April 30, 2011

Pepperoni pizza rolls


I rarely make pizza myself. There is no valid excuse for that. I bake almost daily (well, not so much lately, but I used to) and I make yeast goods very often, but it rarely occurs to me to make pizza. And, believe me, I have a genetic disposition for eating it as often as I can! However, I’m not a picky pizza eater. I eat almost any kind of pizza, even Pizza Hut (shhhhh don’t tell my family or my government or they will take away the Italian passport from me!). After all, if I were a picky pizza eater I should have never left Italy. Probably, the reason why I don’t make it often is that I know it will never be as good as the Napolitanean pizza I eat when I go home and so I don’t even try.

Last week, however, I was in pizza making mood. Maybe it was the spring break, the extra time I had, the cloudy weather….I don’t know. I just know that I felt inspired to make my own pizza. I did not make a big round pizza, though. I wanted to make something that Wally could easily bring to work the day after (I was sure there was going to be leftovers). So I decided to make 4 small rolls instead of two big round pizza. Ehmm…I intended to make 4 small rolls. In reality they turned out pretty big! Well, we just had a lot of leftover. No complains, right?

And by the way, this time I’m really glad I decided to make it. It was the best pizza dough I’ve ever made! Now I only need to be able to replicate this success over and over again.

Pepperoni Pizza Rolls
Ingredients for two round pizza or 4 big rolls

500 g (17.6 oz) bread flour
30 g (2 tbsp) active dry yeast
45 ml (3 tbsp) extra-virgin olive oil
10 g (2 tsp) salt
15 g (1 tbsp) sugar
300 ml water (I used less than that)
additional flour to dust


In a small bowl, mix a half glass of warm water together with the sugar and the yeast. Stir well and let it sit for about 5-10 minutes until the yeast is dissolved and the water is foamy.

In another small bowl, pour another half glass of warm water and stir in the salt until dissolved.

On a flat surface (or in a big bowl if you don’t have much practice), put the flour and make a dwell. Pour the content of the first small bowl (water, sugar, and yeast) in the center of the well. Next, pour the water and salt mixture and finally add the olive oil and start to mix.

You can initially stir the mixture with a wooden spoon, keeping next to you additional flour and the remaining water to be slowly added to the dough. Knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough becomes smooth, silky, and elastic. (If you were working in a big bowl, when the dough starts taking more shape you can put in on a flat surface to knead).

Put the dough in a big bowl with a bit of flour sprinkled on the bottom. Cover with a kitchen towel and put in a warm place (I usually put it in the oven or in the corner of the kitchen counter.)

Note: the cook of my school (an Italian, of course) always tells me that the dough needs NOT to be moved at all while it’s rising. So find a place where the bowl will not be in your way and let it sit there until double in bulk (1 to 2 hours depending on the yeast and the level of humidity).

When the dough has doubled, rolled it out in the shape you have decided to make it and top it or fill it with our favorite toppings. 

Bake the pizza at 350F degrees. It will take 20 to 40 minutes depending on whether you are making a round pizza or pizza rolls. If you are making pizza rolls, make sure to roll out the dough very thin and to cook it for at least 30 minutes or the dough inside will not be thoroughly cooked,

Have a sweet day!

April 27, 2011

Maple Mousse Puffs: the Daring Bakers’ April Challenge


The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at http://thedaringkitchen.com!

I was very excited to read that April’s DB challenge was going to involve a delicious maple mousse. I love maple syrup and everything derived from it. I knew I was going to love this mousse.

I was even more excited when I read the rest of the challenge: to serve the maple mousse in an edible container! Why was I so excited? First of all because I could just imagine what all the amazing Daring Bakers out there could have come out with! And second, because lately I have been thinking a lot about how much I love these DB challenge and, nevertheless, after tried a new baked goodie I seem to forget about it after it’s posted. I really would like to put more effort in going back to the past DB challenge and revisit and re-try the amazing desserts that I’ve got to try. I have had a mix of failures and successes in the past challenges but it doesn’t matter. What matter are the techniques that I have learnt along the way.

When I started my blog a little over a year ago I was absolutely scared at the idea of making certain desserts. Or I had the (wrong) impression about the level of difficulty of certain recipes. The latter was the case for the pate a choux. I always loved everything made with pate a choux but I have always been intimidated by it. I would have never attempted it myself hadn’t it been for the Daring Bakers. But when I tried I got amazing puffs at the first shot and I remember thinking “this is so unbelievably easy!” (forget about making the croquembouche! That was a disaster because I burnt my fingers with the caramel and I could not go on staking the puffs!).

