Sufganiot Express

Sufganiot in Hebrew means doughnuts, and they are the Israeli food most connected with Chanukah (in addition to potato latkes). But they are a different kind of doughnuts than the ones you find in the U.S. The original recipe actually comes from Central Europe, probably Germany. They look like the jelly doughnuts you see at DD, but they taste soooo much better. I was planning on posting my amazing sufganiot recipe ahead of Chanukah, so that you guys can actually enjoy it during Chanukah, but I didn’t get to it. I promise I’ll have it up here next year.

In the meantime, I’m posting a different sufganiot recipe, which is very quick and easy to make, hence the name ‘Sufganiot Express’. In fact, these sufganiot are very similar to Italian zeppole. They have a free- form shape and we don’t fill them with jelly, but sprinkle them with powdered sugar (and serve some jelly on the side, just in case). We love these sufganiot just as much as we love the original ones, and since they are quicker to make, we tend to make them more often during Chanukah.

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
4 tbs sugar
2 eggs
8 oz buttermilk
8 oz plain yogurt
1 tbs brandy
1 tsp vanilla extract
Oil for deep frying

Preparation:
In a large bowl mix flour, baking powder and sugar. Set aside.

In another bowl, mix the buttermilk, yogurt, eggs, brandy and vanilla.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones, stirring them well using a whisk, until you get a smooth batter.

Fill a pot with about 8 inches deep oil and heat on high heat. To check if the oil is hot enough, through in the pot a small piece of carrot. If the oil bubbles around the carrot, it is ready. Lower the heat to medium-high.

Using a spoon or an ice cream scoop, scoop some batter and very carefully slide it into the oil. Fry the doughnuts for about 2 minutes on each side. The doughnuts usually turn on their own, and it is ok. Just make sure they are cooked long enough.

Remove from the oil and place on a plate covered with paper towel.

Tip – You may want to check the first batch by cutting open one or two doughnuts, to make sure they are not raw in the middle. If so, cook the doughnuts longer on a slightly lower heat.

Plate the doughnuts on a serving dish and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Alternatively, you may mix some sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl, and roll the doughnuts to cover them completely.

Looking for some more Chanukah yummies? Check out my Zucchini Mint Latkes and Chickpea Sambousek.

Enjoy, and Happy Chanukah to those who celebrate!

Mixed Nut Tart

If you thought you couldn’t give up your traditional Thanksgiving pecan pie for any other pie, wait until you try this tart. It is impressive and beautiful to look at, and from my experience over the years, it is the first dessert to disappear from the table.

The mixed nut tart doesn’t get soft and saucy like a pecan pie since it doesn’t use as much filling, and that is a big plus in my eyes. The amount of nuts used in the tart exceeds the amount of pecans used in the pecan pie, so the nuts really are the center of attention. The flaky crust is buttery and crumbles in your mouth like a good shortbread. The roasted and salted nuts make the tart crunchy and the variety of the different nuts is like a game of textures and flavors in your mouth. The caramel adds creaminess and sweetness but doesn’t overpower the nuts. It perfectly complements their saltiness. Texture wise, the caramel is more like a coat and a binding agent to the nuts. To sum it up, this mixed nut tart is THE perfect dessert for Thanksgiving or any other festive event (so says my hubby).

Use a 9” tart pan.

Ingredients:
For the crust:
2 cups plus 2 tbs (300g) all-purpose flour
½ cup (100g) sugar 
1 teaspoon salt
6.5oz (180g) very cold butter
1 egg, beaten

For the filling:
4oz (100g) butter
1/3 packed cup (80g) dark brown sugar
1/3 cup (100g) honey
¼ cup (60g) heavy cream
350g roasted and salted nuts

Combine the flours, salt, sugar, and butter in a food processor, and process into a crumbly mixture. Add the beaten egg and mix it in, with short pulses, just until the dough is uniform, soft and not sticky. Do not over process or you lose the flakiness in the crust.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, flatten it into a disk, and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Remove from the fridge and let sit for 20 minutes. It makes it easier to roll out. Lightly flour a work surface.

Roll out the dough into a circle about 1/8 inch thick. Roll it around  the rolling pin and place it onto the tart pan. Press the dough gently into the indentations in the sides. Trim the edges. Place the pan with the crust in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Heat the oven to 360F.

