Monday, April 13, 2009

Gerbeaud Slice (Hungarian Zserbo)

"Gerbeaud" (Zserbo in Hungarian) is perhaps the best known pastry in Hungary and has a history of 125 years. The slice originated from the legendary Gerbeaud Cafe in the heart of Budapest, Hungary, one of the most traditional and famous cafe-confectioners in Europe. It is baked for celebrations and special occasions such as birthdays and weddings. The word "Gerbeaud" is never translated as it 'understood' that if you order it at the Gerbeaud Cafe you will know what it is. It is made up of thin, tender layers of sweet yeast dough alternating with ground walnuts and rich apricot jam. Rick Rodgers has a fabulous recipe and history of Gerbeaud in his wonderful book - Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

This is my mother-in-law's interpretation of the recipe - she doesn't use yeast. Instead she uses half self-raising flour and half plain flour. I have been making it for several years now and it is not as dry as the yeasted version. It is a little fiddly to make but well worth the effort. (The dough doesn't have any sugar as the filling is very sweet).

For the dough:
250g unsalted butter
250g self-raising flour
250g plain (all-purpose flour)
225g sour cream
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or rum.

200g castor sugar
200g ground walnuts*
400g apricot jam**

For the chocolate couverture:
100g Callebaut bittersweet chocolate (70%), finely chopped
1/3 cup castor sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Mix together the butter, sour cream, salt, rum (or vanilla) and flour. Knead for a few minutes until the dough comes together. Divide the dough into three portions. Chill for 20 to 30 minutes to make it firmer and easier to handle.

For the filling, mix the castor sugar, ground walnuts and apricot jam together. Set aside.

Now for the fiddly bit. Roll out each piece of dough to fit a lamington tin (approximately 18cm x 30cm). I draw the shape of the tin on baking paper, roll out each piece of dough to cover the shape, cut around the shape, then transfer to the tin over the back of the rolling pin, pressing the dough into the corners to fit. Alternatively, you can trim the edges neatly to fit the tin as you put it in (but not as easy as the first method).

Using the back of a large spoon, gently spread with half of the filling. The dough underneath has a tendency to move. Just push it back into place as you go. Roll out another layer of dough and fit into the pan, and spread with the remaining layer of filling. Cover with the third layer of dough. Brush the top with water and prick all over with a fork.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the top is golden brown. Let it stand until it cool (over an hour). Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, run a sharp knife around the edges to loosen any caramelization. Hold a long rack over the pan and invert to unmold the cake. Leave the cake upside down (smooth side up) and let it cool completely.

For the chocolate couverture (once the cake has cooled) in a small saucepan, bring the chocolate, sugar and water to the boil over medium heat, stirring often. Boil until a sugar thermometer reaches 104°C (220°F), 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter until it is melted. Cool the chocolate couverture slightly until it just starts to thicken but is still pourable. Work a little faster here as the couverture will start to set. Let it ooze over the edges. Don't be fussy as this is trimmed off later. Refrigerate the cake until the chocolate sets.

When set, using a sharp knife dipped into hot water, trim the edges off neatly and cut into 24 pieces (The remnants are possibly the best bits as the walnuts and apricot jam mix will be caramelized and rich).

*I use vacuum packed walnuts from Australian Organic Walnut Products, so fresh and wonderful. There is no comparison with stale bitter supermarket varieties. I was using walnuts from my mother-in-laws walnut tree but due to the drought here in Victoria, Australia, the walnuts are all tiny and black in side.

**Use the best quality apricot jam you can find - one with the consistency of a jam that your grandmother would have made (lovely and thick and full of fruit).

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Dulce De Leche and Walnut Brownies

I've wanted to make David Lebovitz's Dulce de Leche Brownies for some time. I also needed something nice to take along to our extended family for our Easter celebration. I just happened to have a tin of Nestlé Top'n'Fill Caramel in the pantry in anticipation of making them one day. I was ecstatic when I saw the Nestlé Top'n'Fill Caramel on the supermarket shelf. I didn't know it was available. My mum use to make caramel (dulce de leche) from Nestlé condensed milk by putting it in the pressure cooker. It's a wonder it didn't explode.

