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Monday, February 28, 2011

Finnish Malted Rye Bread--Ruisleipä

In Finland, rye flour is used in so many delicious recipes, including lots of different types of bread.  The bread I made today gets its sweetness from the malting process, converting starch into sugar, imellyttäminen in Finnish.  Before sugar was commonly available, this was the only way to sweeten foods in the winter in Finland, so a lot of holiday dishes like the potato casserole at Christmas use this process.  You can find my blog on the potato casserole here.  At Easter, we will be making mämmi, a very traditional rye malted porridge.

To malt the dark rye flour for the bread, I put 3 dl (1 1/2 cups) of dark rye flour in a bowl and poured 4 dl (2 cups) of almost boiling water over it.  This was covered and allowed to sit in a fairly warm spot at least overnight.  

Today, I added two packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) of dry yeast to the bowl, along with 4 dl (2 cups) of lukewarm water, 3 teaspoons of salt and 2 teaspoons of sugar.

After stirring this well, I used the stand mixer to beat in about 8 cups (2 liters) of bread flour (all-purpose flour could be substituted if you need to, but bread flour rises better).  Add the flour a little at a time.  After 6 cups it looked like this:

Adding the full 8 cups made a very sticky dough that pulled away from the sides of the bowl.

It was so sticky that I sprinkled more flour on it to get it out of the mixing bowl:

I used my largest bowl, greased, to put the dough in to rise.  After sprinkling a little flour on top, I covered it and left it in a warm place for about an hour.

I've debated for a while about whether I need a bigger stand mixer, I've had mine a long time.  This dough was almost too much for the one I have, maybe next time I will divide the malted rye flour into two parts before adding the other ingredients.  I have the white mixer below, but if it quits, I will probably pay extra for one of the larger ones, I use it so much!

After about an hour, the dough had at least doubled in size.  This dough gets more tasty the longer it rises.

After punching down the dough, I turned it out on the floured counter and cut it in half and shaped each into a round loaf.  I placed each of these on cookie sheets lined with parchment and covered them with dishtowels.  This time they rose to double in a little over half an hour.

I baked the loaves in a 325 degree Fahrenheit oven.  I had a timing problem, had to leave in the middle of baking, so I put the loaves in a cold oven, set it for 325 F for 50 minutes, and left.  I came back about one hour and 45 minutes later, and the loaves were perfect!

The instructions in Parhaat Leivonnaiset say to bake the loaves in the bottom half of a 175 degree Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit) oven for 50-60 minutes.  You can tell when the bread is done by the hollow sound it makes when thumped.

After the loaves had cooled for about 45 minutes, the kids couldn't wait any longer!  We cut thick slices and made sandwiches with butter, ham, salami, sliced sweet peppers, mushroom salad, and marinated cucumber and onion slices.

This bread had a wonderful flavor and texture.  When I think of American rye bread, I think of caraway seeds and Ruben sandwiches, but this is not that kind of bread.  It is much more versatile and milder, with sweet undertones.  And it is mostly gone...half of one loaf might make it until breakfast time, unless we have a teenager needing a midnight snack!

Cinnamon buns--Kaneli pulla (korvapuustit)

Yesterday I made Finnish cinnamon buns, they are very good with coffee.  They are not as sweet and gooey as their American counterparts, and they have a light cardamon flavor.

These are the ingredients to make 40 buns:

2 packets yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons if you buy in bulk like I do!)
150 grams butter (10 1/2 Tablespoons)
5 dl milk (2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cardamon
1 egg
about 1 1/2 liter flour  (about 6 cups)

for the filling:
75 g butter (1/2 cup)
1 dl sugar (1/2 cup)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 of a beaten egg to brush on before baking
pearl sugar

First, I melted the butter and put it into my stand mixer bowl.  Then I heated the milk in the microwave until it was lukewarm.  Then I sprinkled the yeast on top.  The salt, sugar, cardamon and egg were also mixed in well.

Next, the flour was added a little at a time.  This is what the dough looked like after I had added 3 cups of flour, mixing after each addition:

After 4 cups of flour and scraped down the edge of the bowl with a spatula, it looked like this:

At 5 cups, it looked like this:

The dough pulled away from the sides at 5 1/2 cups, I let it knead in the machine a little longer, but didn't add any more flour.  The dough has an incredible feeling, it is warm and soft, don't add too much flour or it will get too stiff and won't rise as well.

I moved the dough to a lightly greased, non-metal bowl to rise.  Never leave the dough to rise in a metal bowl, it just doesn't work as well.  A sprinkle of flour on top, and I covered it and put it in a warm place.  I used my warming drawer on the proof setting, but it also works well to turn the oven on as low as possible, let it heat up, then turn it off and put the bowl of dough in.  Or find a heating register in a place where it won't be disturbed.  At our house, it would be difficult to find somewhere it would be safe!

