Baked Currant Doughnuts

Baked Currant Doughnuts

 Thoughts:

This recipe is based on one from Clear Flour Bakery, near which I used to live. It makes amazing doughnuts, albeit ones that are still a little inferior to those from the bakery itself. You could get me to wake up at any hour of the morning to get some of those doughnuts. But now living several hours away, getting a hold of the genuine article is no longer practical.

These delectable morning treats have always struck me as oddly medieval. Between those familiar cinnamon and nutmeg, and the prolific currants, they tick several of the standard medieval ingredient boxes. The triple risings make them soft and incredibly fluffy, and I will admit to eating several myself. Every time. They’re SO good. Even the residents of The Inn who don’t especially like sweets enjoy these, since the main sugar content is however much you dust the outsides with.

Proposed Location?

The expense of the spices would point toward one of the more well-heeled households, while the dried currants point toward something somewhat northern. I could see them at Winterfell or Riverrun, but even as far south as King’s Landing or Oldtown. Each location or family cook would probably add their own special ingredients to them, such as candied lemon peel in the capitol, or a dash of rosewater for the Tyrells. And as I type those thoughts, I might have to try some of those variants… strictly for research purposes, you understand. ;)

What do you think would be good?

Baked Currant Doughnut Recipe

Makes about 10 doughnuts

Cook’s Notes: This recipe looks daunting, but the hardest part is waiting for the doughnuts to rise. If I’m serving them with breakfast, I like to start the dough the night before- I let it go through the first rise, then punch it down and leave it somewhere with a neutral temperature to rise the second time overnight. In the morning, all I have to do is form into shapes, let rise the final time, and bake!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried currants
  • 1 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar plus 1 cup for dusting
  • 3/4 cup milk, warmed
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 stick soft butter, plus 4 -6 Tbs. additional melted butter
  • pinch of salt

In a medium bowl, cover the currants with hot water and let stand until softened, 20 minutes. Meanwhile in a small bowl, stir the yeast with 2 tablespoons of warm water and a pinch of sugar and let stand until foamy about 5 minutes.

In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg, then the yeast and spices. Drain the currants, and stir into the batter. Gradually add the flour, alternating with the milk, until the dough comes together. It should start to take on a smooth consistency that pulls away from the sides of the bowl; if need be, either don’t add all the flour, or add a little extra until you reach the right kind of dough. 
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead for several minutes, or until the dough bounces back when poked. Grease a large bowl and place the kneaded dough into it. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel, and let stand in a warm place until it’s doubled in size. Punch it down, re-form it into a ball, and place back in the bowl. Let it rise again until doubled.
Grease a couple of baking sheets with butter. Divide your dough into 10 pieces, and pinch them into ball shapes. Split these between the baking sheets, flattening them slightly. Using a small round cutter, cut out the center of each disc of dough and place in the empty spaces on the baking sheet. Cover the dough again, and let rise  in a warm place for one final hour.
Bake at 400F for about 20 minutes- the doughnut holes might need less time, so keep an eye on them. The doughnuts are done when they are a rich golden color. Remove from oven, allow to cool for a few minutes until they can be handled, then brush with melted butter and dip in granulated sugar. Dig in!

Honeycake with Blackberries

 Honeycake with Blackberries

“In the Queen’s Ballroom they broke their fast on honeycakes baked with blackberries and nuts, gammon steaks, bacon, fingerfish crisped in breadcrumbs, autumn pears, and a Dornish dish of onions, cheese, and chopped eggs cooked up with fiery peppers.” -A Storm of Swords

Thoughts:

Valentine’s Day has always been a big deal in my family, probably second only to Christmas. Many years, it involves a big dinner, heart confetti, and assorted family and friends. This was a wonderful way to grow up, because it completely did away with the element of single/not single that can be so oppressive, especially during the dark wintery month of February. Therefore, I suggest making a batch of these for anyone in your life, whether it’s a friend, spouse, child, or what have you. After all, there are a lotta kinds of loves out there! Personally, I love how adding cornmeal to what would normally be a dessert somehow makes it suitable for breakfast. They’re small sized, letting you feel fine about scooting more than one onto your plate. They’re not too sweet, and baked with berries and nuts, not just topped with them. Honestly, they’re more like muffins, although they look as appetizing as a platter of cupcakes. The cream cheese frosting is an added layer of semi-sweet, creamy goodness. I had to curb my creativity a little with this recipe. I’d wanted to try a sort of thinly layered cake with a honey frosting in between, with nuts and berries on top. But the original says the cake is baked with berries and nuts, so I had to obey. :) This version might not be as elegant as what I had originally imagined, but it’s a delicious alternative!

