Recipe File: Rosca de Pascua | Easter Bread Ring

No Easter celebration in Argentina can be considered complete without a rosca de Pascua and some colorful chocolate Easter eggs. Easily the most popular baked good at Easter, the rosca de Pascua, a decorated, ring-shaped loaf of bread, appears in bakeries and corner stores all over the country during Semana Santa (Holy Week).

Rosca de Pascua - Whole by katiemetz, on Flickr

Meant to symbolize eternal life, Easter bread rings form part of the baking tradition of many countries, but the classic toppings of pastry cream, candied cherries and pearl sugar set the Argentine version apart from the rest. Lightly sweet and scented with vanilla, this tender yeast bread pairs perfectly with mate or a cup of coffee.

If the rosca de Pascua strikes a familiar chord with you, I can explain why. The bread ring prepared during Holy Week is virtually identical to the rosca de Reyes that is eaten during the celebration of the Epiphany, just after Christmas. The two breads occasionally differ in terms of their presentation (some bakers insert eggseither chocolate or the real thing in the rosca de Pascua), but for the most part, the recipes are one and the same.

Click here for the recipe for Rosca de Pascua | Easter Bread Ring.

Rosca de Pascua - Before Baking by katiemetz, on Flickr
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Recipe File: Empanadas de Roquefort, Apio y Nuez | Roquefort Cheese, Celery and Walnut Empanadas

I remember the first time I walked into my small-town, neighborhood bakery here in Argentina during the days leading up to Easter. In addition to the usual array of breads, cookies and pastries, there, piled high on a tray on the counter, stood a mound of flaky, golden empanadas topped with a shimmering layer of sugar. "Empanadas de vigilia" read the small, hand-lettered sign, and I was immediately intrigued. The baker's wife explained that she had three varieties of empanadas for saleall meatlessthat they'd prepared especially for Lent.

Batch of Empanadas by katiemetz, on Flickr

In Argentina, where Catholicism holds sway as the dominant religion, many people continue to observe the traditional restrictions on eating meat during the season of Lent. As I later discovered, empanadas de vigilia may include any number of fish, vegetable or cheese fillings with flavors such as tuna, hake (a type of flaky white fish), corn, Swiss chard and cheese making frequent appearances. These empanadas usually feature a flaky style of dough reminiscent of puff pastry, and they're often topped with a sprinkle of sugar, just like the ones I saw at the bakery.

Of course, these empanadas can be enjoyed at any time of year (irrespective of your religious affiliation!), and the Roquefort, celery and walnut empanadas that I'm featuring here top my list of year-round favorites.

If you're a fan of blue cheese, don't hesitate to try these empanadas de roquefort, apio y nuez. The tang of the Roquefort cheese along with the crunchiness of the walnuts and the unmistakable flavor of celery makes for a flavor-packed empanada that you won’t be able to stop eating!

Inside the Empanada by katiemetz, on Flickr

Empanadas de Roquefort, Apio y Nuez | Roquefort Cheese, Celery and Walnut Empanadas
Yields 16 empanadas

Ingredients
1 Tbsp. butter
¾ c. peeled and chopped celery
pinch of salt
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ c. coarsely shredded mozzarella cheese
1 ½ c. crumbled Roquefort cheese (or your favorite blue cheese)
1/3 c. roughly chopped walnuts, toasted
16 empanada shells, puff pastry type (tipo hojaldre) or homemade empanada dough

For assembly:
a glass of water
1 egg yolk
granulated sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Directions
In a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the celery, salt and pepper, and cook the celery until it’s completely soft but not brown. Remove the celery from the heat and allow it to cool.

In a medium bowl, add the mozzarella cheese, Roquefort cheese, walnuts and the celery. Mix thoroughly to combine.

Assembling the empanadas:
Preheat the oven to 425ºF.

Place a heaping tablespoonful of the cheese mixture in the center of the empanada dough. Resist the urge to overfill the empanadas, as they will be difficult to work with and will likely explode in the oven if you do so. Dip your finger in the glass of water and lightly wet the edge of the dough. Bring the edges of the dough together and press firmly.

There are several methods used to seal the empanadas (the repulgue). The simplest way involves pressing the tines of a fork around the edge of the empanada, but if you're interested in trying your hand at a fancier repulgue, here's a video that demonstrates a traditional twisted edge. 

