Sunday, March 25, 2012

Coffee Poppy Seed Cake

Here comes one for all the coffee lovers. Beware, this cake is rather rich, so cut it in thin slices when you serve it. Its flavour is wonderful, not to speak of the texture! The poppy seeds, soaked in sour cream, and the coffee-sugar-glaze make this cake very moist. A total winner! And there is a way to make it even better: with the addition of coffee liquor (thanks for the idea Alex!). Just drizzle a bit of it over your piece of cake. Next time I bake it, I will probably add some Kahlua to the glaze already.

(from: here)

100g poppy seeds
80g sour cream
150g butter, softened, plus a little more for greasing the tin
150g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
250g caster sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
40ml espresso

For the icing:
50ml espresso
125g icing sugar, sifted

Soak the poppy seeds in the sour cream for two hours or overnight.

Heat the oven to 170°C. Lightly butter a loose-bottomed 22cm cake tin (I baked it in a 20cm tin and it worked out perfectly), line the base with baking parchment and butter the paper.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and salt.

In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition (add a spoonful of flour if it looks as if it might separate). Mix in the vanilla and coffee. Fold in the flour, alternating with the sour cream and poppy seeds, mixing until just combined. Do not overbeat.

Spoon into the tin, smooth the top with a spatula and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out on to a rack to cool completely.

To make the glaze, beat together the espresso and icing sugar until smooth, and pour over the cake. (I did that while the cake was still warm.)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Banana and Date Tea Cake

The banana cakes that I have baked recently have been a huge success and so I figured, I'd try this banana and date tea cake from the lovely Tartine. Me and my collegues from the office declared this one as a winner, too. Dates and bananas are a wonderful combination. I like the moist and chewy consistency of the cake and the crunchy almonds. It's almost too rich to be served as a dessert after dinner, though. This cake is perfect for what we Swiss call "zVieri" - an afternoon break around 4 o'clock.

(from: Tartine by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson)

155g plain flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
255g (3 medium) unpeeled bananas, very ripe
2 large eggs
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
85g butter, at room temperature
170g sugar
115g walnuts, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped (I used almonds)
225g pitted dates, coarsely chopped

1 medium banana
2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat the oven to 165°C. Line a 9x5 inch loaf tin with parchment paper. In medium bowl, stir together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and cornstarch. Peel the bananas and mash them in a second bowl. Add the eggs, vanilla, and salt, and combine thoroughly.

Put the butter in a large mixing bowl and beat until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the sugar while beating until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go. Beat in the banana mixture until incorporated. Sift the flour-mixture over the batter and fold in gently with a rubber spatula. Add the nuts and dates. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue folding until everything is well-combined. Transfer the batter to the loaf pan and smooth with a spatula. Peel the banana for the topping and cut lengthwise into 4 quarters. Lay on top of the batter and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool, then invert onto a cooling rack, then flip right side up. Serve at room temperature.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cumin and Lemon Cookies

Cumin and lemon - interesting combination, I thought when I first saw this recipe. I knew that I definitely wanted to try this since I like to experiment with the combination of all sorts of flavours. Also, the idea of using cumin for a sweet treat has never occurred to me before. I like the chewy consistency of these cookies. The warm cumin flavour comes through pretty strongly and goes together perfectly with the lemon! If you like cumin, give these a try!

(from: here)

1 tbsp cumin seeds
125g butter, softened
125g sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
175g plain flour
A pinch of salt
A little milk

Put the cumin in a dry frying pan on medium heat and toast, tossing, for two minutes, until fragrant – don't let them burn – then leave to cool.

Put half the seeds in a bowl with the butter, sugar and lemon zest, and cream together until light and fluffy. Work the flour and salt into the butter mix with a fork, then add just enough milk – a tablespoon or so – to bring it together into a dough. With your hands, form into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 170°C and line a baking tray with parchment. Break the dough into walnut-sized pieces, roll each into a ball, then squash into little cakes about 1.5cm deep. Place on the tray, leaving some room for spreading, and top with the reserved cumin seeds. Bake for 15-20 minutes until just golden. Leave to cool on a rack (they'll firm up as they cool) .

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Snickers Brownies

This post is dedicated to Brigitte, Evelyn, Beate and Dani from my office. Despite the huge workload of the past few days, I had such a great time with you guys! It is Brigitte's last day today. In the past two weeks, she really put some effort into getting me ready for my new job. These brownies are my goodbye present to her. Thank you for letting me hit you with questions all day long ;-) I wish you all the best!

(slightly adapted from the lovely Poires au Chocolat)

110g butter
50g dark chocolate (I used 70%)
2 eggs
210g brown sugar
50g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 snickers bars (from the refridgerator)
40g dark(er) chocolate (I used 72%, Emma from Poires au Chocolat used 85%)
a pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a brownie tin (about 18x23cm) with parchment paper. Thinly slice the snickers bars and chop up the darker chocolate. Put the butter and the broken up dark chocolate into a small saucepan and melt over low heat. Stir until melted and smooth. In a bowl, beat the eggs and add the melted chocolate, followed by the sugar, flour, salt and baking powder. Beat to combine. Stir in the snickers slices and dark(er) chocolate bits. Pour into the tin and smooth over. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Ovomaltine Cookies

My friends know that I am very fond of Ovomaltine. In the office, my colleagues still laugh at me when, at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, I reach for my Ovo-can when everyone else has another coffee. There had to be an Ovomaltine-post on this blog eventually. Since I know that our team is going to face a ton of work tomorrow I figured we might need a dose of Ovomaltine, packed into these cute little cookies :-)

(Original Recipe in German: here)

150g butter, soft
120g brown sugar
1/2 sachet of vanilla sugar or a teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch of salt
1 egg
60g Ovomaltine
100g dark chocolate, chopped into pieces, or 100g chocolate chips
180g flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
50g rice crispies (had none at home, so I used 60g coarse rolled oats)

In a bowl, beat butter with an electric hand mixer until smooth. Add sugar, vanilla sugar and salt and beat. Then, add the egg and beat until you have a pale batter. Add ovomaltine, chocolate and the rice crispies (or oats) and mix well. Sift in flour and baking powder and mix. I did this with a wooden ladle and by hand in the end instead of the electric mixer. Form the dough to a ball, cover with cling film and refridgerate for at least an hour. I left mine in the fridge over night.

