Monday, April 29, 2013

Rhubarb Almond Cake

Yes, there's rhubarb in this cake. I know you can't really see it on the pictures. It's the same sad story every time. You buy these beautiful pink stalks of rhubarb, and then you peel them and maybe there's a hint of pink left. Well, this time, this hint of pink turned into a brownish color while making the rhubarb compote the recipe requires. But, even though this cake is not a total highlight colorwise, it's wonderfully moist and tasty. I really like the combination of rhubarb and almond. So, all in all, still a winner and certainly a perfect Sunday tea cake.

(from: The Hummingbird Bakery - Süsse Sünden)

For the rhubarb compote:
4-5 stalks of rhubarb, cut into pieces of about 2cm
70g sugar
20g butter
50ml water

For the dough:
190g soft butter, and some more for greasing the cake tin
190g sugar
3 eggs
140g flour, plus some more for the cake tin
1 tsp baking powder
50g ground almonds
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
25ml milk
100g rhubarb compote
15g slivered almonds

For the compote, put rhubarb, butter, sugar and water into a bowl. Boil up, then slightly reduce the heat and let simmer until the rhubarb is soft. Stir occasionally. It won't take that long. Take away from the heat and let cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 170°C (convection oven 150°C). Grease the cake tin (20 - 25cm) with butter and dust with flour, or line with parchment paper.

For the dough, mix butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric hand mixer until fluffy. Add the eggs, one by one, and mix on middle speed. Scrape down the bowl occasionally. In another bowl, mix flour, baking powder, almonds, cinnamon and ginger. Add half of the flour mixture to your fluffy mixture and mix. Add half of the milk, mix again. Scrape down the bowl. Repeat with the rest of the flour and the rest of the milk. Then, fold in the rhubarb compote.

Fill the dough into your prepared cake tin. Sprinkle over some slivered almonds and bake the cake in the middle of the oven for about 50-60 minutes. Test whether it's done with a wooden skewer. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. Take out of the oven and let cool.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

It's been a while since my last peanut butter post but lately, I've been having a craving for it. So I went and bought a jar of peanut butter, took one of my new beloved cookbooks off the shelf and made some cookies. Watch out guys! Peanut Butter is back! And it joined forces with cocoa powder. A combination which gives these cookies an oh-so heavenly full flavor. They have a crackling sugar coat and a wonderfully dense texture... with crunchy peanut pieces here and there. I give up - peanut butter won me over yet again.

(from: The Hummingbird Bakery - Home Sweet Home)

170g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
a pinch of salt
115g butter, soft
120g crunchy peanut butter
120g caster sugar, plus 40g extra for rolling
90g soft light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Line two or three baking trays with parchment paper.

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. In another bowl, cream the butter, peanut butter and both sugars with an electric hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix well, scraping down the bowl as you go. Add the vanilla extract, mix again. With the speed on slow, add the dry ingredients and mix until combined and the dough is formed.

Put the extra caster sugar in a small bowl. Roll the dough into 4-5cm ball (I made them a bit smaller) and roll each ball in the caster sugar to coat. Place the dough balls onto the prepared baking trays, keeping them about 4cm apart. Flatten a little with your hand.

Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until the cookies have a crusty surface and have cracked. They are rather soft when you take them out of the oven, but the get more firm when cooling down. Don't overbake - as ususal, I overbaked the first batch, they were much too hard after cooling down.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Pea Soup with Mint

I don't know whether I should trust that sunshine yet... Well, I won't say much about the weather anymore. I've been reading my past ten posts or so and it's something like "Yay, the sun is shining!" alternating with "Oh, it's cold and gray!". Anyway, this delicious soup here's got the color of spring: green. And the mint is the little something that turns it from ordinary into special.

(from: Tibits at Home)

2 onions
2 twigs of peppermint, washed and chopped
400g frozen peas
200g potatoes, peeled, cut into 1cm dice
3 tablespoons olive oil
700ml vegetable stock
50ml heavy cream
sea salt

In a large pan, heat olive oil. Gently roast the onions together with the peppermint. Then, add potatoes and peas. Roast for about 5 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and let simmer for about 10-15 minutes.

Then, purée. Strain trough a fine sieve if you want to (I didn't). Add cream and bring to a boil again. Take away from the heat. Season with salt and pepper. Decorate with some mint leaves. You can serve this soup hot or cold.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Rhubarb Jam with Dried Apricots

"Bye bye wintercoat"... Ok, guys, I take it back. It's April 20, early in the morning - and it's white outside! But even snow can't bring me down these days. My holidays just started and I'm looking forward to a relaxing week. Be sure I'll be spending some time in the kitchen, too. There are lots of bookmarked recipes lying on my bookshelf, waiting to be tested. But first, here comes the recipe for the rhubarb jam I made two weeks ago.

(original in German: here)

125g dried apricots
2 dl water
750g rhubarb
1kg jam sugar
juice from one lemon

Soak the apricots in 2dl water for at least 6 hours (or overnight). Then, drain and cut into small pieces. Keep the water.

Wash the rhubarb and cut into small pieces. Put into a large pan. Add the apricots, the water, jam sugar and the lemon juice. Bring to boil and then, let simmer for about 4 minutes while constantly stirring.

