Friday, October 28, 2011

Daring Bakers' October 2011 - Povitica

The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!

What a beautiful challenge. While I am usually more interested in the taste of food than the look, it is fun to make something that also looks lovely. And I had never heard of or seen this kind of bread before.

The basic idea is to make a sweet bread dough, roll it out very thin, top it with a sweet nutty filling, roll it up jelly roll style, then loop the roll around in the bread pan to create a pretty pattern in the baked loaf.

The challenge recipe called for a 1.5 hour rise time, but with a really busy week and an inability to stay up late, I made the dough in the evening, left it to rise all night, then rolled and baked early the next morning. Surprisingly this didn't seem have any adverse effect on the finished product.

You can find the recipe I used, which was created by the host, here in the Daring Kitchen archive. I made the half batch to produce 2 loaves. For one loaf I used the suggested walnut filling and for the other I used poppy seeds, simply replacing the amount of ground walnuts in the recipe with poppy seeds.

You can see from the pictures that the poppy seed version was more successful. I think that was partly because I allowed the loaf longer to rise/rest after it was placed in the plan, and party because the poppy seed mixture was thinner and easier to spread than the walnut version.

It seems that this bread also goes by the name Potica, and you can find many different recipes by searching for that.

Thanks to Jenni for the excellent challenge - it was fun to make and yummy to eat and I will definitely be making it again. This last picture features one of my favorite op-shopped linen tea towels - I thought it was appropriate as it was made in Czech republic.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Daring Cooks October 2011 - Moo Shu

The October Daring Cooks' Challenge was hosted by Shelley of C Mom Cook and her sister Ruth of The Crafts of Mommyhood. They challenged us to bring a taste of the East into our home kitchens by making our own Moo Shu, including thin pancakes, stir fry and sauce.

I was intrigued by this month's challenge. We eat lots of Chinese and go to lots of Chinese restaurants and I have never heard of Moo Shu. I don’t think it is a thing in Australia. But I love pancakes of any description, so I was keen to give it a go. In fact on the day I made this I also made pancakes for breakfast - a truly excellent day.

So this challenge had three components – pancakes, filling and sauce. The pancake dough was easy to work with and I found I could roll it very thin, but I was not completely happy with the results. In short, the pancakes were hard. I found they were only pliable enough to wrap after a short zap in the microwave. A minute or so in a steam basket would probably have the same effect. Also the favour was quite bland. Next time I would follow the suggestion of some of the other Daring Cooks and add salt to the dough.

The stir-fry was very simple to prepare, but I had never used wood ear fungus before, so that was fun. It is amazing how much it puffs up when re-hydrated and I loved the unique rubbery texture. I still have most of a bag of dried fungus in the cupboard so I am on the lookout for ideas to use it up.

When it came to the hoisin sauce recipe I was very sceptical. Why would you make your own hoisin sauce, especially with inauthentic Chinese ingredients like peanut butter and honey? But I am a (mostly) obedient Daring Cook, so I gave it a whirl.

The overall effect was a perfectly tasty dinner, but for me it didn't quite have the wow factor of other challenges. I would love to try Moo Shu in a good Chinese restaurant and see how it compares.

Thanks to Shelley and Ruth for introducing me to something new. I especially enjoyed reading about the history and etymology of Moo Shu.