Sweet • Sour • Savory

Food blog on scandinavian style food done right.

technique

Pickled Cucumbers

condiments, Dinner, Preserve, Snacks, technique, Vegetables, vegan, VegetarianTove Balle-PedersenComment
 Pickled Cucumbers

Pickled Cucumbers

My parents grew their own vegetable in their large vegetable garden, and of course my mom made sure to preserve the large amount of produce by pickling and freezing. We all loved my moms pickled cucumbers, with our dinner or on the open faced sandwiches. Especially on liverpate. So when I found crown dill and pickling cucumbers at my local grocery store, I had to try my moms old recipe. I have a hard time learning that the pickled cucumbers in my world are called pickles here in the States, but eventually I might learn to accept it. 😉

5-8 jars.

Ingredients:

Brine:

  • 200 g salt

  • 2 liters (68 oz) water

Pickling:

  • 1500 g pickling cucumbers

  • 1250 ml vinegar

  • 780 g sugar

  • 13-15 slices fresh horseradish

  • 5 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds

  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds

  • 2 teaspoon black peppercorns

  • 8 crown dill (1-2 in each jar)

  • 6-8 dried red chilies

Direction:

Combine the salt and water in a pitcher and stir until the salt has dissolved. Rinse the cucumbers thoroughly and snip off the blossom end stem. Prick cucumbers with a table fork. Set aside. Pour the salt water over the cucumbers. Place a plate on top to keep the cucumbers submerged. Let stand 12 hours in the refrigerator. Drain the cucumber and place them in scolded* jars. Add horseradish, dill and the spices to the jars.

I sliced 4 of the cucumbers in thick slices for some more spicy pickles. I placed the slices in 2 smaller jars with 1 fatalii chili in one and 1 habanero chili in the other. HOT HOT HOT  🌶 🌶 🌶  

Boil the vinegar with the sugar, and pour it in the jars, making sure to cover the cucumbers completely. Place the lid on the jars, not tightening them completely.

After 2 days, drain out the vinegar and let it come to a boil, maybe adding more vinegar and sugar. Pour the vinegar over the cucumbers again, adding new horseradish and/or sodium benzoate. Seal the jars tight. Do not boil the horseradish.

*You need to clean the jars and sterilize them by soaking them in boiling water. Same goes for the lids. Submerge the lid for a few minutes in a bowl of boiling water. Rinse jars and lids with alcohol like strong vodka or cognac. 

These will keep for a few months at room temperature, but you can keep them in the refrigerator  too. In my house they won't last long.

Romsnegle - Rum Rolls

Bread, Breakfast, Brunch, Cake, Holiday, techniqueTove Balle-PedersenComment
 Romsnegle - Rum Rolls

Romsnegle - Rum Rolls

Romsnegle is a stable at a Danish baker's shop, much like the regular danish (spandauer). This is much like a cinnamon roll made with puff pastry dough and with another filling and icing. Same, - but totally different. This sweet filling pairs so well with the (imitation) rum icing. Ohh so yummy.

Making these rolls with puff pastry makes for a flakier and softer roll. Of cause this is a time consuming bake. But well worth the effort.

The Danish pastry is a laminated yeast dough much like the French croissant. There are many ways to make this lamination. The amount of layers are different from country to country and from baker to baker. You get the flaky layers by folding sheets of dough with butter. 

One of the more important things in puff pastry is the butter. You want to use a european style butter. The European butter contains less liquid and more milk fats than American butter. Most people opt for unsalted butter, but I always use salted butter in my baking.

There are different kinds of folding/turning when it comes to pastry and croissant dough:

Letter fold or Single turn: Dough folded in thirds, like you would do a letter going into an envelope. (I did this for this recipe.)

1. Turn: makes 3 layers of butter

2. Turn: makes 9 layers of butter

3. Turn: makes 27 layers of butter.

Book fold or double turn: Dough folded to the middle and folded again on the middle like a book. This makes 4 layers per fold or turn as they are called.

1. Turn: makes 4 layers of butter

2. Turn: makes 16 layers of butter

3. Turn: makes 64 layers of butter

Some people claim that any more layers than 3 turns using a letter fold, will make the dough like a brioche instead of providing the flaky layers. The 3 turns makes 27 layers. You can mix the folding methods to get the amount of layer you want.

 

Makes 20.