So for this challenge I decided to try something new, the maple mousse, with something old, the puffs and I made maple mousse puffs.

Maple Mousse

240 ml (8 fl oz or 1 cup) pure maple syrup (not maple-flavoured syrup)
4 large egg yolks
1 package (7g/1 tbsp) unflavoured gelatine
260 ml (12 fl oz or 1 1/2 cups) whipping cream (35% fat content)


Bring maple syrup to a boil then remove from heat.

In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and pour a little bit of the maple syrup in while whisking (this is to temper your egg yolks so they don’t curdle).

Add warmed egg yolks to hot maple syrup until well mixed.

Measure 1/4 cup of whipping cream in a bowl and sprinkle it with the gelatine. Let it rest for 5 minutes. Place the bowl in a microwave for 45 seconds (microwave for 10 seconds at a time and check it in between) or place the bowl in a pan of barely simmering water, stir to ensure the gelatine has completely dissolved.

Whisk the gelatine/whipping cream mixture into the maple syrup mixture and set aside.

Whisk occasionally for approximately an hour or until the mixture has the consistency of an unbeaten raw egg white.

Whip the remaining cream. Stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the maple syrup mixture. Fold in the remaining cream and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Remove from the fridge and divide equally among your edible containers.

Pate a Choux
(Yield: About 28)

175 ml (¾ cup) water
85 g (6 tbsp) unsalted butter
2 g (¼ tsp) salt
15 g (1 tbsp) sugar

125 g (4.5 oz or 1 cup) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt

Pre-heat the oven to 425F degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine the water, the butter, the salt and the sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely.

Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly.

Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny.

Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly.

Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny. It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.


Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide.

Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top.

Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).

Bake the choux at 425F degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color (about 10 minutes).

Lower the temperature to 350F degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry (about 15-20 minutes more). Remove to a rack and cool.


Once both the mousse and the pate a choux are cold, cut off the top of each puff and spread a tablespoon of mousse. You should prepare only those that you will eat soon to preserve the freshness of both the pate a choux and the mousse. The puffs can be stored in a airtight box overnight.

Have a sweet day!

April 19, 2011

Another thank you and a wonderful Greek Yogurt Cake


A couple of posts ago, I was telling you about how the curse of never winning anything was finally broken in my life. Another giveaway that I was Lucky (yes, with capital L) to win was the Chobani giveaway at More than a Mount Full. As in many other cases, I left a comment just because I love leaving comments at Chef Dennis’s blog…not for the hope of winning a giveaway. Even less after winning three in such a short time span. Come on…I broke the curse with three victories, I could not expect to win another one…and one so so so delicious. But I did. And I would like to thank Chef Dennis for hosting that giveaway and Chobani for being so prompt in sending me a box filled with the most delicious Greek yogurt I’ve ever had.

I had many plans and many delicious dreams about how to use this yogurt but the truth is that it is so good that I finished most of it just by big spoons and in a very short time! I was left only with the plain yogurt. I am not a big fan of plain yogurt (except, of course, for baking) and that is the only reason why it has survived that long. I knew I had to bake something with it. And while looking at my bookmarked recipes I stumbled upon this wonderful cake from Citron & Vanille. I know that my picture does not give justice to this cake but I was able to take only a few before it was gone. Go ahead and check out her wonderful pictures. She serves it with a Strawberry sauce.

        Greek Yogurt Cake

                  500 g (1 lb) plain Greek yogurt
                  130 g (4.6 oz) sugar
                  50 g (1.7 oz) flour
                  4 egg whites
                  zest of 1 lemon

    Honey to drizzle the top


Preheat the oven to 360F degrees and grease a deep cake pan with butter.

In a medium bowl, mix the yogurt, the sugar, the flour and the lemon zest.

In another bowl, whisk the egg whites to a stiff consistency and add to the mixture.

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan and bake for about an hour. If the center of the cake looks a little pale while the borders are golden, decrease the oven temperature. When cooked remove from the oven and turn upside down. Then turn and drizzle some honey on top before serving it.

Have a sweet day!