It was supposed to rise for about 40 minutes, but we were busy rewiring the internet cable in our house, and it rose a little longer!  Look how big it got:

I punched it down, it was still warm and soft, very relaxing to work with.

After dumping the rest of the flour (1/2 cup) onto the clean counter, I cut the dough in half and rolled each half out into a large rectangle, about 14x28 inches (or 20x40 cm).

To make the filling, I melted the butter and added the sugar and cinnamon.  If the butter had been well-softened, I wouldn't have melted it, but I forgot to lay it out earlier.  It doesn't seem to matter much if you melt the butter, but if it is too hard, the filling won't spread well.

After spreading the filling on the rectangles, I rolled them up along the long side (making a long, thin roll).

There are different options cutting them, the first I did was what is called korvapuustit in Finnish.  Cut the rolled dough on an angle, making every other angle the opposite direction:

Half of the buns will be right-side up, and the other half will need to be turned over so that the narrow edge is at the top.  Take a knife and smash in the top like this:

Each bun should look like this:

Another shape can be made by cutting the dough straight, then cutting two slits in the dough which don't go all the way through.

Open the attached pieces slightly, and lay them on their side, and you get kind of a bear claw shape like this:

You can also just cut the dough straight and lay the pieces on their sides.  I used a very sharp serrated steak knife to cut, it worked well.

Move all of the buns to a cookie sheet that has been prepared with parchment (or you could grease it).  Cover them again and let them rise about 20-30 minutes until they double in size.  This dough rises so well, I'm not sure that it took even 20 minutes!

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit (250 Cesius).

Brush the buns with beaten egg and sprinkle with pearl sugar.  Bake for about 8-10 minutes, watch them carefully!  Theoretically, they should cool under a clean dishcloth.  I don't think my family has ever let these get completely cool, they are incredible straight from the oven!

But if you are able to make a few extra, these keep for about 3-4 days.  Or make extra and freeze them to have on hand when guests come for coffee, as is very popular in Finland.  My kids have already learned that "coffee" in Finland means that there will be plenty of good treats to eat!

Finnish Cardamon Ribbon Cookies--Kardemummaviipaleet

These are probably the world's simplest cookies, great when you have kids that need a quick snack.  The recipe comes from Parhaat Leivonnaiset.  If you don't care for cardamom, vanilla could very easily be substituted.

The ingredients are:

175 g softened butter (12 Tablespoons)
2 1/2 dl sugar (1 cup)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons cardamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 dl all-purpose flour (2 1/2 cups)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius (400 degrees Fahrenheit).

Beat the butter, sugar and 1 1/2 of the eggs (save a little beaten egg to brush on the top before baking).  Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.  Then add the dry ingredients and mix well.  The dough was rather dry when I made it.

Make the dough into 6 finger-width ropes.  Place these on a greased cookie sheet, or use parchment like I did instead of greasing.  Flatten the ropes with your fingers.

Brush with the reserved egg, and sprinkle pearl sugar on top.  These are also fun if you use sprinkles or colored sugar for holidays.  Before Christmas, I made them with chocolate dough and sprinkled with broken peppermint candies, you can find that post here.

Bake for about 10 minutes, mine would have been better if I hadn't let them bake quite so long!  As soon as you take them out, cut them at an angle to separate the cookies.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Oven Pancake with barley flour--Ohra Pannukakku

This morning, I tried a different oven pancake recipe for the first time.  I found it on a Finnish flour company website, Myllyn Paras.  This recipe uses barley flour in the batter.

I followed the recipe as I found it:

1 liter milk (4 cups)
4 eggs
3 dl all-purpose flour (1 1/4 cups)
2 dl barley flour (2/3 + 1/4 cup)
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cardamon
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius (400 degrees Fahrenheit).

First, I beat the eggs and then added the milk.  Then I beat in both types of flour.  I was a little concerned at this point that it might not be enough eggs for this volume of milk.  I continued with the recipe, but I wonder if the flour company had a typo in their recipe.

Next I added the sugar, cardamon and salt.  Cardamon is commonly used in baked goods in Finland.  You can buy the whole pods, remove the green husks, and grind the seeds with a mortar and pestle.  This is really a lot of work, but gives the best flavor.  Cardamon is also available ground in a jar, this is generally not as strong and you should use about 25 percent more than with fresh ground.

The recipe also calls for vanilla sugar.  I don't have any in the pantry right now,  I substituted 1 teaspoon extract.  Vanilla sugar is a little hard to find, but is available on Amazon, at Ikea, and at some specialty grocery stores.

