Sunday, November 11, 2012

Streuselkuchen (German crumb cake)

It was my late great aunt Jenny’s 100th birthday yesterday, and in her honor and to remember her I baked one of her most famous cakes (famous across generations in our family) – the streuselkuchen. When it was baked, everyone came to her house ‘zum Kaffee trinken’ (come over for a cup of coffee). It is a German custom, much like the British make time for tea and pastries in the afternoon, Germans make time for coffee and cake. Typically, since only the stay at home moms have time to do this, it is a way to meet up with girlfriends, let your kids play together, and hang out, knit, gossip, solve the life’s latest problems, and spend a few hours. On the weekends or for birthdays everyone came. This cake was a staple in my family when we all still lived close together, and it is fabulous not only because it tastes fantastic but also because it only gets better after a few days, less crumbly, more dense and the best thing to bite into when having the hot coffee. 

No one could make this cake like my great aunt. It is involved, you have to have patience, nurture it, and it richly rewards you. Just like my great aunt was, one of the best cooks and bakers and gardeners I’ve ever known. Aunt Jenny, this is for you!


Streuselkuchen (German Crumb Cake)

This recipe is for a 10-12 inch square or round spring form.

Special equipment: standmixer with dough hook (can also be kneaded manually).

Base layer:
  • 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3 TB warm milk
  • 1 ts fast rising yeast
  • 40  g sugar (divided, 1 ts for yeast + milk)
  • 1 TB bakers milk powder (optional, but helps the yeast to rise)
  • 5 TB (40 g) unsalted sweet cream butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 egg (reserve other half for the crumbs)
  • pinch of salt
Mix the yeast, 1 ts of sugar and the lukewarm milk in a small bowl, and wait until yeast starts to get bubbly (ca. 15min). 

In the bowl of a standmixer with the dough hook attachment, add the flour, 3 ts sugar and the bakers milk powder, and mix all three ingredients. Make a well in the flour, and pour the milk yeast mixture in it. Turn on the standmixer, and on slow mix the dry ingredients with the yeast mixture (do not yet add: butter, egg or salt since it interferes with the yeast). Once the yeast is well incorporated and distributed in the flour mix, add the butter, 1/2 egg and salt. Knead the dough on medium speed until it comes together as a ball (it will be crumbly for quite a while, ca. 10 min). If it does not come together after 15min of kneading, add 1 TB of warm milk.  Once the dough forms a ball around the hook, continue kneading for another 15min on medium speed. 


Now, remove dough from bowl of standmixer, and place in a metal, glass or ceramic bowl, and let rise for ca. 30min at a warm place. Time to make the crumbs!

Streusel (crumbs):
  • 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
  • 125 g sugar
  • 125 g unsalted sweet cream butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 egg (reserve other half for the crumbs)
  • 1/2 ts bitter almond extract
  • 1 pouch Dr. Oetker Vanille sugar (or 1/2 ts liquid vanilla extract)
  • pinch of salt
In the bowl of a standmixer with the dough hook attachment, add the flour, sugar, and the butter, cut into small cubes. Start the mixer on low speed, until the flour/sugar and the butter start to incorporate. Add all the other ingredients, and let the mixer run for about 10-15 minutes until uniform-sized crumbs are form. At the beginning, the butter will be large lumps, and the flour has only tiny crumbs, but over time the butter distributes over the flour more evenly, all crumbs are about equal in size. When it doubt, just let it run a little longer. Patience!

Stop the mixer, when the crumbs are at equal size.


Preheat the oven to 50-80F (warm). Spray a spring form with baking spray, and distribute the base dough into the pan.


Take a fork, and gently poke the dough all over the pan. Once done, brush lightly with some warm milk.


Now, distribute all the streusel on the cake evenly.


Place in the oven at 50F for about 45min for the yeast-based base layer to rise to about 0.5-1 inch thickness. After that, remove cake from oven, and preheat to 425F, and bake the cake for ca. 20-25min.

Before serving, sprinkle wit granulated sugar.



Monday, October 22, 2012

Marbled bundt cake

It was cold, dark, rainy and a Saturday afternoon. ….. time to bake a delicious, simple cake.

Marbled Bundt Cake
  • 3 cups all0purp0se flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided into a 1/2 cup and a 2 cup portion
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 TB espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup bittersweet mini chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons milk, at room temperature
  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter (cold from the fridge warm for 20 sec in microwave)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5 large organic free-range eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
Preheat the oven to 350 (F). Spray the baking pan with baking spray, and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together 3 cups flour, the baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a separate medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder and 2 TB milk. Whisk until mixture is smooth. Set aside.