April 13, 2011

Baking with Carla: Nutella Fudge Brownies


You may (or may not) have noticed that I haven’t posted about Baking with Carla in a regular way lately. The truth is that my crazy schedule is affecting my Mondays with Carla too. I had to slow down our weekly meeting but this week I was back seeing her and baking with her. It was so nice. I truly love the time I spend with this kid! Last time I saw her, after we baked I said to her “ok, I think the scones cooled down enough. Now you can try one”. But she said “No, no aspetta!” (no, no wait!) and she run out of the kitchen, came back with her camera and shoot a dozen picture to the scones, setting them up on the plate in different ways. And then she said “proprio come te” (Just like you). Well, you can only imagine how I felt in that moment! I was so proud of that little girl. And, by the way, she took some amazing pictures with no props and just a point and shoot! Watch out, food bloggers! As soon as she will be able to write she might just become the youngest food blogger of our community!

To celebrate our meeting, this time I decided to bake something with Nutella. I remembered this Nutella brownies recipe I found on Abby Dodge blog. Four ingredients? Brownies? Nutella? Who could say no! I had to try it with Carla.

Nutella Fudge Brownies

                  1 cup Nutella
                  2 large eggs
                  65 g (2.25 oz or ½ cup) all purpose flour
                  1/2 cup chocolate chips*

*which I omitted so this recipe actually had only 3 ingredients!


Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare a 12-cup mini muffin pan with paper or foil liners (or, like I did, you can use silicon molds. In that case you don’t need to do anything).

Put the Nutella and eggs in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth and well blended. Add the flour and whisk until blended.

Spoon the batter into the muffin tins (about 3/4 full) and sprinkle evenly with the chocolate chips (if you decide to put them).

Bake for about 12 minutes and let them cool on a cooling rack before serving.

Source: Abby Dodge

April 09, 2011

A long overdue thank you and Tate’s Pound Cake with Dried Cranberries


In this first year of blogging I have left thousands of comments on my favorite blogs. For the first nine months or so, I have also left countless of comments for giveaways. I have to say that I am not the luckiest girl of this planet when it comes to prizes, giveaways, etc. and I say it with a smile on my face. I never buy lottery tickets because I know that the good luck goodess is not on my side. If there are 10 prizes and 11 tickets you can be sure that I am holding the 11th unlucky ticket in my hands. This is a family curse following me, my mom, my dad, my brother and everybody else related to me by blood. I don’t complain. In Italy we say “sfortunati in gioco, fortunati in amore”, which reads more or less as “unlucky in the games, but lucky in love”. That works for me in the big scheme of “what is really important in life”. But come on….let’s be honest…who doesn’t like to win a little prize from time to time and feel like a kid…jumping around the house in silly happiness for a little victory. I DO! I DO!

That’s what has been happening in the last 3 months. The family curse has been broken over Christmas holidays. It started with me winning Josie’s giveaway at Daydreamer Desserts. I won a cookie press, right on time for the cookies exchange with my neighbors. Thanks Josie! I am in love with my cookie press.

The good luck goodess visited me again a week later, when I won a whole set of spices thanks to Christiane (at The Mom Chef. Taking on Magazines One Recipe at a time). Even if I don’t post about my cooking experiments I have to say that those spices have been very much appreciated in my home. Wally even started to cook more often since then. Hence, a double thank you to Christiane!

All this was followed by another amazing giveaway victory for which I owe a long overdue thank you to Evan at SweetEbakes. Through Evan I got Tate’s Bake Shop cookies and cookbook. I still have other two giveaway prizes to thank for….I promise my thank you will come soon, together with what I created with those giveaways prizes. But for today I would love to share with you what is already my favorite recipe of Tate’s book: the pound cake. It should suffice to say that after the first time I made it, I was asked to make it again twice in the same week. The pound cake is delicious in itself. I did not change a single thing in the recipe. I just added dried cranberries and we loved the addition but you can easily love it just plain.

The first time I made this pound cake I followed the recipe literally. I was a bit scared by the huge amount of certain ingredients. Three cups of sugar and six eggs?!? I hoped that these huge quantities were justified by the taste. But I have to admit, I got a huge huge huge pound cake and yes, the ingredients amount was totally justified by the amazing taste. I shared it with friends but I could not make another like that just for Wally and me. The second and third time I halved the ingredients and baked it in a 9by5 loaf pan and the result was just as spectacular as the first time. I’m leaving you with the full recipe. You will decide how much you want of it J

Sour Cream Pound Cake (with dried cranberries)

320 g (11.25 oz or 2 ½ cups) all purpose flour
65 g (2.25 oz or ½ cup cake flour
1 g (¼ tsp) salt
2 g (½ tsp) baking powder
225 g (2 sticks or 1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
600 g (21.3 oz or 3 cups) sugar
5 ml (1 tbsp) vanilla extract
6 large eggs
240 g (8.6 oz or 1 cup) sour cream
1 cup dried cranberries


Preheat the oven to 300F degrees and butter a 9” bundt pan.

