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Weekend cooking: Literary Baking

Something exciting happened so I had to interrupt my new weekend cooking veggie series to show you something else. You might call me insane, at least my husband has done just that. He said – and I quote – “you are like one of those nutcase women who see the face of Jesus Christ in a sponge cake”, but, naturally, I don’t agree.

 The Original Grinch

Last week I baked banana bread again for a kindergarten party and when the cake came out of the oven I noticed this little piece of dough sticking out of the cake. Imagine my surprise when I took a closer look and discovered that it was The Grinch! I recognized him immediately. I got the book and found the corresponding image and there was my proof.

My GrinchThe mirrored Grinch

Once I had mirrored the Grinch even John recognized him (it took some encouragement, though).

Next time you bake something and a little bit of dough escaped its mold, don’t snap it off and throw it away carelessly! It might be a hidden treasure.

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Weekend cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads. For the other weekend cooking posts please go there.

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Weekend cooking: It’s the rhubarb season!

Last week I mentioned on twitter that I was baking a rhubarb-meringue cake and a weekend cooking participant asked me whether I am going to blog about it. I hadn’t planned to but then I had this idea of creating a series of blog posts about various vegetables or fruit to educate myself (and maybe others). You see, until two weeks ago I didn’t care for rhubarb. At all. But then our neighbour knocked at our door and brought me some. Not being a person to turn down a gift I took it and then searched the net for recipes and for instructions on how to use rhubarb – I had never made anything with rhubarb before.

What is rhubarb?

In spite of being used as a fruit – for jam, cake, compote – rhubarb is a vegetable in the botanical sense- Already in the third millennium BC the Chinese used its roots for medical purposes, the ancient Romans and Greeks did the same. The stalks were thrown away. Rhubarb

Rhubarb came to Europe only in the 18th century when an apothecary grew it in the UK. Only 1820 it made its way to the US and twenty years later into Germany and it seems the love for rhubarb still remains a rather regional matter. Its main areas of popularity are England, Germany, the three Benelux countries (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg)  and North America.  As opposed to ancient times, today we only use the stalks of rhubarb.

After I got this pack of rhubarb I went looking for a cake recipe and found this one. The day before I had had a very delicious lemon-meringue cake, so the meringue part immediately caught my eye.

Image credit: Wikipedia user 4028mdk09

Rhubarb honey-meringue cake
  • 125g soft butter
  • 125g sugar
  • 1 pack vanilla sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg yolks (will need egg whites later)
  • 50g corn starch
  • 150g flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • a bit shredded lemon peel
  • pinch of salt
  • 1kg rhubarb
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 100g sugar
  • 50g honey (if desired) Mix all dough ingredients (up to the salt) thoroughly for about 3 minutes and spread evenly in a greased springform pan. If you can create a little edge.
    Heat oven to 190°C upper and lower heat.
    Wash rhubarb and cut ends off generously. Cut into 2cm wide pieces. Put on top of dough. Do NOT add sugar on top! Bake for 45 minutes.
    After half an hour whisk egg whites with lemon juice until very stiff. While continuously stirring add the sugar and honey (you can leave the honey away if you prefer the cake without).
    Take cake out of the oven and spread stiff egg white on top. Bake another 15 minutes until meringue is a honey-ish yellow.

Take out of the oven and let it cool down. Enjoy!

If you can’t get enough of rhubarb now, here are some more  Rhubarb recipes at Martha Stewart.

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Weekend cooking: Kiss me Cake!

kissmecake

Christine Bergmayer is  German’s unofficial “beste Zuckerbäckerin” (best confectioner). Among other places she worked at Harrod’s in London as a patissiere and brought back a bunch of delicious British recipes that make your mouth water.

The recipes range from cakes to picknick recipes to puddings, from delicacies for the 5 o’clock tea to pub grub to the time after dinner. They are not all sweet, you can also find tuna-cucumber-sandwich, cheese-onion-pie or sausage rolls.

All the recipes are accompanied by very nice photographs of the food, as well as pictures from life in the UK. Interspersed are little anecdotes and musings about England. A very nice combination.