Remove the crust from the freezer and place it immediately in the preheated oven. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the crust turns golden. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Lower the oven temperature to 320F.

In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, honey, and brown sugar, and stir constantly until the butter and sugar are completely dissolved. Add the heavy cream, bring to a boil, and remove from the heat. Add the nuts into the pot and mix well.

Top the crust with the nut mixture (including the sauce) and spread it evenly. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until bubbles form in the filling. Remove from the oven.

Carefully, remove the tart from the baking pan when still hot. Once the caramel cools off, it hardens and “glues” the tart to the pan.

Serve at room temperature. You may serve the tart with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. I love it as is.

May you all be blessed with good health, happiness, peace, and prosperity!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Spiced Apple and Orange Bread Pudding

A few days ago, I discovered a forgotten raisin challah deep in my freezer. I looked at it and thought that it could be really good for bread pudding because of the raisins. I don’t usually make bread pudding at home. Not that I don’t like it, but it is not one of these dishes that come to mind when I have leftover bread. We usually use the leftover challah (if we even have anything left) to make French toast or grilled cheese sandwiches.

This time, it was destined to become bread pudding. I looked up some recipes for general guidance, and then I looked in my fridge to see what I wanted to add. I found an orange that had been there forever and needed to be redeemed and a couple of apples that I thought would add some nice autumnal flavor. I also added some spices, to make it interesting. Eventually, I collected more ingredients than I actually ended up using (the butter in the pics never made it in the pudding). I guess my recipe can be considered a leftover dish since I used, in addition to the old challah, an orange that had seen better times, and 3 egg whites that were left over from eggs used for another dish. However you look at it, I think I winged something that came out pretty good, and I hope you like it, too.

Ingredients:
1 raisin challah bread, cubed
2 apples, peeled and shredded
1 orange, zested and juiced
½ cup sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground clove
¼ tsb ground cardamom
3 egg whites
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbs butter, for greasing

Preparation:
In a large bowl, combine the cubed challah, shredded apples, zest from the orange, sugar, and spices.

In a separate bowl, mix the eggs with the milk, heavy cream, and orange juice (including the pulp).

Pour the liquid mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and, using your hands, mix it all well but gently, to make sure the spices and the orange zest are spread evenly.

Generously grease a 13 x 9 ovenproof baking dish with butter, then pour the contents of the bowl into the baking dish, and spread evenly.

While the bread is soaking the liquids, turn on the oven to 350F.

When the oven is ready, put in the bread pudding and bake for 30 minutes.

Enjoy the smells that come out of the oven!!! And later on the flavors, too!

The pudding can be served warm or at room temperature.

Shortcrust Pastry Roulade

What I like about this cake is that you can treat it like cookies. You bake it like a cake, slice it into cookies ,and store the slices in an airtight container. When you want something small, delicious, and easy, just reach your hand into the container and take a “cookie” or two. Very casual and simple to make, yet very satisfying, this dessert is sure to be a keeper.

3 ½ (500g) cups flour
1 tbs baking powder
¾ cup (100g) confectioner’s sugar
250g cold butter, cubed
2/3 cup (160ml) milk

In a food processor, mix the flour, baking powder, sugar powder, and butter into a crumbly dough. Add the milk and pulse just until the dough comes together into a ball.

Heat your oven to 360F.

Divide the dough to three equal pieces.

Roll out each piece into a 1/8-inch-thick rectangle on parchment paper dusted with flour.

Spread 1/3 of the filling of your choice (options below) on top of the rolled-out dough and roll the dough at its long side to form a roulade.

Repeat the two previous steps with the other two pieces of dough.

Place the roulades seam side down onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Lightly score the roulades on the top every inch, to make it easier to slice after baking.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until the roulades are golden brown.

Remove from the oven and cool completely. Slice the roulades into cookies and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

Filling options:
Each of the following fillings is good for one recipe of dough.

Option1:
1 ½ cups jelly of choice
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
½ cup raisins
Spread the jelly on the rolled-out dough and sprinkle the walnuts and raisins on top. Continue as directed above.

Option 2:
1 ½ cups jelly of choice
3 tbs cocoa powder
3 tsp cinnamon
6 tbs sugar
Spread the jelly on the rolled-out dough. In a bowl, mix the cocoa powder, cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle the mixture on top of the jelly. Alternatively, after spreading the dough with jelly, sprinkle one tablespoon cocoa, one teaspoon cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons sugar on each of the three spread out pieces of dough. Continue as directed above.

