Saturday, December 28, 2013

Orange and Cranberry Muffins

I've got one more for you before this year ends! I hope you had a few relaxing days and a happy feast with your loved ones. After having spent two days with my family, I came home again on the 26th - only to bake a batch of muffins and to head over to Evelyn where I spent a wonderful afternoon/evening with her and her two lovely sisters, sitting on her cozy sofa, chatting, watching movies, cooking and eating together. Our very diverse TV program: First, we watched a documentary about the Klitschko brothers which we thought is extremely well done and very insightful. We all totally agreed that, after having seen this movie, you almost can't help but fall in love with those two big guys just a teeny tiny bit, whether you like boxing or not. Second, we watched Julie & Julia which is a movie very dear to my heart. Meryl Streep as Julia Child is just plain fantastic! Definitely a movie for all the foodies out there - but not just for them.

Well, guys, this is it - I'm going to take a little break from baking (it's probably not going to take that long) and see you in 2014! And now, guess what, guess what?! I'm going to take my very first ballet lesson! I've been dreaming of doing that for ages, but the thought that I'm much too tall for this has kept me from it so far. But I've decided that it's time to go for it now - so I'm going to dance my way into 2014. Wishing you guys a good start! Love, Katrin

(slightly adapted from my good old Piece of Cake by Leila Lindholm)

for 12 muffins:
100g butter
200ml milk
zest of one lemon
zest of two oranges
2 eggs
120g sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar or vanilla extract
240g flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 pinch of salt
100g dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 200°C and line muffin tray with paper cases.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Then, add milk and lemon and orange zest. Set aside and let cool a little.

In a large bowl, beat eggs, sugar and vanilla sugar with an electric hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the lukewarm milk mixture. 

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt and add to your dough. Mix until well incorporated but don't overdo it. Add the cranberries, mix again.

Fill the dough into your muffin cases (only until they are filled to about two thirds) and bake for about 25 minutes. Check with a wooden skewer whether they are done.

Let cool in the pan for a few minutes. Then, release the muffins and let cool on a wire rack.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

No more cookie recipes today - just a thank you to all my readers, to my friends and my family. Your support means a lot to me. It's been quite a year, hasn't it?! Many people I talk to confirm that, for them, too, 2013 has been rather intense. It's been about figuring out where you stand, where you want to go - probably also what you have to leave behind in order to be able to move forward. I very much look forward to 2014 and to whatever it might bring. One thing, however, I know for sure: There's going to be cake! But first, I wish you guys a very merry Christmas and all the best for the new year! Lots of love, Katrin

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

When I was making these cookies today, Nadina called to ask me whether I wanted to have coffee with her. I'd like that, I said, but I would have to finish my cookies first. We met at a cafe later and I brought some cookies as a present for her and her boyfriend Matthias. We had a good laugh when Nadina told me that Matthias had said that he would bet that I was making something with peanut butter when she had told him that I was baking Christmas cookies. Well, you know... guilty as charged. Here comes this year's Christmas treat for the addict.

(Original recipe in German: here)

100g soft butter
150g peanut butter (I used crunchy)
150g sugar
1 large egg
220g flour

For the decoration: 
store bought dark chocolate glaze
nonpareilles or chocolate sprinkles

In a bowl, mix butter and peanut butter with an electric hand mixer until soft. Then, add sugar and beat until combined. Add the egg and beat. When all is well combined, sift in the flour. Beat with the electric mixer first, then knead with your hands. Form a ball, flatten a little and cool in de refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line two baking trays with parchment paper. Roll out the dough until about 4mm thick. Cut out cookies. Put the cookies on your tray and bake for about ten minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

When the cookies have cooled completely, decorate with chocolate glaze and chocolate sprinkles or nonpareilles… Whatever you feel like. I melted the chocolate glaze according to the instructions on the packaging and brushed the glaze onto the cookies. Then, I covered the cookies with chocolate sprinkles.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Apricot Cinnamon Cookies

I still tend to overbake cookies. At least one batch every Christmas. Even if I always tell you to watch your cookies closely, especially towards the end of the suggested baking time, and to take them out of the oven rather sooner than later (e.g. in this case as soon as the edges turn golden brown) I manage to mess up a batch of cookies myself every now and then. Taking cookies out of the oven at the right moment is a tricky business. You always have to consider that they keep getting firmer after you've taken them out of the oven. If you leave them in the oven too long, they will be too firm after they have cooled down. Thank God this recipe here yielded enough dough for about three baking trays full of cookies, so I had enough cookies left after letting the first batch turn much too brown. I think, these here are my favorite this year.