I tried out one recipe already, the Cheese Scones. I love scones, especially with a very large amount of clotted cream, but the ones in this recipe are savoury instead of sweet. But also very nice!

 

Cheese sconesCheese scones

Ingredients:

  • 500g flour
  • 90g butter at room temperature
  • 20g baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tiny bit of pepper
  • 250g grated Cheddar cheese
  • 250ml milk

My scones look rather flat because I rolled out the dough only half as high as I was supposed to. You see, I wanted to get more out of it…that might have led to a firmer consistency, but they were still very nice.

Mix flour, butter, baking soda, salt and pepper in a mxing bowl until you see no more butter flakes. Add grated cheddar and milk and mix with a spatula. Knead the dough and roll out 3cm thick. Cut squares of about 5×5 cm (I did circles instead) and put on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Let them rest for an hour,  covered with  a kitchen towel.

Brush milk on the top of the scones (I forgot that, dozy me) and bake in the in the middle of the preheated oven at 180°C (circulating air at 170°C) for 20 to 25 minutes.

Ms. Bergmayer serves them with a mixture of sour cream, chopped herbs, salt & pepper. Enjoy!

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Weekend Cooking: Delicious Banana Bread

February 23 was National Banana Bread Day, yes, such a food holiday exists. Not that I knew that when I made this delicious banana bread (Germany has no food holidays – or any other obscure “Groom your pet” days or “Umbrella months”, we are rather uninventive when it comes to things like that).

Anyway, later I learned that it was Banana Bread Day and what better opportunity to share this recipe which I found in the free magazine Schrot & Korn at an organic food store called Basic?!

 

Banana Bread

Ingredients:

  • 120g raw cane sugar
  • 1 pack vanilla sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g yoghurt
  • 75ml oil
  • 4 very ripe, peeled bananas (about 380g)
  • 100g roughly chopped dark chocolate
  • 100g roughly chopped whole milk chocolate
  • 100g roughly chopped walnuts
  • 100g ground hazelnuts
  • 200g flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 pinch of salt

Mix sugar, vanilla sugar, eggs and yoghurt thoroughly. Add oil while stirring. Mash bananas with a fork and mix in well.

In a seperate bowl mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Add chocolate, walnuts and hazelnuts. Stir flour mix into sugar mix, but not too wildly.

Line a cake tin with baking paper and fill in the dough, even it out.

Bake in the middle of the oven at 180°C for 60 minutes, Let cool for ten minutes before taking out of the tin. Eat warm and enjoy!

banana_bread

My variations:

I tried this with various chocolates and nuts and found you can vary the ingredients quite a bit. I used white chocolate instead of dark and liked it even better. I used chopped almonds instead of walnuts or hazelnuts and am planning to use Brazil nuts next time. So, basically you can use whatever chocolate and nuts you have at hand. It will always turn out great.

Make sure you chop the chocolate really only very roughly. That way you will have chunks of chocolate inside instead of tiny little flakes.

I never even used an electrix mixer but just a cooking spoon to mix ingredients. Worked fine!

 

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Weekend cooking: Sweet potato cheesecake

In my last weekend cooking post I already told you about Annik’s divine cakes and gave you the recipe for a super easy cake made from puff pastry.

Today I finally MADE something myself from the book and it turned out rather fantastic.

It is called “Sweet potato cheesecake” and takes a bit of time, but it is worth it.

 

Sweet potato cheesecakeannikskuchen

Ingredients:

For the bottom: 

  • 120g wholemeal butter cookies (the regular wheat flour kind looks like the one on the picture on the right)
  • 70g walnuts, chopped roughly
  • 80g sugar
  • 1 tsp molasses
  • 60g liquid butter

For the filling:Butterkeks

  • 400g sweet potatoes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 255g sugar
  • 700g cream cheese, the fatty kind
  • 200g Mascarpone
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 1 tiny pinch of ground vanilla
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tbsp corn starch

For the coating:

  • 300g sour cream
  • 50g sugar
  • 1 pinch ground vanilla

For the icing (I left that away):

