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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Pistachio and Coconut Babka

Ola Rokita18 April 2021Comments (0)

Babka with Pistachios

Oy Babka! The ultimate in flavor and texture is pistachio and coconut Babka. The crunchy, moist, and velvety texture, paired with bursting nutty flavor makes this yeast cake a celebration in your mouth.

Treat yourself to a homemade Babka

When it comes to yeast cakes, nothing beats a Babka. I also like this dessert because it’s not too sweet and perfect as a morning or afternoon treat with coffee or tea.

Pistachio and coconut Babka is more than just dessert

I enjoy cutting a chunky slice of my babka and indulge as I sip my mid-morning cappuccino to get my day going. Loaded with protein, vitamins, and nutrients like B6, magnesium, and potassium, Babka filled with pistachios and coconut is not just empty calories. I also reduce the overall amount of sugar to minimize the calories. There is so much flavor going on in this combo that you don’t need to compensate with the extra sugar.

Babka reminds me of home

In Poland, Babka is a staple dessert. Any bakery, even the small ones located inside the gas stations along the highways sell Babka. The most popular variety are the ones filled with sweet cheese, apples, or poppy seeds, so this recipe is unique for Polish standards.

When I lived in Italy, I developed a great appreciation for pistachios. Then, my trip to Brazil made me fall in love with anything coconut. As such, this recipe brings two of my favorite flavors into a single dessert. It quenches all my cravings while bringing memories of my favorite places.

 

Pistachios

Pistachio and Coconut Babka requires nimble hands

The dough recipe can generate up to three Babkas, depending on the size of the baking pan you’re using, or the proportion of the dough compared to the amount of the filling you prefer to have. But, you can comfortably make at least two hefty Babka loafs out of the dough. The loaf pan I use is 1 lb. or 0.45 Kg. (8.5″ x 4.5″ x 2.75″ high ) (22 cm x 11 cm  x 7 cm high).

Before you set out to make your Babka, make sure you have a clean large surface to work on for rolling out the dough flat. Also, when twisting the cut-open strands, don’t fret if the pistachio filling starts falling out.

Making Babka can get a little messy, so if the extra filling falls out, simply scoop it up with your hands and sprinkle it on top. In the end it’s the taste that counts, not the extra misplaced nuts.

 

Pistachio Babkas

 

For an authentic Babka flavor, I use wheat flour from Poland, type 550 “Luksusowa”. It makes the dough perfectly velvety, with a slight wheat-like taste. Alternatively, you can also use all-purpose flour or, the Italian 00 flour.

Either way, once you try this Babka flavor, you’ll be wanting it each time.

 

Babka Dough

Ingredients

  • cups flour (+ one tbsp for dusting the working surface)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 whole eggs
  • cup whole milk
  • 6-7 tbsp cane sugar
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ½ tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp dry active yeast

Instructions

  1. In a small pot, add milk, egg yolks, whole eggs, and sugar. On a low heat, warm up the ingredients until lukewarm, about 110° Fahrenheit (45° Celsius). Make sure you don't overheat the ingredients past 120° Fahrenheit (49° Celsius).

    Heat up milk with eggs
  2. Add the yeast and using a whisk stir all the ingredients together. Let the mixture stand for about 5 minutes to let the yeast start working.

    add yeast
  3. In a small pot, melt the butter over a low heat, just until it melts. Avoid burning the butter. Then set it aside to cool off.

    melt butter
  4. In the meantime, in a stand-mixer bowl, add the flour, lemon zest, salt, and vanilla, and mix all of them together using a dough hook.

    mixing dough
  5. Once the dough is uniform, elastic and peals easily off the walls of the bowl, reduce the speed of the stand mixer, slowly add the melted butter, and continue mixing on a low speed until the butter starts being absorbed by the dough. Increase the speed to medium, and continue mixing for about 3-5 minutes.

  6. Set the dough aside to rest on the kitchen counter for about 45 to 60 minutes covered with a clean dish towel until it doubles in size.

    yeast dough
  7. While the dough is resting, prepare the filling (See instructions below)

  8. Once the dough has rested, divide it into two or three portions, depending on how large you want your babkas to be (you can make up to three).

