Saturday, April 10, 2010

Building family traditions...

Easter has come and gone, so perhaps it is too late to put some seasonal treats up. Between Easter and today we have gone through quite a few ups and downs, one of them being that this bad boy computer needed a visit to the repair man. But the comp is back in action, and the cooking continues. After all, just this past week a relative reported that we are "still in octave of Easter."

As for Easter, I made a number of treated that I really enjoyed, and a few that flopped and hopefully will not grace the Easter table again. Two old favourites were whipped up - the Maundy Thursday fish pie and the eastern European Easter bread. We had the pie with friends, and yet again forgot to watch the Passion of the Christ. Having friends over is a new bit of the tradition, forgetting to watch this chilling film is usual fare. Each year a I make the pie with differing fish, add a few prawn and take hours cooking it, which mean we don't eat until very late. But it is important to build memories, and I believe that memories are aided by tradition.

As for the Easter bread, oh, so good! It is truly rewarding to make. The yeast simply rises and rises the leaven loaf. It is speckled with sultanas and glistens under an egg wash coat. Plus coloured hard-boiled eggs are wedged into the folds of the bread's plat. Eat it hot on the Easter holidays, toast it in the week following for breakfast. Delicious. And traditional also. My mother-in-law requests this yearly. It reminds her for food she ate in Finland as a child. So I always bring it to Easter Sunday lunch. After getting up at 0600 hrs to prepare it. So I wake early, put the coffee pot on the stove and get baking. This year with the aid of my ruby-red KitchenAid this bread was a breeze.

I hope you enjoyed some seasonal baking, and have fun building traditions with those who are important to you.

Eastern European Easter Bread a.k.a Kuliza
Makes one very large loaf or a number of smaller ones.

14 g dried yeast
50 g warm water
1/3 c sugar
3 1/2 c flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp dried ginger
1 c sultanas
zest of a lemon
150 ml milk
60 g butter
4 eggs
Up to 100 mg water, extra

Place yeast, water and 1 tbs sugar in a bowl. Stir to combine and then set aside to bubble and froth and get your leavening process started.

Combine flour, spices, sultanas and zest in the bowl of your mixer. Combine the milk and butter in a bowl. Heat gently in the microwave for 30 seconds to soften the butter and warm the milk. Stir this along with the yeast mix, 3 eggs lightly beaten and a little of the water into the flour mixture. Using a dough hook, kneed in the mixer until dough is smooth and lovely. Add more water if you need, but don't make the dough too sticky. Alternative mix by hand and kneed for a good while to form a similarly smooth dough.

Remove to a greased bowl, cover and leave to prove for an hour or so until doubled in size. Punch down the dough, divide it into three pieces and roll these pieces out. Make them long and of an equal length, before platting together and placing onto a lined tray. Or you could make a few little loaves in a similar fashion. Cover with a tea towel and leave to prove again for around an hour.

Make the coloured eggs during this hour and also pre-heat the oven to 190* C.

Place the eggs along the centre of the dough, brush with the remaining egg before baking in the oven for 25 minutes for a large loaf and 15 minutes for the small loaves.

Serve warm with butter.

Coloured Eggs

4 eggs
1 tsp red food colouring
water to cover the eggs

Place the eggs into a small saucepan. Cover with water and pour over the food colouring. Bring to the boil before simmering for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and leave to cool in the coloured water for 30 minutes to set the colour. Remove from water and allow to dry.

Originally from a Delicious magazine, now just from my adaptations.

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