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Form balls with the size of about a walnut from your dough, place them onto your tray and flatten a bit by hand or with a fork. Bake for about 9-10 minutes. Let cool on the tray for 5 minutes or so, then let cool completely on a wire rack.

Makes about 28 cookies. Keep in an airtight container.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Walnut Truffle Cake

I have started watching the Gilmore Girls again and I laughed out loud over a scene in the second season where Lorelai and Rory have a discussion about right and wrong while testing wedding cakes. Lorelai just concludes: "What is right? Who defines right? And if eating cake is wrong, I don't want to be right!"

Seriously, you can't go wrong with this cake! The 18cm diameter springform tin might seem small, but this cake is like a huuuuge chocolate truffle... I'm totally fond of it... its consistency, its flavour... a winner through and through. And it keeps for days. I have eaten a piece or two of it every day since Sunday... the perfect dessert after a busy day at work. How could this ever be wrong?!

(from: here)

200g walnuts
150g caster sugar
25g cocoa
250g mascarpone
4 medium eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
200g dark chocolate
100g white chocolate, or more dark chocolate

Line the base and sides of an 18cm, round cake tin with parchment paper and heat the oven to 160°C (140C fan-assisted).

Grind the walnuts with the sugar and cocoa in a food processor until fine, then beat with the mascarpone, eggs and vanilla. Melt the chocolate, stir this through the mix evenly, then spoon into the prepared tin and smooth the top.

Bake for about 75-90 minutes, until the cake has evenly risen and retains just the slightest wobble to the middle – this will ensure it has a soft, slightly melting texture in the centre. Remove from the oven and leave in the tin to cool completely before serving.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Cookies with Caramlized Apple Pieces

I got such a cute cookie book as a present recently and I've bookmarked lots of recipes in it. I wanted to try these caramlized apple cookies first and let me tell you, they are heavenly... When I took them out of the oven this afternoon, their wonderful warm smell spread in my apartment and the golden evening sunlight lit up my kitchen... These cookies were the perfect happy ending to my weekend!

(slightly adapted from: les cookies de Laura Todd)

for the caramelized apple:
70g butter
70g brown sugar
2 apples

Put the butter and the sugar into a large frying pan and let caramelize. Meanwhile, peel the two apples and cut them into small dices (5mm). When the sugar begins to caramelize, put the apple dices into the frying pan too and mix. When the apples dices are covered with caramel, spread on a silicone mat or parchement paper and separate them well. Let cool.

for the cookies:
350g brown sugar
1/2 sachet vanilla sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
250g butter, room temperature
1 egg
375g flour
a pinch of salt
1/2 sachet baking powder

Preheat the oven to 140°C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

In a bowl, beat butter and sugar with a hand mixer. Add the egg and mix well. In another bowl, mix flour, vanilla sugar, salt, cinnamon and baking powder and add this to the butter-sugar-egg-mixture. I first beat it with the hand mixer, then added the apple dices and then kneaded it by hand. When the apple dices are well incorporated, take an ice cream-scooper and scoop out mounds of dough. The original recipe suggests that you form the dough mounds first and then press a few apple pieces into each cookie by hand, I decided to just mix it all before forming the cookies, Place them onto the baking tray and flatten them a little bit with your hand. Bake for about 20-25 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Honey and Peanut Butter Booster Bars

If I see a recipe entitled like this, you can be sure it makes the "to-bake-list"! How can the peanut butter addict resist such a thing called peanut butter booster bars?! Last weekend was the perfect occasion to make these. Since the flu had knocked me out last week, I figured, I needed something to give me energy for my new job. And indeed, they got me through the first busy days in my new office. These granola bars are quick and easy to make and keep for up to a week. I decided that I'm going to make such bars more often.

(from: here)

125g unsalted butter
150g brown sugar
125g crunchy peanut butter
75g honey, plus a little more to finish
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
200g rolled oats (not jumbo)
150g dried fruit, such as raisins, sultanas and chopped apricots, prunes or dates, either singly or in combination
150g mixed seeds, such as pumpkin, sunflower, poppy, linseed and sesame

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Grease and line a baking tin, about 20cm square.

Put the butter, sugar, peanut butter, honey and grated citrus zests in a deep saucepan over a very low heat. Leave until melted, stirring from time to time.

Stir the oats, dried fruit and three-quarters of the seeds into the melted butter mixture until thoroughly combined. Spread the mixture out evenly in the baking tin, smoothing the top as you go.

Scatter the remaining seeds over the surface and trickle with a little more honey. Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden in the centre and golden-brown at the edges.

Leave to cool completely in the tin (be patient – it cuts much better when cold), then turn out and cut into squares with a sharp knife. These bars will keep for 5-7 days in an airtight tin.

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