Carrying traditions on: learning how to bake my mother’s orahnjača (walnut roll)

Growing up, I remember waking up to the sweet smell of my mother’s orahnjača (walnut roll).  At bridal showers, I always gravitated towards the orahnjača on the desert table as it’s not too sweet, nor too heavy and it always goes nicely with a cup of coffee.  However, my mother’s recipe is my all-time favourite.

My mother always insists on baking it first thing in the morning to let it rise properly.  Whether or not that’s an old Croatian wives’ tale, or if my mother made that up, I can say with confidence that I baked this recipe in an afternoon with no issues.  It didn’t turn out perfect and again (as noted in my previous post about sirnica/Easter bread,) I had to decipher my mother’s recipe as she only provided me with approximate steps and “about” increments.  With some investigative work, a few FaceTime calls and a million questions to my mom, I was able to figure out her orahnjača recipe!

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Ingredients:

Part 1:

  • 4-5 cups of bread flour (start with 4 cups and add more as needed)
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp of active dry yeast + 1 tbsp of sugar in 1 cup of warm water
  • pinch of salt
  • 5 yolks (separate egg whites and place in fridge for part 2)
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 cup of warm milk
  • 1 shot of Jamaican rum
  • grated lemon zest and juice of 1 lemon

Part 2 (filling):

  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • egg whites from previous part
  • 3/4 of a pound of ground walnuts
  • 1 shot of espresso

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Directions:

  1. Using the paddle attachment of your stand-up mixer, cream the sugar and unsalted butter together on a low speed.
  2. Add egg yolks, one by one, while mixing.
  3. Add the whole egg.
  4. Slowly add your flour on a low speed (I use speed 1 on my Cuisanart mixer).
  5. Slowly pour the warm milk in while mixing.
  6. Slowly add your yeast mixture in.
  7. Add the rum and lemon zest and juice to the mixture.
  8. Once thoroughly mixed, switch the paddle attachment and insert your dough hook and continue on a low speed (at this point I turn the dial to speed 2) until the mixture becomes a little tacky (you don’t want it to be too sticky or too firm; so add more flour or warm milk as needed).
  9. Once the dough has thoroughly mixed, take the dough and knead it on a floured surface for about 10-15 minutes into a ball.
  10. Place the dough ball into a large bowl, cover with a wash cloth and let rest in a warm oven for about 2 hours.
  11. Remove dough from oven and on a floured surface, take your dough and cut into two halves.  Take both parts and roll into two separate dough balls.  Then place the dough balls into two separate bowls, cover each bowl with wash cloths and place in warm oven again to rise for about 30 minutes.
  12. While dough is rising for the second time; take your ingredients from part two (sugar, egg whites, ground walnuts and espresso) into a medium-size bowl and mix with a spatula.
  13. Remove dough from oven after it has risen for a second time.
  14. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees C.
  15. Roll each dough ball into a long flat oval or rectangle (does not have to be a perfect shape)
  16. Then with a spatula, spread the walnut mixture on your flattened dough.
  17. Gently take the edge of the dough and roll (you can also place the dough on a table cloth and pull the table cloth to roll it).
  18. Repeat steps 16-17 on the second dough ball.
  19. Place each roll into a bread pan OR you can place each roll on a cookie sheet.
  20. Cover your bread pans or cookie sheet with tin foil and place in the oven and bake covered for 30 minutes.
  21. After 30 minutes, remove the foil and continue baking until the top is golden brown (use a toothpick test to determine if it is done baking), for an additional 25-35 minutes.
  22. Remove from oven and let rest for on a cooling rack about 30 minutes to an hour as the mixture is hot and can leak if you cut right away.
  23. Enjoy and serve with coffee!  Dobar tek!

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For the love of coffee: A look at Commonwealth Coffee Company

This past week I’ve been in London, Ontario for work. During my down time, I’ve been going around town, checking out the restaurant and cafe scene. I can’t help but notice that a lot of new restaurants and cafes have popped up. This is very positive for London. The city has been going through some major renovations, including road work throughout the downtown core. Fanshawe College’s renovation of the old Kingsmill department store is complete and boasts a state-of-the-art culinary school. South London has lots of new updates as well: including a modern, brand new YMCA and lots of commercial developments as you go down Wonderland Road South.

During my break, I came across Commonwealth Coffee Company by fluke. I was greeted by a sign that read “coffee is always a good idea.” I knew I had to pop in.

