Rum-Soaked Golden Raisin and Walnut Knots

Viviana's Kitchen

Last month I spent a solid, good two consecutive weeks being Chef Viviana, plumping myself and my family up with sugary carb foods like what I’m about to share today, and enjoying the start of a new year in a relatively relaxed environment, on the precipice of starting Marie Kondo’s decluttering KonMari method in my life – which, by the way, is going somewhat slowly, and my room currently looks like a tornado blew through it.

PHEW. What a mouthful. ANYWAY – I’ve been following Thida Bevington on Instagram for a while, and her feed is a dessert lover’s dream, to be honest. In January I decide THAT’S IT. Her Nutella knots were so aesthetically pleasing, I thought to myself, I need to exercise my creativity one way or another, why not through something my mouth can enjoy?

I tried the knots with Nutella first, but I find that it sort of…evaporates? in the baking process. I did a couple more batches afterwards with my signature walnut-almond and rum-soaked white raisins, which I enjoyed much more.

Enjoy the recipes below:

Sweet Dough

250g milk
60g butter
500g white flour
120g sugar
15g fast action dry yeast
1 egg
10g salt

Walnut-Raisin mixture

3/4 to 1 cup golden raisins
1-2 cups walnuts, ground
1/2 cup almonds, ground
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup rum, cognac, or whiskey
water
A blender, but if you don’t have one you can smash them up in a bag with a kitchen hammer

Instructions

For the dough:
1. Warm the milk and butter to about body temperature, should feel lukewarm.
2. Place the flour, sugar, and yeast in a bowl (I use a stand mixer) and mix together.
3. Add milk and butter, egg, and salt and mix with a dough hook for 2 minute on low.
4. Increase speed and mix for another 5-6 mins, until well incorporated.
5. Lightly knead dough on a floured surface and form a ball. Place in a clean bowl and let rise in warm environment for 2 hours, it should double in size.

For the walnut mixture:
1. In a small bowl, soak your raisins in your choice of liquor (I use rum), while the dough is rising. I usually start this process before anything else, and you can even do it overnight.
2. Grind your walnut and almonds to a fine texture until you have about 4 cups worth.
3. Heat your honey in a small pot until it just start to bubble then add honey and raisins (with the liquor) to your nuts.
4. Add water by the tablespoon as needed if mixture is too dry.

How to put it all together:
1. On a well floured surface, roll out your dough into a big rectangle, something around the size of two baking pans, but make sure it’s not so thin it rips.
2. Spread half your nut mixture evenly on the middle third of your dough canvas, then fold over one third of your dough, and spread the remaining mixture on top of that, then fold the last third on top of that.
3. Gently roll out your dough until it is flatter, then cut it long ways into 8 strips.
4. Knot them up to your liking and in the meantime, pre-heat your oven to 355F.
5. Lightly beat 1 egg and egg wash your rolls before popping them in the oven for roughly 30-40 mins, or until they’re golden brown.

Please visit Thida’s Instagram for tutorials and visual step-by-steps of everything I’ve just written!

You can also follow me on Instagram riiiiiight here.

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A Very Romanian Christmas

Viviana's Kitchen

Merry Christmas from my family to yours! Wishing you all a wonderful day full of love, laughter, mimosas, and delicious food.

Yesterday, I spent the vast majority of the day baking pastries for Christmas and I used my own website for a couple recipes. However, I noticed that I somehow never shared the recipe I use for Romanian cozonaci, which are sweet egg bread pastries filled with either poppyseed filling or a walnut and rum-soaked white raisin mixture.

They’re traditional in Romania for holidays like Christmas and Easter, but they’re not exclusive to the holidays.

Here is a link to the recipe I used, and for those of you too lazy to hop to another webpage, a break down below:

Romanian Cozonac

INGREDIENTS (for the dough)

1.5 cups lukewarm water
1.5 Tbsp granulated yeast
1.5 Tbsp salt
8 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup honey
1.5 cups (3 sticks) melted unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
7.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water)

DIRECTIONS (for the dough)

  • Mix yeast with a tablespoon of water, then mix with salt, eggs, honey, and melted butter with the 1.5 cups of water in a large bowl.
  • Mix in the flour but do not knead. I used a stand mixer here.
  • Once everything is incorporated, cover and let stand for 2 hours to grow.
  • After two hours, prep your work center with some flour (or oil) and knead the dough, then divide into 4.
  • Rollerpin it out into a large sheet and spread poppyseed filling or half of your walnut mixture, and then roll up and form into whichever shape you’re baking.
  • Bake dough in whatever form (loaf, brioche, cozonac) in the preheated oven at 350F for 35 to 40 minutes (until golden brown) with the rack in the middle position.

