Sunday, December 25, 2011

Bulgarian Christmas Eve Soda Bread

Christmas 201104
* Our Christmas table 2011
I have written before about Bulgarian Christmas and our tradition to have only vegan food on Christmas Eve. The truth is that not many families go by that and serve vegetarian food instead of vegan. I try to serve the tradition as much as I can, but sometimes I have prepared vegetarian feast as well, especially when we had guests who are not used to vegan food.

One thing I never compromise with is the bread I prepare for the Christmas Eve dinner.

For me, preparing bread in general is something sacred, something that shouldn't be taken lightly. I use a breadmaker for our everyday bread, but for special occasions I always mix by hand. It just isn't the same when you don't touch the dough with your hands. Feeling that warm, soft dough, like something alive in your hands. At that moment you know that if you respect the process and do it right, if you feel a connection with the dough, you can give it the most beautiful shape, the most soft middle and the most crunchy crust you have ever tasted. But if you don't, you know it will show at the end.

You mix it, you shape it, you put it into the oven and you wait, to see if you have done a miracle once more.

It is not just about recipe. You can use the simplest recipe in the world and get a beautiful bread  or you can use the most complicated and extravagant recipe and get a bread so tough you can get a concussion if someone throws it at you.

 Christmas 201109
* It is not Christmas Eve in our home until we have some homemade vegetarian dolmades.
My mother always says- never bake when you are upset, it always shows. I have to tell you, she is right.

This recipe I have been making for a couple of years now, I have been researching ways to make soft soda bread for a while. The original recipe I used is published here, but I have made my own improvements to it and I will write it down the way I do it.

The Christmas Eve bread has to be with no "live" ingredient in it, nothing that came out of an animal, not even butter or yogurt. It is not easy to make bread out of flour, water and good thoughts, trust me, but I am sure that if you try this recipe you will be surprised with the flavorful bread you are going to get.
The soda bread  in general doesn't rise as much as yeast bread, but I tend to make it even flatter, that's the way we like it. Mine is around 2 inches thick, but you don't have to stick to that. If you like it thicker, you can use a smaller pan ( I used 12" round) or simply double the ingredients.

Christmas Eve Bulgarian Soda Bread

- dry ingredients
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp baking powder

 - liquid ingredients
300 ml lukewarm water
2 tbsp vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil

- a large pan with 1 inch of water on the bottom

1. Preheat your oven at 350F.

2. In a large bowl mix the dry ingredients and sift together.

3. Mix the liquid ingredients together, then gradually add to the dry ingredients and mix well until a ball of dough is starting to form.

4. Grease a 12 inch pan and flatten the dough in it, same way you would do with pizza. Leave a tiny piece of the dough aside for the decoration if you want.

5. With a fork make marks all around the bread. You can do a design or simply random marks.
 Christmas 201103
6. If you have decided to decorate the bread, use the little piece of dough you have left aside, as you mix it with more flour, so the dough for decoration will not be as soft as the one already in the pan. Decorate the way you like and then brush with olive( or vegetable) oil.

7. Place the pan full of water on the bottom rack of your oven, then place the dough pan on the middle rack and bake for 45 min  or until it is done.
Christmas 201110
8. When completely baked, take it outside, sprinkle cold water on top of it and cover with a piece of cloth or simply aluminum foil. Let it stand for 15 minutes at least. This is very important, so your crust doesn't become hard ( which is usual for soda breads).

9. Serve warm.

* Here is an example how the bread will look like if made in a smaller pan ( not as a flat bread). The pan in the picture below is 8 ", compared to the 12" on the pictures above.

Christmas cookies LR2012 (8 of 40)

Christmas cookies LR2012 (33 of 40)

I like that the bread looks a little like focaccia  bread, and it is so soft, you can't get enough of it. I usually serve with spices or honey. 
I hope you like this recipe and I wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas!