Prepare a jelly roll pan by lining it with parchment and buttering the parchment.  The parchment I used was slightly small for the pan.  Next time I will be much more careful that the paper covers the entire pan--this batter really sticks!

The pancake baked for about twenty minutes at 400 F.

We ate the pancake with strawberry jam and some wonderful frozen peaches and blueberries from last summer.  We enjoyed the pancake, but it really needed extra eggs.  We like barley flour in general, and I would like to try this again following the instructions that I previously posted here but substituting 1/2 cup barley flour for 1/4 cup of the all-purpose flour.  That would change the list of ingredients to this:

3 cups milk
9 eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup barley flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
and I would put in either 1 teaspoon cardamon or one teaspoon of vanilla, but not both.

I'll keep you updated when I try the pancake again with my own list of ingredients.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Jam-filled Croissants -- Hillosarvet

Jam-filled Finnish croissants with strawberries

I woke up this morning sure that it was Fat Tuesday, and ready to bake the most delicious, almond-paste filled traditional Finnish Fat Tuesday buns.  But then I realized that Easter is not until the end of April this year, and it is two more weeks until Fat Tuesday.  My wonderful artist friend who is always looking on the bright side, Tammy from Painted by Tammy pointed out that I could practice making them today, an excellent idea.  But when I was looking in my favorite baking book for the recipe, I saw this one, and decided to delay the Fat Tuesday buns by at least a week.

Fortunately, my baking book is totally in Finnish, and the name of the recipe literally means "jelly horns."  If I had seen the word croissant on the page, I might have been intimidated and not tried these wonderful pastries!  "Jelly horns" sound so much easier to make, don't they?

I've had a suggestion (mainly from my Mom!) that it would be nice if I change my "cook along" format and put the recipe at the top of the page.  One reason I haven't done that up until now is because I feel strongly that you should read the entire recipe before starting to cook, and sometimes I even find myself cooking from the ingredients list.  But today I will compromise.  I made twice the amount from Parhaat Leivonnaiset, here are the amounts I used:

2 packets yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons) or 50 g
13 Tablespoons of butter or 200 g
1 cup milk or 2 dl
3 Tablespoons sugar
a couple dashes of salt
about 4 cups of flour or 10 dl
strawberry jam for filling
egg to brush with
pearl sugar or almond slices to garnish

First, I warmed up the milk in the microwave.  About a minute in my microwave made it tepid, but not hot.  If it is too hot, it will kill the yeast.  Next, melt the butter and mix the milk and butter together.

Add the yeast to this, and the mixture will start to bubble.  Add the sugar and salt at this point, and dissolve the yeast.  The sugar is food for the yeast, and the salt limits the yeast's growth.

I used the bread hook on my stand mixer to add in about 3 1/2 cups of the flour, 1/2 cup at a time.  After  the dough pulled away from the sides, I kept mixing for a few more minutes.

This is what the dough looked like when I turned it out into the bowl.  Very shiny from all the butter!  It was very warm and soft, just as it should be.

Sprinkle some flour on top, and cover with a clean dishcloth.  Let it rise in a warm place for about 40 minutes.  I used my warming drawer on proof setting.  Before we had pets, I would let dough rise on a heat register.  Heating the oven to the lowest setting and then turning it off also makes a great place to let dough rise.  Make sure to let the dough rise in a bowl that is not metal.  An insulating bowl (such as glass, plastic, or even wood) helps the rising process.

Here is what the dough looked like after 40 minutes, so soft!

I put the rest of the flour out on the counter and punched down the dough.

Then I cut the dough into 4 equal pieces.  Sorry that this photo shows it only cut in half...I was cooking along with the original recipe, and forgot for a minute that I was actually making a double recipe!

I rolled each of the four pieces into about a 9 inch (24 cm) circle:

Then I cut each circle into 8 pieces and put on a dab of jam.  I used strawberry, you could experiment and use different types, for example orange marmelade or any other thick jam.

To roll them, start with the largest side:

and finish by tucking the "tail" underneath.

Put the pastries on a cookie sheet that is either greased or lined with parchment paper.  Cover them with a clean dishtowel and let them rise for another 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (250 C).  Brush the pastries with a beaten egg.  If you don't have a clean pastry brush, or just to save cleaning, you can use a folded paper towel to rub the beaten egg on the pastries.

These are sprinkled with pearl sugar, you could also use sliced almonds on top.  Pearl sugar doesn't melt while baking, and you can get it at Ikea or from Amazon:

Bake for 5-7 minutes.  The recipe says that they are best eaten warm from the oven.  

The also says to let them cool while covered by a towel.  We wouldn't know about the cooling part...I put them in the oven as soon as the kids started getting home, and was barely able to take photos before they were devoured!  We'll be making "jelly horns" again soon!