INGREDIENTS (for the walnut filling)

200 g walnuts, finely ground
100 g brown sugar
2 egg whites
3 Tbsp cacao
1/3 cup rum or brandy
1 cup white raisins to be plumped in the liquour

DIRECTIONS (for the walnut filling)

  • Plump raisins in rum for at least one hour – I do it over night to maximum flavor.
  • Beat egg whites to soft peaks
  • Add sugar, beat.
  • Add cocoa, beat.
  • Add walnuts and the rum-soaked raisins and mix.

Enjoy!


A Walk Through Cranbrook

Floral & Nature

Today was the first day of the rest of my life. 

Without being too cryptic, I’ll say that I did things today that were cathartic and healing and I received messages and support that I needed to hear and I am grateful and thankful for the people in my life that continue to lift me up and make me feel valued. 

That said, I gifted myself an early Christmas gift last month for Black Friday and bought Adobe Creative Cloud and thankfully have Photoshop back! I’ve been tinkering around in it (and Lightroom) but today I spent some time at Cranbrook and came home with a handful of great shots.

While I was there, a lady named Loretta walked up to me and started asking me questions about what I was taking a picture of and showed me some of her photography as well. We ended up spending well over an hour walking the grounds and I learned a lot of fascinating things about the architecture of the surrounding buildings. 

We exchanged  all kinds of stories and life experiences and funny enough, before I left the house I had stuck a few of my business cards in my pocket thinking “you never know who you’ll meet”. She was so interested in my creative pursuits, I ended up giving her one of my cards. Loretta, if you’re reading this, you are an incredible lady and I adore your vivaciousness and thirst for knowledge. 

That said, here are a couple of the photos I took today. The second photo is the last one I took before Loretta took me on a whirlwind tour of the grounds. 

Fall Update

Miscellaneous

Hello! Hi. I’m still alive and well aware that it has definitely been a minute since my last post.

In that time span, I have (thankfully) transferred all my files and photos to an external hard drive, lost any functionality on my HP laptop, bought a MacBook Pro 2015 and then returned it, and just bought a MacBook Pro 2018 that has yet to have any media imported on it. PHEW.

I’m still getting using to Apple as a whole, particularly the keyboard as I’m currently typing this – I find their keyboards to be slightly too far to the right and I keep hitting the wrong keys. I’m also still aggravated that I can’t see the time in the bottom right corner and the close/minimize buttons are on the left side – like at this point it just feels spiteful to have them there. 

I also bought and downloaded Affinity Photo and will be testing out that software hopefully this weekend, when my dongles arrive and I can import media. 

Additionally, I allowed myself to splurge a little since I had a credit on my Prime card from the 2015 return, and finally bought a ring light, photo studio setup, and an extra backdrop. I have a selfie shoot planned for this weekend that will tie into all that and help me try out Affinity, so hopefully some new content coming your way here.

Speaking of selfies, I would check out my website every time I went into the Apple store huffing and puffing over whether I should indulge in the 2018, and I noticed that this year has been, first of all, sparse on posts, but secondly, full of photos of myself. Maybe I should analyze that deeper, but I’d like to try to get different models and extend my portrait portfolio beyond photos of myself. 

Eventually I’d like to pick up that 52 week photo challenge I started in the beginning of the year and dropped a couple months in. I can’t really call it procrastination anymore when it’s been roughly 8 months since the last time I even attempted it, right?

I’m currently about a week behind in Inktober sketches, so there’s there too, but I’m solidly planning on finishing that project.

That said, I should have new content coming soon!

Jungle Fever

Portraits

I realized when I posted these photos on my Instagram accounts that my photography Instagram (@vivianapodinaphotography) still says I’m participating (PROCRASTINATING) in the r/WeeklyPhotos 52 week challenge. However, I haven’t looked at that challenge since March. The year isn’t over yet and I’d really like to catch up and finish the challenge with everyone else, so in an effort to have no more “zero-days”, I’m going to challenge myself to finish this challenge.

That said, I didn’t go into these photos with the intent of them coming out how they did at all. I was simply happy with another great makeup look and wanted to capture it in photos.

I added freckles to my face with an eyebrow pencil, a makeup trend and trick that I feel adds more dimension to an overall look, but especially so in photography. One of my favorite photo aesthetics is that of Claire Luxton, who uses her Photoshop skills to hyper-intensify gorgeous details like freckles and gem-colored eyes to bring out her subjects. I used her photography as reference and inspiration while editing, and brought out my faux freckles in this series.

I watched a few of her videos on Youtube to see how she edits and I combined a couple new tricks from her style of editing with my own. I’m very pleased with how these photos turned out and I think I might have to do some Twitch streams again in the future of my photo-editing because this was honestly so much fun.

I use myself as my subject matter for portraits about 95% of the time, but I’d really like to expand that and test myself and my skills in bringing out other people’s personalities and stories through my photography.

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