Sweet Dough Bread

Sweet Dough Bread

In one of the last issues of “Gourmet” Richard Bertinet shared his recipe and unusual technique of preparing this sweet dough. The dough is sweet but not too sweet which makes it also perfect for savory fillings, not just sweet jams and butter. The whole process is done by hands. And he doesn’t even knead the dough since it’s quite sticky for kneading. He lifts it and slaps it, then stretches and folds it over itself, and does it over and over again, and finally gets a wonderful dough “full of life”. The dough is well know all over France as pain viennois, not so rich alternative to brioche.

You can shape the dough any way you like. I braided it as a 4-strand challah, a really large one. There is enough dough to form two loaves of bread.

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Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

These buns are traditionally served on Good Friday. But I guess if we omit the crosses on top and bake them as sweet rolls they can be enjoyed any day. The buns are so nice slightly warm from the oven and lightly buttered. Or toast them the following day.

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Neapolitan Ricotta and Wheat-Berry Easter Pie (Pastiera Napoletana)

Wheat Berry Pie

This rustic looking pie, distantly reminiscent to a cheesecake, is an Italian specialty and usually served on Easter. Don’t try to substitute orange-flower water for anything else. There’s no such substitution. And in my opinion, this aromatic fluid is what makes this cake so special. Most likely you will find the orange-flower water in the Ethnic food section in any supermarket.

There are a lot of recipe variations of this pie. This one is Michele Scicolone’s, published two years ago in the Easter issue of “Gourmet”. I followed the recipe almost to a letter. I just boiled the wheat-berries in milk instead of water as it was suggested. It didn’t look like a bright idea when my milk boiled over (what it always does) and made a terrible mess on the stove. So, the moral is – follow the recipe… I added a bit more zest though…

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Mocha Panna Cotta with Fleur de Sel Caramel

Mocha Panna Cotta with Fleur de Sel Caramel

Nothing beats caramel-fleur de sel combination. But add to it rich velvety custard, infused with coffee and flavored with chocolate and you will have an unforgettable dessert. Serve it in small demitasse cups or tiny ramekins.

The panna cotta can be made up to 2 days ahead and kept in the refrigerator. The caramel can be refrigerated for up to a week. Do make sure to put the whole thing together right before serving.

The recipe is from “Chocolate & Vanilla” by Gale Gand.

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Multi-Seed Irish Soda Bread

Multi-seed Irish Soda Bread

I bake this bread far more often than just for St. Patrick’s Day. I altered a traditional recipe (which is indeed wonderful) by omitting the raisins, decreasing the sugar and adding the seeds. I wanted to serve it with salads and soups for lunch or supper. It is not just good, it’s healthy for you – relatively low in fat (I always use low-fat buttermilk with great result), rich in fiber and protein.

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Irish Raisin Cake

Irish Raisin Cake

The cake is incredibly moist, full of plumped, spice-infused raisins. We couldn’t wait too long for cake to cool and dug in while it was still warm. The cake is good either way – warm or at room temperature.

This is an adaptation of a recipe from “The Irish Heritage Cookbook”.

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