Pumpkin Savory Mini Pies

We used to grow pumpkins in our village, those big orange giants were always the last ones to be picked up from the fields. They were the sign that the field work was over and that it was time to get ready for facing winter which is always long and boring in Ukraine. Pumpkins were sliced, seeds were gently placed on the paper, hidden on the top of the top of the stove waiting it’s time to be consumed. No one cooked anything from pumpkins, they were a part of animals’ food, at least in my family. As no one taught me anything great about this humble vegetable, my enthusiasm for incorporating it in baking hit me in Istanbul where it is much more respected. My first pumpkin loaf made me fall in love with pumpkins! Having moved to California, my food horizon got more widened, pumpkin is a big thing here, it is everywhere and it can’t be ignored. As soon the first leaves turn into all those magical colors, the shelves of the stores are seducing customers with all possible pumpkin food from pumpkin cookies to pumpkin butter. While I have been resisting all those beautiful products (too much sugar some of them contain!) pumpkin ravioli with sage and butter won my heart! Forever! Creating this pumpkin filling for my mini pies is my first step towards making ravioli one day! Meanwhile I am enjoying my pies, my hands are rolling dough for ravioli in other dimension.

 

Ingredients

2 cups all purpose flour (+ some extra for dusting)

1/2 tsp instant yeast

1/2 ts sugar

1/2 tsp salt

150ml warm milk

3  tbps vegetable oil

1 egg lightly beaten for brushing

 

 for the filling

250 gr sliced pumpkin           

sage, 6 leaves

a pinch of nutmeg

 a good pinch of salt and pepper

some oil for drizzling

2 tbsp of french cream (optional)

some chopped parsley

 

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C  degree. Slice the pumpkin into chunks and place on the baking tray. Drizzle olive oil over them, place sage, season generously with salt and pepper. Cover the tray with foil and roast it around 30 mins, until the chunks are soft.

Meanwhile the filling is getting ready, prepare the dough.

In a big bowl sieve flour and add salt.  In a smaller bowl mix warm milk with sugar and instant yeast and let the yeast get activated (leave it for 10-15 mins). Add the mixture of smaller bowl to a bigger one. Add oil and form a dough, dust the table with a bit of flour and knead it well. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl in a warm place until it doubles in size.

 Time to come back to our filling.  Blend all the ingredients in a blender. If your family members don’t like pumpkin so much adding some cream cheese can make a good trick. Check the filling if it needs extra seasoning. Add chopped parsley

Roll the dough out so that it is about 3mm thick and using glass or cutter, cut out circles. Place the filling and seal with your fingertips. Repeat until all the stuffing and dough is used up. Place the pie on the baking tray, brush with beaten egg and bake for 10- 15 mins, until golden.

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Sourdough Chocolate Babka

My searches for “ideal” babka recipes got accelerated when I embarked on my sourdough journey. I baked it many times experimenting with some techniques which resulted in different types of crumbs. The base of my recipe was challah bread from the book “Classic Sourdoughs” by Ed Wood and Jean Wood. I experimented with the amount of sugar, butter, and flour mix and now I am ready to share the result. There are three variants of filling, choose the one which appeals you the most or create your own.

Ingredients
200  gr active starter
50 gr honey
150 gr warm milk
100 gr soft unsalted butter
100 gr brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
400 gr white flour
100 gr whole wheat flour
Filling I
8 -10 tbsp of nutella
20 gr pistachio helva
Filling II
100 gr soft butter
50 gr cocoa
50 gr brown sugar
50 gr walnuts
Filling III
Toblerone bar or any chocolate you like broken into pieces
1 beaten egg for brushing the bread

Preparation:
Before preparing the dough make sure that all of your ingredients are room temperature.
Pour milk and honey in a bowl and mix well. Add sugar, then stir in the eggs. Add the starter to the bowl and mix well. Start adding the flour a cup at a time until the dough is too stiff to mix by hand. Turn out onto a floured board and knead in the remaining flour until the dough is smooth and satiny. (the amount of flour might differ as the flours might absorb liquids differently, add flour gradually! and see what amount fits your dough better) Cover the bowl with a towel and leave it for two hours. Mix the butter with the salt and incorporate it into the dough one spoon at a time.
Proof the dough at room temperature (mine gets ready around 5 or 6 hours) until the dough doubles in size. Place the dough on the floured surface and with the help of hands pull it in the shape of rectangle. (You can divide the dough into two and get two small babkas or have one huge one)
Place the filling over the dough and roll it. Cut it into two pieces and twist them as in the picture. Place babkas in the bread tins Cover with a towel and leave it to rise (it takes around 2 hours when the temperature is more than 21C ). Brush with a beaten egg and sprinkle some brown sugar over it. Bake in the preheated oven 375F (190C) around 45 mins or until it is ready depends on your oven.

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