Ola Rokita

Hi! I am Ola and I want to share with you my simple baking recipes that can change your life and how you feel.
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chocolate cake

I call this recipe divine chocolate mousse cake because it oozes with chocolate. It’s moist, creamy and extremely satisfying. One slice, and all my chocolate cravings disappear.

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This cake recipe is made out of two parts:

  1. Basic Vanilla Spongecake or Italian Ladyfingers
  2. Rich Chocolate Mousse

It’s all in the chocolate mousse

To make this chocolate mousse cake recipe, you need a very rich and chocolaty mousse. To achieve this wonderfully creamy mousse, you’ll need fresh mascarpone, a creamy and very rich Italian cream cheese and the right cocoa powder.

My favorite is cocoa powder is from Ghana because it has a rich chocolate taste. It’s very dense and dark, and made with one of the highest quality of cocoa beans.

But, there are plenty of other good options for cocoa powder. My recommendation is that you choose the organic kind for best and healthiest results. Avoid using one that’s already sweetened.

Egg yolks also play an important role in this recipe, and I use six egg yolks minimum per 500 grams or about 18 oz of mascarpone cheese. It makes the mousse extremely rich and creamy. In fact, sometimes I just eat the mousse on its own, without the cake part because it’s so delicious.

 

chocolate mousse cake

Go easy on the sugar

Although many similar recipes call for at least one cup of sugar, I cut my sugar portion in half when making the chocolate mousse. It’s healthier and cuts away the empty calories you don’t need. The taste is still divine and very satisfying without the sugary overload.

Let the chocolate mousse
cake soak overnight

To help bring out the intense chocolate flavor of my mousse cake, I make it the day before serving. The extra time in the fridge allows the spongecake, or ladyfingers, to fully absorb the chocolate mousse and the chocolate milk used for soaking the cake part, creating a perfectly moist and chocolaty dessert.

 

chocolate mousse

Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 7-8 tbsp sugar (you can also use honey as a healthier option)
  • 2 cups mascarpone cheese (500 grams or about 18 oz)
  • 5-6 tbsp cocoa powder (from Ghana or organic)
  • 1 tbsp lemon or orange juice

Instructions

  1. Using a hand mixer with a whisk, beat the egg yolks with sugar until fluffy.

    beaten egg yolks
  2. Add lemon or orange juice and beat for another minute or so.

  3. Add half the portion of the mascarpone and continue beating the mixture until well combined and creamy.

    Adding mascarpone
  4. Add the remaining portion of the mascarpone cheese and continue beating until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

  5. Using a spoon, slowly add the cocoa powder as you continue mixing the creamy mixture.

    Adding cocoa powder
  6. Beat the mousse for another 3-5 minutes, until you obtain a stiff and creamy consistency.

    mixing in cocoa powder

creamy chocolate mousse cake

Chocolate Mousse Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 whole spongecake or 36 (300 grams) Ladyfingers
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2-3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 6 cups chocolate mousse

Instructions

  1. Warm up the milk and add cocoa powder and sugar.

  2. Mix it together and boil the cocoa mixture. Set it aside for 20 minutes to cool.

    chocolate milk
  3. Take your pre-made spongecake and slice it in half.

    spongecake sliced in half
  4. (You can also use ladyfingers if you don't have a spongecake made.)

    soaked lady fingers
  5. Have a cake pan ready. You can either use the same cake pan you used for baking your spongecake, or if you're using ladyfingers, use a rectangular glass container for easier layout.

    chocolate soaking
  6. Soak the spongecake or the ladyfingers in the earlier prepared chocolate milk.

    soaked cake
  7. Using a wide spatula, take half of the mousse portion and spread it on the soaked portion of the spongecake (ladyfingers).

    adding chocolate mousse
  8. Soak the other half of the spongecake with cocoa and place it on top. If you're using ladyfingers, soak them and line them up on top.

    chocolate cake
  9. Take the remaining portion of the mousse and spread it on top.

    spread chocolate mousse
  10. Cover it with aluminum foil and refrigerate the cake for at least 2 hours before serving. For best results, leave it in the fridge overnight.

Basic Spongecake

Ola Rokita11 July 2020Comments (0)

Spongecake

 

A basic spongecake recipe is a staple for any baker because it is used as the foundation in many desserts. I like to add fruit to my recipe or make chocolate mousse cake out of it, but that’s just the start.

 

strawberry spongecake

 

  • You can add some frosting to your spongecake and turn it into an awesome birthday cake.
  • Bake the batter in baking cups and make cupcakes out of it.
  • Add left over fruit, such as strawberries or blueberries to the batter, and make a wonderfully light dessert for kids and adults to enjoy. Top it with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream or whipped cream and you’ll be in heaven.