I've adapted David Lebovitz's recipe for Australian measurements.

Makes 18 pieces.

125g unsalted butter, cut into pieces

170g Callebaut bittersweet chocolate (70%), finely chopped

1/4 cup (25g unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

3 large eggs

1 cup (200g) castor sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup (140g) plain flour

1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

250g Nestle Top'n'Fill Caramel (dulche de leche)

Preheat the oven to 175C (350°F). Line a 18cm x 30cm tin with baking paper and grease with non-stick spray. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat then add the chocolate pieces, stirring constantly until melted. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Stir in the eggs one at a time then stir in the sugar, vanilla, flour and walnuts until it is all incorporated.

Pour half the mixture into the prepared tin. Drop spoonfuls of the caramel, evenly space, over the brownie mixture, swirling the caramel with the back of a knife. Spread the remaining brownie mixture over the top, then drop spoonfuls of the remaining caramel over the top and swirl slightly to get a nice pattern. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the top is slightly firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

If they last, they will be much nicer the next day. Delicious!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Date and Walnut Roll

I was browsing through the Australian Women's Weekly "MIX - cakes, muffins, biscuits + puddings" when I came across the Date and Walnut Rolls. I hadn't eaten this since I was a child. It reminded me of my mum and baking every Sunday. It is delightful with lashings of butter and jam.

This recipe requires two loaf tins and makes 20 slices.

60g butter
1 cup (250ml) boiling water
1 cup (180g) chopped seeded dried dates
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 cup (220g) packed brown sugar
2 cups (300g) self-raising flour
1/2 cup (60g) chopped walnuts
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Butter two 8cm x 19cm nut roll tins. Line the bases with baking paper and spray the insides of the tins with non-stick baking spray.

Stir the butter and the water in a medium saucepan over low heat until the butter melts. Remove from heat and stir in the chopped dates and bicarbonate of soda. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until combined.

Place the tins upright on a baking tray, spoon the mixture into the tins (just over half way each) and replace the lids. Bake the rolls for 45 to 50 minutes. Stand for 10 minutes then remove the ends of the tins and shake tins gently to release the rolls onto a wire rack.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Cauliflower Soup

Now that the weather here in Melbourne is starting to get cool, it makes sense to cook up a batch of quick and easy soup in the evenings.

2 tablespoons butter
2 medium onions
1 clove of garlic
1 medium cauliflower
1 large potato
1 ½ liters chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste

chopped broad-leaf parsley
Hungarian Paprika

Dice the onion and garlic and sautè in the butter until they are translucent. Coarsely chop the cauliflower and potato and add to the onions. Cook for a few minutes then add the stock. Season with salt and pepper and simmer until the cauliflower and potato are soft, approximately 20 minutes. Using a blender, blitz the soup until it is smooth and creamy. Serve garnished with the paprika and chopped parsley.

Variation: Replace the cauliflower with broccoli and garnish the soup with grated gruyer cheese.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Hungarian Plum Dumplings (Szilvas Gomboc)

These homely, simple looking plum dumplings belie the rich combination of sweet juicy angelina plums wrapped in a soft delicious potato dough. They are boiled in salted water then rolled in buttery toasted breadcrumbs and sprinkled with icing (confectioners) sugar. They are time consuming to make but well worth the effort as can be seen by the number of posts on the Web.

My son requested these as it is part of his Hungarian heritage (Nagymama would often make them for him). I have used the lovely recipe from June Meyer's Authentic Hungarian Heirloom Recipes, a book well worth investing in. There is also a lovely blog by Maggie on Dog Hill Kitchen that has a wonderful description and great photography.