  9. Preheat the oven to 325° Fahrenheit or 160° Celsius and line two to three loaf pans with parchment paper.

    lined loaf pan
  10. On a well floured large surface area, using a rolling pin, roll out the dough flat, about 18" x 10" or 46 cm x 25 cm, and about 0.4" or 1 cm thick.

    Rolled out dough
  11. Using a spoon, spread the pistachio and coconut spread, leaving a 1.0" or, 2.5 cm border all around.

    spread the filling
  12. Fold the left and right hand-side edges and then roll it into a long log.

    roll babka
  13. Cut the log in the middle and then twist the two strands. Fold it in half, and gently place it inside the perchment lined loaf pan. Repeat the steps for the second, or third babka.

    cut the roll
  14. Let the formed babkas rest covered with clean dish cloth for about 45-60 minutes.

    Pistachio Babkas
  15. Bake for about 28 - 35 minutes maximum at 325° Fahrenheit or 160° Celsius.

  16. Cool for about 15 minutes and enjoy!

    baked pistachio and coconut babka

 

Pistachio and Coconut Filling

Ingredients

  • 2 cups raw pistachio nutmeats (unsalted)
  • ½ cup shredded coconut
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • 8 tbsp unslated butter

Instructions

  1. Over a low heat using a small saucepan melt the butter just until it becomes fluid. Avoid burning it. Then set it aside.

    butter
  2. Chop the pistachios and stir them into the butter.

    chop pistachios
  3. Add the shredded coconut and sugar and mix it all together.

    add coconut
  4. All set. Now use the pistachio and coconut filling for your babka.

    pistachio and coconut filling

Lazy Dumplings

Ola Rokita23 March 2021Comments (4)

Leniwe Lazy Dumplings

Lazy dumplings, or “leniwe” as they are called in Poland, are extremely easy to make.  The word “leniwe” translates to lazy because these dumplings require very little effort to prepare.

Leniwe or Lazy Dumplings are the ultimate Polish comfort food

These plump diamond shaped dumplings bring back memories of my childhood. When I was a kid, my mom would make “leniwe” for me as an afternoon snack or quick lunch.

Lazy dumplings are very satisfying and easy to digest. Packed with protein, because of the eggs and cheese, and good source of energy, when you need an extra boost in the middle of the day.

Enjoy them sweet or savory

You can prepare them on the savory side or serve them sweet. Having a sweet tooth, I like them served with some sour cream or melted butter, with a little bit of sugar sprinkled on top. You can also add some cinnamon if you like the flavor.

Leniwe dumplings cut

Use Farmer’s Cheese to make your Dumplings extra fluffy

The basis of these delicious and fluffy dumplings is farmer’s cheese. Farmer’s cheese or “twarog”, as we call it in Poland is very popular and it’s a staple in most Polish households.

Twarog is great for making sandwiches, salads, and readily used in cooking and baking. The slightly tart taste compliments the sweet or savory flavors very nicely.

Although in the U.S. I found that cream cheese is the popular ingredient in dessert recipes calling for cheese, when I used it for this recipe, it makes the dumplings less airy and a bit dense. If you prefer your lazy dumplings plump, I highly recommend trying to either use farmer’s cheese, or if you have a Polish store nearby, try making them with “Twarog.”

Twarog or Farmer's Cheese

Less flour will make them more airy

I also reduce the amount of flour. Three quarters of a cup or one cup of flour maximum per two cups of farmer’s cheese is ideal. Less flour makes them even more airy. If the dough is too wet, I sprinkle some extra flour on the working area so that when I roll it, it coats the dough, making it easier to work with it.

For this recipe I use Polish wheat flour type 500 “Poznanska”, but you can also use All-Purpose or the 00 Italian flour.

Lazy Dumplings "Leniwe"

Ingredients

  • 2 cups farmers cheese about 450 grams
  • 2 whole eggs
  • ¾ cups wheat flour "Poznanska" type 500
  • +1 tbsp wheat flour for dusting the working area
  • 1 tbsp sugar (optional)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract (optional)
  • tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Using two medium mixing bowls, separate the egg whites from the egg yolks.