 

fruit spongecake

Spongecake advantage

The big appeal of spongecake is that you can make it without fat, so it’s light and easy to digest. They also require only a handful of ingredients, flour, eggs, and sugar, so they’re affordable and very easy to make.

Best flour for making spongecakes

The best flour for spongecakes is pastry flour or wheat flour from Poland called “tortowa” type 450. If you want a gluten-free option, you can replace wheat flour with corn starch, almond meal, or a combination of both.

If you want your spongecake to be extra fluffy, add a tablespoon of potato flour.

You can skip adding baking powder, but if you want assurance that your spongecake comes out light and airy, then a teaspoon of baking powder will do the trick.

Add some flavor

Adding vanilla, lemon zest, almond extract, or cocoa, will add a wonderfully delicate flavor to your spongecake.

Best way to bake your spongecake

Make sure you bake your spongecake immediately after making the batter, otherwise it might lose some of the air and turn out less fluffy. When baking, do not open the oven prematurely, otherwise it might collapse. Allow the cake to bake for at least 30 minutes.

 

Basic Spongecake Recipe

Ingredients

  • cup wheat flour (Polish "Tortowa" type 450 or Pastry Flour
  • 5 whole eggs
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit or about 180° Celsius.

  2. Separate egg yolks from the egg whites.

    egg whites
  3. Beat the egg whites until stiff.

  4. Add powdered sugar to the egg yolks and beat until very fluffy.

    egg yolks
  5. Add vanilla and salt, and continue beating for another couple of minutes.

    beaten egg yolks
  6. Using a spatula, gently combine the beaten egg yolks with the egg whites.

    egg yolks with egg whites
  7. Thoroughly combine flour with the baking powder.

  8. Using a sieve, slowly sieve the flour combined with the baking powder onto the mixed eggs.

    flour
  9. Gently mix all the ingredients together.

    flour combined
  10. Line a cake-baking pan with parchment paper.

    cake pan
  11. Pour the mixed batter into the pan.

    cake pan with batter
  12. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes.

  13. Cool it off for 10-15 minutes and use it as base for cakes, or cut it up and serve it with fruit and whipped cream.

Rugelach Cookies

Ola Rokita21 June 2020Comment (1)

Rugelach Cookies

Old world Rugelach cookies

This Rugelach cookies recipe, also known as “rogaliki” in Polish, has been inspired by my grandmother. It’s slightly different then the one I discovered in the U.S., which is typically made with cream cheese and without yeast.

The sour cream difference

In this Rugelach recipe, I use sour cream instead of cream cheese. I also add a teaspoon of active dry yeast. A little bit of yeast helps make these Rugelach cookies airy, soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside. Yeast also adds a more intense taste.

Add some orange or lemon zest to enhance the flavor

To make the cookies more flavorful,  I also add lemon zest and some vanilla. When I was growing up in communist Poland, lemons were considered a luxury so they were used only for special occasions. Even rarer were oranges, but when we would get an orange, my grandmother would preserve the skin and later add a sprinkle of orange zest in her baking, including this Rugelach cookies recipe. So, if you prefer the taste of orange, go ahead and replace the lemon zest with orange.

Choose your favorite filling

Rugelach cookies can be made with all types of fillings, ranging from fruit to nuts. My favorite is plum butter or strawberry preserves, but pistachio and cinnamon is wonderful too. My kids’ favorite is chocolate filling.

Few other tips

If you want your cookies to be extra crispy, add a tablespoon of lemon juice. A hint of lemon juice will further enhance the flavor. Also, it’s fine if some of the plum butter overflows while baking. You can remove any excess after the cookies cool off. Don’t worry, they’ll be just as delicious.

Ideal flour

For this recipe my favorite flour is wheat flour from Poland, type 500 “Krupczatka”. Using this coarsely milled flour helps make the cookies airy and crispy. Otherwise, you may also use the all-purpose flour available in Canada and the U.S.

 

Rugelach Cookies Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 cups wheat flour Type 500 "Krupczatka" or All-Purpose
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • 3 tbs cane or powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp dry active yeast
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp lemon zest
  • ¼ tsp salt

Filling

  • 1 cup plum butter

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine sour cream, egg yolks, sugar, yeast, lemon zest, vanilla, and salt.

    Sour cream and eggs
  2. Mix it well together using a whisk or hand mixer.

  3. In a separate bowl, combine butter and flour.

    dry and wet ingredients
  4. Slowly add the flour combined with butter to the rest of the ingredients, and using your hands, knead all the ingredients until well combined.

    mix the dough by hand
  5. Cover the dough with a plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours. You can also leave it overnight.

    mixed dough
  6. When you're ready to bake your Rugelach cookies, start by preheating the oven to 350° Fahrenheit or about 180° Celsius.

