Sunday, September 30, 2012

Lavender and Honey Teacakes

Look at these cute little cakes! Well, if that isn't the perfect treat for an afternoon tea on a rainy Sunday in fall?! And let me tell you about fantastic taste of these teacakes... Honey and lavender are a match made in heaven. The addition of sour cream gives the cakes a wonderfully soft and moist texture. The lemon juice in the glaze adds just a bit of a sour kick to counter the warm sweetness of the honey. Need I say more to convince you that you should definitely try this recipe! It's an easy one. And if you don't have such a fancy tin for mini-bundts, just use a normal muffin pan or mini-cake cases.

(from Ottolenghi - The Cookbook)

225g butter, soft, plus melted butter for greasing the tins
115g caster sugar
115g lavender honey, or otherwise plain honey (lavender honey is available at Coop for instance)
3 eggs
245g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp chopped dried lavender, plus extra to finish
110ml sour cream

For the glaze:
20ml lemon juice
2 tsp honey
about 100g icing sugar

Preheat the oven 170°C. Leave 6 small bunt tins in the fridge for a few minutes, then remove and brush with plenty of melted butter. Return them to the fridge.

Cream the butter, sugar and honey together until pale and fluffy, using an electric mixer. Break the eggs into a cup and beat them with a fork. Gradually add them to the creamed mixture while constantly beating.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cinnamon. Then, stir in the dried lavender. Fold the flour mixture into the cream mixture in three additions, alternating with the sour cream.

Either pipe or spoon the mixture into the tins, filling them to about 1.5cm from the top. Level out the mix and clean the edges of the tins if necessary. Place in the oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean. Remove them from the oven and leave in their tins for 10 minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

For the glaze, mix the lemon juice and the honey together in a small bowl, then whisk in enough icing sugar to make a thick, pourable glaze. Use a pastry brush or a spoon to coat the top of the cakes, allowing the icing to drip down the sides. Sprinkle with a little dried lavender.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Cream Cheese Apple Bundt Cake

When two of our interns at the firm asked me whether I would bake something for them that they might provide for the team as a goodbye-gift, I had to give it some thought since my work days are currently intense and long. Still, I agreed and in fact, the baking in the evening had a relaxing effect and took my thoughts off work. I deliberately chose easy no-fuss recipes such as this one here. The dough is wonderfully smooth and tender. Patricia from Technicolor Kitchen suggests that one might subsitute the apples for berries, add lemon zest or chocolate chips... sounds all good to me ;-)

(from the lovely Technicolor Kitchen)

315g all purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
170g unsalted butter, at room temperature
250g cream cheese, at room temperature
375g granulated sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
500g apples, peeled and diced into 1cm (½in) chunks
confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 180°C. Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan.

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon into a bowl.

Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, cream cheese, and sugar on medium-high speed until the mixture is very light in color – almost white – and the texture is fluffy, about 8 minutes. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl once or twice during the process to ensure that the butter is evenly incorporated. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients; stop mixing as soon as the flour is incorporated. Fold the apples in by hand using a stiff spatula, then scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 45-55 minutes or until golden and risen and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 15 minutes over a wire rack, then carefully unmold onto the rack. I usually let Bundt cakes cool completely in the pan and then release them. Dust with icing sugar before serving.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sour Cherry Cupcakes

Here comes my undisputed favourite treat from my party buffet: I’m totally fond of these cute cupcakes! Beware! The frosting is quite heavy... But oh so delicious...

(slightly adapted from one of my new favourite books – thanks for the tip Nadina! – Süsse Sünden by Tarek Malouf and the Hummingbird Bakery)

For the cupcakes:
80g soft butter
280g sugar
240g flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
240ml milk
150g sour cherries (from the glass), drained and chopped

Preheat the oven to 190°C (convection oven 170°C). Line a 12-mould muffin pan with paper cases.

In a bowl, mix butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and salt with a hand mixer on low speed until you have a “sandy” mass.

