Biscoff Christmas chocolates

Biscoff chocolates

Before Christmas goes, I wanted to share with you a quick recipe for Biscoff chocolates. I made them just yesterday because I needed to wait to make them as fresh as I could before I gifted them. After tasting these Biscoff chocolates I though I couldn’t wait to share it with you. It’s the perfect Christmas card for you right on Christmas Eve!

This year…

This year, my major efforts during Christmas time have been preparing a handmade home for our coming baby. Because of that, I didn’t share many ideas for Christmas gifts. But you can find a lot of Christmas crafts here. Lately I have been making efforts to offer consumable handmade Christmas. A baked good or other type of handmade goodie is the best idea for that!

Biscoff chocolates recipe

I adapted my recipe from the one from Madeleine although I didn’t use vegan chocolate. If you use vegan chocolate, this Biscoff chocolates are 100% vegan since both biscoff biscuits and the spread are vegan.

I followed all her instructions, but just adapted a little bit the ingredients and the quantities. For my recipe I used:

– 250g Biscoff biscuits (it is an easier amount since it corresponds to a whole package of Biscoff biscuits)

– 200g plus 10-50g of Biscoff spread. You can go further and add as much as 250g of spread but I find that the best idea is to add the last 50g carefully to adjust the dough to the right consistency. I find that, here in Portugal, the best result is around 220g of Spread in winter. In the summer I will just add 200-210g. This prevents the chocolates to melt too much after coming out of the fridge. The important thing is that the dough is moldable by hand. That is the sweet spot!

– 200g of good dark chocolate. I used culinary chocolate because we do have one or two good culinary chocolate brands here in Portugal. If I am not able to find one of those, I will opt for a the best dark regular chocolate I can find. If you want to make this Biscoff chocolates vegan just use vegan chocolate.

Then I followed Madeleine’s instructions and voila! The easiest chocolates in the world that are soft and spicy. A very festive recipe to try and to gift.

I hope you have the best Christmas in 2022! Thanks for keep following!

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My ultimate sourdough bread recipe

sourdough bread daily recipe

I have tried a number of sourdough bread recipes with success (sometimes more, sometimes less success) and the thing I noticed, is that all have some degree of flexibility to meet the characteristics of our starter, our time to make bread, our know how, and our nutritional and flavor goals.

My starter goes especially well with a recipe that was adapted from a set of other recipes. A step from one, a different time from other one, a particular proportion of ingredients, etc. In the end I found myself with a very distinctive recipe and procedure that I recommend you try. But again, it is the recipe that works best for me, which can vary greatly from person to person. I confess that it was enough to do it in another place and at a different time of year to have different results. But with a few adjustments, by the second time, I got my usual sourdough bread.

With these particularities aside, the recipe itself is very simple. It requires a bit of planning and is a bit time consuming, as are all sourdough bread recipes (that’s part of it: if you want a super quick bread, you don’t want to venture into sourdough, it’s as simple as that!) But it’s actually a recipe made up of short, simple steps interspersed with waiting times, and it works every single time. Overall it’s very rewarding and, surprise surprise: no kneading required!

sourdough bread daily recipe
sourdough bread daily recipe
sourdough bread daily recipe

Get ready!

The planning part is actually very simple: we have to have an active starter to begin. That forces us to feed our starter about 8-12 hours before we start making sourdough bread. Depending on the temperature conditions, the flour used in the feeding, etc somewhere during this period of time the starter will grow and start to shrink. This is when it is active and ready to be used. 

Mix and rise

To start making this sourdough bread simply add all the ingredients in a bowl except the salt. Mix until uniform and let it rest for 30 min. Add the salt by wrapping it in the dough with a series of “stretch and fold. That means stretch the dough with one hand, fold it over on itself, turn the bowl 90 degrees and repeat the process about 10 times. Let it rest for 30 min. Repeat the “stretch and fold” series and rest time another 3-4 times, every 30 min.

Shape the sourdough bread for the final rising. Place the dough on a smooth surface dusted with flour. Stretch the dough a little with your fingers to form a rectangle, circle or square and fold the corners over the center to form a ball. Turn the “seam” formed by the corners downward. Bring the loaf towards you by dragging the dough with your hands or with the help of a spatula. Repeat until the surface of the dough is very smooth and small bubbles start to appear. In a bowl lined with a clean cloth dusted with flour (you can use a banneton) place the dough with the “seam” facing up and cover it with the edges of the cloth. Let rise about 4 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.