Recipe for Honeycake with Blackberries and Nuts

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • pinch salt
  • 1 Tbs. baking powder
  • 1/2 cup corn meal
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 pint blackberries
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

Cream the butter and honey, then add the egg and milk. Gradually mix in the salt and baking powder, followed by the cornmeal and flour. Stir in the nuts and blackberries, smooshing the berris with the mixing spoon to roughly break them up for easier distribution through the batter. Spoon the batter into greased muffin tins, filling halfway up. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden.

Ingredients for Icing:

  • 1/2 cup softened butter (1 stick)
  • 8 oz. cream cheese (1 package)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • dash of vanilla extract

Using an electric mixer (or a lot of arm power), combine the butter and cream cheese until it’s very smooth. Add in the remaining ingredients and mix until incorporated. Spread evenly onto the completely cooled muffins.

Roman-Style Tenderloin, with bacon and sage

Tenderloin

Thoughts:

It’s another virtual potluck, AND a recipe from one of my favorite medieval cookbooks, The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi.  It reminds me of a Turkish dish I once had, called Çöp Şiş, where the meat on the kebab was spaced out with chunks of fat. It tasted amazing, and this is similar.

The bacon adds flavor to the tender beef. When I eat bacon, I like it like Tyrion: burnt and crispy, so in the future I would like to try using salt pork or some other type of cured pork. I used bay leaves, which imparted a great flavor, and I imagine sage would do likewise; I hope to try it in the near future… Yom. :)

This dish comes from Kate Quinn’s newest novel, the Lion and the Rose, the second in her series about the Borgias. Check out the other dishes in this virtual potluck below:

Roman-style Tenderloin Recipe

Get the leanest part of the tenderloin, with the bones, skin, and gristle removed, and cut it crosswise in six-ounce pieces, sprinkling them with ground salt and fennel flour or coriander ground with common spices. Into each piece, set four lardoons of marbled salt pork. Place them in a press with that mixture and a little rose vinegar and must syrup for three hours. Then mount them on a spit with a rasher of bacon and a sage or bay leaf between each piece; cook them over a moderate fire. When they are done, they need to be served hot, dressed with a sauce of their drippings together with the compound that exuded from them in the press, which sauce should be somewhat thick and saffron-coloured. -The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi

  • 2 beef tenderloins, of hefty thickness
  • bacon or salt pork, cut into squares
  • 1/2 cup must syrup, or grape juice
  • 1/4 cup rose vinegar
  • sage or bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. fennel pollen
  • hefty pinch salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper

Cut the tenderloin into large chunks. Place these in a deep dish, then pour the must syrup/grape juice, the vinegar, and the spices over. Press the meat down, and let marinate for several hours. Then, slide the meat onto long skewers, adding bacon and sage or bay leaves intermittently. Broil on low for just long enough for the meat to be done, turning once in the middle, about 15 minutes. Cover to keep warm, and cook the drippings and the marinade until it thickens.

Cookbook Cover Crown Roast

 Crown Roast Pic

Thoughts:

I’ve had a few inquiries since the cookbook came out about the beautiful and mouthwatering crown roast on the front cover. No wonder, since it’s so striking:   (photo)   However, I have a secret to confess. Until now, there was no recipe to go with that dish, either in the cookbook or on the blog. Finally, I’ve decided to fix that. When Sariann and I went to do the cover photo shoot, we had to make a lot of food. Like, a few days’ worth of cooking; We didn’t know what would get used, so we brought a bit of everything. I had hoped to bring a version of the rack of lamb with garlic/herb crust, but lamb was just too expensive for a dish that might not get eaten after hours under photography lights. If I buy lamb, I want to eat every last bit of it. So I bought a rack of beef ribs much more inexpensively, and trimmed them to look fancy. It worked, but leaves me hungry every time I look at the cookbook. Thus, this new suggestion for a future aSoIaF book- the crown roast.

