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There is no easy way to say what we’re about to say but we sadly have to tell you that the Dec 2016 challenge will be the last daring kitchen challenge. Through the past two years we have tried everything we could think of to breathe life back into the daring kitchen but sadly the interaction and the number of members who actually take part in each challenge have been on a steady decline. We no longer see the point in asking hosts to put all that time and effort into making, photographing and writing challenges only to have a handful of people take part in them. It is really no one’s fault but unfortunately it seems that the time for the daring kitchen has come to an end.

It has been a true pleasure to be part of the daring kitchen for all those years and an honor to run it in the past two. We just have one last favor to ask of you, we need your in help moving the archive. We are planning to move all the daring kitchen archives to a wordpress blog – for each recipe, the text needs to be copied, the images and pdfs saved, then everything rebuilt on wordpress. It will be a huge job, but worth the effort – we can then share the url and password with anyone who wants to pitch in, then publish once it is ready and rolling.

If you would like to help, leave a comment here or send an email to Rachael (rachael@pizzarossa.me) or to Sawsan (thechefindisguise@gmail.com). Finally, we would like to thank each and every one of you. The daring kitchen has been an amazing community through all these years. We have learnt so much from each other and there aren’t enough words to express our gratitude for the kindness and support that you all showed us through these past two years.

This final Daring Kitchen Challenge is hosted by Francijn Brouwer, from Netherlands who blogs on “Koken in de Brouwerij” and has previously hosted challenges including “Stuffed Speculaas” and “Baumkuchen”. This month she challenges everyone to bake oliebollen, commonly called Dutch Donuts. Nearly every Dutch person eats oliebollen on New Year’s eve. Everywhere in The Netherlands you will find mobile oliebollen bakeries during the winter months.

The historical roots of oliebollen can be traced back to the Batavians and Frisians around the start of this era. At that time they were not round but flat, cooked in a small amount of oil and were called oliekoeken. In the middle ages a tradition was born of giving the poor people oliekoeken when they came to wish you a happy new year. Only in the wealthy 17th century people started to use more oil, and make these round oliebollen. Olie (pronounced: ow-ly) means oil and Koeken (singular: koek, pronounced: cook, cooken) is something like big cookies.

The cheapest oliebollen are just plain without filling and the worst are cooked in too cold or old oil, and are soggy. As I usually steer clear of fried stuff, I might have skipped this challenge, had it not been our very last chance of baking together with my fellow Daring bakers. I deliberately scooped my oliebollen smaller than the regular ice cream scoop size to create mini versions which I served warm with mango & pineapple jam on the sides.

OLIEBOLLEN

Ingredients:

300g / 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

200g / 1 1/2 cup plus 5 teaspoons all-purpose flour

10g / 3 teaspoons instant yeast

10g / 1 1/2 teaspoon kitchen salt

25g / 2 tablespoons caster sugar (light brown)

3g / 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

150ml / 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown beer

175ml / 3/4 cup water (room temperature)

175ml / 3/4 cup milk (room temperature)

50g / 3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted)

1 small egg, room temperature (beaten)

200g (7 oz., or 1 1/3 cups) raisins (without clumps)

1 small apple or half a big apple (firm variety)

Method:

  • In a large mixing bowl mix flours and yeast with a whisk. Add salt, sugar and cinnamon, and mix again.
  • Add beer, water and milk, melted butter, and egg. Attach the paddle to your mixer (or the dough hook).

  • Mix the ingredients thoroughly until the dough becomes elastic, a few minutes. Let rest for 15 minutes.
  • In the meantime cut the apple in small cubes. Add raisins and apple to dough, mix well with a spatula.

  • Put a wet towel over the bowl, and let the dough rise for about an hour until it is nearly doubled in size.
  • Put the oil in your deep fryer. Heat it to 180°C / 355°F. Have a timer handy to keep track of frying time.

  • To get ready for cooking: place baking tray on the counter and cover it with two layers of paper towels.
  • Have something ready to place scoops/spoons on so as to not cover your working counter with grease.