(once again from the lovely Weihnachten mit Fräulein Klein)

250g flour
100g ground almonds
100g icing sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar
60g dried apricots, cut into small pieces
1 egg yolk
200g cold butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons brandy (I use an apricot liquor)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 sachet vanilla sugar
80g icing sugar

In a large bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon and icing sugar. Add ground almonds and vanilla sugar, then the apricot pieces and the egg yolk. With your hands, knead until you have a smooth dough. Form a ball, flatten a little, wrap in cling film an cool in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. On a floured surface, roll the dough out until about 3mm thick. Cut out your cookies with a cookie cutter and arrange on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 10 minutes. Take out of the oven, take away from the hot baking tray immediately and let cool on a wire rack.

When the cookies have cooled down, mix water with brandy and cinnamon. Add icing sugar and vanilla sugar. Mix until you have a smooth glaze, there shouldn't be any lumps. Brush onto your cookies and let dry.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


These little cuties here where a goodbye present for Liliane. I promised her to bake something especially for her before she is going to leave. With some people, I instantly know what kind of cake or pastry I want to bake for them and for Liliane, I thought, these little cheesecakes would be just perfect. When I brought them over to her office on Monday morning, she smiled at me and said that she loves cheesecake. "Well, everyone does." I said to her. "Can't go wrong with cheesecake." And it's true - I hardly know anyone who would turn down a piece of cheesecake. I loved the idea of baking little cheesecakes in a muffin pan. And, tell you what, if you buy the dough instead of making it yourself, these cheesecakes won't take up much of your time. Add a dollop of jam. The cream is easily whipped up. And there you go. Depending on the season, you can fill them with different sorts of jam or add some spices.

(from Weihnachten mit Fräulein Klein)

180g flour
50g ground almonds
50g icing sugar
120g cold butter

12 teaspoons jam (any kind you like, I used cherry jam)

350g cream cheese (e.g. Philadelphia)
100ml condensed milk
70g sugar
1 vanilla pod
1 egg
2 teaspoons flour

icing sugar and cocoa powder for decorating

Makes 12 mini-cheesecakes.

For the dough, sift flour, almonds and icing sugar into a bowl. Add the cold butter in cubes and knead until you have a smooth dough. Form a ball, flatten a little, wrap in cling film and cool in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

You can, of course, also just use store bought dough like I did this time because I was too lazy to make my own dough.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Roll out your dough until about 4mm thick and cut out circles of about 9cm diameter. If you have spare dough, cut out stars or hearts or whatever motive you like with a smaller cookie cutter.

Grease a muffin pan and line each mould with a strip of parchment paper which overlaps the mould. You will have less troubles releasing the cheesecakes from the mould after baking. Line each mould with a dough-circle and prick the bottom with a fork. Put in the refrigerator or outside in the cold.

For the filling, mix cream cheese, condensed milk, sugar, scraped out seeds of the vanilla pod, egg and flour until you have a smooth batter.

Fill a teaspoon of jam into each cheesecake-bottom. Then, fill with the cream. Bake for about 30 minutes. Bake your little cookies also, but remember that they will be finished after a few minutes and that you have to take them out earlier. Dust them with cocoa powder and leave to cool. 

After about 30 minutes, take out your cheesecakes. Let cool a little. Then, release from the muffin pan. You can lift them out of the moulds by pulling on the ends of your parchment paper-strips. Dust with icing sugar before serving and decorate with your little cookies.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Chai Crescents

Okay, let's get down to cookie-business. First up: Chai crescents - a spicier version of the classic and always popular vanilla crescents. I spotted those in Fräulein Klein's wonderful Christmas baking book which is a colorful treasure chest full of festive sweet recipes and cute ideas for Christmas decoration. These cookies here are rather easy to make. Just pay attention that you handle the hot crescents carefully when you roll them in your icing sugar mixture as they tend to break apart.