  7. Remove the dough from the fridge and take half a portion of the dough.

    roll out the dough
  8. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a circle of about 12 inches in diameter or about 30 cm.

    dough
  9. Using a pizza cutter, cut off the uneven edges and then cut the circle in eight equal slices.

    slices
  10. Take plum butter and using a butter knife spread about a teaspon of plum butter on each piece.

    plum
  11. Roll each piece from outside in and then twist gently into a crescent.

    roll crescents
  12. Repeat for each piece to form your Rugelah cookies and place them on a cookie sheet lined with perchament paper. You should get a batch of about 24-26 cookies.

    cookies
  13. Bake for 20-25 minutes maximum.

  14. Sprinkle the cooled cookies lightly with some powdered sugar.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ola Rokita07 June 2020Comments (2)

chocolate chip cookies

If you’re a fan of chocolate, you will love this oozing-with-chocolate cookie recipe.

 

When I’m short on time, this chocolate chip cookie recipe is my go-to. It’s inspired by the delicious chocolate chip cookies I discovered in Canada. I still remember their rich chocolate taste and how the chocolate chips would practically burst at the seams. It also made me realize that there’s no such thing as too much chocolate.

In addition to being a chocoholic, I am also a big fan of easy recipes. I believe that keeping it simple is often the most delicious way to eat, and this is one of the simplest cookie recipes to prepare, with little effort.

So, when I need to make a delicious chocolaty dessert quickly and want to appeal to the kids and adults, this chocolate chip cookie recipe is a winner.

Double the chocolate chips portion

 

I use a hefty amount of chocolate chips or chunks to make these chocolate chip cookies super decadent. I also add an extra egg yolk to make them fluffier. To add that rich and creamy taste, I use Irish butter.

If you remember, take the butter out of the fridge at least half-an hour before making this recipe so it’s easier for you to work with it. I also recommend using room-temperature ingredients, so while you’re at it, take the eggs out of the fridge as well.

The other key ingredient in this recipe is coconut. By adding a little bit of coconut flakes or milk, the taste of chocolate is even more accented. You don’t need a lot, just a hint will do.

For this recipe you can use all-purpose wheat flour, but if you want to make your cookies extra light and crispy,  try using  “Krupczatka” Polish flour, type 500, a coarsely milled wheat flour that’s excellent for making all kinds of cookies.

 

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chocolate chips (semi-sweet)
  • cups wheat flour ("Krupczatka" type 500 or all-purpose)
  • ½ cup unsalted butter (Irish butter preferably)
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp coconut milk (can be substituted with coconut flakes)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup cane sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • ½ tsp Baking Soda

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).

    Butter and sugar
  2. Cream sugar and butter together until well combined.

  3. Add the egg and egg yolk, plus coconut milk or flakes.

    creaming butter and sugar
  4. Using a spatula, mix all the ingredients together.

    mix
  5. Add cinnamon, vanilla, and salt, and continue mixing gently.

  6. In a seperate cup, measure flour, add baking powder and baking soda. Mix the flour with the baking powder and baking soda very well.

    flour with baking powder and soda
  7. Add the flour, combined with baking powder and baking soda, to the previously mixed wet ingredients, and mix them all together.

    add flour
  8. Pour in the chocolate chips and continue combining everything together with a spatula.

    chocolate chips
  9. Prepare a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

  10. Using a large spoon, scoop some of the cookie dough and place it onto the cookie sheet. Repeat for the rest until all of the cookie dough is used. You should be able to make between 12-14 cookies, or 24 small ones.

    cookies before baking
  11. Place the formed cookies in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes max, depending on how crispy you want them to turn out. I baked mine for 23 minutes and they were very crispy and dark brown color.

    baked cookies
  12. Enjoy with a cool cup of milk!

 

Cinnamon Babka

Many people are intimidated to bake yeast cakes and to work with yeast. Some think it’s too complicated while others don’t like how it’s too time consuming. True, yeast is a temperamental animal, but once you learn how to handle it, the rewards will be bountiful.

Whenever possible, I highly recommend baking yeast cakes because it’s typically a healthier baking option and yeast cakes are easier to digest. Yeast also has many essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins from B group, vitamin E or iodine.