Christmas 201115

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ezo Bride soup ( Turkish cuisine)

Ezo bride soup1
Couple of months ago a friend blogger posted this recipe on her blog and it so happened that I had all the ingredients to try it. Half an hour later I made it and I really liked it, so I asked for permission to post it in English on my blog. I have changed couple of things to my taste too.
It is rainy and gloomy day here and while I was looking through my pictures I noticed I haven't posted this recipe and I think it is very appropriate for a stay in, lazy kind of Sunday.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter eggs (and more)

One thing I forgot to post pictures of -  the Easter eggs!
You all saw the Angry Bird Easter Eggs we decorated, but we made many different ones too. This are some of the eggs ( at least what was left after the kids raided the kitchen) that we decorated yesterday.
Easter Eggs 201101

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter!

* My Easter breads 2011
Easter breads 201107

When my garden starts blooming ( in spite of the cold weather), when I start baking the Easter breads and everything smells of lemon and cinnamon, and when I start smelling the grass in the morning, seeing the bright green blades showing I know it's Spring. It's not Spring, with blooming trees and bees and buzzing everywhere ( yet) but it's Spring enough to make me feel the awakening of everything around me.

* My Easter breads 2011
Easter breads 201106
I have this tradition to share Easter breads and eggs with my friends and neighbors in memory of the people I have lost and this makes me appreciate the people I have now even more.

 * Flowers fro my garden 2011

Palm Sunday 201103

I wish all of you happy and healthy year and I hope you enjoy Spring as much as I do! 

P.S If you like my Easter breads, you might want to check out my traditional recipe and my recipe with filling.

Happy Easter with Angry Birds egg coloring!

I was thinking of an unusual way to wish everyone who follows my blog Happy Easter and just before I went to bed I came up with the idea to make Angry Birds Easter eggs and I HAD to share it right away! :-) 

Angry Birds Easter eggs03

Friday, April 22, 2011

Vit Kozunak ( Easter Bread with filling)

It's this time of the year again, the aroma of freshly baked the Easter breads, lemon and nuts is in the air.
This year I decided to try different recipes than the usual ones and I hope you like what I have to show you in the next 3 days before Easter. The first recipe I called " Vit kozunak" ( Easter bread with a swirl shape) and it's a combination of 2 things. The recipe is a version of the Easter bread recipe from 2010, the shape was inspired by this post of a very talented lady, called Mina. I know, that my shape is a little different, but I wanted to make a "braid" that is open on top and this is what I came up with.
Vit kozunak1

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Brunch for champions

Wouldn't it be wonderful to wake up Sunday morning and have this brought to you in bed with the paper and a kiss? Well, I hope that special someone in your life reads this post tomorrow and surprises you! Simple, delicious, comforting, what more does one need to feel loved?

Breakfast for champions3

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bowl of chili for the chilly weather

My son's school has a Harvest festival each October and every time they have chili for sale. 
When I saw the chili for the first time I told myself " There is no way in hell I'm eating this!", but when I finally tried it, I was pleasantly surprised, because it was really delicious! That was actually where I picked up the habit of eating the chili with sour cream and cheddar cheese too.  I have been looking online for the perfect recipe and I found this "Best chili you will ever taste"recipe and I decided this is it. I changed some things in it, so it's not completely the original, but I still felt the need to quote the link where I got it from.
It is indeed the best chili I ever tasted! 
Enough about my love for chili, here is the recipe that will warm you up for sure!

Friday, January 7, 2011

The proverbial Crocodile


Five years ago in the Bulgarian forum I'm visiting from time to time a lady posted for the first time the recipe for this "crocodile" and soon pretty much everyone I knew tried the recipe. Now don't get  me wrong- I don't mind the recipe being popular...but it it was quite quite overwhelming feeling to see the damn lizard everywhere you go, so out of pure stubbornness I decided not to make it. Yesterday, my own mom told me that even she had  tried that recipe ( and she doesn't even read that forum) and while we were talking my daughter overheard that Grammy is baking a crocodile. You can only imagine the storm of questions about the size, taste etc of the crocodile and since then I was asked to bake it every 5 minutes.

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