Place the 2 sticks of melted butter and 2 cups sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high until the mixture is blended, about 1 minute. Add in vanilla extract and continue beating until combined. Add the 5 eggs, one at a time, beating each egg until it has been incorporated. Now, turn mixer down to its lowest speed and add the flour mixture (from the first step) in three additions, alternating with the whole milk in two additions and mixing just until blended.

Add 2 cups of batter (from the fourth step) to the cocoa mixture and stir until blended.
Using a spatula, pour enough vanilla batter into the pan to fill the bottom. Now the chocolate batter on top of the vanilla mixture and distributed well. Finish with the vanilla layer. Use a chop stick and draw it once through the cake better to get the marbling.

Bake for 55 - 60 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool cake in the pan on a cooling rack for 15 minutes, before turning out to cool completely.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Small marbled bundt cake

What better to do on a rainy, cold October evening than to warm and sweeten it up with a small marbled bundt cake!


Small marbled bundt cake (for small, 6 cup bundt cake pan)

  • 10 T. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 c. sugar (135 grams)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 free-range organic eggs
  • 1 2/3 c. (185 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 ts baking soda
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 c. cocoa powder 

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cream butter, sugar and salt together for several minutes until light and fluffy (best in a standmixer). Add vanilla extract and one egg at a time. Mix well, and add in second egg.

Sift flour with baking powder and baking soda. Add flour in two parts, alternating with half of the buttermilk each time. Divide batter equally into two bowls.Sift cocoa over the batter in one bowl and mix well. Add 1 tablespoon of milk to cocoa batter to thin.

Spray the bundt form with a baking spray. Place half of the “white” batter in the form or pan. Add all of the dark/chocolate batter on top and distributed around the form with a spatula. Finish with the remaining white batter. Place a spatula vertically in the batter and draw it around the form once to swirl. Smooth the top.

Place the cake in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out cleanly. Remove from oven, cool slightly and then turn out on a cake rack to cool further.

Home-made chocolate glaze:

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 TB unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 tablespoons warm milk
  • 1 ts rum extract
  • 1 ts vanilla

Pour the chocolate chips in a glass bowl or a ceramic bowl, and set it over a pot with boiling water on the stove (the bowl should not touch the water). Stir continuously until the chocolate chips start to melt. Add in the butter, and melt it with the chocolate chips. Once it is all a creamy, lump-free consistency, add in the milk, the rum and vanilla extract. Once incorporated, take the bowl off the pot, and continue to stir while adding in the confectioners sugar. Keep stirring. Brush the cake with the chocolate glaze. The glaze will thicken when cooled, and it is great to have a 1/4 of an inch thick glaze on the cake. (Leftover chocolate glaze is great on graham crackers… )
Let cool and dry for about 4-5h before serving. The cake actually tastes better with time; at the beginning it is dry and light and slightly crumbly, and after a week it becomes moist with an intense nutty flavor. It should be stored cool and airtight. 



marbled_cake_sm_3 marbled_cake_sm_4

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Mini bread loaves

Fall was definitely in the air today. Walking around with a tee shirt with no jacket made me sneeze and catch a cold. When I came home I started the winter migration of the deck: the plants came inside the house, and it was time to light a fire in the wood stove.  To add to the comfort, I baked off the mini bread loaves which had been rising since noon (I used this recipe, just split the dough into 2 parts and let the dough rise in the mini bread baskets). The rest of the comfort meal was half-clean eating dinner --- a can of 50th anniversary of Andy Warhol’s Campbell tomato soup with kale from the garden, pasta and some cannellini beans.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Russian Chocolate, Date and Walnut Torte

These are the days of world wide culinary social networks and recipes and…. google translate. Which means with some fantasy (and baking wisdom) I can make a Russian cake which had me at “hello”. Or is it a Bulgarian recipe? As Russian grad student said it is not Russian, more likely Bulgarian, cyrillic and all. With some fingers crossed it came out just fine. The raw dough tasted marvelous, the torte even better: light, fluffy, rich, not too sweet and one would not suspect dates I think.

