My first bread pudding!

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It feels kind of wrong posting this now, on such a sunny spring day when I usually eat light summer food. The smell of cinnamon and baked apples, suddenly put me in an Christmas mood and (almost) longing for autumn! But there´s still a crispness to the air, which means that mornings and evenings are still cold, and best enjoyed with a sweet breakfast or dessert. Enter Bread Pudding!

Bread pudding is something that I´ve stumbled upon several times among my many English/American cookbooks, and certainly it´s been mentioned by Jamie and Nigella more than once when talking about comfort food. And I´ve seen pictures of this dessert-thing over and over, over the years. It always seemed intriguing to me, tempting in a comforting way, but not tempting in the way like chocolate, ice-cream, cheesecake or other desserts can do, so although I understood the concept and idea of this dessert, it never made it to the dessert table in my house, because of strong competition (and a chocoholic boyfriend). It wasn´t until a couple of years ago I finally actually got to try bread pudding, when me and boyfriend were eating out, and the menu was set, so no choices for us and no possibility to not choose bread pudding, if that should have appeared on the dessert menu. Luckily for us, it did, as bread pudding was the dessert on the menu that day and was served to us! Any other way, we would have missed out… We shared a mini loaf of bread pudding, and OMG, it was so extremely good! We scraped the bowl to get everything of the good stuff, and agreed it was the best thing on the menu that evening. Later, I got to thinking of baking this for myself and make my own version. Somehow, years went by, with no bread pudding being made. But a couple of days ago, a picture of bread pudding from my pie-book caught my eye. And a few days earlier I bought a sour dough bread which turned out to have ONE gigantic hole instead of the usually many few, making it difficult to use for spreads or fillings. So, what to do…? I don´t throw food, I get creative!

Croutons? Nah – boring. Plus, I don´t plan on having a salad where it could be used for the next days. French toast? Nah, that wouldn´t look good with that hole. But maybe something french-toast-like, like…. Bread Pudding! Yaaay! That´s what I´m making!

I´m glad I realized that this was an overnight project, because it´s oh so disappointing when your mind (sweet tooth) is set on something, and you don´t get it because “it needs time”. Since this was my first time doing this, i certaintly needed a recipe as a starting point. But since the recipe said 12-15 servings, and I´m only one (one person – though I definetely can take more than one serving…) I needed to adjust the amounts, and adding apple and the topping, I made my own version, and a very good one! The only problem was that I only had a family-sized baking dish, resulting in a not so tall bread pudding. But who cares – It´s my first bread pudding, cut me some slack. And besides, low height with a large surface equals more crispy topping!

Bread Pudding

120 grams sour dough bread

1 egg

50 g sugar

1 dl full cream

1.5 dl milk

1 apple

Topping:

10 g butter

20 g sugar

20 g oats

(Any white bread can be used, but I felt sour dough was perfect as the acidity balances out the sweetness. But if you want to go all in, for more sweetness, feel free to use whatever: toast-bread, brioche or leftover croissants or cinnamon-rolls, if such things exist!)

Instructions

Spray a 20×30 cm (9×13 inch) baking dish with nonstick spray.

Cut or tear the bread in cubes or chunks, and line your dish with one layer of bread cubes.
Cut the apple, and put it in a pan along with cinnamon, water and half the amount of sugar. Stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook for 2 minutes, constantly stirring. Remove from heat and spoon the filling onto the bread layer. It doesn’t have to be perfect, Just spread the apples about.Top the apple with another layer of bread and pack tightly.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, cream and vanilla. Whisk until well combined.
Pour mixture over the bread. Cover with foil and let chill in the fridge for at least 8 hours or overnight.When ready to prepare, take bread out of the fridge and let rest on the counte.

Preheat oven to 150 C/ 350F.
Prepare the topping: Mix together butter, sugar, and oats. Spread over the top of the bread. Again, doesn’t have to be perfect.

Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until bread is fully toasted and eggs are set. Let cool for at least 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature, with cream, yoghurt or  ice cream if so inclined. Enjoy!

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Panna cotta with spiced apples

This is one classy dessert! Wow, I impress myself… I’m usually the more rustic, rough looking kind of desserts or food in general, so when I make that little extra effort, which actually is really little, I feel so proud. So of course I’m sharing it with you today!

