Zucchini tart

I promised myself that I would make more tarts. But not all tarts are sweet. This one for example is with zucchini and feta cheese. What do you think? Would you like to try it?

Angel Food Cake

I do not know why I didn't try this cake before this year. I did however some angel food muffins in the past but this cake, in full format, I have not test it before.
But one day, I decided to change this and I bought a specific pan for this cake that I put on a shelf for its turn. With all the crazy daily things that I do, I almost forgot about this pan on the shelf and found it back only half a year later. Does it sounds familiar to you as well?
Well, there are several reasons why I did not adventure myself in making this cake:
  • it requires only egg whites and a lot of them. I always have a problem in splitting the egg yolks from the whites and conserve one ore another in the fridge because is rarely that I bake 2 cakes on the same day. If I put them in the fridge, in most of the cases I forget about them.
    I had then to find a pair of recipes that work together with this recipe. I did find one good pair. Recently, I suddenly felt that I want to bake more tarts. For tarts, I need a curd, and for curds, I need yolks. Problem solved.
  • it is requires a special pan. The special pan is there for a reason. This cake needs to stick to the walls. Yes, unlike other cakes, this one benefits from sticking. It also has to cool upside down so it does not fall during this time.
  • it is a difficult cake. I found plenty of recipes with this cake and the variation in the proportions between ingredients was quite big. Which one to pick? Wich one would work for me?
  • it contains a lot of sugar. My struggle with cakes is to reduce the amount of sugar. Why? For healthy reasons. Yes, I have a sweet tooth but I have my favourites sweets when I am craving sugar. A sponge cake with a lot of sugar in it is not between them. Unfortunately, like meringues, the structure of this cake is also sustained by sugar. Lowering the amount will result in a cake failure. I had then to find a recipe that would work for me. I picked one from the web and I was disappointed with the result. Instead of just picking up another recipe, I started looking for some principles: how much flour, egg and sugar and what proportion between them. I then went to build my own recipe.
This cake does not rise much in the oven but conserves a beautiful airy structure made during the egg white foaming. This cake keeps its shape while cooling, it is very soft and delicious.
My children simple fell in love with it and I had then to repeat it several times.
Although sweet, it is not extremely sweet.

65% Hydration Sourdough Bread

Last week I baked a 75% hydration dough. Some time ago, I baked an 85% hydration dough. But for this bake, I tried 65%. This is very good hydration for easy dough handling. This makes it appropriate for any beginner to try it. As long as you read the signs the dough is giving to you, you'll know to bake at any hydration. Of course, this depends on the flour. A good quality flour will be very flexible at different levels of hydration. It will however have sweet spot hydration where it will perform at its best but this is for you to try. I find that the flour I used for these 3 bakes performs great between 65-75% hydration. 

I do not make a lot of bread at 65% hydration because I like better the 70-75% interval. This, of course, depends on the type of flour.

It is with pleasant surprise that I managed to bake a loaf at such low hydration and get a loaf with such an open crumb. For these loaves, I let the dough ferment to the extreme rise of 80% (maybe even +80%) and it was indeed a very risky job. But in the end, it performed exemplarily and I am very happy with the result.

Binary Tart


When I first heard about the binary code, I remember being totally fascinated. To be able to transform any number in just a succession of 0 and 1, was for me absolutely incredible. 
Soon, I was about to find out that, for any computer, at the very lowest level, everything is transformed in 0 and 1. 
My fascination with the binary code, lead me to chose a career in IT.  Now, a bit more than 30 years after, I am still impressed by how these 2 numbers stay behind all the computers, tablets phones or any electronic device.
The new generation that grew up swiping on the tablets, playing sophisticated games, browse on the web or watch movies take this for granted. Do they know that everything is reduced to 0 and 1?
Probably not and actually, they do not need to know all the details behind it. We are just users and thankfully there were other great minds who simplified our digital life and brought the user interface close to a more human natural response.
I grew up with numbers, I grew up with binary code and hexadecimal code. I've learned about assembly code, programming languages and sophisticated algorithms, but still, the base of any computer is just 0 and 1.
But I am not here to talk about IT, I do this every day in my full-time job.  I am here to show you a tart that I made, in a binary style, to honour these 2 numbers and what they mean to us.

It is a fruit tart with berry filling while the digits are slices of mango.
The idea of such a design came to me after seeing the beautiful tarts of a very talented baker @lokohitchen. Thank you, Lauren, you opened a new "door" for me.

The tart is not very sweet but is super delicious. I was also happy to use my new crust recipe based on discarded sourdough. The filling is based on all sorts of berries and has a smooth consistency. I love the texture and taste.
Bellow is the recipe.

Shortcrust pastry with discarded sourdough

Yesterday was the π day (03.14). I found out about this just late in the evening, but during the day, guess what I baked? Of course, a pie. Is this a sign for me from up there? Who knows...

I see myself baking much more bread than pies but I do enjoy making pies also, sometimes simple, sometimes more complex. What bread has to do with pies? Well, probably not a lot, except that I made a pie crust using discarded sourdough. I simply love to reuse discarded sourdough and now I use it in a pie crust.