Place the empanadas on a lightly greased cookie sheet, and brush them with egg yolk. Sprinkle them lightly with sugar, if desired. Poke holes in the top of the empanadas with a fork to vent the steam (cheese empanadas have a greater tendency to explode). Bake until golden brown, about 12-15 minutes.

This recipe was originally published by me on the website Hispanic Kitchen. Read More......

Recipe File: Tarta Pascualina | Savory Easter Pie

Tarta pascualina, a savory spinach pie, enjoys popularity in both Argentina and Uruguay. Italian immigrants who voyaged to South America to gamble on a new life brought with them the recipe for this tasty and filling pie. The tarta pascualina’s origins lie specifically in the region of Liguria, Italy, where the dish can be traced back to the 16th century.

Slice of Tarta Pascualina by katiemetz, on Flickr

Traditionally eaten during Lent, this meatless dish contains a number of eggs, a Christian symbol of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The eggs are cracked directly into the flavorful filling of spinach and ricotta cheese, and after a stint in the oven, they emerge as hard-boiled eggs baked into the pie. Although the pie was originally associated with the period leading up to Easter, tarta pascualina is enjoyed year-round in Argentina.

Note: The tarta pascualina is frequently made with Swiss chard instead of spinach, so feel free to substitute one for the other.

Tarta Pascualina | Savory Easter Pie

Ingredients
1 medium onion, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 (14 oz.) bags frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and drained or 2 bunches fresh spinach, lightly steamed, drained and chopped (roughly 1 ½ packed cups of cooked spinach)
1 lb. ricotta cheese
1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
6 eggs (4 for the top of the pie, one for the filling, and one for the egg wash)
3 roasted red peppers, chopped
1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ají molido [substitute crushed red pepper]
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 (2-count) package pascualina shells or 2 pie crusts, either homemade or store-bought

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease a deep tart pan or springform pan with baking spray.

In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Sweat the onion and garlic together in the skillet until translucent. Remove from the heat, and allow the onion and garlic to cool.

In a large bowl, stir together the onion, garlic, spinach (make sure it is thoroughly drained), ricotta, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, roasted peppers, nutmeg, ají molido, salt, and pepper. Taste the mixture and adjust the seasoning as needed. Add 1 egg to the mixture and mix well. Carefully line the bottom of the pan with one of the pascualina shells. Spoon the filling into the tart pan.

Smooth the top of the filling, and make four deep, evenly spaced depressions in the filling. Crack an egg into each hole (hold back a bit of the white if it looks like it will overflow). Cover the filling with the second pascualina shell, and seal the crust using a fork or by making a decorative edge. Vent the crust with a sharp knife, and then brush the crust with a beaten egg for color and shine. Bake for approximately 45 minutes, or until the pie is golden brown and the filling has set. Allow the pie to cool to room temperature (or just slightly warm) before serving.

This recipe was originally published by me on the website Hispanic Kitchen.

Tarta Pascualina by katiemetz, on Flickr
Read More......

Recipe File: Pollo al Disco de Arado

Fearless in the kitchen, my father-in-law Tomás knows a thing or two about good food; however, heand many other Argentinesfavors a freewheeling approach to cooking. Like garlic to a vampire, anything that can be even remotely construed as a recipe repels Tomás. So, I knew that if I wanted the secret behind his flavorful version of pollo al disco, the only way to extract the details was to be his shadow as he prepared the dish for our Sunday family lunch.

Pollo al Disco - Cooking the Vegetables by katiemetz, on Flickr

What Does "Al Disco" Mean?

Food prepared "al disco" or "al disco de arado" doesn’t refer so much to a particular recipe but rather a cooking method using a huge iron disc heated outdoors over a wood fire. Recipes with chicken tend to be the most popular choice for the disco, although other meats or fish occasionally make an appearance. Since discos provide a large surface area for cooking while remaining eminently portable, they are particularly useful for preparing meals when camping or spending the day outside with a group of friends.

Pato Preparing the Pollo al Disco by katiemetz, on Flickr
[Daniel's cousin prepares a lunch of pollo al disco after a morning of horseback riding.]