  2. Beat the egg whites with the salt until stiff.

    beat egg whites
  3. In a seperate mixing bowl combine farmers cheese with egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla. Use a fork to break apart the farmer's cheese, and then use a spoon to mix the ingredients together.

    Add farmer's cheese and egg yolks
  4. Add the beaten egg whites.

    Add the egg whites
  5. Then add the flour, and mix all the ingredients together until unified.

    Add flour
  6. In a medium saucepan, boil about 4-5 cups of water with a ⅓ teaspoon of salt.

    Boiling water
  7. While the water is heating up, take half of the mixed dough and roll it out with your hands on top of a well-floured surface. It's alright if the dough is a bit moist. A light coating of flour from your working surface will make it easier to shape it into a log. Resist the temptetion to add more flour to the dough, otherwise your dumplings might turnout a bit dense.

    rolling out the dough
  8. Once rolled into a smooth log, using a knife, gently dent the surface on an angle from both ends so you end up with a diamond pattern.

    creating pattern
  9. Slice each dumpling on an angle so that you obtain a diamond-like shape. Repeat until all the dumplings are cut.

    cut leniwe on an angle
  10. Boil the dumplings for about 2-3 minutes maximum. Avoid over-boiling them, otherwise they'll start to fall apart.

    Boiling lazy dumplings
  11. Serve them shortly after boiling with some butter, cinnamon, snd sugar sprinkled on top. You can also enjoy them with just melted butter or sour-cream.

    Serving leniwe

Chocolate Soufflé

Ola Rokita01 February 2021Comments (0)

Chocolate Souffle

 

Chocolate soufflé is one of my favorite chocolate desserts. I remember tasting my first chocolate soufflé in a fancy French restaurant. At first bite I was in love. It felt like eating a chocolate cloud with a gooey and warm center.

This special dessert is also airy, moist, and extremely decadent. So when I crave for something chocolaty, this soufflé hits the spot.

Baking a chocolate soufflé is easier
than you think

Although baking a chocolate soufflé may sound intimidating, it’s not as complicated as it may appear. It only requires a few basic ingredients, such as chocolate and eggs, and a few easy steps.

A flourless wonder

Those who are gluten intolerant will also appreciate this delectable dessert because it’s made without flour. Some soufflé recipes include a small amount of wheat flour to help preserve the shape, and avoid the crust to crack or deflate too much after baking.

However, instead of wheat flour, I use a couple of tablespoons of almond flour, and that usually helps preserve a beautifully shaped dome of the soufflé.

Take your chocolate soufflé up
a notch with extra flavor

Almond flour also complements the chocolate nicely and adds a subtle nutty flavor, making the taste slightly complex.

To further enhance the flavor you can also add a tablespoon of orange liquor. Orange flavor nicely complements the slight bitterness of the chocolate. But, if you don’t have orange liquor handy, you can either use some orange zest or vanilla instead. I’m a fan of adding vanilla flavor because my kids prefer it too.

If you love soufflés, invest in
a set of ramekins

For best results, it’s important to have a set of the right baking dishes called “ramekins” to bake individual desserts. Ideally 5 oz – 6 oz (150-180 ml) ramekins are the most suitable size. With my recipe, I use about 9-10 5.5 oz (155 ml) ramekins.

 

soufflé with raspberries

 

When preparing a soufflé, it’s important to serve it right after baking. You can set aside the extra unbaked ones on the kitchen counter for a few hours and bake them later.

But, once baked, they need to be consumed right away. And, preferably with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream, whipped cream, and a few raspberries or strawberries on the side.

You’ll be in heaven!

 

Chocolate Souffle

Ingredients

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 6 egg whites
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 6 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp almond flour (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375° Fahrenheit or 190° Celsius.

  2. In a medium heatproof glass bowl add the chocolate chips, chopped butter, and milk.

    melting chocolate with milk
  3. Heat up about two cups of water in a medium size pot, and once it boils reduce the heat so the water simmers. Set the bowl with the chocolate, chopped butter, and milk on top of the pot with the simmering water.