While the cookbook cover roast was predominantly for show, this version begs to be eaten. The bacon around the bottom keeps it juicy and delicious, while the stuffing finishes cooking to be dense and filling. The meat pulls flavor from the bacon on the outside and the stuffing on the inside. While the meat wasn’t quite fall-off-the-bone tender, it was pretty close.

Why it should be in the next book:

It’s a crown. Made of meat. Wrapped in bacon. Tell me that some witty Westerosi cook wouldn’t serve something like this at, say, a coronation feast. It’s also a perfect centerpiece for your S4 premiere parties, because who doesn’t love gnawing on a bone at a medieval feast? (vegetarians excepted…)

Crown Roast Recipe

Time: ~2 hours       Serves: depends on the size! figure 2-3 ribs per person, with additional sides

Ingredients:

  • 1 rack of ribs, your choice of meat (I used pork)
  • salt and pepper
  • Stuffing (get the recipe)
  • ~5 strips of Bacon

French the ribs, if your butcher can’t/won’t. Do this by trimming down the meat around the tops of the ribs to leave about an inch of exposed bone. This is just to make it look fancier, like in the picture, but if you’re pressed for time, you could skip it. Save the trimmed bits of meat, taking care to check each for small pieces of bone. Curve the trimmed rack around on itself so the rib ends are pointing up and out, then secure the two ends together with a bit of twine or toothpicks (if you use toothpicks, remember to warn guests before serving).

Wrap two or three strips of bacon around the bottom of the crown roast. Fry the remaining bacon, dry, and crumble into the stuffing. Brown the leftover bits of trimmed meat from the top of the roast in the bacon fat, then add it to the stuffing mixture. Press the stuffing into the middle of the crown. Cover the stuffing with tin foil, and cook the roast at 375 for around 2 hours. If you like, remove the foil about 20 minutes from the end of cooking to allow it to brown.

To serve, cut into small rib sections, and dish up with some of the stuffing. If you like have a little of your favorite sauce available on the side.

Braised Apples with Cheese

Braised Apples

“The last course was goat cheese served with baked apples. The scent of cinnamon filled the hall as Osney Kettleblack slipped in to kneel once more between them.” – A Clash of Kings

 

Thoughts:

This dish comes via reader Vinz, who suggested this recipe for the snippet from the book almost a year ago. I had always imagined them as whole baked apples, like the two recipes that went into the cookbook, and had pretty much written off the quote.

I am so glad to have tried this new version.

The apples cook until just tender, while the juices and butter combine to make that gooey, drippy, awesome sauce you see in the photo. Crunch of nuts, tang of goat cheese, bite of spices. I used walnuts, and some long pepper, which has a sharper but faster taste than ordinary black pepper.

The recipe technically makes enough for two, but I will admit to eating it all myself in a single sitting. It was awesome. I have no regrets.

Braised Apples with Goat Cheese

Time: ~20 minutes     Serves: 1+

Ingredients:

  • 2 apples, cored and sliced into eighths
  • 2 Tbs. salted butter
  • 1 1/2 cup cider
  • 4 oz. goat cheese
  • 2 Tbs. honey
  • currants, nuts, etc. for topping
  • pinch each cinnamon, ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Melt the butter in a skillet or frying pan and saute the apple slices, flipping them so they are coated with butter. Do this for 2-3 minutes, then pour over 1 cup of the cider. Simmer gently, stopping just shy of the apples going mushy. When they still have some body to them, scoop out the slices and place on a baking sheet, preferably lined with a silicone pad or parchment paper.

Sprinkle goat cheese over top, and place in the oven until the cheese starts to melt. While the apples are cooking, add the honey, remaining cider, nuts/dried fruits, and spices to the pan. Reduce down until the sauce starts to thicken, then remove from heat. When the apples come out, arrange them in serving dishes and spoon the sauce over. Sprinkle with a dash of extra cinnamon, and devour.