24 January, 2010

Adventures in Eastern European Cooking pt.1

Eastern Europe is really making a comeback, fashionably speaking. Perhaps it's just because I'm dating a Romanian and my new landlord is Polish, but I feel like the whole former Soviet Block is so 'in' right now, do you know what I mean? Perhaps it's due to my new found knowledge of Ceauşescu and appreciation for the rapper Ombladon that I feel immersed in this harshly accented and ever so sexy culture, but not wanting to be one to deny a fascination I've run with it.
So on to the cooking! My first attempt was kind of a fluke; I was bored and went "Tastespotting" for the most difficult and time consuming recipe I could find without needing special baking equipment. Some people turn to the drink when upset or bored, I turn to the spatula. This excursion took me to a lovely Croatian Woman's Blog titled Chocolate Dust. Where I found a recipe for "Medena Pita" or Honey Cake; a cake made of honey flavored flat cookies layered with a nutty creme. It met my criteria, so off I went to baking. Of course I couldn't just follow a recipe, so I've varied it a little bit.

Medena Pita
The cookie dough:
2 eggs
100g sugar
4tbsp oil
4tbsp honey
450g flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Mix flour, salt, and baking soda together. Mix eggs with sugar, add oil, honey with flour mix. Dough will be very soft. Trace bottom of casserole dish onto wax paper and cut 4 pieces to that size. Divide into 4 equal parts; roll each piece to fit the wax paper keeping the edges from breaking apart. Bake each layer in preheated oven at 350F just for a few minutes, until the edges get
golden, but biscuit is still light in color. Cool them on a rack. Be very careful removing them from the pan as they will be very very soft until fully cooled. Once finished with the four cookie sheets place to the side.

The Creme:
600 ml milk
150g powdered/confectioners sugar
1/2 cup flour
70g crushed pine nuts
30g almond meal
100g butter
2 tsp almond extract

Boil 400 ml milk and quickly remove from heat. Mix flour and 200 ml milk and carefully in a small bowl then pour it into the boiled milk stirring continuously. Return mixture to medium heat and cook until it thickens to consistency of béchamel sauce. Remove from heat and add pine nuts and almond meal. In a separate bowl mix butter, powered sugar, and vanilla together. When the milk and nut mixture has cooled mix in butter mixture and allow for it to chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

In a casserole dish place a cookie on the bottom, and layer 1/4 creme on top. Repeat with the rest of cookies adding the extra creme on the top of the cake. Cover and allow to chill in refrigerator. You can top it with marzipan, extra almond meal, or white chocolate.

My cake is somewhat messy because I didn't do the casserole dish measuring part, which I have now added to the instructions and would definitely do next time. Alin ate all but one piece of the cake (which was gifted to Diane).

"This is my favorite cake ever; it's not too sweet."-Alin


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