Sunday, December 28, 2014

Honey and Pear Layer Cake with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting

I hope that you guys had a good time this Christmas. Edi and I spent most of the time with our families enjoying their company and the delicious food. My highlight were the traditional British Christmas treats Edi's mother had prepared for us: turkey, pudding and mince pies! Yesterday, we went to see my dad who also cooked a delicious dinner. At some point towards the end of the evening, though, my brother's girlfriend looked at me, with an exhausted look on her face, and said that she cannot not even look at any more food. And I don't know how you guys are feeling right about now, but one tends to reach a stage during December where one is glad that, after several Christmas dinners, everything goes back to the usual. However, I still do not want to deprive you of this scrumptious recipe. As usual, for our yearly Christmas dinner at mum's, dessert was my task. This honey and pear layer cake is perfect for festive occasions and it is most certainly a highlight on each dessert table. The caramelized pears complement the fluffy and spicy-sweet sponge wonderfully. And the frosting is devilishly good. Enjoy in thin slices only if you want to leave some room for Christmas cookies…

(from the lovely and always reliable Cake Days by Tarek Malouf)

For the caramelized pears:
3 pears
20g butter
60g runny honey
40g sugar

For the dough:
4 eggs
120g sugar
40g brown sugar
120ml buttermilk
120g runny honey
120ml vegetable oil
1 teaspoon grated zest of a lemon
280g flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt

For the frosting:
100g soft butter
500g icing sugar
50g runny honey
250g cream cheese
optional: ground cinnamon and sugar pearls for the decoration

You either need 4 springform pans of 20cm diameter or you can also use 2 springform pans of 24cm diameter.

Preheat the oven to 170°C and line the springform pans with parchment paper.

For the pears: Peel and core the pears, cut in slices (not too thin). In a pan, heat butter, honey and sugar until melted. Add the pears and let cook until they are golden and soft. Don't let them cook too long or they will get too soft. Take away from the heat and let cool.

For the dough, put eggs and both sugars in a large bowl (I had to use a larger one than usual for this quantity of dough) and mix with an electric hand mixer until pale and fluffy. Mix buttermilk, honey, oil and lemon zest and add. Mix until well combined.

In another bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Carefully add to the wet ingredients in two steps.

Fill your dough into the prepared tins and arrange the caramelized pear slices on the dough in a circle.

Bake for about 25-30 minutes (depending on the size of your tins, it takes a bit longer with the 24cm tins). Test with a wooden skewer whether the cakes are done. If no dough sticks to them, they're done. Take out of the oven and let cool in the tins first. Then, release them from the tins and let cool on wire racks.

When the cakes are completely cool, you can prepare your frosting: In a bowl, mix butter and icing sugar with an electric mixer on low speed until you have a powdery batter. Add the cream cheese and the honey On high speed, mix until you have a fluffy batter.

Now, assemble your cake: Put one layer of the cake on a cake plate. Spread about 3-4 tablespoons of frosting on the cake. Cover with the second layer (and repeat if you have four layers). If this is your top layer, begin to frost the top and the sides of the cake with a palette knife. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

This is just to wish you guys a merry Christmas.
Baking-wise, I haven't been as productive as in other years.
No extensive cookie-session. But, as you know,
there's a good reason for that. The little girl growing inside
my belly urges me to rest much more than usual.
But that's alright. Taking better care of myself
is something I have to learn anyway and a 
pregnancy teaches you just that. 

Wow, what a year this has been...
I sort of felt at the beginning of 2014 that something "big"
would be happening, but I still find myself overwhelmed
with how everything turned out. 
I wonder what the next year will bring. And although
I'm a bit nervous, too, I have no doubt that 
everything is going to be just fine.
And that's what I hope for all of you as well.
A huge thank you goes out to my friends and family
who where there for me during this exciting year.
I wouldn't know what to do without you.

Love, Katrin

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Apple and Cinnamon Crumble Tart

We had my mum and Wolfgang over for dinner tonight to say thanks for all their help. Seriously, I don't know how we would have survived without them during the past few weeks. Almost all the moving boxes have disappeared and our apartment is starting to look really cozy - just in time for Christmas. For dinner, Edi cooked a wonderful pork roast and, as usual, I took care of dessert. When browsing through my baking books, I had some sort of festive cake in mind. This recipe here sounded just right to me (besides, when can you ever go wrong with the combination of apples and cinnamon?!). With a dollop of whipped cream, a slice of this cake is just the right thing on a winter day.

(slightly adapted from "Weihnachten mit Fräulein Klein")

for the dough:
125g soft butter
1/2 vanilla pod
110g sugar
2 eggs
125g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated zest of an orange

for the apples:
2-3 apples (recipe says 4 mid-sized apples, 2 apples were enough in my case)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

for the crumble:
150g flour
90g brown sugar
100g butter, cold
1/2 vanilla pod

You can use either a round baking tin of 24cm diameter of a square one (11x35cm). 

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar and the seeds of half a vanilla pod with an electric hand mixer until fluffy. Add the two eggs and beat again. Add zest of one grated orange and beat. In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Add this to your batter and beat until all is well combined. Fill this dough into your tart tin. 

Peel your apples (or don't, we were too lazy for that), core them and cut into 3-4mm slices. Put them into a bowl and combine with the cinnamon. Arrange your apple slices on the dough.

For the crumble, combine flour, sugar and scraped out seeds of a vanilla pod in a bowl. Dice the cold butter, add and with your fingers, rub until your have a crumbly batter. Scatter over your tart.

Bake the tart for about 40-45 minutes. If it tends to brown too much towards the end, cover with aluminium foil. Test with a wooden skewer whether your cake is done.

Take out of the oven, let cool. Dust with icing sugar before serving.


  • While my cake was in the oven, I realized that I probably had a bit too much dough for my tin and it spilled over the edges while baking. Nothing to worry too much about, though. I just trimmed the not so nice looking edges with a knife after baking.
  • I also had too much of the crumble batter, so one could probably prepare a little less.
  • Fräulein Klein originally bakes this cake with speculoos spice instead of cinnamon. I even opted for cinnamon buds (Zimtblüte) which I like a lot.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Gingerbread with Cranberry Icing

There are certain things that, for me, just belong to Christmas time. As for instance gingerbread. And not just any kind of gingerbread, but the one my mother used to make ever since I can remember. I dearly love this recipe. This year, I even opted for a fancy icing. I've spotted the recipe for the icing on Fräulein Klein's lovely website and it came back to my mind while I was having fun baking Christmas treats together with Edi's ever so cute daughter Jacqueline. Of course, the little girl was thrilled with the idea of a pink icing! She also took care distributing the blue sugar stars all over the gingerbread. We were really pleased with the outcome. The gingerbread is also really good just plain as it is (or with a little butter spread onto it - I swear that's delicious, try it!).

(from the good old "Aargauer Rezepte" by Dora Schärer, Betty Pircher and Yvonne Fauser)

500g flour
500g sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons gingerbread spice mixture (I usually buy mine at MIGROS)
1 tablespoon baking powder
5dl milk
4 tablespoons vegetable oil (I usually use olive oil)

Line a large baking tray (ca. 40x35cm) with parchment paper. Don't preheat the oven.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, gingerbread spice mixture and baking powder. Combine milk and oil and add to the dry ingredients. Beat well with an electric hand mixer until you have a smooth batter. 

Fill your batter into the prepared baking tray. Put the tray into the oven and turn the oven on (180°C). Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes. I've made the experience that it's usually done after 30 minutes, but I guess that depends on the oven.

When your gingerbread is thoroughly baked, take out of the oven and let cool. You can serve it with or without icing. 

For the icing mix 100g icing sugar with 2-3 tablespoons cranberry juice. Spread over your ginger bread and decorate further with sugar stars or sugar pearls… Whatever you feel like.

Cut into squares and serve. The gingerbread can be stored in an airtight box for a few days.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Pear and White Chocolate Muffins with Gingerbread Crumble

All of a sudden, December has arrived. And finally, I have moved into my new home. Our flat is still packed with cartons, though and we're trying to sort everything out. I just realized again, how stressful moving is. Good news is, I've already taken care of organizing the kitchen and, as you can see, I'm getting to know my new oven.

However, the move is definitely not the only reason why it's been so quiet around here the past few weeks. Ever since July, my whole life has changed. Our daughter is on the way and come spring, we're going to be be a little family. I couldn't be happier. Mother love is probably the most wonderful and overwhelming feeling I've ever experienced, and it's scary all the same. Still, I'm so looking forward to holding our little girl in my arms… And I hope that, during the next few weeks and months, I'll still have time to post a recipe from time to time. There's definitely some Christmas baking on the agenda!

Adapted from: Leila Lindholm's Piece of Cake

100g butter
200ml milk
2 eggs
120g sugar
1tsp vanilla sugar or one teaspoon vanilla extract
240g flour
2tsp baking powder
1 pinch of salt
100g white chocolate, chopped into pieces
1 large pear, peeled, diced

75g cold butter
60g rolled oats
60g flour
80g sugar
1 teaspoon gingerbread spice-mixture

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a muffin tray with paper cases.

Melt butter, add milk. Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla sugar until foamy. Mix egg batter with milk batter. Mix flour, baking powder and salt and mix with the liquid batter. Add white chocolate and pears. Fill your mixture into thepaper cases.

For the crumbles: Cut butter into pieces and combine with the rolled oats, flour, gingerbread spice-mixture and sugar. Spread the crumble onto the muffins.

Bake for about 20 minutes.

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