The Origin of the Disco

Given Argentina’s long agricultural tradition, there's no shortage of farming equipment in these parts. Farmers typically use a piece of machinery known as a disc plough to till the earth and prepare the land for planting. Never short on ingenuity, those same farmers discovered that once the plough's iron discs (discos de arado) had outlived their usefulness as a farming tool, they could be transformed into a cooking implement. Most plough discs that have been modified into cooking discs come with two handles, foldable or removable legs, and, sometimes, a lid.

*    *    *    *    *

The following recipe for pollo al disco offers a starting point; feel free to omit or add ingredients as you see fit or according to what you've got in the pantry. Trust your instincts and your taste budsthat's what most Argentine cooks do!

Note: If you don’t own a disco, you can still prepare this dish in a large, deep skillet or dutch oven on the stovetop.

Pollo al Disco - Finished by katiemetz, on Flickr

Pollo al Disco
Serves 5-6 people

Ingredients
1 (5 lb.) whole chicken, cut up or equivalent in bone-in, skin-on chicken parts
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 lbs. potatoes, peeled and sliced in thick rounds
4 stalks scallion, chopped
3 medium red bell peppers, julienned
2 medium onions, julienned
1-2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar [substitute with up to 1 c. wine or beer, if desired—dish will be saucier]
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
3 tsp. capers
2 c. sliced mushrooms
freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ tsp. ají molido [substitute crushed red pepper]
1 c. cream
½ c. fresh parsley, roughly chopped

Directions
Prepare the fire and preheat the disc over a moderately high flame. Heat the vegetable oil in the disc. Wash and pat the chicken parts dry. Add the chicken to the disc, skin side downthe pieces should not touch. Cook the chicken, turning as necessary, until brown on all sides.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and boil until just cooked through. Reserve a cup of the cooking water from the potatoes. Drain the potatoes and set aside.

Reduce the flame under the disc. Move the chicken to the outer edge of the disc, creating a space in the center for the vegetables. Add the scallions, bell peppers and onions followed by the vinegar and bouillon cubes. Stirring occasionally, cook until the vegetables soften and the onion turns translucent.

Add the mushrooms and capers. Stir to distribute all of the vegetables among the chicken. After about 5 minutes, add the black pepper, ají molido and cream.

Add the boiled potatoes. Feel free to add some of the reserved cooking liquid from the potatoes if the dish looks dry. Sprinkle the chicken and vegetables with parsley. Stir gently and allow the potatoes to absorb the flavors, approximately 5 to 10 minutes.

Serve with crusty bread and a green salad.

This recipe was originally published by me on the website Hispanic Kitchen. Read More......

Recipe File: Buñuelos de Acelga | Swiss Chard Fritters

Before I lived in Argentina, Swiss chard fell into the category of leafy green vegetables I had heard of but never sampled. I vaguely recall once seeing a wilted bunch of greens at the supermarket next to an enormous pile of the perennial favorite, spinach. However, here in Argentinawhere Swiss chard enjoys widespread availability at markets and lower prices than spinachchard takes center stage. Swiss chard can be used in any dish that calls for spinach, as it has a very similar flavor (although I find chard to be less bitter and more delicate than spinach).

Buñuelos or fritters form part of the cuisine of many different cultures. In Argentina, buñuelos may be savory or sweet. Savory buñuelos like the ones in the following recipe, which incorporate Swiss chard, are usually included as part of lunch or dinner, while sweet buñuelos are often enjoyed with mate. Argentines also prepare a smaller version of these fritters known as bocadillos.

Buñuelos de Acelga - Interior by katiemetz, on Flickr

Feel free to substitute spinach for Swiss chard in this recipe if it’s not available in your area.

Buñuelos de Acelga | Swiss Chard Fritters

Ingredients
1 large bunch fresh Swiss chard, lightly steamed, drained and chopped (roughly 1 packed cup of cooked Swiss chard)
1 stalk green onion, finely chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp. sugar
½ c. grated parmesan cheese
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 c. milk
1 ½ c. self-rising flour
1 tsp. baking powder
vegetable oil for frying

Directions
In a large bowl, mix the chard, green onion, salt, pepper, nutmeg and sugar. Add the cheese, eggs, and milk, and stir to incorporate. Lastly, add the flour and baking powder. Mix well to form a thick batter (adjust thickness by adding more flour or milk, as needed).