  • Once dough has doubled in size and the oil is hot, dip your ice scoop in the oil to avoid it from sticking.
  • Fill with dough, leveling against the side of the bowl. Take care to include reasonable amount of filling.

  • Release the dough ball carefully into the hot oil, by sticking the scoop into the oil and pulling the lever.
  • Start timer and observe the oliebol. It will start floating around, and after some time, should turn over.

  • If the oliebol does not turn over, help it by flipping it when the frying time is halfway over, using a fork.
  • After five minutes of frying, take it out of the oil and put it on the tray with paper towel. Wait a minute.

  • Cut it through the middle with a sharp knife and check the centre of oliebollen for a bread-like texture.
  • If you are satisfied with the doneness of the texture, start again, but now with a few oliebollen at once.

  • Keep frying till no dough is left, and make sure the oliebollen are all same size for even cooking times.
  • Oliebollen are best when eaten when they are still hot and crunchy and sprinkled with powdered sugar.

  • Makes 25 oliebollen (each around 6cm / 2.5″ in diameter). Do not store oliebollen in the refrigerator.
  • Oliebollen freeze very well. Just put them in an airtight container and you can enjoy them for months.

Daring Bakers December 2016 Challenge

Ramadan is that period when you find dates of different varieties with colours ranging from honey yellow, red to brown in most shops and supermarkets. It is traditional to break the day-long fast with dates and water followed by a more consistent meal. Dates are also shared not only on the iftaar table but among the poor and needy as well as relatives and friends. I received a whole bunch of juicy medjool dates from one of my patients a couple of weeks back and have been wondering how to put them to good use. This beautiful recipe, from Three and a Half Chefs, has been passed down from mother to daughter to be posted on her blog for the world to view and share.

DATE & PECAN NUT LOAF

Ingredients:

125 g unsalted butter

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 large egg, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

1 1/2 cups cake flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of kitchen salt

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 cup chopped dates, pitted

3/4 cup boiling hot water

1 teaspoon baking soda

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/350 F. Lightly grease standard size 7 or 8-inch loaf pan.

  • Place chopped dates in a medium bowl. Drop one teaspoon of baking soda in 3/4 cup hot water.

  • Stir once and pour this mixture over the dates, stir and leave to sit. Cream the butter and sugar.

  • Add an egg and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and fold in.

  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl till just combined. Carefully fold in  pecans and date mixture.

  • Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 45 to 55 minutes. Turn out on wire rack to cool.

  • Cool completely before storing the cake in an air-tight container. Slice and serve warm with tea.

Dates & Nut

I know I must have already done so many posts on banana bakes including cakes and breads flavored with peanut butterall spicecoconutbrowned butter, dulce de lechemaple syrup and chocolate chips. The classic banana bread, however, has never gone out of style and remains a versatile quick bread I would encourage all novice bakers to try at least once before dabbling with more complicated recipes. This deliciously tempting recipe, from May Squared, uses ripe bananas caramelized in brown sugar, butter and a small measure of rum which I chose to omit.

CARAMELIZED BANANA BREAD

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons butter, softened

3/4 cup light muscovado sugar

4 medium ripe bananas

1/2 cup unsweetened yogurt

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 tablespoons cold water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon caramel extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup pecan nuts, chopped

Method:

  • In a large skillet, over medium heat, melt butter. Add muscovado sugar and banana.

  • Sauté for 4 minutes until the fruit is softened and can be easily mashed with a fork.

  • Cool mixture for about 10 minutes. Combine yogurt, oil and extracts in a small bowl.

  • Combine the flours, baking soda and baking powder together in a large mixing bowl.

  • Add flour and yogurt mixture alternately to the banana mixture. Fold in nuts last.

  • Spray a 9 x 5-inch metal loaf pan with cooking spray and scrape the batter into it.

  • Bake in a preheated oven set to 350°F for 1 hour until fully set. Cool for 5 minutes.

  • Turn out of pan and cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. Makes 10 pieces.

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