To get started with your yeast cake baking adventure, start with few key ingredients that go into making a simple yeast dough:

 

  • Wheat flour (all-purpose or Polish type 550),
  • Yeast (instant, rapid-rise, or fresh bakers yeast)
  • Milk or water
  • Eggs
  • Sugar
  • Butter or olive oil
  • Salt

Baking yeast cakes, typically follows a FIVE-STEP process:

 

  1. MIX and KNEAD the dough until smooth and satiny
  2. REST the dough for about one hour so that it doubles in size
  3. SHAPE the dough into the desired pastry
  4. REST the dough for another 30 to 60 minutes
  5. BAKE for at least 25 minutes

baked buns

In addition to these basics, below are a few best practices for yeast cake baking to remember:

 

Yeast loves warmth

Make sure your dough has a warm place to rest, but avoid extremes, not too hot and not too cold. The ideal temperature is somewhere between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (around 20-25 degrees Celsius).

Anything above 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius) or below 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees Celsius) will prevent the yeast from being active.

Baking Temperature

The ideal baking temperature for yeast cakes is between 325-350 degrees Fahrenheit (160-180 degrees Celsius).

For less sweeter breads, such as pizza or dinner rolls, the temperature can be a lot higher. The more sugar, the quicker the bread or cake will burn.

Go easy on the sugar

Too much sugar will cause your yeast cakes to brown too much on the surface while the inside can remain underdone. Typically I use maximum one tablespoon of sugar for each cup of flour depending on what I am baking.

If I am baking Challah, I use no more than 3/4 tablespoon per one cup of flour. For Babka, I use one tablespoon, and for pizza dough only one tablespoon per four cups of flour.

More egg yolks and fewer egg whites

 

egg yolks

 

For yeast-based recipes calling for eggs, like babka, challah, or donuts, use only half of the egg whites. For example, in recipes listing four eggs, I use 4 egg yolks and only two egg whites.

I save the egg whites for glazing my cakes right before baking. Having higher ratio of egg yolks to egg whites helps make the cakes airier and plump.

Portion your Grease

Abundant quantity of grease can impact the freshness of your pastry. Too much grease accelerates how quickly the pastry will go stale. Most yeast cake recipes don’t require a lot of butter or oil. Typically somewhere around one to three tablespoons of butter or olive oil should hit the spot.

There are several grease options available, but butter and olive oil add the optimum taste to this delicate pastry. Before adding melted butter or oil to your dough, make sure you knead it for some time so that the dough peals off the walls of the bowl before adding butter or oil.

 

knead the dough

 

Keep track of the resting time

 

risen dough

 

For delicate breads, like challah, the first resting period should not last more than one and a half hours. If you let the dough rest for too long, the dough will start losing its elasticity and the surface will look faded and small cracks will appear after baking.

Add Salt

Typically, a pinch of salt will give the dough a little more elasticity and accent additional flavors, especially when baking Babka.

Also, if you add a little bit of salt to egg yolks and beat them separately, salt will intensify the yellow color of your pastry.

Knead your Dough Well

 

dough netting

 

Kneading is very important for yeast pastries because it helps develop a type of netting that traps the air and helps the dough expand. The dough should be smooth, have a light sheen to it and be elastic.

More flour is not the answer

 

Flour

 

At first, when you start kneading your dough, you may find that it’s very sticky. Before adding more flour, make sure you knead the dough for a while. The dough should start pealing off the walls of your bowl and hands after about 8-10 minutes of kneading.

Too much flour will make the dough break easier when you pull it. Too little flour will make the dough too sticky and harder to shape. For every cup of liquid plus 3 egg yolks, you’ll need about two and a half cups of flour.

Choose the Ideal Flour for baking yeast pastries

Although for those in the US,  all-purpose wheat flour will work just fine for baking yeast pastries, I highly recommend using “luksusowa” wheat flour type 550 from Poland.

After experimenting with different flours from Europe and the US, I found that when I use the all-purpose US flour, the color of my pastries is less intense and the taste is not as rich, or rather, as authentic. It’s hard to explain, you just have to taste it.

There is a specific light wheat taste that comes through when using the Polish flour that creates a unique flavor that’s missing when I tried the all-purpose US flour. Also, the smell has slight buttery undertones, complementing the wheat-like taste perfectly.

Even though the US all-purpose flour is more forgiving of the amount of sugar I can add, allowing me to make the dough sweeter without causing it to burn too much, I found that the taste is more bland compared to the yeast pastries baked with the Polish 550 type flour.

Overall, if you want to bake more authentic Challah and Babka, I highly recommend trying to bake with the 550 type wheat flour. Not just to refine the taste and add more character, but for other reasons I have covered in my post about enriched All-Purpose wheat flour produced in the US.

It might take you a few tries to get all of this right, but keep on trying. Once you find the magic formula you’ll be addicted to baking and eating yeast-based pastries!