Mix eggs and milk. Slowly add about three fourths of this to your batter until it’s blended well. Scrape down the bowl with a ladle. Add the rest of the egg-milk-mixture and beat on middle speed with your electric hand mixer. Fold in the cherries until they are evenly dispersed.

Fill the 12 paper cases (to about two thirds). If you have remaining dough, fill it into more paper cases (I ended up with 16 cupcakes). Bake the cupcakes in the middle of the oven for about 20 minutes until they have risen and the surface is springy. Test if they are done with a wooden skewer. If it comes out clean, your cupcakes are done.

Let cool in the pan for a few minutes. Then, release from the pan carefully and let cool completely.

(Scroll down for the frosting)

In the meantime, prepare your frosting:
500g icing sugar
160g very soft butter
50ml milk
(80g sour cherries, drained and chopped, some left whole for the decoration)

In a bowl, mix icing sugar and butter with a hand mixer on low speed. Slowly add the milk while constantly beating. Then, beat on high speed until you have a light and fluffy batter. At this point, you can add the cherries which I left out. 

Spread the frosting onto your cupcakes. Decorate with remaining sour cherries if you like. Put the cupcakes in a cool place until you serve them.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

White Chocolate and Pistachio Tart

Now let's turn to the sweet treats again! This one here is really something for white chocolate lovers. However, it was more the the pistachios I had in mind when I chose this recipe for my dessert buffet. I wanted to bake something especially for Evelyn who had her birthday two days before my party and who is very fond of pistachios. The lovely green plate I placed the tart on was a present from Jeannine by the way. She brought me four (!) very beautiful plates from a secondhand shop because she thought, I might need some new equipment to "style" my food for my blog. Isn't she cute?! I'm still over the moon.

(Original recipe in German: here)

100g butter
200g white chocolate, broken into pieces
120g sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
1 pinch of salt
2 eggs
120g flour, sifted
120g pistachios, coarsly chopped

icing sugar
2 tablespoons pistachios, chopped

Line a 24cm diameter springform pan with parchment paper and grease the rim with butter. Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Melt the butter in a small pan over middle heat. Add white chocolate und let melt while constantly stirring. Take away from the heat and pour into a bowl. Add sugar, vanilla sugar, salt and eggs and beat until you have a smooth batter. Sift in flour and mix well. Fold in the chopped pistachios.

Pour your batter into the prepared springform pan and bake in the middle of the oven for about 15-20 minutes. The tart should be moist in the middle. Take out of the oven and let cool. Decorate with icing sugar and chopped pistachios. 

The tart keeps for a few days and tastes best after 2 or 3 days.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sweet and Savoury Feta-Plum Cake

I am going to post some of my sweet treats from last Saturday soon. But first, here comes something inbetween savoury and sweet. This cake was probably my favourite part of the savoury buffet. It's cheese and dessert in one. And it's easy and quick to make and you can also prepare it in advance, it keeps for two or 3 days. Trish's Deseine's original recipe requires dried apricots, but dried plums work just as well. Dried figs might also be a yummy option...

(slightly adapted from my beloved I love Cake by Trish Deseine)

2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks, beaten
100ml mild olive oil
175g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
75g brown sugar
75g raisins
150g dried plums
150g feta cheese

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a middle-size cake pan with parchment paper.

In a bowl, beat the eggs together with the olive oil with an electric mixer. In another bowl, mix flour, baking powder, sugar, raisin and dried plums. Add the egg-mixture and mix. I worked the mixture with a wooden ladle first, then with my hands. When you have a smooth dough, fill half of it into your prepared pan. Then, break the feta cheese apart and scatter over the mixture. Cover with the rest of your dough.

Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until the surface is firm and a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Take out of the oven, let cool for about ten minutes. Then release from the baking pan and let cool completely.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mini-Quiches with Pancetta, Apples and Gorgonzola

For a change, I have more savoury recipes for you! These mini-quiches are perfect for a party buffet, or you could also take them to a summer-picnic. I really like the combination of the ingredients. The addition of thyme makes thes mini-quiches perfect. I used some from my own herb-garden which smelled amazing.