  • 70g caramel candy
  • 2 tbsp cream

cheesecake

    0. I started with making a pot of coffee to keep me awake. As you know I am not a passionate baker.
    1. For the bottom grind the cookies finely or crumble them up in a freezer bag. Roast the walnuts in a pan without any oil or fat.
    2. Mix cookie crumbs, nuts, sugar and molasses and add the liquid butter. Stir until everything is humid. Spread evenly on the bottom of the round baking pan and press down firmly.
    3. For the filling peel and cut the sweet potatoes into cubes. Boil them in a pot with water and a bit of salt and 1 tbsp of sugar until soft.
    4. Drain the water and mash potatoes. Use 300g of the mashed sweet potatoes. Eat the rest, it is yummy! Heat up the oven to 130C.
    5. Mix cream cheese and mascarpone in a bowl with your hand mixer at medium speed. Add sweet potatoes, 240g sugar, molasses, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Then add the eggs and at the end corn starch. Once you add the eggs only mix until homogenous. Otherwise the batter will be too airy, would rise too much and then collapse again.
    6. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly on the bottom of the cake. Bake 60 minutes at 130C. After that the cake should still move a little in the middle when you push against the edge of the pan. It will get completely firm when it cools down.
    7. Before the end of the baking time, mix sour cream, vanilla and sugar until smooth. Spread on the baked cake and bake another 5 minutes. Turn oven off and let the cake sit in there for another two hours. Do not open the oven if possible! Take out and let cool down at room temperature.
    8. For the caramel icing grind the candy and melt in a pot together with the cream at low heat while stirring all the time. To decorate, spread over the cake with a little spoon.
    Enjoy!
    Cookie image from wikipedia. Photo template from pugly pixel.
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Weekend cooking: Super fast and easy cake

I found this wonderful baking book in the library the other day. As you might know I am neither a talented nor a passionate baker, but this book brought my baking spirit to (a theoretical) life. I must admit, I haven’t baked anything out of it yet, but I am planning to copy quite a few recipes. The book covers simple cakes to complicated, multi layered masterpieces and makes your mouth water. annikskuchen

It is called “Anniks göttliche Kuchen” (Annik’s divine cakes). Annik  Wecker is the wife of a well-known German musician and a baker who creates and produces cakes for bakeries and private customers.

As we are all pressed for time and busy with all sorts of things at home and at work I chose to introduce you to the simplest and fastest cake Annik knows. It is called “Puff pastry tarte with fruit” and looks and sounds delicious.

Puff pastry tarte with fruit

Ingredients

  • 1 pack of puff pastry from the cooling rack of your grocery store (270g)
  • 1 egg
  • 40g grated almonds
  • 500g fruit, cut into pieces or slices according to your taste
  • 80g sugar

Heat the oven to 200C. Roll the pastry onto your baking tray. Cut off a 1cm wide strip all around. Whisk an egg and brush it onto the edge. Put the cut off strips on top of the edge and brush with egg as well.

Cover the pastry inside with almonds evenly and place the fruit on top. Sprinkle the sugar on top of the fruit and the edge. Bake 25-30 minutes. 

Annik says it is easy to vary, make it round or cornered or in small pieces. You can use almost any sort of fruit you like. Sometimes she sprinkles crumbled amarettini on top of the fruit (plus the sugar) or a mix of sugar and cinnamon or coconut flakes or little slices of almonds…. the possibilities are endless. 

Enjoy! 

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads

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Weekend Cooking: Zucchini Bread

Judith’s last weekend cooking post about carrot cake reminded me of a delicious vegetable cake I discovered a number of years ago.

The recipe was in an issue of Papercrafts magazine, in an article about foodie gifts and their decorative wrapping. It was interspersed with a few recipes, one of them was by Stacy Croninger for a “Zucchini Bread”. It sounded very nice – and easy, so I gave it a try right away and have made it ever since.

zucchini

Zucchini Bread

Ingredients (for 2 loaf pans)

  • 3-4 eggs
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 cups finely grated zucchini
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla sugar

Mix eggs, sugar, oil and zucchini well. Add additional ingredients and mix well again. Fill into the loaf pans. Bake at 150C for about one hour!

That’s it! Enjoy!