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When I walked inside Commonwealth Coffee Company, I was pleasantly surprised! This place is tres chic and sadly my pictures don’t do this place justice. The staff was super friendly and made my cappuccino just right. The staff advised me that the cafe opened up about a year ago.

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I could have easily spent my whole afternoon here. This seems like a great place to get together with a girlfriend or to go on a date. In addition, this place would have been an ideal location for working on my blog. There are definitely lots of reasons to come back here! In a city that boasts amazing coffee houses- Fireroasters and Black Walnut to name a few, Commonwealth Coffee Company definetly adds some flair to the mix!

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For the love of coffee: A look at Cake and Loaf Bakery

During my last break on Tuesday afternoon, I decided to venture to the Hamilton Farmer’s Market to escape the reality of work. I had the urge to try something sweet today and headed out to Cake and Loaf Bakery.

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I absolutely love Cake and Loaf! With a wide variety of cookies, pastries and breads, Cake and Loaf does not disappoint. They are well known for their baked goods and all their items are made from local ingredients. Their Dundurn location also serves lunch from my understanding. My personal favourites are the Skor cookies and the maple peacan tart. I also love the emphasis of being locally made. In a way, you sense some sort of pride in their craftsmanship. I also love how there are two locations- one in the market and the other at their home base at 321 Dundurn.

I wasn’t originally going to buy a coffee there but Cafe au Lait was on the menu and it caught my eye.

Cafe au lait is basically coffee with warmed milk. This drink is very popular in Europe. In Croatia it’s known as “bijela kava,” which for me is a personal old time favourite drink.

If you are looking for some freshly baked goods and a good ol’ cafe au lait, look no further than to Cake and Loaf Bakery!

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For the love of coffee: A look at Lola’s Choco Bar and Sweet House

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Yesterday after my hair appointment, I decided to end my “me time date” with a little java at this relatively new spot in Burlington’s Village Square: Lola’s Choco Bar and Sweet House. Being a busy mom, “me time” is important. Sometimes, we just need a little reminder that mom’s are people too with our own personalities. We get so lost with everything that involves being a mom: driving kids to school, activities, working, cleaning and preparing meals.  Sometimes its overwhelming and its okay to feel like this.  During those moments when we do feel like that, we just need to remind ourselves that it’s okay to press the pause button, have a break and reset.  Yesterday was my “pause and reset” day.

I heard about Lola’s through a friend of mine, and fell in love with the place. Yesterday’s visit was now my third to date. However, last night I did it right.  I actually decided to sit down, at least for a few minutes to enjoy a coffee before I headed home to my little ones.  The weather was on point- it was about dusk and the sun was about to set. It was warm but breezy out and as I sipped a macchiato, I felt that I was in Europe for a brief moment in time.

The cobblestone and stone buildings surrounding the cafe takes you to places in Europe- France, Italy, Croatia and Greece comes to mind. Chocolate is available on tap, as well as a variety of gelato and European pastries. For a little piece of Europe closer to home, look no further to Lola’s in Burlington, a quiet area tucked in the Village Square near the waterfront.

For the love of coffee: A look at Red Church Café + Gallery

Yesterday I decided to spend my work break at a nearby coffee shop: Red Church Café + Gallery in downtown Hamilton. I am no stranger to this café, as I came across it a few months ago. At the time, I wanted something different from my regular Keurig brew or Timmies and went on the hunt for something better. I decided to go to the Starbucks in Gore Park but instead, I came across a sign that says this:
Art. Coffee. Prosecco. Beer.

Bingo. I found what I was looking for.

Red Church Café + Gallery is just that. Unique and modern. The café is vibrant, eclectic and inviting. Towards the back of the café is an art gallery which exhibits work from local artists. The seating outside reminds me of a Parisian café but with a twist.

Yesterday I picked up a cappuccino. I asked the barista for a double shot of espresso, but to my surprise, the barista told me that all of their cappuccinos are made with a double shot of espresso anyways. In my opinion, the cappuccino is made just right, with not too much milk and more in the European fashion. They serve a wide selection of coffees from Americanos to Chai Lattes and everything in between. In addition to their drink menu, they also have a lovely selection of baked good available as well as breakfast sandwiches and a lunch menu. The cafe also sells De Mello Palhetta coffee and has an extensive selection of French press machines available for purchase.

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Overall, I had a great experience and I can’t wait to go back and try something from their lunch menu and sit outside. I would say that Red Church is the perfect escape from reality, at least for a brief moment in time. I can’t wait to go back and enjoy a cappuccino and sit outside, while I reminisce of Europe.

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