Monday, April 5, 2010

International Tarting celebrates Easter


Many years ago I got to try my aunt's Easter cake. A typical sweet bread from the region she and my dad are from (Castellón) and very different from the kind of cake we make in the area I'm from (Barcelona). I will never forget that cake. Light, airy, slightly sweet, wonderful. On an attempt to recreate that memory, I asked my aunt for the recipe and made it myself. The result? Well, keep reading.

Now, have I told you I'm terrified of making bread? I am. Deeply. I always fear it won't rise properly and it'll end up as a dense tasteless bunch of cooked flour. And as you know, challenging recipes are what Maria and I do as part of 'International Tarting', so we both got our hands to work.



The recipe is actually quite simple and involves very few ingredients. The only concern I had was the type of yeast. My aunt uses fresh yeast, which I found myself unable to find in any store. Fresh  yeast can be substituted for active dry yeast, but the amount that needs to be used changes as well. 

According to the San Francisco Baking Institute, 'Active dry can be used at 50% of the weight of fresh yeast and instant dry can be used at 40% of the weight of fresh'.

The recipe then is as follows

500 g / 17.6 oz all purpose flour
125 g / 4.4 oz white sugar
100 mL / 3.3 liquid oz oil
25 g / 0.88 oz active dry yeast (or double the amount of fresh yeast)*
zest of 1 lemon
3 eggs

Optional:
1 egg to brush the cake
Sprinkles to decorate

*If using Fleischmann's brand, this is equivalent to 3 packages of active dry yeast.



Mix the yeast with half a cup of warm water and a teaspoon of sugar. Let it sit for 10 min and make sure it has at least doubled in volume (otherwise your yeast is not working properly). 
In a bowl combine flour and sugar. Add the oil and mix well. As much as I'm a fan of olive oil, I do not recommend it for this recipe since the taste of the oil would mask the rest of flavors. 
To the flour and oil, add the yeast and mix well. You can do it with a paddle attachment, a spoon, whatever you want. I like using my hands, I get dirty and have fun. Pretty much like being 3 years old and playing with mud.  Add the eggs. Now work hard to combine everything together. Note that we added water to the yeast, so you'll need some extra flour. I added an extra half-cup. 

Time to let the yeast do its work. My aunt lets it rise once, giving whatever shape she wants to the dough, from the beginning. I checked several recipes online that suggested letting it rise twice. So I let the dough rise for 2 hr in a place without air currents, not cold, not warm, covered with a kitchen towel. Then gave it the shape and let it rise for 3 more hours. 

Here I freaked out. My dough didn't look like it had risen that much (on the second rise) and I thought the cake was gonna be dense and tasteless. There was nothing I could do so I proceded as normal. Brushed the surface with beaten egg and threw some sprinkles on it. Baked the cake at 350 F for 25-30 minutes, until golden.

And magic happened! 


The cake came out delicious. Fluffy, airy and lightly sweet. Exactly like the one my aunt made for me. I couldn't be happier with the result. Which combined with sun and breeze and a warm cup of coffee, made for a perfect Easter Sunday breakfast.

Please guys, make this. Grab a cup of coffee, tea or don't grab anything. Just fill your mouth with it. Enjoy it. I certainly did.

7 comments:

Daniel said...

Ei, quina mona més guai, no? I a sobre no porta lactosa! M'ho he estat llegint i tal (perquè vegis) i sembla força fàcil de fer. Jo vull veure fotos veient a la cuinera com s'engoleix el que cuina! :D

Hey, what a cool monkey, huh? And on over don't bring lactose! I've been reading and so (because you see) and it seems pretty easy yo do. I want to see pictures and watching the cooker swallows what she cooks! : D

Mercè said...

Adri, felicitats!!!! T'ha quedat genial!!! I per fi has vençut la por a les masses amb llevat! :)
Ara ja ho saps, a fer brioixos, pans... quina delícia!
Petons!

Maria said...

Look at that!!! Your friend Daniel call it monkey!! jajajaja
Quines ganes tenia de veure la teva mona!! No volia mirar fins publicar la meva... i aquest dinar no s'acabava mai!!!
Nena, quina peazo mona!!! Sort que no t'havia pujat, no??? I que gran... m'encanta... la propera la faré sencera!! M'agrada molt molt com t'ha quedat!!
Quina xulada d'sprinkles, quina monada!!
El més important, les dues hem perdut la por al llevat i les masses que pugen!! Ara ja estem preparades pel mon adult, jeje ;-P!!
Petonàs!!

Carmen (Dulces bocados) said...

Has estat molt treballadora aquests dies, aquesta mona t'ha quedat perfecta, ja et pots llançar al món de les masses sense cap por després de superar aquesta prova. Petonets

La cuina vermella said...

Que xulos aquests reptes, tan a tu com a la Maria us han quedat de fàbula. Salut i alegria.

Maestre Percola said...

It reminds me the last time I tried to bake a "mona". But we had some failures in the process. Our results were a kind of concrete weel. So, after that at home we decided not to do it again and just trust and pay for the bakers effort (who and whose sweaty hands and sweaty feet bakes our dayly bread, bread with sweat: disgusting!)

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