Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Greek Bougatza

Burrito Style Method
Sheet Pan Method

Greek Bougatza
This is traditionally served in Greece for breakfast, but I eat it anytime of day.  It's not overly sweet.  My favorite  home-made puff pastry is Emeril Lagasse, but you can use store bought, it's a lot easier with great results.  I recommend Pepperidge Farms.  I prefer the Burrito Style of shaping Bougatza.  It is typically served like that on the island of Corfu.  It's placed in wax paper, you carry it with you and eat while you walk.  Love it.

Custard Filling

4 1/4 cups whole milk
1 cups sugar
1 cup 2 T. fine semolina flour
3 eggs
1 stick butter, unsalted
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Bring milk to a boil in a medium size pot.  In a bowl mix eggs and semolina.  Slowly add a cup of hot milk to egg/semolina mixture.  Whisk vigorously to temper eggs.  Add the mixture to remaining milk in pot.  Heat gently to thicken to pudding like consistency all the while stirring with a wooden spoon.  Once the spoon is coated.  Remove custard from burner, add butter and vanilla.  Mix well.  Place a film of clear wrap on top of custard and set aside to cool.  Make puff pastry.  
Can buy ready-made puff pastry with super result. I have used Pepperidege Farm with great results in a pinch. 
Home Made Puff Pastry
Source of Recipe: Emeril Lagasse

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 1/4 sticks, unsalted cold butter
1 cup ice water, plus more as needed

Sift together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Dice 6 tablespoons of the chilled butter, returning the remaining butter to the refrigerator to keep cold. Place the diced butter into the mixing bowl and using your fingers or a pastry blender, blend until the mixture forms a coarse meal, similar to a pie-crust. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the water. Use a rubber spatula to gradually blend the water with the flour mixture, mixing just until a rough, sticky dough is formed. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Place the remaining butter on a work surface, (a marble surface is ideal). Using a rolling pin or the heal of your hand, smash the butter into the surface until pliable, taking care not to over work the butter as it should stay chilled. Work butter into a 5-inch square.

Remove the rested dough from the refrigerator and place on a lightly floured work surface. Roll out dough into a 12-inch circle, being careful not to pull or tear the dough. (The dough mixture may still be very rough and tacky.) Place the butter square into the center of the circle and fold the edges of the dough over the butter, pressing to seal the edges. You should now have a square of butter wrapped in dough.

Using a rolling pin, roll the square into a 16 by 8-inch rectangle. (The dough may need to be pounded with the rolling pin several times to allow the butter to become more pliable.) Be careful not to tear the dough. Fold the rectangle 3 times as you would fold a business letter. Place the rectangle in front of you lengthwise and roll into another 16 by 8-inch rectangle. Fold again 3 times as you would a business letter and make 2 small indentations into the dough to remind yourself that it has been rolled twice. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. 

Return the rested dough to a lightly floured surface and repeat the process of rolling the dough into a rectangle, making 3 business-letter folds, 2 times. Make 4 small indentations into the dough to remind yourself that it has been rolled a total of 4 times. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. If desired, dough can rest refrigerated for up to 2 days at this point.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place on a lightly floured work surface. Roll into a 16 by 8-inch rectangle and fold 3 times, similar to a business letter. Repeat process and make 6 small indentations into the dough. Wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours. Now the pastry is ready to be rolled and used in the desired puff pastry recipe.

You can roll out puff pastry into 8 x 10 square, rolled out thin.  Place a few heaping tablespoons of cooled filling and roll up burrito style, making sure filling is completely closed on all sides, (seam side down on parchment).  Prick gently on top with fork.    Place parcels on buttered parchment paper or silpat.  Bake in 375 degree oven about 30 minutes or until golden brown.  While still hot, generously sift powder sugar and cinnamon on top.  Be generous, it adds a lot of flavor.

Also you can roll out one sheet of pastry very thin and put into a 9x13x2 pan, sprayed with non-stick.  Place pastry sheet down and up sides.  Place custard on top, spread evenly with off set spatula.  Roll out second sheet of pastry, a little smaller to fit right on top of custard.  Then, fold sides in from bottom pastry over the top pastry.  Prick with fork.  Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.  After removing from oven generously sift powder sugar and cinnamon.  Cut into pieces when completely cool. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Strawberry Angel Food Cake Trifle

In a trifle dish
In an aluminum pan

My Aunt Lia made this all the time when I was a kid growing up in Missouri.  It was always served as a summer dessert at our barbeques.  Super easy if you buy pre-made Angel Food Cake.  Can be put together quickly as soon as jello thicken up slightly.   Everyone in my family loves and looks forward to this trifle.

Strawberry Angel Food Cake Trifle
By Aunt Lia

2 Angel Food Cakes
3 tubs Cool Whip Topping (Reserve two cups to decorate)
2 pints cleaned Strawberries (Reserve a few to decorate)
2 small packages of strawberry jello

Clean strawberries and slice.  Reserve a few for decoration.  Prepare jello.  Except cut back on water by 1/2 cup cold to each package.  Place prepared jello into fridge, to thicken slightly.  Cube angel food cake into large size chunks, the size of a golf ball.