(from Weihnachten mit Fräulein Klein)

70ml milk
4 bags of chai-tea (for example Yogi tea)
100g ground almonds
250g flour
80g icing sugar
1/2 vanilla pod
150g cold butter

To cover the cookies:
5 tablespoons icing sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 sachet vanilla sugar

First, heat up the milk in a small saucepan. Then, take away from the heat, add the 4 teabags and allow to infuse for about 30 minutes. Remove the teabags and let the milk cool down completely.

Preheat the oven to 175°C. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, sift together flour and icing sugar. Mix with the ground almonds and the scraped out seeds of the vanilla pod. Add the cold butter in pieces and the chai-milk. With your hands, bring together to a smooth dough. Form a ball, flatten a bit, wrap in clingfilm and allow to cool outside or in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

After an hour, take the dough out, cut into 3 equal pieces and form equal rolls from it. Cut these into smaller or bigger pieces, depending on how big you want the cookies to be. Bend the rolls into crescents and place on your baking tray.

Bake for about 10 minutes (they should not turn brown!). When you take them out of the oven, dredge in a mixture of icing sugar, cinnamon and vanilla sugar while still hot, but do that carefully, otherwise the crescents will fall apart! Let cool on a rack.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Cinnamon and Cranberry Granola

No time for baking last weekend. But tell you what?! When I came to the office yesterday morning, I found a box on my desk - filled with wonderful Christmas treats! Nina, my boss's wife, had obviously made sure that I get to try a little bit of everything she and her kids had baked the past weekend. It was delicious, let me tell you! Next to the fact that this made me really happy, it also made me realize that I am evidently totally behind with my Christmas baking. Anyway, I'll hopefully get to that next weekend. In the meantime, I have a nice idea for a homemade Christmas present for you guys. Of course, you can modify this recipe according to your taste, but I think, for Christmas time, cinnamon and cranberries really fit. It looks really cute filled into little jam glasses with a ribbon on them, for instance. The good thing is that this is a real no-fuss recipe which won't take up much of your time. I mean, since we've all got enough on our hands this time of year already.


300g rolled oats
70g pumpkin seeds
50g pecans, chopped
50g hazelnuts, chopped
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon, depending on your own taste
1 pinch of salt
100ml maple syrup
100g dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 175°C. Mix all the ingredients, except the cranberries, in a large bowl. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Spread the mixture on the baking tray. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 20-25 minutes. Mix it through with a ladle every five minutes or so, so that is gets evenly toasted. Then, when it's golden brown, take it out of the oven. Let cool a little, then add the cranberries and mix. Let cool thoroughly before filling the mixture into an air-tight jar.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Hot Chocolate

As promised lately, I've got this wonderful hot chocolate recipe for you. Of course, you can adjust the quantity of spices according to your own taste... or add a pinch of chilli, for instance. Just the thing to warm you up these days.

(from my friend Andrea)

for a 2.5dl mug

1 large pinch of ground cinnamon
1 large pinch of ground ginger
1 large pinch of ground cardamom
1/4 vanilla pod and scraped out seeds
about 20g dark chocolate, that's about 5-6 pieces of a 100g-bar (I like to use 72%)

Together with all the ingredients, heat up the milk (you can also use soy or rice milk of course), stir until the chocolate has melted and then bring it to a boil twice (if you stir the milk well with a whisk while it is heating up, you get a bit of froth). Pour into your mug. Enjoy! 

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Gingerbread Cupcakes

It's the first of December - time to let the Christmas baking begin! I'm of course already trying to figure out what kind of cookies I'm going to bake. And, as usual, there's going to be a special cake for our family Christmas dinner. But, first things first... I'm always trying to take it easy during these December weeks when everyone tends to get stressed out. Which is why, right now, I'm spending a relaxing weekend at mum's. I took my laptop with me, however, so I won't have to deprive you of these lovely little treats here. Cupcake meets gingerbread. For these, I used a store-bought gingerbread spice-mixture (for all of you from Switzerland: I like the one from Migros) and the basic cupcake recipe comes from the always reliable and fabulous Cake Days.

(slightly adapted from 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
1 tablespoon gingerbread spice-mixture
2 eggs
240ml milk

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, gingerbread spice-mixture 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.

