Monday, 6 January 2014

Whole Wheat Tea Wreath with Cinnamon-Cardamon Streusel

First of all: a happy New Year! I hope you had a good start and wish that 2014 will be great for everyone! I personally can't wait for all the challenges I will face (first up: getting my A levels done...) and the sweet happy memories that come along.

Christmas week took me and my family to the lovely Red Sea Coast of Egypt and oh, boy - it was GOOD! 25 °C - lying in the shadow on a super comfy sunlounger - my tummy filled with the most awesome breakfast of french toast, an egg and tomatoes with the best sheep cheese. A week filled with sunny weather, full of laughter and life with my loved ones. We relaxed all day long, only moving to get some meals (okay, this is not 100% accurate: we also went swimming, walking and running). As usual, my main activity was trying aaall the food and making up the recipes for it (and trying to healthy-fy some)in my head ;-). Foodie 24/7 - I can't help!

Okay, don't want to bother you with stories of awesome holidays, I hope you had a lovely christmas with friends and family and definitely aren't one of those eight-christmas-parties-within-two-days-making-all-the-food-eating-all-the-food-looong-boring-talks-with-relatives-stress-twenty-four-hours-no-christmas-contemplation kind of persons who collapses at the 26th December (hey, if you find yourself in this explanation I don't mean it rude or anything, as I've got friends and relatives who handle it the same way - it's just not my kind of Christmas and theirs neither, 'cause we hear the same complaints EVERY single year). Let's just devour in some holiday pics before I start with today's recipe.

The sun/light is just great isn't it?

2014 had a quite warm start over here, while most countries are drowning in the snow, here in Europe it's about 10-14 °C - you can easily leave the house without any warm jackets. Doesn't really feels like winter at all :-(. Don't get me wrong, I don't need freezing rain week after week, but some snow or temperatures minus 5 °C wouldn't be so bad :) Then you can just cuddle up in your bed all day long, with a nice warm cup of tea and enjoy fresh baked goodies right out of the oven - soul food at it's best!

All those New Year's Resolutions really tag me around this time. While I regularly believe in consistency and balance (good, proven basics with new ideas and ways) as the key to happiness and thus omit New Year's Resolutions for myself, I'm really proud of everyone who makes some AND sticks to them! Whether it's running the first race, eating more veggies or doing sport regularly - go for it, as soon as it's a habit you won't be able to go back! But I didn't want to go in detail on sports, nutrition and hard work or whatever your New Year's Resolution is. The whole atmosphere of a fresh new start with great changes got me right back to the essentials and concerning this, I just thought of my blog:

With a new blog design (now splashing around in a subtle blue) it's all focus on the content and recipes! The simple and essential, that's what I want to tackle: we're really local and seasonal eaters round here and that's what I want to stress with my kitchen adventures: Food straightforward - mostly local and seasonal ingredients with special additions, turning simple basics into special treats for a healthy, balanced life and an everlasting kind of connection through food - to be true I have experienced nothing more communicative than a 20 person sunday family lunch with simple meals! In this way, let's go for a happy new year, with love for what mother nature delivers right before our own door, spicing it up with special ingredients to create unique dishes and goods with that little something.

This tea wreath just proves how good and satisfyingly sweet baking without refined sugar can be: it's a yeasted lightly citrus-y ´Whole Wheat Dough, swirled with a Date and Black Tea Filling and sprinkled with roasted Hazelnuts and a crumbly Cinnamon-Cardamom Streusel. It's perfectly eaten plain or with a little nut butter or jam.

The hearty Whole Wheat pairs up perfectly with the soft filling and the slight "roughness" of the hazelnuts contrasts the fine Streusel. It's perfect for a moment of rest and taking a deep breath before you continue running through the place to clean and organize and work and ... - relax for a second, grab your hot beverage of choice and black out the whole New Year's stress around you - you won't regret! The quite long process of preparing a yeast dough will be totally worth it - to be true, I love making yeasted breads (or even better: sourdough!).

