Blueberry jam pie/The Jane Austen Challenge

 

‘Then the baked apples came home, Mrs Wallis sent them by her boy; they are always extremely civil and obliging to us, the Wallises, always —I have heard some people say that Mrs Wallis can be uncivil and give a very rude answer, but we have never known anything but the greatest attention from them. And it cannot be for the value of our custom, now, for what is our consumption of bread, you know? Only three of us [endearingly, she counts Patty] —besides dear Jane at present —and she really eats nothing —makes such a shocking breakfast, you would be quite frightened if you saw it. I dare not let my mother know how little she eats – so 1 say one thing and then I say another, and it passes off. But about the middle of the day she gets hungry, and there is nothing she likes so well as these baked apples, and they are extremely wholesome, for I took the opportunity the other day of asking Mr Perry; I happened to meet him in the street. Not that I had any doubt before – I have so often heard Mr Woodhouse recommend a baked apple. I believe it is the only way that Mr Woodhouse thinks the fruit thoroughly wholesome. We have apple dumplings, however, very often. Patty makes an excellent apple dumpling.’ (Emma).

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I haven’t written in my Jane Austen Challenge for a while because I was distracted by all this amazing spring herbs and fruits that are so abundant in the Mediterranean area but not very common on a Regency table.

Sweet pies (in particular apple pies) are often mentioned in Jane Austen’s novels and letters: in Austin’s time not all the household were so lucky to have a oven of their own, so, in this case, the Bates has to send the pies out to the baker to have them cook.

Back to our modern time I decided to use what was left of my homemade blueberry jam that I prepared last  summer for this pie, I used spelt flour instead of white flour, because it adds an extra crunchy texture to the crust and it tastes a little bit like almonds.

The aspect of this recipe that I really like is that you don’t need a scale, a simple cup will do the job. I used a biscuit injector machine to ornate my pie with romantic flower-like biscuit. The recipe was enough for a pie of 25 cm. of diameter and 20 small biscuits.

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Ingredients:

2 cups of spelt flour (or white flour)

½ cup of sugar

½ of butter (cold)

2 Tbs of yogurt

1 egg

5 gr raising powder

Blueberry jam (also raspberry jam is nice with spelt flour)

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, mix  flour, sugar and baking powder, then add the butter, yogurt and egg.
  • Mix all the ingredient, but pay attention to work the mixture for just the minimum time required to form a soft dough, you haven’t to warm the butter!
  • Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out on a floured surface until is abut ½ cm thick.
  • Transfer the rolled crust to an ungreased pie plate. Trim the dish of any extra dough.
  • Fill the pastry shell with the jam, then with the extra dough prepare some decorations. Bake in pre heated oven at 180° for 30-35 minutes, until golden.

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Cinnamon Rolls

“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”― Friedrich Nietzsche

This could be the motto of Kurt Wallander, the best seller Swedish detective created by Henning Mankel in the early ’90 and soon became a world best seller. In each of the twelve novels Mankel published in the Wallander series, he tried to enlighten the contradictions inside men and between men and society. I am a real fan of Kurt Wallander, he helped me to understand the contradictions of a society that is apparently perfect like the Swedish one (to be honest, living there I came to understand that Swedish society may not be perfect but it is nearly there). Wallander is not a gourmet as other detectives like my Montalbano, he is easy to please, very often we find him in Fridolfs Konditori to buy Swedish Cinnamon rolls. Fridolfs Konditori actually is in Ystad city center and I can assure that they prepare not only lovely cinnamon buns but also wonderful smorgasbord, the Swedish sandwiches.

So thinking of Kurt Wallander I prepared cinnamon buns but I rolled them in the way Cardamom buns (another Swedish specialty) are usually rolled.

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Courtesy for http://mapio.net/pic/p-57785562/

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Ingredients

10 gr. dry yeast
100 gr. sugar
250 ml milk
1 egg
100 gr. butter
1 tsp salt
1 tbs ground cardemom
700 gr. flour

Filling:
100 gr. butter
50 gr. brown sugar
2 tbs cinnamon

Glaze:
1 egg

Directions

Stir the yeast in a few tablespoons of milk.

Melt the butter put in the bowl of a stand mixer and pour the milk on it. Add the rest of the ingredients and knead the dough for 10–15 minutes.

Let the dough rise while covered at room temperature until it double.

Divide in small part of about 50 gr. each and let it rise again for half an hour.

Roll out each piece of dough so it is about 3 mm.