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)

For the frosting:
500g icing sugar
160g very soft butter
50ml milk
1 large pinch of gingerbread spice-mixtue

In a bowl, mix icing sugar, gingerbread spice-mixture 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. 

Spread the frosting onto your cupcakes. Sprinkle with spice-mixture if you like. Put the cupcakes in a cool place until you serve them.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Nut & Ricotta Bundt Cake

It finally snowed on Thursday! I'm not usually a big fan of snow - or of winter for that matter. But, somehow, this year, I couldn't wait for the first snow to fall. Snowfall calms me down. And after a year that felt like a rollercoaster ride, that's exactly what I need. Don't get me wrong, it was a good year, but I feel like slowing down a bit these last few weeks might just be the right thing. So I had myself a cozy Sunday today together with Andrea, a friend of mine from work. She invited me over for lunch and cooked a delicious Gnocchi bake with tomato sauce and lots of Parmesan cheese - just the food you need on such a cold November day. Cake, of course, was my business. I spotted this recipe here over at the beautiful Love Nonpareille. As you know, the word "Ricotta" in a recipe title always catches my eye. The roasted nuts give this cake an intense flavor, the ricotta keeps it moist and the lemon zest gives it the little extra something. We had this cake together with a mug of steaming hot chocolate - talk about a perfect match! Andrea provided me with a wonderful recipe. To be posted here soon, promise!

(Original in German: here)

50g walnuts
50g amonds
50g hazelnuts
150g soft butter, plus some more to grease the tin
150g sugar
200g ricotta
150g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
grated zest of one lemon

Preheat the oven to 200°C. 

Roast the nuts in a frying pan. Then, chop them. It works best if you shortly pulse them in a blender - this way, you get a nice mixture of finely and coarsely chopped nuts. Separate the eggs. Beat the egg whites until stiff, set aside.

In a bowl, beat sugar and butter with an electric hand mixer until pale and fluffy. Then, add ricotta, eggs and lemon zest. Beat until all is well combined and you have a smooth batter. In a separate bowl, mix flour and baking powder. Then add the flour to the butter mixture and beat well. After that, add the nuts and fold them in with a ladle. Then, carefully fold in the egg whites with a ladle.

Grease a large bundt tin (about 1.5l capacity) or two small ones with butter. Dust with flour. Then, fill in your batter. Bake your cake for about 50 minutes. If a wooden skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean, it's done.

Let cool in the tin for at least ten minutes before releasing the cake. I usually let it cool longer because I find that, when I try to release bundt cakes too early, I always destroy them. Dust with icing sugar before serving.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Cardamom Cake with Whole Pears

I dedicate this post to Evelyn who, over the past two years, has grown very dear to my heart. Sometimes it feels like I've known her forever. And, given the fact that we've worked in the same office for a whole year, I'm pretty sure she must also be the one person who has tried most of my baked goods. When she revealed to me that she would like to feature my blog on her website Brückentor, I felt extremely honored and decided to bake a cake especially for this occasion. When I stumbled over this recipe in one of my favorite books, I instantly knew that this was just the cake for Evelyn. It's simple, yet spectacular - filled with wonderful spices and whole pears on the inside. What a comfort on cold winter days.

(from Yvette van Boven's absolutely fabulous "Home Made Winter")

for the pears:
3 pears (for example Conférence), not too big
1 bottle of white wine
500ml water
250g sugar
4 cloves
3 star anis
8 cardamom capsules
2 sticks of cinnamon

for the cake:
200g soft butter, plus some more for greasing the cake tin
200g sugar
4 eggs
200g flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
1 pinch of salt

Peel the pears, but leave them whole, don't remove the stalk. Pour the wine and the water in a pot. Add the sugar, the spices and the pears and poach them over low heat for about half an hour. Then, take the pears out of the pot and let cool. Also remove the spices and let the liquid cook. Reduce it until you have about half of it left. Take away from the heat and let cool.

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Line a 25cm cake tin (about 1.5l capacity) with parchment paper and grease with butter.

In a bowl, beat butter and sugar until pale and smooth. Then add the eggs, one by one. Wait until each egg is incorporated until you add the next one. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt. Add to the other mixture and beat until all is well combined and smooth.

