Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Learning to Bake and a Lenten Pudding Recipe

I spent most of the day yesterday making kulichi with a few other ladies from church.  We made it in two batches.  The first batch was not rising but I decided to go ahead and put them in the oven.  They still did not grow much.  The second batch was a little bit better with rising (but I think mostly because we waiting a little longer to put them in the oven).  When we were finished making the breads, one lady who often bakes with us joined us and I told her about the difficulties of the day.  She asked which yeast I used and I showed her the bottle and it turns out she had used that a few months ago and ruined a batch of blini since they wouldn't rise!  So, I threw the rest of the yeast away - it's ruined enough recipes!  I don't know why it was put back if it was bad, but at least it's gone now!  She told me one way to test if yeast is good is to smell it.  This yeast had no scent at all!  Good yeast should have a nice yeasty aroma.  I don't think all is ruined though as I am definitely not a perfectionist (and I don't really want to spend another day baking).  We cut open one of the ones that didn't rise well and tasted it... it was delicious!!  In total we made 28 kulichi (using eight times the recipe below) which will be sold by the church sisterhood for Pascha.

So, although I've make kulichi probably at least ten times in my life I'm still learning a lot.  This time my lessons were:
1. Be patient!
2. Check the yeast to see if it's active.

The results of the kulich baking day.  The tops are cracked and ugly, but they taste good!
If you follow the recipe and follow those rules, the result should be both beautiful and delicious!  Here is the recipe I used (I got it from my mother):


6-6½ cups flour
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. yeast
¾ cup sugar
5 large eggs
½ cup butter
1 tbsp. lemon zest
1 cup raisins (optional - I didn't use)

Set butter out to soften. Scald cream and blend into 1 cup flour.  Let cool to lukewarm.  Dissolve yeast in a little waster and add to lukewarm cream and flour mixture.  Separate eggs, putting whiles into a medium sized bowl and set aside.  Add ½ cup sugar and the salt to the egg yolks and stir into flour mixture.  Beat egg whites until stiff and add remaining sugar (¼ cup).  Fold egg whites into flour/yolk mixture.  Place bowl in warm place and let rise until full of bubbles (about 30 minutes).  Add lemon zest and softened butter to the mixture after it has risen.  Add enough more flour to make a dough that can be easily kneaded and knead well, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Place in a buttered bowl, cover, and let rise about 1 hour or until doubled in size.  Punch down and add raisins, if using.  Divide into four equal portions and place each in a greased 1 lb coffee can (Note: we lined our cans with parchment paper instead of greasing).  Cover cans and let rise one more hour.  Bake 350° for  ½ hour to 45 minutes.  If tops begin to brown too quickly, cover with foil and continue baking.  Immediately after baking, remove breads from cans and cool.

Today I wanted something sweet so I decided to make tapioca pudding.  Here is my recipe:

Lenten Tapioca Pudding
The assembled ingredients minus the salt, vanilla, and almond milk

⅓ cup sugar
3 tbsp. minute tapioca
½ tsp. salt 
1 can coconut milk
1 cup almond milk
1 cup raisins or other dried fruit

1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a medium sauce pan, whisk together sugar, tapioca, salt, coconut milk, and almond milk.  Slowly bring to a boil over medium high heat, whisking constantly.  When it comes to a full boil, remove from heat and add the vanilla and fruit.  Pour into a nice dish to set.  Let cool for about an hour. 

The final product!
It's not quite as firm as tapioca made with eggs, but it's pretty good and really delicious!  I've also made rice pudding following approximately the same recipe but using already cooked white rice.  I would imagine you would need about a cup of cooked rice, but I don't remember exactly what I did... I do remember it was delicious!

And as always, I've got to include a photo of my little girl.  I had mentioned in a previous post about how she fell asleep at the head table at the fundraising dinner at church a week and a half ago, but I didn't get a photo.  Well, a friend of mine did catch the little snoozy baby and send me the photo:


elizabeth said...

Good to know about the yeast! nice lenten recipe too! :)

Martha said...

How much do you sell the kulich for? Will you frost the top? If not, that's understandable, I think many people would like to buy one on Holy Saturday and decorate it at home, then add it to your basket to bring to church for Pascha! It will cover all the cracks either way. ♥ Sweet little Liza asleep, and the bottle of wine there...

Jane G Meyer said...

That baby is precious!

And... bad yeast is so often the culprit for poor quality in baking. So glad you figured it out! It's almost the first thing I tell new bakers to get right--make sure you have good quality, active and happy yeast :)

Blessings, and a blessed Pascha!

Mary said...

I made pizza dough later that week and I definitely tested the yeast first!

We weren't planning on frosting the tops. Once they are in bags, you don't really notice that they are cracked and ugly and I figured people can fix them up at home.