(from: Nicky Stich - delicious days)

Makes 12:

2 red onions
8 slices of pancetta
1 large apple
3-4 twigs of fresh thyme
3 tablespoons butter
freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
100g cream
100g crème fraiche
freshly ground nutmeg
1 rolled out puff pastry dough (store bought, about 25x40cm)
about 100g gorgonzola dolce

Peel and slice onions. Cut the pancetta into thin slices. Peel and and core the apple, cut into quarters, then into slices. Wash the thyme and pluck the leaves. Put the butter into a frying pan and turn on the heat. Melt butter and add the onions, the pancetta and the apple and sautée over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper, add about half of the thyme. Take away from the heat. Mix the egg with the cream and the créme fraiche in a small bowl. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (convection oven: 160°C). Grease a muffin pan with butter. Roll out the puff pastry and cut out 12 round pieces that fit into your muffin moulds (I did that with a small glass bowl). Line your muffin moulds with the puff pastry. Fill in the onion-mix, then add a piece of gorgonzola. With a tablespoon, add the egg-cream-mixture. Don't fill up to the brim or they will overspill during the baking. Sprinkle with the rest of the thyme and put in the oven for about 20 minutes. Take out of the oven, let cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then, carefully take the quiches out of the pan and serve warm or let cool on a wire rack.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Parmesan and Poppy Biscuits

Yesterday evening, I had my friends and family over for my belated birthday party. I had been looking forward to this for a few weeks and I really enjoyed having them all together in my flat. I haven't seen some of them in quite while. And of course, I had a lot of fun preparing all the food!! Two evenings and one day in the kitchen. Lots of recipes to test... salads, sweet and savoury cakes, brownies, cupcakes... But let's start at the beginning: with the appetizers. Here is a savoury cookie recipe from Ottolenghi's cookbook which is always a great book to turn to when it comes to preparing party food. Stay tuned this week. There's more to come!

(from: Ottolenghi - The Cookbook)

210g plain flour, plus plenty extra for dusting
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp paprika
a pinch of cayenne pepper
a pinch of salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
165g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
80g poppy seeds
1 free-range egg, beaten

Sift the flour, baking powder, paprika and cayenne into a bowl and add the salt and pepper.

Mix the softened butter with the Parmesan until they are well blended (either by hand or by using a spatula, or in a freestanding mixer fitted with a paddle attachment). Add the dry ingredients and continue mixing until a soft dough is formed.

Put the dough on a well floured work-surface and divide it in half. Use plenty of flour, both on your hands and on the work surface, to roll each piece into a long log (3-4cm in diameter). Wrap each log into cling film and place in the fridge for about 30 minutes to firm up.

Scatter the poppy seeds over a flat plate or rtay. Brush the logs with the beaten egg and then roll then in the poppy seeds until covered. Refridgerate again for one hour (at this stage, you can also wrap the logs and freeze them).

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Cut the logs into slices 5-8mm thick and arrange them on the tray, spaced 3cm apart. Bake for 12 minutes. The biscuits should be dark golden. Leave to cool completely before serving, or storing in a tightly sealed container.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Plum Jam with Star Anise and Pine Nuts

Now is the time to make jam! A way to preserve the taste of all the lovely fruit of late summer. I have spotted some great jam recipes lately. This one here is probably one of my favourite jam recipes ever. Plums and star anise are a great flavour combination. And the color is beautiful, isn't it?!

(from: Annemarie Wildeisen's Kochen 9/2012)

For about 4 glasses of 0.25l:

1kg plums
2 star anis
500 jam sugar
juice of 1 lemon
50g pine nuts

Wash the plums and dry with a kitchen towel. Stone the plums and cut into small pieces. Put into a large pan together with the jam sugar and the star anis and let stand for about an hour.

After an hour, add the lemon juice and bring to the boil while constantly stirring. Add the pine nuts. Let cook for about 5 minutes. Fill the boiling jam into cleaned, preheated glasses and seal them. Then turn them upside down for about a minute (kills the fungus spores) and then turn around again and let cool.

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