Ingredients:

Dough:

  • 375 g all-purpose flour

  • 200 ml milk

  • 25 g live yeast or 2 teaspoons dry yeast

  • 45 g sugar

  • 50 g butter, salted and soft

  • 1 egg

Butter block:

  • 350 g butter, cold (use a European style butter, it contains less water, than the American butter)

  • all-purpose flour for dusting

Remonce:

  • 100 g butter, salted and soft

  • 100 g sugar

  • 70 g marzipan

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Icing:

  • 1 egg white (pasteurized)

  • Confectionery (powdered) sugar

  • 1-2 teaspoon imitation rum

multicolored sprinkles

Directions:

Dough:

Heat the milk to lukewarm (99℉/37℃). Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk. Add the sugar. If using dry yeast, let the yeast wake up for about 5-10 minutes, until creating a foam on top. Incorporate the egg.

Mix in half of the flour, forming a sticky dough. Mix in the softened butter. Finally mix in the rest of the flour and knead the dough until you have at shiny, slightly sticky and elastic dough, for about 3-5 minutes.

Place the dough on a very lightly floured surface. Using a bench scraper and one hand, work the dough into a round. The tension will build as the dough achieves to the surface as you rotate it.

Place the dough back in the bowl and let it rise until doubled in size, for about 60 minutes.

Butter block: 

Place the cold butter on a well floured surface. With your palms press the butter a little flat. Using a rolling pin pound on the butter to flatten it. Fold the butter into its self, and keep pounding and folding until the butter has the same consistency as the dough. You want to end up with a 15x15 cm / 6x6 inch square of soft but still cold butter. If the butter is too warm or too hard, it will be hard to roll it out in the dough, and it might make holes in the dough, instead of the lamination.

 Laminating

Laminating

Laminating:

Place dough  on a lightly floured surface, roll 4 wings out from the center, leaving a center (15x15 cm / 6x6 inch), the same size as the butter block.

Place the butter block over the center, fold the wings over the butter, making sure not getting too much flour in between the layers. Turn the dough over, so the seams are facing down.

Roll the dough to a rectangle, 3 times as long as the hight. Keep it lightly floured so the dough do not stick to the surface. Make sure to roll the dough with straight edges. This will ease the folding.

 Making a fold.

Making a fold.

1. Turn: Fold the rectangle in thirds, like a letter. Now you have 3 layers of butter. Place the dough in the freezer for about 20 minutes to cool the butter again.

Repeat this 2 times, making 3 turns and ending up with 27 layers of butter. Let the dough rest on the kitchen counter for 10-20 minutes. (If your kitchen is warm, do the resting in the refrigerator.)

Now the dough is ready to use as a puff pastry for sweet or savory dishes.

If you want to make sweet pastries, you want to make the 3. Turn on a surface sprinkled with about 100 g granulated sugar, and sprinkle another 100 g granulated sugar on top. This will make the dough sweeter and more crispy.

Remonce: 

Mix the all the ingredients so you end up with a soft fluffy mixture. You want to have a soft mixture, so you won't rip the dough, while spreading the remonce. The added flour will prevent the filling to ooze out of the rolls while baking.

 Making the rolls.

Making the rolls.

Making the rolls:

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and roll it to a large rectangle (16x16 inches/40x40 cm).

Spread the filling in a thin layer onto the dough, leaving a thin edge closest to your self, without filling.

Line 2-3 bakings sheets with parchment paper.

Roll the dough into a large log. Cut the log into 20 slices. When you place the slices on the prepared baking sheets, tuck the lose ends under the roll, and give the roll a little press.  Leave a good spacing between them, so they can spread out without "growing" together. Cover the rolls with a tea towel to rise for about 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 355℉ (180℃).

Bake the rolls for 14-16 minutes until deep golden brown.

Let the rolls cool completely, before icing.

Enjoy!

Tips:

The unbaked pastry can be frozen just, after shaping, individually, and can be baked straight out of the freezer, just add about 5 more minutes to the baking time.

Croissants

Bread, Breakfast, Brunch, Desserts, techniqueTove Balle-PedersenComment
Croissant.JPG

Croissants are made from a yeasted dough laminated with butter. It is so so good.

The trick is to keep the dough and the butter at the same temperature and texture, to prevent soft butter bleeding out of the dough. A too cold dough will crack a bit, so you are looking for a firm but yet soft dough.

There are different kinds of folding/turning when it comes to pastry and croissant dough. 

Letter fold or Single turn: Dough folded in thirds, like you would do a letter going into an envelope. (I did that for this recipe.)

1. Turn: makes 3 layers of butter

2. Turn: makes 9 layers of butter

3. Turn: makes 27 layers of butter.

Book fold or double turn: Dough folded to the middle and folded again on the middle like a book. This makes 4 layers per fold or turn as they are called.

1. Turn: makes 4 layers of butter

2. Turn: makes 16 layers of butter

3. Turn: makes 64 layers of butter

You can mix the folding methods to get the amount of layer you want. Theoretically you can make how many layers you want, but making too many layers makes you end up with a brioche dough, made the hardest way possible 😉.   