I had this lovely dessert a couple of weeks ago at a friends house. We’ve started a little dinner-group, where one is hosts a 3 course dinner, and the rest bring the wine. It’s great fun, and a nice way to try new dishes, like this one. The appetizer was really good, so was the dinner, but we all agreed that the dessert was the highlight of the meal. And it looked quite fancy too. Like the dessertmaniac I devored it. I haven’t had that much panna cotta in my life, and the few times, I’ve found it a little boring. But this was perfectly paired with the spiced apples which balanced the neutral flavour of the panna cotta. Delicious. From that moment I was a panna cotta convert. I got the recipe, and now that I’m home on vacation, what better way to start off my days of freedom, and to finish off my first meal at home with my boyfriend, than with this fine thing? I believe the boyfriend was impressed. Like always, he’s in charge of dinner, and I’m the queen of desserts. And now I’ve added this to my repertoire! It’s nice to get some outside inspiration, cause I tend to get stuck in my old habits and food routines, but I’ll definetely be making this again! I actually think I’ll add it to my book of recipes… And that, is a sign of quality.


Panna cotta with spiced apples (4)

2 leaves of gelatine
1 vanillapod
1½ dl full cream 38%
5 tablespoons sugar
3 dl sour cream 9%

2 apples
3 tablespoons sugar
½ dl water
1 staranis
1 stick of cinnamon(4-6 cm)
½ ts ground cardamom

Soak the gelatine in cold water for 10 min. Cut the vanillapod and scrape out the seeds. Pour cream, sugar, vanillapod and seeds in a small pan, and bring to a boil while stirring. Remove pan from heat. Remove the gelatine from the water, and put it into the warm cream mixture. Stir til everything is dissolved, and pour in the sour cream. Divide the panna cotta in 4 glasses (a ca. 2 dl) and cover in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

Spiced apples: Peel the apples and slice them thinly. Melt the sugar in a pan. Add water, staranis, cinnamon and cardamom and boil for about 2 minutes. Put the apples in the pan, and boil over low heat while stirring for about 4 min. Allow to cool completely.

Divide the apples onto the pannacottas and serve immediately.

Lemon cookies

It’s Christmas. It’s cookie time.
Let’s get down to business.

I’ve already made a batch of gingerbread. They turned out well, but they also turned out to be many. I brought one jar to school, now there’s only two back. And at the time, it’s just me. So I’m munching gingerbread, and I’ll be doing that for some time. But nevertheless, I feel the urge to bake some more cookies. Just something else. Something lighter (if you can say that about any cookie) and maybe a little less Christmasy. I found what I was looking for. Even though I’m very traditional when it comes to Christmas – cookie wise anyway – I know there’ll be plenty of that, so why not try something else? It’s still a cookie. So it has a some Christmas to it.

The cookies are lemon and lime flavoured sugar cookies. I found the recipe at joythebaker, but originally it’s from Baking from my home to yours, (I crave that book! I’ve found so many recipes from that book on various blogs, and they’re all so great. But it’s not available here…) and I knew I had to make them rightaway. And so I did…

I didn’t have any lime, but that didn’t stop me as I had a ton of lemons. I just skipped the lime part and added some more lemon instead. And that worked out fine. But I guess the lime would make that little extra je ne sais quoi… Great cookies anyway! Go bake!

Citrus Sables

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter (preferably high-fat, like Plugra), softened at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted before measuring
1/2 teaspoon salt, preferably sea salt
2 large egg yolks, preferably at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour.

zest of 1 lemon and zest of 1 lime

For the decoration (optional):
1 egg yolk
Crystal or dazzle sugar.

1. Beat the butter at medium speed until it is smooth and very creamy. Rub the zest of the lemon and lime into the granulated sugar with your fingertips, creating a fragrant sugar. Add the sugars and salt to the butter and continue to beat until smooth and velvety about 1 minute. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in 2 egg yolks, again beating until well blended.