Test whether the jam has reached the desired consistency by putting a little drop of it onto a plate. If it's not flowing anymore it's fine. Otherwise cook a little longer.

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.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Lemon Cake

Now there we go! Sunshine - all day long! Bye bye winter coat! I spontaneously thought that lemon cake is just the right choice for such a day. So here it comes without further ado, an easy, no-fuss recipe from Trish Deseine's wonderful and always reliable I love Cake.

(from Trish Deseine - "I love Cake")

50g soft butter
150g sugar
2 eggs
125ml milk
150g flour
1 sachet baking powder
1 lemon, grated zest and juice (and juice of one more lemon)
2 teaspoons sugar for the glaze
(icing sugar for dusting if you want to)

Grease a cake tin of about 22-25cm and line with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 170°C.

In a bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric hand mixer until fluffy. In another small bowl, mix eggs with the milk and beat with a fork. In another small bowl, mix flour and baking powder.

Now, add egg-milk-mixture and flour to the butter-sugar-batter, in small batches, alternating. Keep beating until you have a smooth batter. Add lemon zest. I also added a bit more lemon juice.

Fill the batter into you prepared tin and bake for about 45 minutes. Take the cake out of the oven. Now,  mix the juice of one lemon with the remaining sugar and soak the cake with it. If you like, you can also dust it with icing sugar. I made this pattern by cutting out little butterflies from a parchment paper. Then I covered the cake with the parchment paper and dusted with icing sugar.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Raspberry Oat and Nut Bars

I spent most of this Sunday in the kitchen... Spring still seems a long time coming. It's grey and cold and I think we're all longing for sunlight. Well, at least, baking never fails to cheer me up. Actually, I wanted to bake a rhubarb cake today, but sometimes, I spontaneously change my mind and somehow, I ended up with these nutty fruity chewy gooey bars. I used the rhubarb to make jam instead (recipe to be posted soon). But first, here comes the recipe for this wonderful treat. WARNING: These bars here have absolutely nothing to do with healthy granola bars. They're awfully sweet and sticky - and awfully good!

(from: Ottolenghi - The Cookbook)

120g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
100g unsalted butter
60g caster sugar
a pinch of salt
80g whole rolled oats

220g raspberry jam

50g flaked almonds
70g pecan nuts, roughly chopped
70g hazelnuts, roughly chopped
70g Brazil nuts, roughly chopped (I had none, so I used macadamias instead)
100g unsalted butter
75g caster sugar
40ml milk
1 tsp vanilla essence

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Lightly grease a 20cm square tin (I used my brownie tin) and line with parchment paper.

To make the base, sift together flour and baking powder. Add the butter, sugar and salt and rub everything together with your fingertips to form crumbs. Stir in the oats. Spread this mixture over the base of the prepared tin; don't press down too much, so the base remains light. Bake for about 20 minutes or until light brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool a little, then spread with the jam.

For the topping, place the nuts into a large bowl. In a small saucepan, heat up the butter, sugar, milk and vanilla essence. Stir until the sugar has dissolved, then pour the mixture over the chopped nuts and stir together. Pack the nut mix evenly over the jam and return to the oven for 30 minutes, until the nuts have turned a nice golden brown.

Leave to cool, then remove from the tin and slice into bars or squares.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Chocolate Muffins

I found the perfect pastime for this grey and rainy (even snowy...) Easter weekend: I added a recipe index to my blog! I have now successfully sorted, listed and linked all my sweet recipes. Check out the new buttons just below my blog-header! And, since today the sun is shining, I finally get to go out for a walk! So I'll add the list of savory recipes later this week. I also intend to add a new "about" section and a list of useful links... But, one thing at a time. For now, I give you the recipe for these chocolate muffins I made for my family. And you can also see the result of Friday's egg-coloring session. Aren't they beautiful?! Almost too pretty to eat.

(from: Trish Deseine - I love Cake)

225g soft butter
225g sugar
4 eggs
225g flour
4 teaspoons cocoa powder, dissolved in 4 teaspoons hot water
1.5 teaspoons baking powder

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a muffin tray with paper cases.

With an electric hand mixer, mix all the ingredients for the dough in a large bowl until well combined. Fill the muffin cases with the dough. Now, here comes the thing: the recipe is actually intended for about 20 cupcakes... However, I somehow ended up with 12 muffins because they rose much more than I expected... If you intend to bake cupcakes and decorate them with chocolate glaze, don't overfill the cases! Trish writes in her book that you should fill about two thirds of the paper cases, I'd say, you could even fill them with a little less dough. As you can see, I overfilled them a bit, so I skipped the whole glaze and just left those cupcakes as they are and called them muffins ;-) I am going to give you the recipe for the glaze anyway, so you can choose what you like best. I just dusted them with icing sugar and cocoa powder.

ingredients for the glaze:
200g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
100g butter
4 teaspoons water

Melt chocolate and butter either in a small saucepan or over a hot water bath. Stir well so that you have a smooth mixture. Let rest for a few minutes until it is a little thicker. Spread on your cupcakes.

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