What is more difficult with pie crusts is that they do not have to expand in the oven and they need to keep their shape. Sourdough has exactly the opposite property, to grow the dough. But if you use discarded sourdough, chances are little as the sourdough bacteria already consumed a lot of sugars from the flour.

In fact, I used my good old recipe of shortcrust pastry and transformed it, reusing the discarded sourdough. The 80g of milk I replaced with water (from the sourdough). Water is 50% in sourdough. I then had to deduct the same quantity from the flour. Butter quantity was kept the same but for the sourdough, I felt I could add a bit more. This is how I ended up with this recipe.

I had big help from my son mixing the ingredients by hand. While he was fascinated by the flour that stuck to his hands, I took advantage of his distraction to put together the ingredients in a ball.

I tested it in the oven and I was surprised that the shape was kept perfectly. The rise of the tart crust was minimal and I actually found it perfect. 

This crust looks solid but when you try to cut it with a spoon, it is breaking easily. It holds very well the filling and I will definitely use this recipe many times in the future.

How the tart has ended? It will come soon... but for now, let's look at the crust recipe.

75% Hydration Sourdough Bread

It took me a lot of time to understand how much the quality of flour influences bread making. The protein content is an important factor and you can feel the difference only by testing it. Then comes hydration. Every flour is different at the same hydration level. This is why, when you are so motivated to replicate a recipe you saw in a video or read in a book, you put it into practice and you end up with a disappointing bread. Yes, indeed, you followed the exact quantity of ingredients, yes, you followed the steps very carefully, but your resulting bread is a kind of failure. 

The quality of flour is of huge importance. This does not mean that high protein flours are the best in the class. High proteins = high gluten but do not mean quality gluten. You might have nice experiences with medium or even low protein content flours that behaves extraordinarily. 

Near the flour quality, there are other important things to consider: time, temperature and not the last, the baker's skills. All these and others as well may influence how great your bread will be.

Bakers skills may influence how the bread turns out to be in the end. A skilled baker would recognise early if the dough goes off track and might have the right tools at hand to save a dough from failures.

A dough of 75% is at the limit between medium to high hydration for bread. For a beginner, 75% hydration is hell, while for an experienced baker is too low to achieve certain objectives.

For me, 75% hydration is just the perfect high hydration dough when working with strong bread flour. For a weak flour, it is too much. You need to adapt the hydration to the flour you are using to get the best out of the flour qualities.

I baked before 85% hydration. It was a target I set for myself and I managed to do it how I liked it. But handling that dough was putting me nervous. Maybe indeed it requires practice but my preferred hydration for a high hydration dough is 75%.

I invite you to watch me doing this bread on the video I made for this recipe.


Every 9th of March of my childhood, my mother was preparing a special dish: a kind of sweet soup with pasta made in the shape of 8. 
I recall that a few days before this date, I was helping her creating these 8s and they were sitting on the table until fully dried. It was a joy for me to play with the dough as my mother was quickly bored with this repetitive work.
Then, on the exact day of the 9th of March, my mother was boiling them with some magical ingredients and the whole house was invaded by an unforgettable pleasant smell.
I moved from my parent's house and somehow, I left behind this tradition, although my mother was asking me every year if I did the "mucenici". And no, shamefully, in the last 14 years, I did not do them at all. 
Two or three years ago, when visiting my mom, I asked her if she can make them for my daughter to taste. Although it was not the 9th of March, she made them for me and my daughter. My daughter didn't really like them, but for me... it was like a travel back to time. I asked my mother to pass me the famous T shaped tool used for making these 8s and promised to do them myself. Last year, with all the craziness before the lockdown, I skipped it again.
This year, I couldn't miss it anymore. Exactly like me with my mother, years ago, I sat with my children around the table and shaped the 8s. My daughter shaped them until the very end, exactly like I was doing back then. And, I was preparing and stretching the dough like my mother was doing it for me.
This is how the tradition is passed from generation to generation, right?
When boiled, well, none of my children was crazy about them, although the sweet taste made them eat some of them.
This is my story with this dish. It is in fact a traditional dish made in Romania for the 9th of March to commemorates the 40 Martyrs killed in Sebaste.
The story behind the 40 Martyrs I found later: a group of 40 Christian Roman soldiers were forced to enter the frozen lake of Sabaste as they refused to change their religion.
It is said that the 8s represent the human forms and the water in which the "mucenici" are boiled represents the lake.

However, on other sides of the country, these 8s are not boiled but baked from a similar dough used for cozonac. But that is another recipe....

Wrapped sourdough bread

I sometimes start from an idea and launch myself in bread experiments. 
When doing the Pane Incamiciato it crossed my mind to make the wrap dough separately and with something that I have always at hand: discarded sourdough. I ran few tests and I understood the advantages and disadvantages of using it in the dough for a wrap. While for this kind of wrap it was tricky, for other types od bread decorations it might work great. The testing of this idea is far from being finished. As long as you know what to expect. you also know how to use it to your advantage.
I am very much aware that these loaves are not perfect, but they are still wonderful loaves. Every experiment comes with a bunch of lessons learned that are so valuable in my baking experience.

I filmed the entire bread experiment and I can present it to you now in this video, with all the issues encountered and all the lessons I've leant: