Sunday, July 20, 2014

Little Apricot Cakes

Evelyn invited me over to her place yesterday and we spent some time just talking and enjoying the beautiful view from her balcony. I love these afternoons. I usually return home relaxed and nourished, both from the valuable conversation and from the delicious food. As usual, Evelyn took care of cooking us dinner and I was in charge of dessert. Since I did not have that much time to bake in advance, I decided on a quick and easy recipe. But aren't these little cakes cute?! They're delicious, too. You could make them with other fruit if you want to, but for me, it had to be apricots.

(from the fabulous "Home Made" by Yvette van Boven)

150g ground almonds
150g flour
180g butter, melted and cooled a little
150g sugar
6 egg whites
1 pinch of salt
12 apricots (you can use other fruit, too. The original recipe suggests to bake these with very small apples.)

Preheat the oven to 180°C. For this recipe, I suggest, you rather use firmer paper cups (like those on the fotos) than the usual muffin paper cups or you bake them in your muffin pan without paper cups and just butter then moulds well. Maybe you have oven-proof ceramic pans, that would work, too. The cakes can easily be released when they have cooled down.

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients (I first mixed the dry ingredients, then added the melted butter and the eggwhites) except for the fruit.

Fill your dough into the prepared cups. Press one apricot into each cup. By the way, if you want to, you can half the apricots first, remove the core and then put the halves back together again and press into the dough then. I tried both methods and thought that, the cakes with the apricots left whole looked better.

Bake for about 30-40 minutes until golden brown.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Chocolate Layer Cake with Chocolate Coffee Buttercream Frosting

I've baked a number of cakes for Edi over the past few months and those of you who know Edi's and my story better also know that it's not totally made up out of thin air when I say that it was probably even cake that caused us to get to know each other better in the first place. For his birthday, of course, a special cake was in order and I went for something I've never tried before: a layer cake. With a to-die-for buttercream frosting. I'm extremely happy with the outcome and also with the cute decoration which is quite easy to make (see below). So this post goes out to Edi. Happy Birthday. I'm so thankful to have you by my side.

(Cake: from I love Cake by Trish Deseine / buttercream: from What Katie Ate by Katie Quinn Davis)

225g soft butter
225g sugar
4 eggs
225g flour
4 tablespoons cocoa powder (dissolved in about 4 tablespoons hot water)
2 teaspoons baking powder

for two 20cm diameter springform pans

Preheat the oven to 180°C and line your springform pans with parchment paper.

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl with an electric hand mixer until smooth. (The recipe says exactly this. I added the ingredients in stages nevertheless, beating inbetween. First the butter and the sugar, then the eggs, then the flour and baking powder, then the cocoa powder.

Fill your dough into the prepared springform pans and bake for about 25 minutes. Test with a wooden skewer whether they are done. No cake batter should stick to the wooden skewer.

Take out of the oven and let cool. You can easily prepare this one day ahead.

When the cakes have completely cooled. Trim off just a little bit of the rounded tops with a sharp knife so that they have flat surfaces for the buttercream.

Prepare your buttercream:

300g butter, softened
155g icing sugar (I used more to make the buttercream a bit thicker)
170g dark chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon strong coffee (or instant coffee)

In a bowl, beat butter and icing sugar until smooth and creamy.

Meanwhile, bring a small saucepan of water to a gentle simmer and melt the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl that fits snugly over the pan without touching the water, stirring occasionally.

Remove from the heat and add the vanilla and coffee to the melted chocolate and combine; it will start to become lumpy, but don't worry. Add this to the butter and sugar mixture, beating gently until glossy and smooth.

Use a spatula to spread the butter cream on top of the first cake and spread it out towards the edges. Place the second cake on top, then ice the top and the sides of the cake. 

Then, decorate just the way you like. I used rose petals which I dipped into a small bowl of two lightly beaten egg whites and then covered with sugar. You should do this the day before and let dry over night.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Blackberry and Hazelnut Cake

I love all those wonderful red, pink and blue summer berries… At the moment, I can't walk through the fruit and vegetable section of my grocery store without having to pick one or two of those little berry baskets. This weekend, some sort of berry cake was definitely in order. This is a very good basic recipe you can adapt according to your taste. You can choose whatever sort of berries you like and if you want to, you can exchange the ground hazelnuts for ground almonds. I suppose, a handful of dark chocolate pieces would work as well. I added some fresh ginger - to have another flavor experiment. Just go with whatever you feel like. Lately, I really try to encourage my friends to just have a little more courage when baking cakes. Of course, it's about experience. And you'll get that by trying. You'll develop a feeling for things. And you should never forget that it has something to do passion. To me, that's still the most important part. If you let yourself lead by that, you can't go wrong.

(slightly adapted from "Heissgeliebtes Backen" by Annemarie Wildeisen and Florina Manz)

250g soft butter
150g sugar
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
4 eggs
250g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
75g ground hazelnuts
a pinch of salt
if you like: one small piece of fresh ginger
250g blackberries

For a cake tin of 30cm length or a round springform pan of 24cm diameter. I halved the above recipe and used a 18cm diameter springform pan.

Preheat the oven to 180°C, line your cake tin with parchment paper and grease with butter.

In a large bowl, mix butter with an electric hand mixer until soft and fluffy. Then, add sugar and beat again. Add vanilla extract and eggs and beat again until all is well combined. 

In another bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt and hazelnuts and add to your butter-egg-sugar mixture. Mix until all is well combine. Add some grated ginger (how much depends on your taste). Then, add your blackberries and mix with a ladle.

Fill your dough into the prepared cake tin and bake for about 50 minutes. A wooden skewer inserted into the cake should come out clean. If your cake browns too much towards the end of the baking time, cover with aluminium foil. Take out of the oven and let cool in the tin first. Then, release and let cool on a wire rack. Dust with icing sugar before serving.

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