In a medium-sized pot, heat the vegetable oil (medium-medium high temperature). Avoid frying at a very high temperature; otherwise, the exterior of the fritter will brown before the interior is fully cooked. Using either a small cookie scoop or two spoons, drop the batter by tablespoonfuls into the hot oil. Fry until deep golden brown, flipping the buñuelos over to ensure even cooking. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.

This recipe was originally published by me on the website Hispanic Kitchen.

Buñuelos de Acelga by katiemetz, on Flickr
Read More......

Recipe File: Tortas Fritas

While roaming the vast Argentine pampa, the gauchos of yore maintained a nomadic way of life that afforded limited access to foodstuffs. Many a gaucho subsisted on a diet restricted to grilled beef and mate. On occasion, the gauchos would fry up tortas fritas, a simple dough that consisted of ingredients that were readily on hand: flour, lard, water and salt. Although very traditional recipes stick to these most basic of ingredients, many modern versions of tortas fritas often substitute butter for lard and/or include eggs, milk or a leavening agent like baking powder.

As one of Argentina’s comidas criollastraditional foods that evolved from the union of European cuisine with native ingredients and influencestortas fritas boast a long tradition derived from the simple lifestyle lead by the Argentine cowboys. Today, tortas fritas and mate are regarded as an unbeatable combination, particularly on a drizzly, chilly day that demands a simple, comforting treat that’s quick to prepare. It’s said that the custom of drinking mate with tortas fritas on a rainy day can be traced back to the gauchos who, when camped together out on the pampa, would gather rainwater to prepare the dough.

Torta Frita Closeup by katiemetz, on Flickr
I recall that shortly after I first moved to Argentina, we experienced three consecutive days of driving wind and rain from a fierce storm. Housebound one afternoon as a result of the nasty weather, my fiancé’s grandmother announced that we were going to prepare tortas fritas and mate to combat our growing sense of cabin fever. In no time flat, the tortas fritas emerged golden and puffy from the oil, and I was charged with sprinkling some sugar over the tops. After a few rounds of mate and quite possibly one too many tortas fritas, the matriarch good-naturedly declared my conversion from yanqui (American) to Argentine complete.

The Conversion Is Complete by katiemetz, on Flickr
Even if you don’t have an Argentine grandmother to help you out, try your hand at making tortas fritas one soggy afternoon. Rest assured that coffee or hot chocolate makes a great accompaniment if there’s no yerba in the cupboard for mate.

Tortas Fritas
Yields 12 servings

Ingredients
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
5 Tbsp. butter, melted
approx. 2/3 c. warm water
vegetable oil for frying
granulated sugar to sprinkle on top

Directions
In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt with a wooden spoon. Form a well in the center and add the melted butter; mix to combine. Slowly add the warm water and mix until the dough comes together (you may not need to use the entire amount of waterthe dough should be moist but not mushy).

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead for a few minutes until the dough feels smooth and uniform. Divide the dough into 12 pieces, and form the dough into balls about the size of a large walnut. Allow the balls of dough to rest on a lightly floured surface, covered, for 15 minutes.

To shape the tortas fritas, flatten the ball of dough with your palm, and create a disc about 1/8 inch thick using the heel of your hand. Cut a small x in the center of the dough with a sharp knife.

Heat the oil in a deep skillet or pot. The oil must be very hot to ensure quick frying and minimal absorption of grease. If the oil isn’t hot enough, the tortas fritas will turn out greasy and heavy.

Drop two to three pieces of dough into the hot oil (depending on the size of the skillet), and fry on one side until golden brown (approximately 45 to 60 seconds). With a pair of tongs, flip the tortas fritas over and continue frying on the other side until golden brown (roughly the same amount of time).

Remove the tortas fritas from the oil and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with sugar and serve hot.

This recipe was originally published by me on the website Hispanic Kitchen.

Tortas Fritas and Mate

Read More......