Fill the batter into your prepared cake tin. Press the three pears into the batter and bake the cake for about 40 minutes (with my oven, it took about 10 minutes longer). Let cool in the tin for a while, then release from the tin and let cool completely.

Yvette suggests to decorate the cake with melted white chocolate. Since I'm not really a fan of white chocolate, I left that out and just drizzled with the left pear sirup. You can also decorate the cake with dark chocolate or just dust with icing sugar. Serve the rest of the pear sirup together with the cake.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Spiced Brownies with Dates

This Monday, I ran around the office with a box of brownies in my hands and a huge smile on my face. And when I entered Constanze's and Ina's office, Constanze giggled and said: "No you didn't?!" and opened her own box of brownies. Constanze had obviously baked over the weekend, too. She revealed that she had bought Trish's I love Cake and that she had started trying out several recipes. You know, those are things that make me really happy, when people tell me that I have managed to infect them with my passion for baking. So Constanze and I decided for a tradeoff and I must say, her brownies were delicious. Trish's brownies just are a winner - over and over again. Here comes another adaption of her recipe, with a hint of Christmas scent already.

(adapted from the wonderful I love Cake by Trish Deseine)

90g butter
120g dark chocolate
2 eggs, beaten
225g sugar
90g flour
70g dates (I used dried dates), pitted, cut into pieces
1-2 teaspoons spice mixture

Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a brownie tin of about 18x23cm with parchment paper.

Slowly melt the chocolate together with the butter. Let cool slightly. Then, add the eggs and then the sugar and the flour and the spice mixture. Beat fast but carefully. Then, add the dates. Fill the batter into your prepared tin and bake for about 25 minutes. The top should be crunchy but inside the brownies should be soft and gooey. Let cool (you can also serve them warm together with ice cream for instance) and cut into squares. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Chestnut and Apple Cake

When I was a kid, I really disliked chestnuts and now, every year in fall, I can't get enough of them. Chestnut cakes are just THE perfect autumn treat if you ask me. I know, chestnut purée is not everyone's cup of tea, but here comes a post for all of those who like it. I was intrigued with the idea of adding fruit to a chestnut cake which is something I've never tried before. The slightly sour apples fit perfectly and keep the cake wonderfully moist. Of course, you could use other fruit such as pears or apricots.

(Original in German: here)

for the crumble:
80g flour
50g soft butter
40g sugar
40g slivered almonds

for the cake:
5 apples (I needed only 4)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
100g soft butter
80g sugar
3 eggs
300g chestnut purée (vermicelles)
200g ground almonds
100g flour
0.5 sachet baking powder
icing sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 24cm diameter springform pan with parchment paper and grease with butter.

For the crumble, mix flour, butter and sugar in a bowl until you have crumbles. Then, fold in the slivered almonds, cover with cling film and put in the refrigerator.

Peel, halve and core the apples. Cut the apple-halves cross-wise a few times on the round side. Brush with lemon juice and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix butter and sugar with an electric hand mixer until pale and fluffy. Then, add the eggs, one by one. Add the chestnut purée and keep beating until you have a smooth batter. In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder and ground almonds. Add to the chestnut-batter and mix until well combined. 

Fill the batter into your prepared springform pan. Cover it with the apples (round side up). Spread the crumble-mix on your cake. Put the cake in the oven and bake for about 55 minutes on the bottom shelf.

Leave to cool in the pan for a few minutes. Release from the pan and let cool completely. Dust with icing sugar before serving.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Apricot & Coconut Loaf Cake

When I saw this cake over at Poires au Chocolat last week, I instantly decided that I was going to bake it this weekend. After all, coconut cakes belong to my favorites - although, boy, trying to decide on favorite cakes always gets me in trouble... Anyway, browsing through my recipe list, I just found out that I've made a very similar coconut cake about one and a half years ago. Only, this one here's not only glazed with apricot jam, it's also got apricot jam in the cake batter - it's like a much more sticky and sweet version. Perfect on a rainy, lazy autumn day.

(from: here)

For the cake:
200g butter, at room temperature
180g caster sugar
3 eggs
120g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of fine sea salt
80g desiccated coconut
3 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla sugar 
6 tbsp apricot jam/preserve

For the glaze:
1.5 tbsp apricot jam
1 tbsp water about
1 tsp of desiccated coconut

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 23 x 10cm loaf tin with greased parchment paper. 