Some more of my favorite fillings include:
Dates and dried unsweetened coconut flakes
Halva and butter
Butter, cinnamon and sugar
Orange jelly and toasted hazelnuts
Nutella

Enjoy!

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Apple Poppy Seed Cake

When I started Tali’s Artisanal, my gluten free bakery, my primary goal was to create gourmet gluten free desserts that are as delicious as any other dessert, gluten free or not. I wanted to introduce new interesting flavors that are not mainstream Americana. Flavors that would appeal to people who are looking for unique gourmet products, but also need them to be gluten free. ‘No compromise’ was the name of the game.

This delicious apple poppy cake was one of the recipes I created for my cake business. I was inspired by some Israeli recipes for apple and poppy seed cakes. I could vividly imagine the flavors of Central and Eastern Europe, when combining poppy seeds and tart apples with ingredients such as lemon zest and raisins. I knew I had to make this cake happen. And I did.

The cake has immediately become one of my favorites. Whenever I’m in the mood for some good old European dessert, this cake hits the spot. Unfortunately, it wasn’t one of my best sellers. I guess the American palette prefers other flavors. Some of my customers, though, would come especially for this wonderful cake.

poppy apple

So here is the recipe, not in its gluten free version, although if you want it to be GF, just switch the all purpose flour with some GF cake flour blend (make sure it has xanthan gum in it, or else add ½ tsp of xanthan to the recipe).

Hope you enjoy the cake as much as I do.

Ingredients:
¾ cup (70g) almond flour
1 cup (140g) all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup (75g) ground poppy seeds
½ teaspoon salt
1tbs lemon zest
1tsp cinnamon
3 eggs
1 ¼ cups (250g) sugar
½ cup (100g) vegetable oil
½ cup (120g) apple sauce
4 shredded granny smith apples
1/3 (50g) cup raisins

Preparation:
In a bowl, mix the flours, poppy seeds, spices and lemon zest, and set aside.

In a mixer, combine the oil, sugar, applesauce, and eggs and mix for 5 min.

While mixer is still on (on the lowest speed), add in the flour mix, and mix until all flour is incorporated. Add the shredded apples and give an extra stir.

Pour the batter into one 8” round baking pan or two 8”x4” loaf pans, and sprinkle with the raisins on top. Using a spoon or your finger, push the raisins a little into the batter so they don’t burn when baking in the oven.

Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 30 minutes for the loaf cakes and 45-50 minutes for the round cake.

The cake is ready when a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean or with a few crumbs.

poppy closeup

Banana Lotti

Banana Lotti (Roti) is a famous Thai street food that actually originated in India. The original recipe consists of pieces of banana and condensed milk wrapped in a crepe-like dough, and fried on a griddle so the banana is kind of dissolved. When cooked, it is drizzled with condensed milk on top, and served hot.

I was looking for a recipe of this mouthwatering dessert to make at home, and came across the following gluten and dairy free version (it is also vegan). Since the preparation in this recipe seemed much easier than the original lotti, and the recipe actually sounded yummy, I’ve decided to give it a try.

It became an instant hit in our house. We will surely make it again, and I highly recommend it to all my friends who try to avoid gluten, dairy, and/or are vegans, and to all of you who like really good exotic desserts.

 Ingredients:
4 ripe bananas
8 rice papers for spring rolls
3 tbs coconut oil
1 cup coconut flakes
1 cup chopped nuts
Maple syrup for drizzling

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 430F.

Oil an ovenproof baking dish with one tablespoon of the coconut oil.

Cut each banana in half.

Dip one rice paper in a bowl with water for a few seconds, then set on a work surface, and place half a banana in the middle.

Wrap the rice paper around the banana to create a pocket. Place in the greased baking dish.

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Repeat the process with the rest of the rice papers and bananas.

Brush the wrapped bananas with the rest of the coconut oil and bake in the preheated oven for 15 – 20 minutes, until the rice paper is starting to crisp a little.

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Remove from the heat. Place each banana pocket on a serving dish and sprinkle with coconut flakes and chopped nuts (I used salted and roasted nuts). Drizzle some syrup on top and enjoy! I actually skipped the syrup on my banana. It was already sweet enough for me as is.

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I still want to try and make the original Lotti recipe. I’ll keep you posted…

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