook all the way through before the puff pastry would essentially burn. Well unless the apple is sliced extremely thin but who has the patience or fingers to spare??? I certainly don’t and refuse to subject my stubby yet precious fingers to knicks with each knife slice trying to achieve such a silly feat. So instead the food processor is yet again a trusty reliable friend. With a few pulses, the apples come out a rough small dice. The perfect size for filling to give that slight crispness we love about apples but also making sure they soften in the short cooking time.

Once the apples are chopped, it is important to strain them for a few minutes. This rids the filling of excess juice which would make the filling runny and the puff pastry soggy. Both no good. And don’t throw out that excess juice. We will need it later. Make use of anything and everything. Remember the pastry chef can make or break a restaurant. Same applies to a household. Can make or break you. If it breaks you to bake at home you wouldn’t be able to do it anymore. So conserve and get creative. That juice will be our glue to hold the turnovers together and be a low-fat alternative to spread on the top for color, flavor and again glue for the sugar and spice topping as opposed to the typical choice of butter/margarine. Now apples alone wasn’t going to cut it for the sole component of the filling, especially in their smaller state. The ultimate staple I use for toast came in handy for this formula. It gives the apples a much desired flavor boost and brings all the pieces together into a thick and delightful filling. What is this secret ingredient you ask??? Why Apple butter of course. But as always if you don’t have apple butter on hand as I do or it’s difficult to find at your local grocer, you can certainly use applesauce as a suitable substitute. If using applesauce I prefer the spiced variety over plain. It will usually state on the box somewhere that it contains cinnamon. Musselmanns being my preferred brand although any will give great results.

*A few quick notes before I present the formula: If you don’t have a food processor, don’t result to slicing the apples or chopping them by hand. Run them across the coarse side of a grater. The recipe can easily be doubled or cut in half for your desired amount. If you need to make these ahead of time, go ahead and follow the formula as directed, filling the puff pastry, folding them over and freezing them on a baking sheet. Once completely frozen you can transfer them to a more space friendly airtight container or freezer bag. They can be stored up to 1 month. When ready to bake, thaw the turnovers at room temperature for about 20 minutes then proceed with the formula.

Sugar & Spice Apple Turnovers

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
  • Pinch of Ground Cloves
  • 2 Granny Smith Apples; peeled, cored, & chopped
  • 1 tbsp. Lemon Juice
  • 1/8 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 cup Apple Butter
  • 1 pkg. (2 sheets) Frozen Puff Pastry; thawed
  • All-Purpose Flour; For dusting

Procedure:

  1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle & lower-middle positions. Heat oven to 400°. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup sugar with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.
  2. Pulse the apples, remaining sugar, lemon juice, and salt in food processor until roughly chopped. Set a fine mesh sieve/strainer over a small bowl. Place apple mixture in sieve. Allow the apple mixture to rest/strain for 5 minutes in sieve. Reserve juice. Transfer apple mixture to a bowl and stir in apple butter.
  3. Unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry onto a lightly floured surface. Roll dough into a 10 in. square. Cut the dough into four 5-inch squares. Fill each turnover with strained apple mixture. Brush the edges of each turnover with the reserved apple juice, then fold and crimp edges with a fork to seal. Place turnovers on a plate and freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Repeat with remaining sheet of puff pastry and apple filling.
  4. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. Before transferring turnovers from the plate, brush the tops with reserved apple juice and sprinkle with cinnamon spiced sugar. Place turnovers on sheet pan and bake until evenly browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Be sure to rotate the pans halfway through the baking time to prevent oven hotspots and promote even baking. Transfer finished turnovers to a cooling rack and allow to cool slightly. Turnovers are best served warm but can be eaten at room temperature as well.

Special Thanks to: Peter Mendoros & Jeremy Sauer

All content © Honeybee’s Patisserie 2011