Recipe File: Humita en Olla

Thick, creamy and subtly sweet with just a hint of spice, humita, a traditional dish from Northwest Argentina, definitely qualifies as comfort food. Made with grated corn, onion, tomato and red bell pepper, humita may be prepared in one of two ways: en olla (stewed) or en chala (wrapped in corn husks and boiled). Unlike many of the Argentine recipes that I have featured previously, which can be traced to contributions by the nation’s Spanish and Italian immigrants, the origins of humita are rooted in the indigenous cuisine of the northern provinces.

As with many traditional dishes, numerous variations abound for the recipe for humita en olla. One of the classic versions from the provinces of Tucumán and Catamarca tends to incorporate grated squash. The catamarqueños (residents of Catamarca) typically prepare humita along with other traditional specialties during Holy Week (Semana Santa) festivities. The recipe presented here leans toward the version prepared in the provinces of Salta and Jujuy.

A simple yet satisfying dish, humita en olla doesn’t contain much in the way of exotic ingredients, but it does require patience to make, as the preparation is somewhat labor intensive. Shucking and grating 15 ears of corn is no small task! So, invite some friends over to help, and reap the rewards together as you sit down to a hearty bowl of humita en olla.

Humita en Olla by katiemetz, on Flickr
Humita en Olla | Creamy Stewed Corn

Ingredients
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. ají molido (or substitute crushed red pepper but use a smaller quantity)
2 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
15 ears of corn with large kernels
1 tsp. sugar
salt and pepper to taste
7 oz. queso cremoso (or substitute mozzarella cheese), cubed
6 fresh basil leaves

Directions
Select 15 ears of corn. For the best results, use the freshest corn possible with large, plump kernels. Shuck the corn and carefully remove all the silks. On the largest holes of a box grater, grate the corn into a large bowl. Scrape the corncobs with a butter knife to remove the remaining milky liquid from the kernels.

Heat the vegetable oil and butter in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot. Sauté the onion and bell pepper until soft and lightly browned. Add the paprika, ají molido and tomato, lightly sautéing the ingredients. Add the corn, sugar, salt and pepper.

Cook the corn mixture over low heat for thirty minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and scraping the bottom of the pot (every 5 to 10 minutes). The humita will stick and burn if not watched carefully. Add the basil and cheese and readjust the seasoning as needed. Cook for approximately thirty more minutes, continuing to stir every few minutes. The humita is finished cooking when it is thick and creamy (the consistency will be similar to that of thick oatmeal).

Serve piping hot with crusty bread and a simple salad. The humita tastes even better the next day!

This recipe was originally published by me on the website Hispanic Kitchen. Read More......

Recipe File: Torta de Ricota | Ricotta Pie

When perusing the case filled with assorted tarts and cakes at the neighborhood bakery just around the corner, the torta de ricota, with its snow-white layer of powdered sugar and enticing fluted crust, never fails to attract my attention. The Argentine dessert torta de ricota, known as ricotta pie in English, features a sweet, rich filling of ricotta cheese flavored with lemon and vanilla between two layers of crumbly shortcrust dough. The Argentine version of this pie, an import originally hailing from Italy, invariably calls for a double crust, unlike Italian-American versions that I have seen that bear more of a resemblance to a cheesecake or single-crust pie.

Although I adore dulce de leche, its recurring role in Argentine pastries and cakes can grow tiresome (believe it or not!). When my taste buds are suffering from dulce de leche overload, torta de ricota makes for a particularly attractive option, especially during the summer months when I tend to gravitate toward desserts with a hint of citrus.
Torta de Ricota by katiemetz, on Flickr

Ricotta Pie | Torta de Ricota

Ingredients
Dough:
3 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 3/4 sticks butter, cubed
2 whole eggs
1 c. powdered sugar, plus additional for dusting finished tart
1 tsp. vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon

Filling:
2 1/2 c. ricotta cheese
3 egg yolks
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 scant c. sugar

Equipment:
Deep tart pan with removable bottom

Directions
Place the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter, and using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the eggs, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and lemon zest, and mix to form the dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until just combined. Shape the dough into a ball, and cover in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for about 30 minutes.

For the filling, in a medium bowl, place the ricotta, egg yolks, vanilla extract, lemon zest, lemon juice, cornstarch and sugar. Mix well to incorporate the ingredients.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of the tart pan.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and divide it in two. Lightly flour both the rolling pin and work surface, and roll out each piece of dough into a disc just slightly larger than the tart pan. To transfer the dough to the tart pan, carefully roll the dough around the rolling pin, and unroll it onto the top of the tart pan. Gently press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan.