At the croissant class I attended I learned that Manresa Bread use 2 double turns (16 layers) for regular croissants, and 3 single turns (27 layers) for chocolate croissants. For traditional Danish pastry you normally use 3 single turns, giving the desired 27 layers of butter. If you are looking for a traditional puff pastry, you need 144 layers

 

Makes this 20-24 croissants. 

Ingredients:

Dough/Détrempe:

  • 750 g bread flour

  • 200 g water, lukewarm

  • 187.5 g milk

  • 90 g sugar

  • 22.5 g salt

  • 65 g live yeast (15 g dry yeast)

  • 7.5 g malt powder

  • 37.5 g butter, room temperature

Beurrage (butter):

  • 450 g cold butter

  • all-purpose flour for dusting

Directions:

Dough/Détrempe:

Mix the milk with the water, dissolve the yeast in this mixture. Add the sugar. If using dry yeast, let the yeast wake up for about 5-10 minutes, until creating a foam on top. 

Mix in half of the flour and malt powder, forming a sticky dough. Mix in the softened butter. Finally mix in the rest of the flour and knead the dough until you have a shiny, slightly sticky and elastic dough, for about 3-5 minutes. The dough will be a bit on the dry/tough side.
Shape dough into a ball and place it in a dough rising bucket, or another large covered container. Let the dough fermented overnight, this will give you a good flavor.

Beurrage (butter):

Place the cold butter on a well floured surface. With your palms press the butter a little flat. Using a rolling pin pound on the butter to flatten it. Fold the butter into it self, and keep pounding and folding until the butter has the same consistency as the dough. You want to end up with a 30x32 cm (11x12.5 inch) sheet of soft but still cold butter. If the butter is too warm or too hard, it will be hard to roll it out in the dough, and it might make holes in the dough, instead of the lamination.
If you don't want to add any flour to your butter, you can pound and roll out the butter between sheets of parchment paper. Chill the butter while you roll out the dough. 

Laminating:

Place dough on a lightly floured surface, roll it out to 62x32 cm (24.5x12.5 inch), so the dough is the width of the butter, but a little over double in length. Clearly I rolled my dough longer than necessary, but it worked fine anyway. Place the butter on the dough, and wrap it with the dough, pinching the edges, meeting in the middle of the dough, together. Chill the dough package covered in the refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes, before starting the folding/turning.

croissant.jpg

Roll the dough to a rectangle, 3-4 times as long as the height. Keep it lightly floured so the dough do not stick to the surface. Make sure to roll the dough with straightedges. This will ease the folding.

Fold the far edges into the middle and fold again on the middle like a book. Now you have 4 layers of butter. Place the covered dough in the freezer for about 20 minutes to cool the butter again, and to relax the gluten.

Repeat this one more time, making 2 double (book) turns and ending up with 16 layers of butter. If you want to use this dough for Danish pastry or chocolate croissants, I would make 3 single turns, so you end up with 27 layers.

Before shaping the croissants you want the dough to rest covered in the refrigerator for at least 45-60 minutes. And letting it sit covered for 5 minutes on the kitchen counter, letting the butter to soften up a bit.

Shaping the croissants:

fullsizeoutput_1eef.jpeg

Roll half the dough out to a 20x40 cm (8x16 inch) rectangle. Using a knife or pizza slicer to cut the dough. Cut the croissant triangles as shown in the picture. (you get 7, not 5 croissants from the dough, I missed the last 2 in the picture, sorry). Let the dough rest covered 5 minutes to relax the gluten a bit. 
Stretch the triangle, so you elongate it, be careful not to rip the dough. Roll the dough towards the tip of the triangle, making sure that the tip is on the underside of the croissant.Place the croissant on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, spaced at least 5 cm (2 inch) apart.

Proof the croissant covered at maximum 85℉ (29.5℃) for 45-60 minutes until doubled in size. I have a proof setting on my oven, so I can use that, with a cup of boiling water sitting next to the baking sheet. But you can also proof the croissant on the kitchen counter, in a large air filled plastic bag.

Presheat oven to 350℉  (177℃) convection or 375℉ (190℃) foer non-convection.

Gently brush the croissants with egg wash, covering the exposed surfaces not allowing the egg wash to drip or pool.

Bake the croissants for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Let the croissants on the baking sheet on the kitchen counter. 

Serve the croissants within a day. 

Enjoy!

y7P8gX3USIuet5IT8olPPg.jpg

 

Tip:

The unbaked pastry can be frozen just, after shaping, individually, and can be baked straight out of the freezer, just add about 5 more minutes to the baking time.

 

Tip:

Leftover croissants can be used for almond croissants. Make some frangipan (125 g almond flour, 125 g butter, 125 g powdered sugar, 12 g all-purpose flour and 1 large egg, all mixed together) and smear it inside the croissant, and on top, before baking it for xx minutes.