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl and, with an electric hand mixer, and cream until light and fluffy This takes at least four or five minutes. In another bowl, sieve the flour, baking powder and salt together.

Whisk the eggs together. Add the egg in small additions to the creamed mix, making sure you beat in between each addition until the mixture has totally incorporated the egg you've added. Add a tablespoon of flour about half way through and again near the end to help prevent curdling. 

When you've finished the egg, add the rest of the flour mix and the coconut and briefly beat to combine. Add the milk and vanilla and stir briefly again until you have a uniform mixture.

Spread 3 tbsp of the jam over the bottom of the tin. Scoop 2/3 of the cake batter on top and level it. Swirl in the remaining 3 tbsp of jam then top with the rest of the cake mixture and level off again. Bake for 45-55 minutes until deep golden brown and a wooden skewer can be removed cleanly from the middle. I covered my cake with aluminium foil for the last then minutes because I was afraid the top was going to turn too dark.

Combine the jam and water for the glaze in a small saucepan and heat until you have a syrup. Brush it over the top of the hot cake, using all of the glaze. Sprinkle the coconut over the top. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then lift out onto a wire rack to cool. Keeps for 3-4 days in an airtight tin. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Fig and Walnut Cookies

I haven't baked anything in more than three weeks. What with my trip to Berlin (which was fantastic, by the way!) and then I caught an ugly cold and had to rest for about a week. But I have another recipe for you which I didn't get around to posting before my holidays. It's an adaption of an old favorite of mine. It's really a no-fuss recipe and you get quite a lot of cookies from it. Feel free to vary this recipe just they way you want... other dried fruit, other nuts or seeds, some spices...

(from Nicky Stich's wonderful Sweets)

100g dried figs, coarsly chopped
50g walnuts
100g butter, at room temperature
100g brown sugar
75g caster sugar
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
175g flour
75g coarse rolled oats
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
fleur de sel (I left that out since I don't have any at home)

Preheat the oven to 175°C. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.

In a bowl, mix sugar and butter with an electric hand mixer for about 3 minutes until smooth and pale. Add the egg and the sea salt and mix well. Add flour, rolled oats and baking soda and mix. In the end, add figs and nuts and mix until just combined.

With a tablespoon, form balls the size of a walnut and place on your baking tray. Flatten a little. Leave enough space between the cookies. Sprinkle with a little fleur de sel. Bake each batch for about 15 minutes until the cookies begin to get brown around the edge. I say this each time, and I say it now: Don't overbake. They are still slightly soft when you take them out of the oven. If you take them out too late, they will be too hard after they have cooled. Let them cool on the tray for a few minutes. Then transfer to a wire rack. Store in an airtight box.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Fig, Yoghurt and Almond Cake

I'm leaving for Berlin today! I'm really exited about this short trip. It's been ages since I've been away on holiday. But before I leave, I have another scrumptious recipe for you. Ottolenghi just never disappoints me, even when it comes to cakes. And again, it's the combination of flavors which makes this cake special - the addition of ground star anise gives it a unique taste. Also, it has wonderfully moist and dense consistency. In the original recipe, this cake comes with an extra helping of figs and yoghurt which I left out because I think this cake already is a hit on its own, but I posted it for you anyway if you feel like giving it a try.

(from: here)

200g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar, plus 1 tsp extra
3 large free-range eggs
180g ground almonds
100g plain flour
½ tsp salt
Scraped seeds of ½ vanilla pod or ½ tspvanilla paste
1 tsp ground star anise
100g Greek yoghurt
12 figs

For the extra figs:

3 tbsp caster sugar
6 tbsp red wine
6 ripe figs, quartered
Greek yogurt

Heat the oven to 200C. Line the bottom and sides of a 24cm loose-based cake tin with baking parchment. Put the butter and sugar in an electric mixer bowl, and use a beater to work them well until they turn light and pale. Beat the eggs lightly, then, with the machine on medium speed, add them gradually to the bowl, just a dribble at a time, adding more only once the previous addition is fully incorporated. Once all the egg is in, mix together the almonds, flour, salt, vanilla and anise, and fold into the batter. Mix until the batter is smooth, then fold in the yogurt.

