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Cover: Mamma Mia!

Recipes with yeast

11Jul 12

Colomba Pasquale: ‘Easter Dove’ Cake

Colomba pasqualeAlso known as Colomba di Pasqua, the dough used is similar to that which makes Panettone (flour, sugar, eggs, yeast and butter), but with candied peel instead of raisins. For an authentic Italian Easter celebration, the cake is made in the (often very approximate) shape of a dove.

If you’ve only got ordinary round cake-baking tins don’t worry. This tastes equally delicious whatever shape you choose! And I know I’m a bit late for Easter, but maybe it was because I ate too much over the holidays that I didn’t feel like posting this at the time! So here it is, a recipe for one of the many delicious things I just couldn’t give up for Lent!

Don’t be put off by the long preparation time – most of this is just allowing the dough to rise, the main part of which is best done overnight. The kneading is the only really demanding part, and there are machines you can buy that will do that for you if you can’t face it!

I don’t know if this is true or not, but I was once told that there was a law passed to control and regulate the production of this cake. Judging from the varieties I’ve had over the years, the law isn’t being rigorously enforced!

Ingredients:

  • 450g flour
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 30g baker’s yeast
  • Some warm water
  • 200g butter
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 75-100ml milk
  • 75-80g candied fruit peel, to choose between lemon, lime and orange peel (diced)
  • 20g white hundreds and thousands for extra decoration
  • 75g almonds
  • A pinch of salt

Preparation:

1 – Crumble the yeast into a small amount of warm water, and allow it to dissolve. Then mix in 60g of flour. Roll a compact ball of dough and cut an ‘x’ into the top. Roll the dough-ball in flour, and then place it in a bowl along with a cup-full of warm water. Leave for half an hour, occasionally turning the dough over in the water, when it floats to the surface.

2 – Mix the rest of the flour with the egg yolks and just over half the butter (approx 110-115g), and the sugar, lemon zest, a pinch of salt and the milk (which should be warmed first). Knead this mixture together, then add the already leavened dough and knead for 15-20 minutes (good kitchen exercise!). The smooth dough that results from all this effort should be placed in a covered bowl somewhere warm and allowed to rise for as long as required to increase the volume by roughly 30 per cent, which will probably be a minimum of 4-8 hours (it’s best left to rise overnight).

3 – Knead the dough again, slowly adding about half the remaining butter, in small chunks. Let it rise again, this time doubling in size, which will take up to six hours. Finally, knead one more time, this time adding all the remaining butter and the candied peel. (Set aside some of the candied peel to top the cake with later.) If you’re going for the dove shape, now’s the time! Otherwise place in a cake baking tin, lined with greaseproof paper to stop the cake sticking.

4 – Preheat your oven to 190ºC. Brush the remaining egg yolk over the cake mix (you could add a drop of vanilla essence to the glaze if you feel like it), and press the almonds in, so they won’t fall out as the cake bakes. Sprinkle over the sugar and place in the oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 160ºC and bake for a further 20 minutes.

5 – Top it with any candied peel you have set aside along with the hundreds and thousands.

Makes at least 8 generous servings
Total Time – Approx 24 hours (preparation, 20 hours; cooking time, 40 minutes)

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21May 12

Pizza Dough

Pizza DoughPizza, thought of worldwide as a quintessentially Italian food, actually originated in Greece before spreading all around the Eastern Mediterranean. The word itself derives, in its Italian form, from the Latin term pinsere, meaning “to press”.

This flat form of bread also gives us the root for things like pitta. There are a lot of things you can do with pitta, such as Tamzin’s Taramasalata and Watercress Pitta. But whereas that has evolved into a kind of oval-shaped bread pocket, the Italian ‘pizza pie’ is usually a round base on top of which the ‘filling’ is piled. The modern form we now know worldwide is a Neapolitan creation, and in its authentic form is usually thin.

I favour making my own pizza bases. Making your own pizza from the bottom up makes for a much more satisfying meal than simply buying ready-made pizza bases and then putting your toppings on them.

Note: use ‘00’ pizza-making flour for your bases; it’s milled finer than ordinary bread-making flour and has a higher gluten content, making the perfect soft, light, springy pizza dough.

Ingredients:

  • 650 ml lukewarm water
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of caster sugar
  • 15 g dried yeast
  • 1 kg of ‘00’ pizza flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

Method:

1 – Sieve the flour and salt onto a clean work surface, making sure it’s piled into a good little hill. Make a hole in the top of the hill, so it looks like an extinct volcano. Mix the olive oil, yeast and sugar into the warm water and allow to stand for several minutes.

2 – Pour the yeast mix into your dormant flour Vesuvius. With a fork, gradually work the flour into the liquid. Patiently do this step slowly, until all the flour is mixed in and the whole lot aggregates into a sticky ball.

3 – Wash your hands and dust them with flour, then knead the dough into a spongy ball. Pop it in a large flour-coated mixing bowl, and cover the bowl with a damp cloth. Leave this somewhere for an hour, in which time it should double in size.

4 – Make sure your work surface is clean, sprinkle it with a small amount of flour, and knead the dough a second time to remove some of the air from it.

5 – Divide the dough into as many helpings as you want pizza bases, and wrap any you won’t be cooking in clingfilm to refrigerate. You can also freeze the dough if you want to keep it longer. Only roll your bases out when you come to cook the pizza.

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About Gianluca Dievole

My Badge: Assistant

About

Buon' giorno! Welcome to my Italian food blog. I am Italian, and proud of it! Italy has so much going for it: with one foot quite literally in the beautiful Mediterranean, my country’s climate and location give us an amazing cornucopia of ingredients, which is why our culture is steeped in a hearty romantic culinary tradition. My wife and I love our food, so all my recipes are designed for two. If you're cooking for an average sized modern family - perhaps not the traditional extended Italian family - just double the quantities.