Sunday, 12 April 2015

Traditional "Mona de Pasqua" (Easter cake), did it my way

If you search in Google images "Mona de Pascua" (Spanish traditional Easter cake) you'll find so many options that it seems difficult to find the one and only traditional way. Depending on where you live, is one or the other, so, when I decided I would make the "Mona"this year, after looking and looking, I decided on one of these versions but my way. That is, where I use chocolate whipped cream maybe others use jam, or where I use cream others use butter.

So this is my interpretation of the "Mona" this year, there will be someone who likes it or maybe who thinks is an aberration of tradition. Either way, if the cake doesn't suits you for Easter, you can always change feathers and chickens for nice candles and it will be perfect as a birthday cake.

And so, if this my interpretation, why have I title this entry as "traditional"? Well, first of all because this cake looks exactly as the ones called "traditional" that always I have sawn in my neighbourhood bakeries. But above all, because it is the first cake I prepared with "no weird stuff" (here in Barcelona buttercream, cream cheese, red velvet, sugarpaste and this kind of things are new and often seen as "weird stuff" for people used to traditional baking). So, no buttercream or cream cheese or strange sponge cakes. Just "pa pessic" (traditional catalan sponge), a chocolate whipped cream filling and caramelized custard on top. As simple as this, even no atrezzo for the pictures! By the way, I found chocolate truffle much easier to make than buttercream, as more tasty as well!!!



 For the sponge "Pa de pessic":
  • 6 eggs
  • 125 gr sugar
  • 125 gr flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
 For the chocolate whipped cream:
  • 500 ml whipping cream - very cold
  • 40 gr unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • 75 gr icing sugar
For the custard:
  • 150 gr eggs (aprox 3eggs)
  • 150 gr sugar
  • 12 gr cornflour
  • 45 gr water
 For decoration:
  • Almond flakes
  • Brown sugar (for caramelized the custard)
For the sponge, line and grease a 20-22 cm round pan and preheat the oven to 170ºC - 340ºF. Separate the yolks from the white. Reserve the whites and beat the yolks with the sugar until they have a texture similar than butter. Add the flour and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs whites to form stiff peaks. Gently combine with the yolks mixtures carefully, until well combined. Put the mixture into the pan and bake for 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes clear. Let cool in a wire rack.

For the custard, mix the sugar and the cornflour. In a saucepan, beat the eggs with thewater, add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and put on low heat, stirring constantly for about 10-15 minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat and let cool covered with plastic wrap touching the surface (to avoid a thick layer on the top of the cream)

For the chocolate whipped cream, whisk the whipped cream. Wait until soft peaks appers, and then add the cocoa powder and the sugar. Continue whisking until it's firm.

To assemble the cake, cut the sponge into three layers. Fill with the chocolate cream and cover also the sides. "Paste" the almonds. Put the custard on top, smooth it, cover with a little brown sugar and a burn it with a blowtorch.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Childhood memories: "Torta de Aranda"

On of my new year's resolution is bread. Learn about how to make and bake good homemade bread. I love bread, but most of the time I eat frozen baguettes from the supermarket, which are good and tasty only for 10 minutes. So I decided to start with a special kind of bred: "Torta de Aranda"

This kind of bread is a typical bread made with olive oil from Aranda de Duero, a town near Burgos, in north-western Spain. It's a super tasty bread. When I was a child, every summer, we used to travel to Burgos to visit my grandmother, and I used to eat this kind of bread all the time, and its flavour is one of those you keep in your memory forever.

It's not a diffiult recipe, and although the dought is a littlesticky, it's no imposible to handle. It has ben my first attempt making bread (with the exception of the ones I made with the bread machine), and I'm pretty happy with the results. The recipe is based on the one from the book Pan (Bread), from the catalan baker Xavier Barriga.

TORTA DE ARANDA (Olive Oil Bread)

Ingredients (for two small pieces or one big)

  • 250 gr bread flour
  • 5 gr salt
  • 150 ml water
  • 2,5 gr fresh yeast
  • 30 ml extra virgin olive oil (plus a little more for spreading the bread)
In the stand mixer bowl, with the dough hook attachment (you can use just your hands), mix all the ingredients except the oil and the yeast for about 5 minutes at medium-low speed. Without stop mixing, add slowly the oil and the yeast, and mix for 3 or 4 more minutes.

Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let rest about 90 minutes. This kind of bread, as it's made with little yeast, do not rise very much, so do not worry if it doesn't rise too much.

After this time, divide the dough in half if you want to make two pieces, and flatten it with your fingers to form a circle of half an inch thick. Preferably place cakes on a linen cloth dusted with flour (as I have no linen cloth I used baking paper). Cover with a damp cloth, so the dough does not dry out, and let ferment for two hours.

If you prefer to prepare the dough in the afternoon but bake it in the morning, let rest the dought only for an hour and a half, then cover it with plastic wraps. Let the pieces in the fridge overnight.

Pre heat oven to 250º, generating steam (to do so, place a pot with wet cloths inside the oven). Just before placing the pieces, pulverize the walls with water. Place the bread in a preheated tray (or on a baking stone if you have on). Reduce oven temperature to 210 ° and bake for 25 minutes.

Remove the bread pieces from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.