Pour the batter into the lined tin and level roughly with a palette knife or a spoon. Cut each fig vertically into four long wedges, and arrange in circles on top of the cake, just slightly immersed in the batter. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 170C and continue baking until it sets - about 40-45 minutes longer. Check this by inserting a skewer in the cake: it's done if it comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool down before taking it out of the tin and sprinkling with a teaspoon of caster sugar.

You can eat the cake just as it is, but the addition of warm, syrupy figs turns it into something very special. Once the cake is cool enough, divide it into portions. Put three tablespoons of caster sugar in a medium saucepan and put on a high heat until the sugar starts to caramelise. Remove from the heat, carefully add the wine - it will spit a bit - then return to the heat and let the caramel dissolve in the wine. Add the fig quarters and quickly toss them around just to warm them up. Spoon a generous dollop of Greek yogurt over each slice of cake, plus a few warm figs and their juice.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Rye Hazelnut Brownies

When it comes to brownies, there are no limits. Every now and then I stumble over a new recipe with a combination of ingredients I have never tried before. These here are made with rye flour which gives them a slightly different taste. I can't tell you how exactly, but it's different, delicious! As for the rest... these brownies are just the way they should be: chocolatey, moist and sticky.

(from: here)

125g unsalted butter
75g hazelnut oil (walnut oil works, too)
300g dark chocolate, chopped
275g light soft brown sugar
3 large eggs
75ml strong black coffee
250g rye flour (you could, of course also use plain flour)
¾ tsp baking powder
150g toasted hazelnuts, skinned
Melt the butter in a large saucepan, then add the oil and chocolate, and stir over a low heat until melted. Beat in the sugar and eggs, then the coffee. Beat in the rye flour and baking powder until smooth, then stir in the hazelnuts. 
Spoon the batter into a deep, 20cm-25cm square cake tin lined with parchment paper (I used my 18x23 cm brownie tin), Bake at 180°C for 30 minutes; check it five minutes before the end, just in case the oven cooks it too quickly - it's always better slightly to underbake a brownie. Just stick a toothpick in the centre - if it comes out with barely cooked and sticky crumb on it, it's done. Remove from the oven and leave until the brownie is completely cold before cutting

Monday, September 16, 2013

Pumpkin, Saffron and Orange Soup with Caramelized Pumpkin Seeds

Boy, it's getting colder! Which is why I'm starting the week off with a soup recipe. This will warm you up and put a smile on your face on grey and rainy autumn days, believe me! Ottolenghi just never ceases to stun me with his fabulous flavor combinations. The roasted onions give this soup a slightly smokey touch. The saffron brings in the warmth. The orange peel adds a wonderful sweetness. It just all blends in perfectly with the pumpkin. And the spicy caramelized pumpkin seeds are so yummy, it's hard to stop oneself from sneaking them off the baking tray after taking them out of the oven...

(from: here)

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
550g pumpkin flesh, cut into 2cm cubes
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
1 tsp saffron fronds
1 litre water or vegetable stock
2 tsp grated orange zest
6 tbsp crème fraîche
Salt and white pepper

For the pumpkin seeds:
1 tbsp sunflower oil
60g pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp golden (or maple) syrup
½ tbsp soft brown sugar
½ tsp salt
1 pinch ground black pepper
1 big pinch cayenne pepper

Serves six.

First prepare the seeds. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line an oven tray with greaseproof paper and brush with sunflower oil. Put the pumpkin seeds in a bowl with all the other ingredients, spread over the tray and bake for 12-15 minutes, stirring a few times, until a nice, golden color. Leave to cool down.

Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan, add the onion, season and sauté over high heat for a minute, stirring all the time. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft, sweet and golden brown, but not very dark.

Add the pumpkin, carrot and saffron, pour in water or stock to cover the vegetables and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, until the pumpkin and carrots are almost tender. Add the orange zest and simmer for five minutes longer. When the vegetables are thoroughly cooked, blitz the soup with a hand blender or liquidiser - you want it with a bit of texture, not too smooth. Add extra water or stock if it is too thick. Season to taste.