 

 

How to Cook the Perfect Steak

Beef, Dinner, Meats, techniqueTove Balle-PedersenComment
 The Perfect Steak

The Perfect Steak

In my family we like a good steak. We have been trying to find the best technique to get the perfect prepared steak every time. We have been sous vide-ing steaks, the nerdy way to getting a  steak with the same color and temperature all the way trough the steak. But not all people have the equipment to cook sous vide, even though it's become more affordable the last couple of years.

I think it's a lot of work and effort, making a water bath and vacuuming the steak, for just ONE steak. The time aspect is another thing. Sous vide 2 hours at 131℉/55℃, or 8 minutes in a skillet at high heat. If we were having company, I would make it sous vide for making more than 3 steaks.

A few years ago we started to slice up the cooked steak, and sharing just one steak. Somehow I think a steak is more enjoyable thinly sliced. I know some people likes a large steak for themselves, go ahead and indulge. But I find less is more, when you get a good quality meat.

I alway buy grass-fed boneless ribeye steaks at Whole Foods Market. They are about an inch (3 cm) thick, with a good marbling. 

After a lot of trials, I perfected my steak-cooking-skills, and this is how I cook the perfect steak.

Serves 1-2.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ribeye steak
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons butter, cold and salted
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 sprigs of thyme

Directions:

Let the Steak get to room temperature. 

Pad the steak dry with a paper towel, and season it with a good amount of salt and some cracked pepper.

Heat oil in a skillet over high heat. Sear the steak on both sides, and keep turning the steak every 20-30 second, still over high heat. This will cook the steak faster than just flipping the steak just once. 

By flipping just once, the steak won't cook faster or more evenly, it's just easier. Generally you can say, that the more you turn the steak, the faster and more uniformly it will cook. Of cause within limits. When you sear food the surface touching the skillet, will quickly get hot, dehydrate, caramelize and get well done and overcooked. The overcooked part will act as an insulation layer between the heat source and the rest of the food. Resulting in longer cooking time and sometimes even burn food. By flipping the steak more often, you get a cooling of the searing surface, helping to heat up the center of the steak, and getting less of an insulating layer. 

Keep cooking and turning until just under the preferred doneness. (Rare: 130℉/54℃, Medium-Rare: 135℉/57℃, Medium:  146℉/63℃, Well done:  155℉/68℃.)  Generally I cook the steak until it has a dark sear, and the steak has some give to it, about 8 minutes in total, this will result in a medium to medium rare steak.

Turn off the heat, add butter, thyme and garlic. Baste or turn the steak in the now seasoned butter, and let it rest for a few minutes.

Slice the steak in thin slices, and serve immediately.

Enjoy!

 

 

Starting a Sourdough

technique, BreadTove Balle-PedersenComment

I often use sourdough in my baking. Personally I think that a young sourdough gives bread a nice delicate taste, and a chewy  crumb. You might think that sourdough breads are very acidic, and the San Francisco kind is very acidic. Too acidic to my taste. But after tasting Basic country bread from Tartine, I knew, I had to bake this mild sourdough bread. My relationship with sourdough started there and then.
Initially I bought a sourdough online to get started right away. Maybe because I thought it would be difficult to make your own. But now I do believe, that I need a recipe for sourdough here on my blog. 

I started up a new sourdough after Claus Meyers recipe. Meyer has been a pioneer in the Danish kitchen. And right now he is trying to build up a Danish/Nordic style bakery restaurant at Grand Central Station i New York. His bakery is already among the 12 best bakeries in NY according to Zagat. 

Here is how to start a sourdough from scratch.

Ingredients:

  • 350 ml (1½ cup) water
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup dark rye flour

Directions:

Mix all the ingredients in a plastic jar, make sure you don't have any lumps in the "batter." Let the sourdough sit on the kitchen counter for 4-5 days, with the lid loosely placed on top. Whisk the "batter" 1-2 times every day. 

After the 4 days the batter is starting to bubble and get an acidic smell, this means that the sourdough is ready to use. If the batter isn't sour yet, let it sit on the counter for another 1-2 days. 

Now you have a few options. Do you want to have your sourdough living on the kitchen counter? This is recommended if you bake every day or every other day. You need to feed the sourdough every 5-6 days, and you need to bake with the sourdough the first 8-24 hours after the feeding*.

You can keep your sourdough in the refrigerator in between feeding, this is recommended if you do not bake with it all the time. Read more about keeping and feeding a sourdough here: Sourdough - Keeping and Feeding.

* Feeding: take ½ cup sourdough (discard the rest), ½ cup all-purpose flour, ½ cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup water. Mix it well and let it sit covered on the kitchen counter for minimum 8 hour before using.