7 August 2008

Even longer but now we're onto CHOCOLATE!

Well again a long time between posts but what can I say? Life has to be lived and while it's great to have an archive of what you do at varying times in your life I don't want to be in front of a keyboard and monitor all the time!

So what have I been doing? Well, I went back home in March/April to visit my niece for the first time since she was born. That was really great to do and I have many movies and pictures of our time together. I don't like posting pictures of her - suffice to say we look strangely and eerily alike! I will post one picture - this is of a telephone mast in Tampa - yes, it's meant to look like a tree - weird or what? I guess a mast would have been too daring for that part of town and well a fake tree that's a mast well that would be just so much better to look at! Um, OK....

I then of course returned home and to work (what a dirty word!) and it has been non-stop since. I have been off the last week but have been feeling poorly due to a bad back but today has been the first day I've actually been able to sit for any period of time so thought I'd put the sitting to good use!

I recently baked a cake for J which was a 'Death by Chocolate' cake - yes, I keep going back to that book. When you see the recipes and you try a few you will see why. In any event, here is my cake which I must admit looks home made but who cares?!

It's the tasting that counts and well with chocolate - how far can you go wrong? Not far in my book. In any event, it was very good and is sadly nearly gone too! Oh dear....will have to just make something else...check back soon!

2 March 2008

Long time but a promising return - Polish Poppy Seed Bread (or Makowiec in Polish!)

Well it has been ages since my last post! Have you missed me? I have been super busy with my work at the library. But I have also had problems with my computer that meant getting a new one.

So what have I been up to? Well a lot of baking and trying new things. I have recently been trying to perfect a bread that I had as a child at around Easter time. It was full of lovely poppy seeds and sweet but not sickly. So I found a recipe that sort of had what I wanted in it and made that. It came out good but wasn't quite what I had in mind nor remembered.

So back to the drawing board and trying to remember what it tasted like, etc. So new recipe thought of and devised and again another set of trials. I've made about 5 or 6 of them now and I think it is about as good as I'm going to get without getting the recipe from the source.

Polish Poppy Seed Bread

250 grams strong bread flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons caster sugar
50 grams unsalted butter
about 90 ml tepid milk
1 1/2 teaspoon easy-blend yeast
1 medium egg

150 grams poppy seeds
250 grams marzipan
1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract or half a vanilla pod (with seeds first removed and put in with poppy seeds) and then both blitzed in food processor with the poppy seeds

1 egg, beaten
flaked almonds(optional)
pearl sugar (optional)

Mix flour, salt, sugar and yeast together. Cut the butter into the flour until the butter is of the size of small peas. Add tepid milk and egg and mix until a ball forms.
Knead for about 10 minutes and place into a bowl to rise for 1 1/2-2 hours or until doubled in size. Meanwhile, add poppy seeds to a bowl and cover with boiling water - let sit for 5-10 minutes (more is OK - they will just soften more). Drain in a fine sieve and put into food-processor and pulse for 2-3 minutes. Add marzipan and vanilla extract or pod, and blend until it is a smooth paste.

Roll dough into a rectangle, 1/2 inch thick and spread poppy seed paste to within 1/2 inch of border. Roll up jelly-roll style and seal edges by pinching them together. Roll ends under roll and seal. Place on a cookie sheet (seam side down) lined with parchment paper. Cover with cling film and let rise for 1-1 1/2 hours. Pre-heat oven to 190 C (375 F). Glaze outside of dough with beaten egg and sprinkle with flaked almonds or pearl sugar and place in oven. Bake until golden brown (about 35-45 minutes) and remove from oven. Cool on wire rack immediately.

Makes 1 medium loaf and will keep 4-5 days in a paper bag. Not suitable for freezing.

So there you have it - Polish Poppy Seed Bread and I hope it was worth the wait. I will try to be better about posting but I am going away for 3 weeks to America. I'm going to finally see my niece who is now 3 1/2 years old for the first time! What excitement.

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