The Chistmas Blog Edition - A Beigli with almonds to tackle two challenges
Last week was a bit of a whirlwind. Well, not really in literal sense as it all seemed to go slowly here in the household. It began by havig kiddo poorly early in the week, and so he stayed home from school, but he seemed fine, actually. So fine we took to the kitchen and baked a beigli together. Then we styled and photographed it, and I have to say his styling looked far better than mine. Just check my instagram and you'll see what I mean, kid's got more talent in his little finger than I have in my whole body. It went so well I actually believed he was gonna stay home from school only one or two days, with a cold. Alas! it's never that simple, now is it?
He took a turn for the worse, running a higher temp and vomiting, so we ended up cooped up in the house the whole week. Not satisfied with having kiddo ill, I must have thought it would be a nice idea if I got ill myself. Down with the flu, the two of us, good for nothing, spending whole days on the couch binge watching X-Files, drinking piping hot teas, feeling miserable and achy and feverish and lousy with runny noses and coughs and all the discomfort the flu can bring. Rest was all we did, as rest was all the body asked for. Kiddo missed two exams at school. I could barely open my eyes.
It's very rarely that I get to indulge on doing nothing all day long but the basic. That of warming up food in the microwave oven and feeding ourselves. I was really miserable and poorly, so I took full advantage of it and indulged. No work. No running around trying to cram the world into a day. No exercising, no school runs, no writing, hardly no blogging. A bit of instagraming, in the dark of my living room, in between episodes of Fox Mulder being awesome and Dana Scully being amazing. No writing, either, and for a few days I didn't even worry about it. I just wanted to rest. I still do, but a bit less now. I feel better and life's settling back to it's ordinary rhythm. It's the last school week before Christmas Hols, and kiddo has exams to do.
I want to get back to my routines, I long to sit down and write, move along with my WIP. Now that I'm finished with The Preternaturals Series, having published all four volumes already, I can immerse myself fully into this new work. I long for it, yes. But I'm still promoting and advertising my previous works, of course. Trying to get them out there, to get sales up a bit. Actually, today is Unnatural's bookversary. Exactly one year ago I published this novel, Book I in this series. For that reason, I am having a promotional sale that will last all day. Anyone who wants to start reading this series, can get the first novel at a discount price during today. And there's even cake to celebrate, at least here at the blog!
But today also marks my participation in Marta's Ingredient of the Month, which this December happens to be almonds, and Lia's and Susana's Sweet World Challenge, because I was really intrigued by this beigli thing. First and foremost because it looked like a recipe that was easy enough for me to achieve - I'm lazy AF when it comes to baking, ok? But mostly because this sweet bread roll is a Hungarian Christmas tradition. And Hungary for me spells vampires. Go figure. I even have the Vampire society of my series place their headquarters in Hungary. Much more than Romania, Hungary has infused my imagination with scenes of vampiric decadence set in the late 1700's, with lavish balls populated by vampires and mortals alike. I have a very specific scene in my head of a group of vampires hurriedly running along the cobled dark streets of Budapest, crossing bridges from one side of the city to the other, carriages on their wake, a frisson of danger and blood. You get the point. Hungary is vampires to me, and so this cake had to be baked.
If you want to read about the history of this treat, please refer to Susana's post in Basta Cheio, where you'll learn there are two possible versions of filling for the roll. Of course that, being who I am, I disregarded both. For starters I wanted to do a mix of both versions: the walnut filling and the poppy seed filling combined into this decadent thing that would ooze warmth and comfort. But then there was the allure of Marta's challenge, I so very rarely cook with almonds I wanted to do something crazy. So I did. Out went the walnuts, enter the almonds. My filling is NOTHING like the original. My beigli is far from the traditional Hungarian one, but it was a bit of a hit here, especially with my husband. I used the almonds and the poppy seeds, and even went with a bit of quince paste - when I read orange marmalade was to be spread on the dough before the filling was placed, I knew I wanted to do that with quince paste. In the end, it's an unnecessary step. Makes it far too sweet for my liking. Omit. I am baking this for Christmas this year and am surely omiting the paste. I'm also using walnuts because I'll be out of almonds by then!
So, if you want to try your hand at this, here's the recipe:
For the pastry:
- 125 gr flour
- 60 gr butter, cubed
- 1 egg yolk - keep the white for the glaze
- 3 saffron threads
- 40 ml milk
- 1/2 tbsp sugar - muscovado
- 10 gr fresh yeast
- 1 pinch salt
For the filling:
- 50 ml milk
- 60 gr sugar
- 1 apple
- 120 gr almonds and poppy seeds
- zest of a mandarin