Serve in shallow bowls with a dollop of crème fraîche and a sprinkling of the caramelised seeds.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Liverpool Tart

Here comes something I've never tried before. The recipe for this tart requires you to boil whole lemons for almost two hours until they are very soft. To create the filling, you blend the boiled lemons in a food processor together with butter, sugar and eggs. Liverpool tart is a British treat. According to Google searches, the original recipe dates back to 1897. I was very keen to find out how this tart was going to turn out flavor-wise. Its taste is somewhat different from other lemon tarts which are usually almost overwhelmingly sweet. This filling is very soft and creamy, and it has a very distinctive taste which I would describe as a mixture of sour, bitter and sweet. It might not be everyone's cup of tea, but I liked it a lot - and don't you love its golden color?!

(from Marcus Wareing & Chantelle Nicholson: The Gilbert Scott Book of British Food)

Makes 1 tart

4 lemons
150 g unsalted butter
250 g caster sugar
2 free-range eggs

75 g soft unsalted butter
40 g icing sugar
1 free-range egg, beaten
150 g plain flour 
pinch of salt

Put the whole lemons in a pan of water and bring to a gentle boil, then simmer for 1-2 hours, until soft; drain. Place in a blender or food processor with the butter, sugar & eggs and blend together. Set aside.

For the pastry, cream the butter with the icing sugar in a food processor or with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add the egg, then fold in the flour and salt. Roll out to a round 3mm thick to fit a 26cm tart tin that is 2,5cm deep. Transfer to a tray and place in the fridge to rest for 20 min.

Line the tart tin with the pastry, taking care not to stretch it; reserve the pastry trimmings. Put the tart case in the fridge to rest for 20 min.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line the tart case with baking parchment and fill with baking beans, then bake blind for 25 min. Remove the beans and paper. Patch any holes with the pastry trimmings. Bake for a further 10 min,

Reduce the oven temperature to 165C. Fill the tart case with lemon mixture. Bake for 20-25 min, until lightly golden; there should still be a slight wobble in the centre of the filling. Leave to cool before serving.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Last week on my last day before my one-week holiday, my boss asked me what I was going to do during my vacation. "I'm going to turn twenty-nine", I answered. "So you're going to bake cake?!", he said, smiling. And I answered that I was going to do that anyway, but, of course, my birthday is always the perfect occasion to have myself a little cake festival, as I like to call it. I had a few friends over yesterday to celebrate and I made sure they were going to get enough sweets. Next to cream cheese brownies (no birthday party without cream cheese brownies), a plum and an apricot cake, I made these peanut butter cupcakes which were also a big hit. A sweet and salty treat for the addict ;-)

(slightly adapted from: Home Sweet Home by Tarek Malouf and the Hummingbird Bakery)

Makes about 12-16 cupcakes

For the sponge:
70g soft butter
210g plain flour
250g sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
210ml whole milk
2 large eggs
40g crunchy peanut butter

For the frosting:
500g icing sugar
160g soft butter
50ml whole milk
30g crunchy peanut butter

For the decoration:
salted peanuts

Preheat the oven to 170°C and line a muffin tray with paper cases.

In a bowl mix butter, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt with an electric hand mixer until they form a crumb-like consistency. In a jug, mix milk an eggs. With the mixer on low speed, gradually pour half of the liquid into the crumb mixture and mix thoroughly until combined. Raise the speed to medium and beat until the batter is smooth and thick, with no lumps. Scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time. Once all lumps are gone, turn the speed back down and gradually pour in the remaining liquid, continuing to mix until the batter is smooth and combined. Add the peanut butter and mix through, making sure it is evenly mixed through the batter.

Spoon the batter into your paper cases, filling them two-thirds full. I usually use my ice-cream scoop for this. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the sponge bounces back when lightly touched. Leave to cool slightly before removing from the tin and placing on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

In a bowl, mix icing sugar and butter together on low speed until combined and there are no large lumps in the butter. Gradually pour in the milk whole mixing on low speed. When all the liquid is incorporated, turn the mixer up to high speed and beat the frosting until light and fluffy. Add the peanut butter and mix well until the frosting is even and smooth.

Spoon generous amount of the frosting onto each cupcake, then gently smooth over with a palette knife, making a swirl at the top if you wish. Top each cupcake with chopped salted peanuts.

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