In search of new desserts to make, a very impressive, colourful technique came to our minds! It goes like this: roll out doughs of different colours with a rolling pin, place the dough layers on top of each other, roll them up together into a cylinder, cut into slices and bake! This way you can make cookies, biscuits, rolls, buns and pastry, both sweet and savory… In our new swirly article we will make traditional Greek roxakia (cocoa and cinnamon syrupy cookies) with extra virgin olive oil, and look for sweets prepared with the swirl technique, with amazing decorations and flavour combinations!
Firstly, let’s analyze a bit this technique. The goal is to create a dough disk, in which a swirl is formed. To manage that, you must first of all make a puff pastry, bread or cookie dough. Then, divide it into portions depending on how many colours you wish your swirl to have. If you want it to have two colours, divide the dough in half and add to the one half cocoa, for example. This way you will have two dough portions with different colours. Then, roll the doughs out with a rolling pin into two rectangular sheets and place one on top of the other. Finally, roll them up into a cylinder and slice it crosswise into disks. On the slices’ surface you will see your swirl design. Bake them according to your recipe and they will be ready to impress!
So, we thought that we can apply this technique to our traditional Greek roxakia. Prepare the dough now, since you’ll have to wait for it to rise, and meanwhile continue reading our article to take a look at other swirly goodies and get ideas on how to roll your roxakia when the dough is ready!
Traditional Greek roxakia
Ingredients for the traditional Greek roxakia
|For the dough:|
|Self-raising flour||500 gr|
|Εarly harvest extra virgin olive oil (or extra virgin olive oil)||0.5 cup|
|Orange juice||0.5 cup|
|Instant dry yeast||12 gr|
|Cocoa powder*||2 tbs|
|Chocolate chips (optional, for extra flavour and texture)||40 gr or more|
|For the syrup:|
|Fresh orange juice||from the orange we zested|
|Glucose syrup***||1 tbs|
*Since we didn’t have cocoa powder and we are trying to stay home as much as possible, we substituted it for 4 tbs of chocolate drink powder, they came out delicious this way too!
**We prefer a light syrup, therefore we use less sugar than in traditional recipes. If you want it to be sweeter, add some sugar.
***Glucose syrup isn’t necessary, if you don’t have any, increase the sugar or add 1 tbs of honey after boiling the syrup.
How to make traditional Greek roxakia
Start by preparing the dough. Combine the olive oil with the orange juice and water (the juice and water must be lukewarm, not cold right out of the refrigerator) in a bowl. Add the yeast and stir. Then add the orange zest. Pour the flour gradually, mix and knead until a nice dough ball forms.
Divide the dough in half. Place the one half in a smaller bowl as is, and add the cocoa powder, cinnamon and chocolate chips to the other, by kneading until the dough gets a uniform dark colour. When adding the cocoa powder, we suggest moistening the dough with just a splash of water and adding some more flour, to facilitate the kneading. Place the chocolate dough into another bowl, cover both bowls with plastic wrap and put them aside for an hour to rise.
Now prepare your syrup. In a saucepan place the water, sugar, glucose syrup, orange peel, cinnamon stick and cloves and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for eight minutes and at the end add the orange juice and stir. Place the syrup aside to cool.
As soon as an hour has passed and the doughs have risen, it is time to make roxakia. You can do it in the classic way, roll half of the chocolate dough into a long rectangle with a rolling pin and form a cylinder of the same lenght out of half of the plain dough. Then, place the cylinder inside the rectangle, roll them up and slice crosswise into disks. We just made a small alteration: we placed the chocolate dough on the outside instead of inside, so that one can taste the chocolate from the first bite! Place the slices on a baking tray and wait another thirty minutes for them to rise.
With the rest of the doughs, we rolled both doughs into rectangles, placed them on top of each other and rolled them up into a cylinder. We sliced them and our swirls appeared! We placed the slices on a baking tray and let them rise for half an hour too. Don’t expect them to rise a lot, they will rise more in the oven!