  4. As the bowl contents begin to melt, stir them gently together using a spatula until the mixture becomes uniform and smooth.

    melting chocolate
  5. Remove the bowl from the top of the pot and allow the chocolate mixture to cool off for at least 10 minutes.

  6. In the meantime, separate the egg yolks from the egg whites.

    egg yolks and egg whites
  7. Add four tablespoons of sugar and vanilla to the egg yolks, and using a hand mixer, beat them together until you obtain a pale yellow mixture.

    egg yolks and sugar
  8. Combine the beaten egg yolks with the melted and cooled off chocolate mixture, and using a spatula stir them together.

    combine egg yolks with melted chocolate
  9. Beat the egg whites using a hand mixer until they start to become firm. Add two tablespoons of powdered sugar and continue mixing until their consistency becomes stiff.

    beating egg whites
  10. Add the beaten egg whites to the chocolate mixture and gently stir them together so as not to burst too many air bubbles.

    adding egg whites
  11. (Optional) Add the alomond flour and gently combine with the wet ingredients.

    adding almond flour
  12. Once combined, fill each ramekin half way with the soufflé mixture. You'll need about 10 ramekins for the amount of batter made in this recipe.

    ramekins with batter
  13. Add 6-7 chocolate chips to each one and then top it off with the chocolate soufflé batter to the rim.

  14. Place the ramekins filled with the soufflé batter onto a large cookie sheet and put them in the oven.

  15. Bake for about 18-20 minutes, depending on your oven. Sprinkle some powdered sugar on top and serve right after baking.

    baked soufflé

Super Fiber Muffins

Ola Rokita17 January 2021Comments (0)

Super Fiber Muffins

These super fiber muffins are packed with fiber and wholesome goodness. They are super easy to make and taste delicious. Furthermore, the extra fiber helps you feel fuller and keep you regular.

For this recipe I use two cups of oat bran instead of one. However, one cup will do just fine. Simply add an extra cup of flour if you prefer chewier muffins.

Super fiber muffins are all about oat bran and seeds

Adding extra oat bran will make the muffins crumblier, especially if you use whole wheat flour. But with all the nutritional benefits of oat bran, I don’t mind the extra crumb. Oat bran is rich in vitamin B, magnesium, zinc, and potassium, and it’s also a fantastic source of soluble fiber, important for a healthy digestive system.

Have fun with all kinds of seeds

I also like adding different types of seeds. I’m a big fan of chia seeds because they add a pleasant crunch, but you can also use flax seeds. If you have some pumpkin seeds on hand, throw a handful of those into the mix as well.

To balance the taste of seeds and oat bran, I sometimes add some dry fruit, grated apples, oranges, or grated carrots. For this recipe I chose carrots, but you can also add raisins or cranberries if you prefer a sweeter taste.

If you’re adding whole oranges, to save time, you can use a blender and mix all the wet ingredients together.

Best flour super fiber muffins

As for the flour, in this recipe I used wheat flour from Poland, bread flour type 750 [click here to buy].

You can also use wholewheat or all-purpose wheat flour if you prefer.

 

Super Fiber Muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 cups oat bran
  • cups wheat flour (Polish type 750, or wholewheat)
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ½ cup sunflower seed oil
  • 1 cup chia or flax seeds (you can do half and half)
  • 2-3 carrots (1 cup finely shaved)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup raisins or cranberries (optional)

Instructions

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

  2. Prepare a muffin pan with perchment paper liners.

  3. In a medium mixing bowl, add oat bran, flour, chia or flax seeds, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.

    oat bran and flour
  4. Mix them thoroughly together using a spoon and set the dry ingredients mix aside.

    mixing, oat bran, flour and chia seeds
  5. In a separate medium mixing bowl, using a whisk or hand mixer, mix together the sugar, coconut milk, eggs, and sunflower seed oil.

    eggs, sugar, oil, and coconut milk
  6. Once mixed, add the finely grated carrots, and if you like, raisins or cranberries, and combine them together.

    adding carrot
  7. Next, add the earlier prepared dry ingredients and using a spoon gently combine with the wet ingredients.

    mixing dry and wet ingredients together
  8. Fill each cup with about two table spoons of the muffin batter or close to the brim of each cup.

    filling muffin cups
  9. Bake for about 25-30 minutes.