In a small bowl, sift the flours, the salt, and the baking powder together.

In a medium bowl, mix the butter and the sugar with an electric mixer until the batter is creamy, light and fluffy.

Add the vanilla and continue to mix. Then add the eggs one at a time, mixing and scraping down the bowl after each addition. Finally add the sour cream and mix until well incorporated.

Add the dry ingredients and the dried cranberries and mix the batter until they are well combined.

Spoon the batter into the bundt pan and bake for about 1 hour and 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean.

Let the cake completely cool on a cooling rack before trying to unmold because it’s very soft and it will break into pieces if you try to unmold it while still too warm.

Have a sweet day!

Source: Tate’s Bake Shop Cookbook by Kathleen King

April 02, 2011

CaffeIna (late) birthday and the most amazing cake I've ever had!


The tenth of March was CaffeIna first birthday! Such an important event went unnoticed, or better said completely neglected (sigh), because of life events. Finally, I am in quieter waters and I find the time to post about a wonderful cake I made for that event. Honestly, I don’t want to waste too much time rambling around. I just would like to give you the recipe of this cake because it is just one of THE MOST AMAZING cakes I’ve ever had! If you look at the pictures you can see that the crust is a chocolate crust and as you all know I am not a big fan of chocolate (ps for Christiane: trust me on this one! You would love it too!). So for me to say that even with a chocolate component this cake was amazing it truly says it all. I guess the ricotta filling, which I loved, overcompensated. And don’t let the length of the method fool you: it’s super easy to make.

I found this recipe at Pasticci e Pastrocchi, one of my favorite Italian blogs. I was looking forward to translate it for you because this dessert brings the idea of cake to a whole new level.

This cake is for your, dear friends, constant or occasional readers, because this year of blogging has been such a surreal experience for me and you all made it so so so special! Thank you all!

Petersburger Streuselkuchen
Yields a 9” cake

For the crust
150 g (5.3 oz) butter, at room temperature
125 g (4.4 oz) sugar
1 egg
250 g (9 oz or 2 cups) all-purpose flour
5 g (1 tsp) baking powder
1 pinch of salt
15 g (1 tbsp) cocoa powder

For the filling
100 g (3.5 oz) butter
150 g (5.3 oz or ¾ cup) sugar,
5 eggs at room temperature
500 g (17.6 oz) ricotta

For the streusel
75 g (2.6 oz) sugar
75 g (2.6 oz) butter
150 g (5.3 oz) all-purpose flour
15 g (1 tbsp) cocoa powder


For the crust (chocolate pasta frolla)

Cut the butter into cubes and put it in a medium bowl. Add the sugar and the egg and mix quickly with a whisk.

Add the flour, the baking powder, the salt, and the cocoa powder and quickly mix, first with a fork and then with the finger tips until all the ingredients are just combined. Remember to be very quick to mix in all the ingredients. This is a pasta frolla type of dough and, like shortbread and similar dough, it is very important not to over-mix it or it will burn (i.e. once you bake it, it would become very hard!)

Quickly shape the dough into a ball, wrap it into plastic wrap and put it in a cold place (but not the fridge this time) while you prepare the filling.

For the filling

In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the butter and the sugar until you obtain a cream. Then add the eggs, one at a time. It is very important that the eggs are at room temperature or the cream will become all lumpy.

When the eggs are all well incorporated, add the ricotta and beat until you obtain a smooth cream.

For the Streusel

Melt the butter and let it cool down.

Add the flour and the sugar and quickly mix with a fork or your hands until you obtain a crumby mixture.

To assemble the cake

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and prepare a 9” springform pan (I buttered it and covered the bottom with parchment paper).

Roll out the dough on the bottom and the sides of the pan (make sure to make very high sides). Pour the filling on the crust and the sprinkle the streusel on top.

Bake for about an hour or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean of crust crumbs.

Let the cake cool down completely before opening the sides of the pan. Mine took a long time to be ready to get unmold! (The center of the cake will be pretty liquid until the cake gets completely cooled. If you try to unmold it too soon you will risk a disaster, with the filling flowing all out.)

Have a sweet day!