When jello is slightly thicken, but still runny add strawberries.  Mix well.

Now, start layering your trifle.  Start with angel food cake on bottom.  Ladle on the strawberry jello mixture to soak into cake.  Take a few spoons of Cool Whip and spread over top of cake/strawberry mixture.  Continue to layer, until you use up all your cake/strawberry /cool whip topping.  Use reserved cool whip and strawberries to decorate.  I used a piping bag with a large star tip to decorate.

Place in fridge for 6 hours for jello to set up and flavors to mingle.  I make mine the day before.  

I have two pics above.  These were both made for different occasions.  One was for home and I put in a glass trifle bowl, the other was in an aluminum pan 10x12x2 for a potluck.

Note:  You can half this recipe easily.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Pecan Pie Bars

All I have to say is yum.  This recipe from Ina Garten is unbelievably good. 

Recipe adapted by Barefoot Contessa

1 1/4 pounds unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 extra-large eggs
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
*I added  to crust ingredients: a 1/2 cup finely chopped ground Pecans
1 teaspoon grated orange zest


1 pound unsalted butter
1 cup good honey
3 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 pounds pecans, coarsely chopped


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust, beat the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, until light, approximately 3 minutes. Add the eggs and the vanilla and mix well. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix the dry ingredients into the batter with the mixer on low speed until just combined. Press the dough evenly into an ungreased 18 by 12 by 1-inch baking sheet, making an edge around the outside. It will be very sticky; sprinkle the dough and your hands lightly with flour. Bake for 15 minutes, until the crust is set but not browned. Allow to cool.

For the topping, combine the butter, honey, brown sugar, and zests in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat until the butter is melted, using a wooden spoon to stir. Raise the heat and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the heavy cream and pecans. Pour over the crust, trying not to get the filling between the crust and the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the filling is set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold. Cut into bars and serve. 

 After the bars are sliced, I dip half in chocolate candy melts from Michaels and I served them at room temperature.  I find that the candy melts don't have to be tempered and harden up with in minutes. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Happy Birthday Marco

 Happy Birthday my love, many more!  Love you and hope that you have an awesome year! Your the greatest husband and father in the whole world.  We are blessed to have you in our lives! 

The Cake:
 Hershey's Dark Cake Hershey's Dark Cake with banana mousse filling  (previous post below )and chocolate milk crumbs between the layers.  The butter cream is a French Butter Cream, recipe below.  This recipe is for experienced bakers you must be skilled in working with hot syrup.

French Butter Cream:
4 cups sugar
1 cup water

6 whole eggs, room temperature

2 1/2 pounds unsalted butter (room temperature and very soft, cubed into small pieces)
2 tsp. vanilla extract

In a heavy Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer, whip eggs with whip attachment until double in size.  While whipping eggs, at this time bring 4 cups sugar and 1 cup water to a boil in a sauce pan.  Have a pastry brush with a cup of water to gently brush sides of sauce pan as it is boiling.  This prevents the sugar from crystallizing and ruining the syrup.  Using a candy thermometer bring the temp to 236 degrees Fahrenheit.

Please be super careful, hot syrup can be very dangerous and you should have experience in the kitchen to do this.  When sugar reaches temperature, slowly pour in to egg mixture while the mixer is on high and whipping the eggs.  Keep the stream of sugar away from the whip while mixing.  You must be careful when doing this.

The eggs will deflate, continue beating after syrup has been added for another 15 minutes on high until the bowl is cool.  I sometimes place a tea towel on top of my mixer because the mixture is whipping on high and this helps from having it go all over your kitchen.  Keep a close watch.  I would not leave kitchen at this time.

When cool to touch,  you can add the soften butter a cube at a time.  Continue to beat for 8 minutes until it thickens to the consistency of butter cream. Add vanilla and whip until incorporated.  This is just the best butter cream ever. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Easy Cake Mousse

My Favorite Easy Cake Mousse Filling

This mousse is my favorite cake filling.  It is super easy and taste great.  I use it all the time.  I make different combinations to match my cake flavors. 

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk
1 large package of instant jello pudding (any flavor to complement your cake)
1 tsp. vanilla extract or substitute any flavor to complement your cake
3 T. Coffee Creamer to complement your cake flavor

Directions: Mix the milk, heavy cream and pudding mix very well, add extract and creamer and whip until mixture is thicken.  Place in fridge for a few hours to set. 

If you want a fluffier mousse whip another cup of whipping cream until stiff peaks form and gently fold into mousse.  

Special Note:  You can fold in Oreo Cookie Crumbs, Coconut, Nuts, Jams, Puree, etc.
Make it your own.

Cheese Cake Mousse: You can make a cheesecake mousse by adding one 8 oz. soften cream cheese block to the mousse.
You can use different extracts, coffee creamer flavors.  The possibilities are endless.

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