  10. Cool off for about 10 minutes before enjoying with your coffee or tea.

    Baked muffins

Biscotti

Ola Rokita26 December 2020Comments (0)

Biscotti (Cantucci)

Biscotti or better known as “Cantucci” are classic Italian cookies.

The region of Tuscany is famous for making the best “Cantucci” and if you’re ever traveling through Tuscany, you must stop at one of the local bakeries and try some. There are many excellent varieties to sample.

Some are dipped in chocolate, others are sugar glazed or dipped in caramel. Many bakers also stuff them with raisins, cranberries, or pistachios. However, the traditional kind are made with almonds.

There are two ingredients that make Biscotti special

Almonds and Anise, a uniquely flavorful spice grown in the mediterranean area. The almonds add a wonderfully nutty flavor and make each bite finish with a crunch.

Anise complements the almonds perfectly, and the two flavors create a unique biscuit that goes perfectly with a cappuccino or an afternoon tea. To add the Anise flavor, I add a few tablespoons of Sambuca, a popular Italian liquor made with Anise.

Dunk the biscotti in your coffee to soak up the flavor and to allow them to lightly soften around the edges so that when you take your bite, they’ll melt in your mouth and crunch at the same time.

[yarpp]

Many reasons why Cantucci are the popular cookies of Italy

I make these frequently at home because they are quick and easy to make and have a long shelf life too. Even after a week, biscotti still hold up their freshness.

Their long shelf life is one of the reasons why they became such a popular treat in Italy. Soldiers could take them on long journeys and snack on them for days. While farmers could easily take a few of them while they toiled long hours in the fields.

Initially Cantucci were not a sweet treat, but rather considered to be a bread, or more like a cracker. As they became more popular, almonds and sugar were added to appeal to the general population.

There are hundreds of biscotti recipes. Some require as many as five or six eggs, while others only call for one or two.    Certain recipes contain vanilla, while others require only lemon or lemon zest.

Many recipes call for whole almonds, but I prefer shaved or sliced ones, without the skin. It makes them more manageable to cut and integrate into the dough. Plus, the smaller pieces of almonds are easier to much on.

Ideal flour to make biscotti

Given that biscotti are an Italian treat, the tradition is to use the Italian wheat flour type 00. For my recipe I use wheat flour from Poland “Tortowa” type 450. It’s a very delicate and fine flour, comparable to pastry flour.

 

Biscotti

Ingredients

  • 3 cups wheat flour (Type 450 or Italian 00)
  • ¾ cups cane sugar
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
  • 2-3 tbsp Sambuca
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp warm water
  • 1 cup pealed and sliced almonds

Instructions

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

  2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over a low heat. Make sure not to burn it. Let it cool for a few minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.

    melted butter
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, mix flour, salt and baking powder together.

    flour with salt and baking powder
  4. In a separate mixing bowl, using a whisk or hand mixer, mix together the egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, lemon zest, Sambuca, vanilla, and warm water.

    eggs with sugar and lemon zest
  5. Add the melted butter and continue mixing the wet ingredients together.

    add melted butter
  6. Combine all the ingredients together, the dry ones with the wet ones.

    mix dry and wet ingredients
  7. Work the dough with your hands until all the ingredients are combined.

    biscotti dough
  8. Add the sliced almonds and using your hands, work them into the dough.

    sliced almonds
  9. Knead the dough some more to incorporate the almonds.

    knead the dough
  10. Take the mixed dough and separate into two equal parts.

    separated dough
  11. Roll each part into a long roll and place each roll side by side on a perchmant lined cookie sheet.

    rolled dough
  12. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

    baked biscotti
  13. Remove from the oven and using a very sharp knife cut diagonally 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick pieces.

    cut biscotti rolls
  14. Place them face up on the cookie sheet and bake them for another 15 minutes.

    turn the cookies face up
  15. Remove from the oven and let the freshly baked biscotti cool off for at least 20 minutes before serving.

    cool off biscotti