 

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads

Zucchini image by graibeard @flickr

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Weekend cooking: Cream cheese frosting recipes anyone?

Cupcakes have only recently come into fashion over here. No, not even into fashion, it’s more like that they have come to our attention. Most people are happy with a muffin, any add-ons and luxury ingredients would be considered almost extravagant.

Cupcakes

However, the other day I found a baking mix for cupcakes and decided to give those little treats a try.  They turned out quite well and were quite delicious, even though they were fairly plain.

cupcakes

The frosting was especially nice and I would like to recreate it myself (it was made with some powder mix from the package and cream cheese and a very small amount of butter). I had a look around for a recipe for cream cheese frosting and there was an insane amount of them. So I thought I’d ask you whether you have a favourite recipe for cream cheese frosting that you could point me to. Is there a secret ingredient that makes it especially good?

Hot cross buns

Cupcakes made and eaten, this weekend I am trying to make hot cross buns, a sweet fruity bun traditionally eaten on Easter. Not that we are religious in the least, quite the opposite in fact, but who doesn’t like a sweet bun with raisins? I looked around for a recipe and found one by Nigella Lawson whose recipes I trust 100%. Just look at the look of the buns on the wikipedia site and Nigella’s! Which ones would you rather eat?

Happy Easter!

 

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Weekend cooking: Bake the man of your dreams

I haven’t participated in the Weekend cooking for a couple of weeks. However, a few days ago we went shopping for birthday gifts for our son and at the cashier I found this little baking kit for girls / women. Isn’t that the cutest? In German when a woman is single and no man is good enough for her we say to her that she has to bake a man she likes. And this is what this kit is for :). To “bake the man of your dreams”! It comes with a cookie cutter and a small book with recipes and tips for decorating. When I saw it I had to get it right away. It’ll be the perfect birthday gift for a single friend of mine…

Sorry, I can’t share a recipe for the dream man, but I didn’t want to open the sealed box. Maybe I can borrow it from her in a few weeks to help out a few more single girls out there.

traummann

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Weekend cooking: Bear muffins with almonds and marzipan

Today I’m sharing a recipe from the book “Muffins”, which I am afraid is only available in German. The book is inexpensive and absolutely brilliant. There are lots of muffin recipes in it, sweet or savoury, as well as an introduction to ingredients and step-by-step instructions for general tasks. The photos are so enticing, you want to start baking right away.

The muffins I’m telling you about today is from the “Hits for Kids” section. I made these for the birthday party of my younger son in kindergarten and they WERE a hit. Muffins cover

Bear Muffins with almonds and marzipan

Ingredients:

  • 100g butter
  • 80g sugar
  • 1 pack vanilla sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g marzipan paste
  • 5 tbsp orange juice
  • bitter almond flavour
  • 120g flour
  • 60g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • salt
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
  • gummi bears

20100103

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Put muffin paper moulds in baking pan. Melt butter in a small pot and then put in a mixing bowl.

2. First mix sugar and vanilla sugar, then mix the eggs with the butter. Grind the marzipan paste together with 1 drop of the bitter almond flavour and the orange juice in a mixer and stir into the butter mixture. In a second bowl mix flour, almonds, lemon zest, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

3. Add marzipan mix to flour mix and stir either with a spoon or a whisk until all ingredients are moist. Add a little orange juice if necessary. The dough should be slightly goopy.

4. Fill dough into muffin moulds and bake for 25 minutes until golden brown. Take out of the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Take them out of the pan and let cool down.

5. Mix icing sugar with lemon juice and cover muffins with it. Put gummi bears on top of each muffin and press down slightly. Let the icing dry.

Enjoy!

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Weekend cooking: Pizza Pie

When perusing my mom’s magazines I found this recipe for what they called a “stuffed pizza”. My husband tells me this would be called a pizza pie, ok, then, pizza pie it is. Since there were some pizza posts in the last weeks I’m adding this one to the lot.

I’m not one for making pizza dough herself but on this occasion I thought I’d give it a try. The recipe called for ham as part of the stuffing, but I simply left the ham out. 