Prepare a mixture with cinnamon, butter and sugar and spread each rolled piece with it. Roll the dough the long way and cut the roll in the middle and then roll around itself (follow the slide show). Place them with the cut edge upward in paper molds. Place on a baking sheet and let rise under a towel for about 60 minutes or until the buns have doubled in size.

Beat the egg, brush the mixture carefully on the buns. Bake in the oven (200°C) for 20 minutes. Allow to cool on a rack.

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Coffee and cinnamon rolls: the perfect “pika” (coffee break in Swedish)

Colomba (Dove, an Easter Cake)

In fair Verona, where we lay our sceneRomeo and Juliet, W. Shakespeare, prologue

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It is common believe that the Colomba, the Italian Dove shaped Easter Cake, is original from Milan or Pavia, and there are legends about dove shaped cakes back to the Byzantine Era. True is that most probably the mother country of the Colomba is Verona, Romeo and Juliet’s town, THE town of love.

Shakespeare seems to have a thing for Verona, as he set there also another play, The Two Gentlemen of Verona.

Verona is a very nice town, not far from Venice and Padua, absolutely worthy to be seen especially in the summer when it hosts a precious opera festival, in its magic Arena.

Coming to the Colomba, it is not easy, I made two tries, using the recipe of Vittorio from the Blog  Viva La Focaccia (https://www.vivalafocaccia.com/ricette/video-ricetta-colomba-pasquale-lievito-birra-casa-impasto-ingredienti/). In the first try I followed Vittorio’s recipe very carefully and everything was fine, until I spread the glaze before baking it. The glaze was probably too cold and the Colomba deflated. I was so sorry

So the second time I baked the Colomba first, and the I spread the glaze and I put it back in the oven for about 5 minutes. The result was great! a fluffy, fine textured cake that was melting in the mouth.

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As it not an easy cake, I prepared a PP presentation with all the necessary steps to follow.

Enjoy!

DOWNLOAD THE COLOMBA RECIPE’S POWERPOINT HERE OR AT THE END OF THE POST:

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Rout-Cake (The Jane Austen Challenge)

 

In Emma, probably my favourite among Jane Austen’s novels, rout-cake is mentioned as an assessment tool to evaluate society in Highbury:

“.. Her Bath habits made evening-parties perfectly natural to her, and Maple Grove had given her a taste for dinners. She was a little shocked at the want of two drawing rooms, at the poor attempt at rout-cakes, and there being no ice in the Highbury card parties. Mrs. Bates, Mrs. Perry, Mrs. Goddard and others, were a good deal behind hand in knowledge of the world, but she would soon shew them how every thing ought to be arranged…”

Mrs Elton considers rout-cake prepared by the ladies in Highbury quite unsatisfactory but we all know that Mrs Elton… was a vain woman, extremely well satisfied with herself, and thinking much of her own importance; that she meant to shine and be very superior, but with manners which had been formed in a bad school, pert and familiar; that all her notions were drawn from one set of people, and one style of living; that if not foolish she was ignorant, and that her society would certainly do Mr. Elton no good.”

Lady Charlotte and her the Lady’s own cookery book, did not give any hint about a rout-cake should look like at Jane Austen’s time. But another essay came to rescue me: it is “Jane Austen and food” by Maggie Lane, where I could find the following recipe from another old book: Maria Rundell’s, A New System of Domestic Cookery (1824)

“Mix two pounds of flour, one ditto butter, one ditto sugar, one ditto currents, clean and dry; then wet into a stiff paste, with 2 eggs, a large spoonful of orange-flower water, ditto sweet wine, ditto brandy, drop on a tin-plate floured: a very short time bakes them.”

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Again I had to do the math, because I do my recipes in grams or cups and I discovered that two pound is about 900 gr. too much even for a sweet tooth family as we are.

So my recipe is:

450 gr. white flour

225 gr. butter

225 gr. powered sugar

currents as desired

1 egg

a spoonful of orange-flower water

a spoonful of rose water

a spoonful of sherry

a spoonful of brandy

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Directions:

I prepared as I usually do with pasta frolla (Italian shorcrust), that is I quickly mixed all the ingredient in the stand mixer but I didn’t add the currents. I let the dough rest in the fridge for about half an hour and then I took it back, divided that in two halves, I mixed currents in one half and chocolate chunks in the other (I bet Mrs. Elton wouldn’t find them deluding!).

I rolled the dough into balls and then I flattened them and I in a pan and bake in the oven at 180’ C. for about 10 minutes. The result is crunchy cookies that go very well with tea (or in the evening with something stronger like a good Italian meditation wine!)