2. Turn off the mixer, pour in the flour, drape a kitchen towel over the mixer and pulse the mixer about 5 times at low speed for 1 or 2 seconds each time. Take a peek; if there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of more times; if not, remove the towel. Continuing at low speed, stir for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough and the dough looks uniformly moist. If you still have some flour on the bottom of the bowl, stop mixing and use a rubber spatula to work the rest of it into the dough. You want to work the dough as little as possible. What you’re aiming for is a soft, moist, clumpy dough.

3. Scrape the dough onto a work surface, gather it into a ball and divide it in half. Shape each piece into a smooth log about 9 inches long (it’s easiest to work on a piece of plastic wrap and use the plastic to help form the log). Wrap the logs well and chill them for at least 2 hours. The dough may be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.

4. When ready to bake, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and keep it at the ready.

5. To decorate the edges of the sables, whisk the egg yolk until smooth. Place one log of chilled dough on a piece of waxed paper and brush it with yolk (the glue), and then sprinkle the entire surface of the log with sugar. Trim the ends of the roll if they are ragged and slice the log into 1/3-inch-thick cookies.

6. Place the rounds on the baking sheet, leaving an inch of space between each cookie, and bake for 17 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet at the halfway point. When properly baked, the cookies will be light brown on the bottom, lightly golden around the edges and pale on top. Let the cookies rest 1 or 2 minutes before carefully lifting them onto a cooling rack with a wide metal spatula.

I decided to give them a little extra decoration, dress them up to be suitable Christmas presents. A nice frosty look to complement the sweetness. I made an icing from icing sugar, lemon juice and a little water. I love lemon-flavoured icing together with lemon-stuff! It’s so…..lemony! So these were right up my alley. But they’re delicious on their own, so it’s not needed at all. Plain, they would be the perfect accompaniement to a cup of your favourite tea, any day of week. But I made them festive and ready for Christmas. And they turned out quite pretty, I think. Don’t you?

Merry Christmas everyone

So, the day we’ve been anticipating and preparing for for days, weeks and months, is finally over. It’s all so strange, I think. All that work we put down in baking, buying presents and carefully wrapping them, ends in one day. Well, I know Christmas isn’t only Christmas Eve, but that is the main part after all. I always feel a little empty when it’s over, but it only lasts for a little while, and then I realize there are more days off work to wander around the house in comfy clothes, eating cookies and candy, and go for a walk to get some air and work up some appetite for next meal!

Christmas was perfect. I celebrated with my parents, my two sisters, my brother in law, my overly cute niese and my grandmother. And we had a white snowy Christmas, which is not the case every year. And I got a lot of nice things, many food-oriented items, of course. I’m a foodie, after all. So here’s some of it:

1: Turron and nougat-ish chocolate from Spain. My sister is currently studying in Valencia, and brought home these delicious sweets. I know it’s good, cause my other sister has been living in Spain and introduced me to this. So thanks sis!

2: Gingerbread cutters and porcelain pie form. I wished for gingerbread cutters and got what I wanted. 3 sets of cutters… So I should be more than ready for next Christmas! The pie pan I got from my mother in law, and I know that will come in handy as I looove pie – in any shape. And I only had a small one from before.

3: Crème brulée kit; including heart-shaped ramekins, a blow torch and gas. Crème brulée here I come!
Thanks sis! (my other sister)

4: Tea, Cinnamon-flavoured coffee and pepper & chili jelly! Also from my little sister.

I also got a toaster from my mother and exclusive chocolate from my best friend! All in all, great presents!

Vørterbrød (Wort bread)

Vørterbrød is the Norwegian name for wort bread, apparently. I really didn’t know how to translate this, or what to call this bread, until now, that I found a definition of what vørter beer, one of the main ingredients, is.

Vørter beer (wort beer) is a non-alcoholic, unfermented drink produced through the carbonation and sterilisation of wort made from malt, hops and water. It is thus, per definition, not a beer and should not be labelled beer, but was given a dispensation to this in the Norwegian Beer Act of 1912 regarding production and taxation of beer. The reason for this is found in the history of Vørter beer.

Vørterbrød is a type of the traditional Christmas bread with raisins like panettone, stollen and other variations that seems to be part of many different Christmas cuisines around the world. Here in Norway there are two kinds: Christmas bread and wort bread (or cake, as some call it) The Christmas bread is made of wheat, raisins and sometimes succades.

