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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Fours

First reason:
hard versus soft wheat

I love using European flour! More than half of U.S. flour is made from the hard red variety. In Poland on the other hand, majority of wheat is the soft type.

The main difference between the two types is gluten. The hard red type of wheat popular in the U.S. contains more gluten than the soft European type.

Second reason:
Roundup use in the U.S.

In addition to the differences between European wheat versus the U.S. kind, is that in the U.S. wheat is grown and harvested differently too. In many cases wheat farmers soak their wheat fields in Roundup in order to kill off mold, speed up harvest, and produce a higher yield.

Roundup contains a very harmful active ingredient called glyphosate. In several European countries the use of Roundup is banned. However, this doesn’t mean all European flour is safe. Several European countries, like Italy import a lot of wheat from the U.S. and so the probability of traces of glyphosate in some Italian flour is very likely as well.

Cumulative effects of Roundup traces
in our foods

The herbicide industry claims that glyphosate is minimally toxic to humans. However, just because a small trace of glyphosate or Roundup might not harm you, the cumulative effect can have serious health effects in the long term.

If you think about it, wheat flour is in so many foods we eat every day. Such as breads, cereals, pasta, soups, sauces, puddings, even some yogurts and ice cream. Eating these foods on a daily basis means you’re probably systematically ingesting more glyphosate than you think.

The effects are slow to notice, and today you may not be aware of the impact this toxic wheat has on your health, but as your body is systematically exposed to this dangerous chemical, eventually you may start feeling the effects.

Glyphosate has damaging effects
on your digestion

Glyphosate found in Roundup disrupts the healthy flora and lining of your intestine by killing healthy bacteria in your gut. This bacterium is essential for healthy digestion and is the foundation of a healthy immune system.

When your immunity is weakened, you are prone to get sicker easily. Many doctors already recommend for patients to regularly take probiotics to help build healthy gut flora and immunity. But this might not be enough to fight off the effects of this harmful toxin in so many foods we eat every day.

The World Health Organization has declared Glyphosate to be carcinogenic. It has also been linked to autoimmune diseases, obesity, diabetes, and even Infertility.

Choose flour that’s not treated
with Roundup

The bottom line is that I would avoid eating wheat-based products made from bleached and enriched U.S. flour. Not to mention that in addition to ingesting traces of Roundup, the enriched and often bleached flour, causes even more harm to your health over time.

In order to continue enjoying bread in my diet, I now bake my own bread at home made only from European flour, especially one from Poland. And over time I noticed many positive effects on my health and how much happier my gut feels today.

That being said, if you already have celiac disease you probably already avoid gluten that’s found in wheat-based products. And, eating European flour in this case will not make a difference.

But if you’re feeling like something is off with your gut, I strongly recommend you try baking with European flour to see if after a few days of eating only your own bread made with this flour, and avoiding store-bought wheat products, you notice a difference in how you feel.

Give it a shot and follow some of my bread recipes to help you out!

***

You should also read: Baking Bread at Home and Why it’s Good for You

Apple Galette

Ola Rokita14 November 2021Comments (0)

Apple Galette

 

Apple Galette is a simple rustic pie baked without a form. When I’m in a rush and want to make a quick and delicious apple pie, Galette is my answer.

Just throw a few simple ingredients into a bowl, combine them with your hands, add a few apples, and you’ve got a wonderful apple pie.

Easy as pie

Making the Galette dough is very similar to making a pie dough. You’ll need the ingredients to be cold, and after making the dough, refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes before baking.

Easy does it.  All you need is a bowl, your hands, and a few basic ingredients. The key is not to overwork the dough.

Simply combine the ingredients to form a solid ball and let the dough rest in a cool place. It’s ok if the butter solids are unevenly combined. Galette is not about perfection it’s about the flavor and the crispy texture.

I often divide the dough into two or three portions and store them in the fridge for up to 5 days, so that if I’m in the mood to make a quick apple Galette, I have my dough ready to go.

Go with a tart apple for your Galette

Try to avoid using very sweet apples, instead, balance the flavor by using slightly tart or lightly sour apples, such as McIntosh or Granny Smith. These are great for baking your Galette because they have less juice than Honey Crisp or Fuji apples.

Apples that are very juicy are great for eating straight, but they can make the pie crust a little soggy when used in this recipe.

Best flour for making the Galette pie crust

My favorite flour to use for making the pie crust for my apple Galette is wheat flour from Poland, type 500, called ‘Poznanska[click HERE to BUY]. You can also use type 550 ‘Luksusowa’ [click HERE to BUY], but I find that the 500 is a little finer and makes the crust a little more delicate.

If you don’t have access to Polish flour, you can use organic All-Purpose flour or the Italian ’00’ type. It’s great if you can get your hands on some European flour to achieve that authentic and slightly ‘wheaty’ taste.

The finishing touch

To turn this simple dessert into the ultimate delight, add a scoop, or two, of vanilla ice-cream. The simplest things taste the best and are perfect for any occasion. Try this apple Galette recipe and you’ll know what I mean.

 

Galette with Ice Cream

Apple Galette

Ingredients

  • cups wheat flour (Poznanska Type 500 or All-Purpose)
  • 2 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup ice water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • tsp vanilla extract
  • tsp salt

Apple Filling

  • 4-5 medium apples (Granny Smith or McIntosh)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp bread crumbs

Glazing

  • 1 tbsp whole milk
  • 1 tsp cane sugar

Instructions

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, sieve the flour, add salt and the chopped butter. Mix the ingredients with your hands.

    Chopped Butter and Flour
  2. Add water, vanilla, lemon juice, and apple cider vineagar, and knead the ingredients into a ball. Don't overwork the dough, knead it just enough to combine the ingredients together.

    combine ingredients
  3. Wrap the dough in the kitchen foil and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour. (I divide my dough into two portions so I can use one now and another one later. It's also easier to work with two smaller pie crusts than a single large one.)

    Wrap the dough in food wrap
  4. While the dough is in the fridge prepare the apples.

    Sliced apples
  5. Also, preheat the oven to 190° Celsius or 375° Fahrenheit.

  6. Wash, peal, and slice the apples into thin slices. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice, and mix them all together.

    Apples with cinnamon
  7. Take out the dough from the fridge and roll it into a circle of about 12 inches or 30 centimeters in diameter.

    Rolled out dough
  8. Using a fork, gently poke the dough in the middle, then Sprinkle the bread crumps, about 3 centimeters or 1 inch from the edge.

  9. Place the apples in the middle, also about 3 centimeters or 1 inch from the edges.

    Place apples in the middle of the dough
  10. Using your hands, fold the edges over the apple filling, leaving the middle open.

    Fold the Galette Edges
  11. With a glazing brush, coat the edges with milk and sprinkle some cane sugar on top.

  12. Place your shaped galette into the oven and bake it for 35-45 minutes.

    Baked Apple Galette
  13. Let it cool for 10-15 minutes and enjoy with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

 

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