Those are the babies with currants:

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And those with chocolate chunks:

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Old Fashion Sponge (The Jane Austen Challenge)

“You know how interesting the purchase of a sponge- cake is to me.”

Jane Austen writes to her sister Cassandra in the letter from Godmersham on June 15th 1808.

Sponge cake itself is a very boring cake and especially at Jane Austin’ s time when there was no raising powder and the servants has to beat the batter until their arm was aching.

Here it is Lady Charlotte’s recipe for sponge:

Take seven eggs, leaving out three whites; beat them well with a whisk; then take three quarters of a pound of lump-sugar beat fine: put to it a quarter of a pint of boiling water, and pour it to the eggs; then beat it half an hour or more; when you are just going to put it in the oven, add half a pint of flour well dried. You must not beat it after the flour is in. Put a paper in the tin. A quick oven will bake this quantity in an hour. It must not be beaten with a spoon, as it will make it heavy.”

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It is not very different from the sponge I usually do, except for the fact that I don’t use boiling water and I use the same amount of sugar and flour (90 gr. flour, 90 sugar and 3 eggs).

Doing the appropriate math, Lady Carlotte’s sponge recipe is:

4 full eggs and 3 yolks,

1 dl. of boiling water,

1 cup of flour,

1 ½  of sugar,

 

For my taste 1 ½ cup of sugar was too much so I used only 1 cup.

My key points for the sponge cake is to add the flour stiffing it in the batter in 3 times and I use a spatula to mix it to the batter, otherwise the sponge will sink.

Instead of preparing a single sponge, I used muffin molds to make many of them so that the kids could fill it as they prefer.

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So I shared with you Lady Charlotte’s secrets as mine for a fluffy sponge.

What about you?

Do you like sponge? Do you often prepare it? Which are your secrets?

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Here the sponge dressed as mini Victoria sandwiches.

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And my kids’ favorite: Her Majesty The Nutella

 

 

Semlor, a sweet treat for Nils Holgerson

“TWO days later, another strange thing happened. A flock of wild geese came flying one morning, and lit on a meadow down in Eastern Skåne not very far from Vittskövle manor. In the flock were thirteen wild geese, of the usual gray variety, and one white goosey-gander, who carried on his back a tiny lad dressed in yellow leather breeches, green vest, and a white woolen toboggan hood.” The Wonderful Adventures of Nils Holgerson by Selma Lagerlöf 

Did you know that this child novel is actually a geography school book?

Nils is a mean child which is turned very small by an Elf. He took off with a flock of wild geese that fly over Sweden, he finally learn the geography of his country but also how to be kind.

Selma Lagerlöf is one of my favored author especially the novel “The prince of Portugalia”Today’s recipe I learned when I was living in Lund, in the beautiful Skane, and I decided to prepare it today because is a seasonal treat, the Lent bun.

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INGREDIENTS

100g butter

300 whole milk
100 gr caster sugar
500g, strong floor
10 gr tsp fast action yeast
¼ tsp ground cardamom
a good pinch salt
1 egg

FOR THE FILLING
100g  marzipan, grated
¼ tsp ground cardamom
200ml (7 fl oz) whipping cream
3-4 tbsp icing sugar
lingonberry jam

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DIRECTIONS

  1. Place the butter and milk in pan and heat until the butter has melted, let it cool until 35 c.
  2. Place 1 tbs of caster sugar, 1 tbs of flour, 1tbs of honey and the yeast, along with the milk and butter in the bowl of a free-standing mixer and an mix it for a minut.
  3. Let the mixture rest for an hour.
  4. Add the rest of the sugar, the rest of the flour, the egg and the cardamom. Use the dough hook on the mixer to, then knead over a medium-to-low speed for 15-10 minutes
  5. Place the dough in a clean bowl covered with a damp tea towel.. Let it rest for 3 hours or until doubled in size, in a warm place.
  6. Dust your surface with flour, knock the dough back and roll into a sausage shape. Divide into 14 same-sized buns of about 8g  (I weight any piece of dough to make them as regular as possible.)
  7. Place on a large baking tray, spaced evenly apart and lightly cover with cling film. Leave to raise or about 30 minutes in a warm place.
  8. Once the buns are ready, brush the tops of the buns with milk. Bake the buns for 25-30 minutes in a 200 C. oven.
  9. When the buns are cooled cut the tops off and use a teaspoon to scoop out some of the crumb inside the bun to make space for a for a teaspoon of lingonberry jam and some crumble of marzipan.
  10. . Whip the cream and pipe over the top of the marzipan and to the edges. Place the hat back on the top of the buns and dust with icing sugar.

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