Pizza Pie

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tsp pizza seasoning
  • 200g mushrooms (slices)
  • 2 bell peppers (cubes)
  • 500g Spanish onions (cubes)
  • 250g Mozzarella
  • 200g boiled ham (left that one out)
  • 125g tomatoes
  • 1 twig rosemary and oregano
  • pizza dough

pizzapie

1. Peel onion and garlic, cut into cubes and stew them in oil. Add chopped tomatoes, season with salt, pepper and pizza seasoning. Cook for ca. 10 minutes.

2. Steam mushrooms, bell peppers and Spanish onions in a bit of oil. Add salt and pepper. Cut Mozzarella into slices, cut ham into strips. Slice tomatoes. Cut herbs.

3. Roll out half of pizza dough on a baking tray, cover with the tomato sauce from step 1. Spread the vegetable mix, ham and 2/3 of the mozzarella. Put second half of the pizza dough on top of it and press the edges down. Put the sliced tomatoes on top in the middle. Add herbs on top of the tomatoes and add the last of the mozzarella on top. Bake at 180 degrees C for about 35 minutes.

Enjoy!

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Weekend Cooking: James Rizzi and the art of baking

As you know I love cookies. The other day I discovered this cookie book in the library. I am sure you have heard of James Rizzi; Peter Bührer is a Swiss chef who has already created a few cookbooks together with Rizzi. It seems that this is a German book, it is available on amazon.com, but only at an horrendous price and, I think, in German.

“American cookies and more” is a nice combination of delicious rizzicover recipes and art. Each page is embellished with Rizzi’s art, an absolute pleasure to look at. orangecrunchies The recipes vary from muffins, brownies and pancakes & pies to cakes and a number of Christmas cookies. They are not very difficult and usually consist of four or five steps only.

 

 

 

I will share the recipe for chocolate cake with you, not the most original cake, admittedly, but I can vouch for it, since I tried it already. It is rich and delicious. I translated the recipe into English, so forgive me for any awkward terms that an English speaker wouldn’t use when talking about baking. 

Chocolate Cake

  • 250g soft butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 200g sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 500g flour
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 packet of baking powder
  • 150g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 200ml milk
  • 1/2 bottle of bitter almond oil (these are tiny, tiny bottles)
  • grease for the baking form
  • 50g almond flakes
  • icing sugar to dust the cake

 chcocolatecake

1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade. Grease the form, sprinkle it with almond flakes and distribute evenly.

2. Beat butter with salt and sugar until frothy. Add eggs one at a time. Mix flour with cocoa, cinnamon and baking powder. Mix milk with bitter almond oil. Add some of the flour mixture and some of the milk mixture to the butter mixture alternating between both. The dough should be heavy and sticky.

3. Fill dough into form. Bake for about 1 hour in the middle of the oven. If it gets too dark at the top, cover with aluminum foil.

4. Leave cake in the form for about 10 minutes, turn it out and leave on a cooling rack. Dust with icing sugar before serving.

American Cookies and more is available on amazon.  

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Weekend cooking: Big, Soft, Chewy Cookies by Jill Cleave

I don’t think I ever planned to blog about a baking book, but this one is so great that I can’t help it. So it came quite in handy to find this great meme to participate in. It is called “weekend cooking” and participants share anything that is vaguely food related. It is hosted by Beth Fish. So, here we go.

I’m not a very passionate baker and I’m not good at it either (i.e., I hate baking and suck at it). However, I do like cookies and thought a cookie baking book might be a good idea. So I got Big, Soft, Chewy Cookies by Jill Cleave.

The cookie recipes are absolutely yummy, not very hard to do and produce delicious results. The five or six recipes I tried so far all turned out great and I got lots of compliments on them. Contrary to an amazon review it is also suitable for the inexperienced baker.  At least  so far I had no problems with the recipes.

The book is divided into different sections, drop cookies (my favourites as they are time savers), shaped cookies, bar cookies and holiday cookies. It does not offer any pictures. Some might say a cookbook always needs pictures, but I disagree. Without them I’m under no pressure to create a cookie looking exactly like the one in the book, and that is a good thing.

If you consider buying only one cookie baking book, then let it be this one.

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