Wort bread, one the other hand, is made of part wheat, part rhye, raisins and spices like anise, ground cloves, cinnamon and pepper. All good Christmas things into one. It has a much richer taste, and maybe it takes some getting used to, because it tastes a lot more than the ordinary Christmas bread. More spices, more syrup, more dense, more of everything and a lot better in my opinion! I love it. And the smell…..Oh, the smell. Lovely licorice-like and a dark brown colour from the rhye and the syrup.

You have to try it. Warm thick slices straight from the oven with a thick layer of good quality butter. Or a slice of Norwegian brown cheese – gjetost, if you’re into that. I’m not, but a hear this is the perfect combo. Well, what do you know. I’m back from my divine lunch, and I have a confession to make. I’m a brown cheese convert. That wasn’t bad at all. It was delicious. I, a non-brown cheese eater, can recommend brown cheese on wort bread. It’s delish. The bread is quite spicy, well not spicy, but filled with spices and flavour. And the cheese is very sweet, so together: A match made in Christmas heaven.

I found a recipe on the net that I was going to use. For some reason, I started to flip through the pages of one of my breadbaking-cookbooks from the bakery Åpent Bakeri, and found a recipe there. To simplify, meaning not having to write down the recipe from the net or dragging the computer into the kitchen, I decided on this recipe instead. And when the dough was done and I was done kneading, it hit me: The wort beer! I forgot it! I read through the recipe to check, and to my surprise, no wort beer in the wort bread recipe… That is strange. Well, at least I didn’t do nothing wrong. So I guess I’ll have to use it next Christmas. Or sooner. Or else: One more year in the fridge. (yes, I had some left from last year.)

Vørterbrød
250 g raisins
5 dl water
600 g wheat
400 g rhye
10 g (2 ts) sea salt
100 sugar
50 g yeast
100 g syrup
0.5 ts ground pepper
0.5 ts cinnamon
0.5 ts ginger
0.5 ts ground cloves
0.5 ts ground anise
50 g butter

(You’re supposed to soak the raisins for one day, but I didn’t and it tasted fine, so you can leave that part. I also left out ginger and pepper. Didn’t have any and it was too snowy outside…)

Directions

Add sugar, egg, butter, salt, cardamom and 2 cups flour; mix well. Stir in raisins and enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Use as little flour as you can, the dough should be a little sticky. Place in a big bowl covered with clingfilm. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down and divide in half. Shape each portion into breads. (I made one bread and the rest buns. Of course you can make only buns too, if you prefer) Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Brush the breads with one whisked egg.

Bake at 200 degrees C or 395 degrees F for 40-50 minutes or until dark golden brown. Cool on wire racks. Serve while still warm with butter, cheese or jam. Have yourself a merry little Christmas moment.

Chocolate pistachio fudge

Christmas is here and I’m all wrapped up in gingerbread, presents and ornaments. To me, as to so many others, Christmas and advent is so much about the food. Gingerbread, cookies, breads, sweets and other things that will fill the house with that lovely Christmas smell. Somethings are already baked: The gingerbread house me and my boyfriend constructed, still stands (hurray!), looks good, but smells even better. That’s my number one reason to make gingerbread – instant Christmas smell! I also like to give away edible presents, so I preserved some plums when they were in season and some pears as well. And last week, I had my girlfriends over for a little workshop, and we made different kinds of sweets. Homemade sweets for Christmas is both fun to give and receive. I had seen this recipe on Nigella Express, and it looked so good, I had to try it. And quite easy to, which we all like in this busy time of the year.

Chocolate Pistachio Fudge
350g chocolate, at least 70 per cent cocoa solids, chopped
1 can condensed milk (397 g)
30g butter
pinch salt
150g unsalted pistachios, shells removed

Place everything apart from the nuts in a heavy-based pan over a low heat and stir until melted and well combined. Place the nuts into a freezer bag and bash them with a rolling pin, until broken up into some large and some small pieces. Add the nuts to the melted chocolate mixture and stir well.

Pour the mixture into a 23cm square tray, smoothing the top with a wet palette knife.
Let the fudge cool, then refrigerate until set. Cut into small pieces.
Once cut, the fudge can be kept in the freezer – there’s no need to thaw, just eat straight away. Or give some away!