After waiting for half an hour, bake your roxakia in a preheated oven at 175°C for 20 minutes.
When baked, dip the roxakia hot from the oven into the lukewarm syrup and let them inside for two minutes on the one side and two minutes on the other. Since we wanted them to be more biscuit-like and healthy, we waited a while for the roxakia to cool. This way, when dipped in the syrup they absorbed less and remained crispy on the outside. Try them both ways, each one has its special taste!
We borrowed the swirl technique we used in our roxakia from various other sweet and savory treats from around the world. Let’s see some of them to enrich our cooking arsenal!
Visit our Pinterest profile to get some first ideas for delicious swirly goodies!
Let’s approach them in a more analytic way now… We will start with a French pastry that my grandmother used to buy me when I was a child from our neighborhood bakery, in Athens, not in Paris… Raisin croissants or pains aux raisins in French, a croissant filled with pastry cream and raisins, a sweet memory… They are made with a buttery leavened dough and the French usually enjoy them for breakfast.
Looking for the roots of the swirl technique, we read that they possibly originate from traditional Middle-Eastern confections that are prepared with multiple phyllo dough layers.
Cypriot pancakes called pisies are made this way, as we saw in our Cypriot article. A thin phyllo dough sheet is dusted with sugar and cinnamon, rolled into a cylinder and cut into slices. The slices are deep fried and served with honey. This results in a subtle swirl of phyllo dough and sugar-cinnamon filling.
At the beginning of the 20th century in France two swirl biscuits, made of caramelised puff pastry, were invented, named palmiers and arlettes. Palmiers have a characteristic “elephant ears” shape, while arlettes are thinner and crispier, with an oval shape. Another difference is that arlettes are flavored with cinnamon. They are difficult to make though, and therefore they have lost their popularity. However, we read that one can still find them in Southern France. According to pastry chef Dominique Ansel, arlettes are the opposite of soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies; they must be crispy and if you hold them against the light you should see rings of puff pastry layers.
Palmiers are made in a similar way, with the rolling and slicing technique, just instead of one roll, the dough is rolled from its two edges towards the centre until they meet in the middle. In the classic version palmiers are filled with sugar that caramelises during baking, but they can also contain cinnamon, other spices, raisins, cranberries or other fruit, as well as savory fillings, a such as pesto or cheese.
A famous, swirly savory snack are Indian samosa pinwheels (aloo bhakarwadi as they call them) that are usually served as appetizers at parties and celebrations. They are made out of dough rolled into a cylinder, with a spicy, savory filling -usually potato, coconut, sesame seeds and spices- sliced into disks, which are then deep fried.
The swirl technique is also used in cookies with very impressive results! A typical example are American swirl cookies or pinwheel cookies, in various flavors and colours. A basic dough gets divided into two flavors, usually vanilla and chocolate, or even fruit combinations that give nice colours. Another classic version is the Christmas one.
Swirl treats can also be used as components in cakes and elaborate desserts. One such case is the stunning Charlotte Royale, a Charlotte that is lined with slices of Swiss roll filled with cream or jam instead of ladyfinger biscuits.
Our short tribute to swirl treats comes to an end… We promise to try some of them in the future, together with more sweet stories! We wish you all happy, swirly creations!
Finally, we would like to warmly thank MARMARO Olive Oil company (marmaroevoo.com, Instagram, Facebook) and agriculturist Dimitris Garofallos from Poligiros, Chalkidiki for the products he sent us to support our article! At Eat Dessert First Greece we always want to promote remarkable Greek companies and support Greek production and innovation. Before entering his thirties, Dimitris Garofallos has already managed to get his early harvest extra virgin olive oil and extra virgin olive oil to Vienna, Milan and Berlin, and other big European cities are in his plans. We are very happy when quality Greek products make our country well-known abroad!
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