Bake

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Celsius. Chose the baking pan you will use and place it in the oven: it can be a “pyrex” pan, a “dutch oven” or a simple tray. If you use a tray, I advise you to add a container of water underneath to create steam inside the oven. Pyrex pans or the dutch oven don’t need it because they can be covered with the lid to trap the steam from the dough.

Turn the dough with the seam side down onto a sheet of parchment paper. Sprinkle with a little flour and, using a razor blade or a very, very sharp knife, score the dough. Scoring is making cuts in the surface of the dough that allow for steam to release and growth during baking. I recommend making a long, deep cut (1 cm deep) and, if you wish, other shallow decorative cuts.

With the help of the baking paper place your dough immediately in the oven, inside the pans (don’t forget to put the lid on) or on the tray. Lower the oven temperature to 195-200 degrees.

Bake your sourdough bread covered (or with the water container if you are baking on a tray) for about 30 minutes. After this period the bread should have risen almost completely. Remove the lid from the pan or your container of water and bake until the sourdough bread is golden brown (about 20-30 min). Remove the bread from the oven and let cool. When removing it from the oven, the base of the sourdough bread should be firm and have a hollow sound when tapped with the hand.

sourdough bread daily recipe
sourdough bread daily recipe
sourdough bread daily recipe

Timings

Now I share my favorite timings for making this bread! On friday morning, before going to work I feed my starter (if I have kept it inactive in the fridge I try to reactivate it a few days earlier). When I get home, while I’m making, eating and packing up dinner, I put the ingredients together and do the stretch and fold sessions every 30 minutes. Then, before sleep I shape my sourdough bread for the final rising and leave it to rise overnight in the refrigerator. 

On Saturday morning I score my sourdough bread immediately after taking the dough out of the refrigerator (the dough is firmer and the blade works much better!) and bake the bread in a very hot oven!

Check the image below for the full recipe.

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White Chocolate & Raspberry Sourdough Bread

My journey into sourdough bread started a few years ago. But, as you know, it was in 2020 that half the planet started making bread and I went back to my adventures into the sourdough world. 

The main reason why my first experiments, about 4 years ago, were not successful was because I used the method of starting a sourdough starter with the same book from which I got this recipe for a White Chocolate and Raspberry Sourdough Bread! It’s ironic but, it wasn’t until later that I realized what the main problems of my starter were, and that Paul Hollywood’s Bread book doesn’t address. Now that I’ve had an active sourdough starter for 2 years I feel confident in picking the book up again and test some of its sourdough starter recipes.

While I wouldn’t recommend it as a reference for establishing a sourdough starter from scratch, I do recognize a lot of value in the general methods for making bread and the recipes, or recipe ideas, described in the book. 

Can sourdough make sweet breads?

Although the connotation of sourdough is to make a sour bread (hence the name), a flavor that is actually very characteristic and close to many of the artisan breads we have in Portugal, this dough makes very interesting sweet breads. I’ve already experienced some and I can assure you that they are sublime!

So, as the first sample of my adventures into the sourdough world I present you a very original bread with white chocolate and raspberry that will open your horizons to the possibilities of this ancient way of making bread.

White Chocolate and Raspberry Sourdough Bread
White Chocolate and Raspberry Sourdough Bread

This sourdough bread is an excellent alternative to a tea cake, and is worth it on its own but also toasted with a small touch of a very good butter. The key is to use fresh raspberries… which unfortunately are not in season at the moment (but they were when I photographed this bread) because frozen raspberries bring a lot of water to the bread dough. Happily (or unfortunately), you can buy fresh raspberries almost any time of the year these days. 

White Chocolate and Raspberry Sourdough Bread
White Chocolate and Raspberry Sourdough Bread

There are lots of “basic” artisan sourdough bread recipes out there but I recognize the interest in sharing mine in an upcoming post as well as my adventures in creating a starter from scratch, maintaining it, and the most incredible secret recipes it allows! Sounds to me like we have a new line of posts here. Anyone else interested?

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Ramón, the donkey

Ramón is a donkey!

He is an astronomer and travels around the world looking for the best places to observe the sky.

He grew up watching Carl Sagan’s Cosmos series, Star Trek and Star Wars! This fellow donkey follows every move and launch of Space X with enthusiasm and hopes one day to be able to visit the international space station. His big dream is to create a free public observatory in the Andes so that everyone in the world can observe the galaxies, nebulae, constellations and planets that fascinate him so much.

He might invite some of his beloved friends to join him for a visit: Suzy, Hector, Lundi, Harry and Jeremias. will be on his pocket, for sure!

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