Pour the filling into the prepared tart pan. Carefully place the second disc of dough over the filling. Press the edges of the dough into the rim of the tart pan, removing any excess.

Place the tart pan on a baking sheet. Bake until the top of the pie is light golden brown, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, and allow the pie to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before removing it from the pan. Let the pie continue to cool at room temperature, and then place it in the refrigerator for at least two hours (tastes best when served chilled). Dust the pie with powdered sugar just before serving.

This recipe was originally published by me on the website Hispanic Kitchen.

Torta de Ricota II by katiemetz, on Flickr Read More......

Recipe File: Rosca de Reyes | Three Kings’ Cake

The rosca de reyes, the food most closely associated with El Día de los Tres Reyes Magos, begins to crop up in Argentine bakeries just after New Year's. A sweetened yeast bread formed into the shape of a ring, the rosca de reyes symbolizes both the crowns of the Three Kings and God's unending love. The Argentine version of the rosca is usually topped with pastry cream, candied cherries (and/or other candied fruits) and pearl sugar.

Rosca de Reyes by katiemetz, on Flickr
Three Kings’ Cake | Rosca de Reyes
Yields 1 large ring or 2 small ones

Ingredients

Sponge:
1/4 c. bread flour
1 Tbsp. honey
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1/3 c. warm milk [100ºF to 110ºF]

Dough:
3 c. bread flour plus up to 1 c. bench flour
3 tsp. active dry yeast
1/3 c. warm milk
1/2 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. malt extract [optional]
2 eggs
7 Tbsp. butter, softened [just under 1 stick]

Pastry Cream:
2 c. milk
1 whole egg
3 egg yolks
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Other:
1 beaten egg
red candied cherries
pearl sugar
apricot jelly [optional]

Directions

To make the sponge, in a medium bowl, dissolve the honey in the warm milk, and then add the yeast and flour, stirring to create a paste. Leave the mixture, covered, to rise and bubble for 2 hours.

For the dough, sift the flour and place it in a large mixing bowl, making a well in the center. Dissolve the yeast in the milk. Add the sugar, lemon zest, vanilla extract, malt extract, eggs, butter and the sponge to the well. Slowly add the milk and yeast mixture to the well while incorporating the flour into the wet ingredients with a wooden spoon. Once the dough comes together into a ball, turn it out onto a well floured work surface and knead by hand (the dough will be very sticky). Use up to 1 cup of additional bench flour to knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic and no longer sticks to your hands, about 15 minutes. Shape dough into one large ball (or two smaller ones), and place in a greased bowl, covered with a kitchen towel. Allow dough to rise in a warm place, until it doubles in volume.

While the dough is rising, make the pastry cream. Scald the milk in a heavy saucepan (milk should foam but not boil). In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the whole egg along with the egg yolks, sugar and flour until smooth. Slowly incorporate the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to avoid curdling the eggs. Return the mixture to the saucepan, and whisking constantly, cook over medium heat until it just comes to a boil and thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Transfer the pastry cream to a clean bowl (pass it through a fine-mesh strainer if you spot small pieces of curdled egg), and cool the pastry cream to room temperature.

Punch down the dough and form it into a ball. Place the dough ball on a baking sheet lined with greased parchment or a silicone mat, and make a hole in the center of the ball. Carefully stretch and shape the dough into a ring. Insert a lightly crumpled ball of aluminum foil or an empty tin can in the hole.
Allow the dough to rise in a warm place for about one hour or until doubled in volume.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Using a pastry bag with a star tip, decorate the ring with pastry cream. Brush the ring with beaten egg, avoiding areas with pastry cream. Place the candied cherries on top and sprinkle with pearl sugar.

Bake the ring for about 35 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Optional step: While the rosca cools, prepare the apricot jelly. Bring the jelly to a simmer in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally. Let the jelly reduce until it has thickened slightly, about five minutes. Lightly brush the rosca with jelly to enhance its appearance and give it shine.

This recipe was originally published by me on the website Hispanic Kitchen. Read More......
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