You mix and knead them, they rest. You knead or shape them once more, they rest. And then there's finally time to bake. In my mind it's calming to have such recipes, yes, you might stand in the kitchen for three hours, but the slow process is so calming - no chance to reach for the phone because of the dough on your fingertips and the latest e-mail has to wait a little too, because your laptop wouldn't be as excited to get a generous sprinkle of flour like the workface where the dough is kneaded. While nature does it's magic in the oven you can clean the bowl and spoons, devour in a promising smell of cinnamon and cardamom and once the bell rings and the wreath is done you have set the table or brewed a nice cup of coffee to sip between the whole mmhmmmms :-).

Whole Wheat Tea Wreath with Cinnamon-Cardamom Streusel- for one wreath, ~50cm in diameter, dough and shaping inspired by Elemental Custard

For the dough:
-2 cups of Whole Wheat Flour, plus a little more for dusting
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 cup Applesauce
- 5 Tbsp Yogurt
- 2 Tbsp Honey
- 1 Tbsp dry active Yeast
- 1 egg
- 1 and 1/2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
For the filling:
- 3 black tea bags, the content of it
- 1 cup dried dates
- 3/4 cup milk
- up to 1/2 cup water
- 1 egg yolk
 For the streusel/topping:
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts
- 3/4 cup Whole Wheat Flour
- 2 Tbsp Honey
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 and 1/2 Tbsp of each: Cinnamon and Cardamom
1. Make the dough: Mix together flour and salt. In a seperate bowl stir together the yogurt, applesauce and honey and heat this in the microwave for 30 seconds (you can also heat it in a small saucepan) until warm to the touch - stir and let sit for a couple of seconds to eventually cool down, so you wont kill the yeast (~90 °F/ is perfect). Then add the Yeast and let rest for up to 10 minutes until slight bubbles form. Stir in the egg and lemon juice, then mix the wet and the dry ingredients, kneading for 3-5 minutes until a dough resembles and long stable strands of gluten are visible. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest in a warm place for 1 and 1/2 hours until doubled in size.
2. Meanwhile prepare your filling and topping: Chop and eventually pit the dates, heat them in a small saucepan together with the milk on medium high heat. Let slightly cook for a minute, stirring constantly. Then add the mixture to a blender and puree until smooth. Put it back on the heat, add in the water and the content of the tea bags and let cook until a thick consistency is reached. Turn and take off the heat - let cool for 5 minutes then stir in the egg yolk.
3. Heat a regular sized pan to medium high heat and add in the whole hazelnuts. Stirring regularly roast the nuts until they turn into a dark brown color, not yet burned. Take off and let cool.
4. Make the streusel: Stir together Flour, Spices and Honey, then add in the butter, knead the ingredients together with your hands until a fine yet consistend dough resembles. Set aside.
5. Once the first rest is over lightly flour a working surface and turn out your yeast dough. Knead it 4-5 more times, then roll it out into a rectangle, approximately 30x70cm in size - you wand a really thin sheet of dough, so it almost seems to tear apart.
Spread your filling on top and optionally sprinkle in some hazelnuts from the topping.
Start to tightly roll the dough up, starting from the long edge, until you have a uniform roll. For nice detailed instructions on how to form the wreath visit Elemental Custard - she even has some great step-by-step-photos! Once the wreath is formed turn it on a parchment lined baking sheet and sprinkle with the hazelnuts and the streusel, pressing them in slightly. Let rest for another hour, until the dough springs slowly back when touched with a fingertip. Heat your oven to 370°C and bake for 25 minutes.
Take a peak at your wreath, the top browns quickly because of the honey, while it still might not be baked perfectly. If this is the case then cover with some aluminium foil and continue to bake for further 10 minutes. Take out and let cool for 10 minutes before slicing - serve and enjoy!

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