Russian Chocolate, Date and Walnut Torte
a 10 inch non-stick springform pan.
  • 2 cups medjol dates
  • 1 1/2 cup strong hot coffee
  • 10 TB butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • decorate with powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 370F. Spray or butter a 10 inch springform, and set aside.
Prepare 1.5 cups hot, strong coffee (best in a French press with ca 3 TB of fresh ground espresso). De-pit the dates, and cut them into small dice. Place them in a large coffee cup and cover with the hot coffee. Soak for 5 minutes.
Now, mix the flour with the baking soda, salt and cocoa and set aside.
In a standmixer, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add one egg at a time, and incorporate well. Add vanilla.
Turn speed to low, and slowly add the flour mixture to the cake batter. Mix well. With a large spoon, retrieve the dates from the hot coffee, and add to the cake batter (add a bit of coffee at a time). You should only have about a 1/2 cup of coffee let in the pot after the figs are removed. Incorporate well.
Pour the mixture into the prepared form and sprinkle top with chocolate chips.
Bake for 35-45 minutes or until ready by checking with a stick if you spend dry then the cake is ready. Cool before removing from the form.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

No-Knead Bread

Years ago, when everyone was baking the New York Times no-knead bread, I tried it out and the only thing that happened was that I ruined a perfectly fine le creuset and generated inedible bread. Not sure what made me try it again (I used the already wrecked le creuset) but this time it worked out beautifully. Maybe, I understand bread a little bit better. Also, I used the kitchenaid standmixer for some good kneading, which allowed the dough to rise in record time (a few hours). Once the bread was baked, it was perfection! This is a really simple recipe with few ingredients; however, the salt should be added late in the process (salt and yeast don’t work together that well during the initial rise process). The trick with the preheated cast iron dutch oven creates a very crusty bread. It is like fresh French bread.   (The recipe is actually very similar to the NYTimes recipe, a bit less water and more yeast, anyway it worked!)

Minimally kneaded bread:
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 ts yeast
  • 1 ts bakers milk powder (King Arthur Flour website) (optional)
  • 1 ts salt
  • 1-1/2 cups warm water
  1. In a standmixer bowl with the kneading hook attachment, whisk together the flour and yeast. Slowly add the lukewarm water and mix until a shaggy mixture forms. Knead for about 5-10 min., Add the salt, and knead another 2 min. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 6-12 hours (up to 24h if you knead by hand) at room temperature. 
  2. Preheat oven to 450F. Place a cast iron dutch oven with a lid in the oven and heat the pot for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, pour the risen dough onto a floured surface (mixture will be sticky) and lightly shape into a round loaf.
  3. Remove the hot cast iron pot from the oven and carefully place the dough into it. Cover with a lid and return to oven for 30 minutes. Then, remove the lid and bake an additional 10-15 minutes. Carefully remove bread from oven and from pot and place on a cooling rack. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Zucchini Carrot Bread

It is the time of the season when the reliable production of zucchini in the garden leads to.... zucchini bread. I made this recipe with lower calories by adding kidney beans instead of half of the canola oil, and the NuNatural Stevia based baking mix instead of a 1/2 cup of brown sugar. You'd never know -- it tastes great!


Zucchini Carrot Bread
1 loaf (22 servings)

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
  • 2 free-range eggs 
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup cooked kidney beans (rinsed, no-salt) 
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup NuNaturals baking mix 
  • 1 TB vanilla extract
  • 1/2 ts salt 
  • 1 3/4 cup grated zucchini (squeeze out excess moisture) 
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 8x4 loaf pan and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.
In a larger food processor, whisk oil and the kidney beans, until smooth. Add eggs and mix until well blended.  Add brown sugar, stevia baking blend, vanilla,  and salt, and puree until smooth.  Pour mixture into a mixing bowl, add grated zucchini and carrot, stirring gently until combined. Add flour mixture to zucchini mixture, folding until just combined. 
Pour mixture into prepared loaf pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in pan for 5 to 10 minutes and then move to wire rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Maine coast crackers, again

It’s been busy around here, including baking another batch of the Maine coast crisps (the fancy English/Canadian term for crackers). This time I used 3 small loaf forms, and the crackers came out just the right size. I hope I have enough for the party tomorrow.

Find the recipe here.

And a shout out to the U.S. swim team!

cracker_bread crisp_pile

Friday, June 8, 2012

Fig Olive Raincoast Crisps

My reservoir of raincoast crisps (or in my case maine coast crisps) was getting low. These are just a perfect snack with a glass of wine – super crispy, savory, slightly sweet, nutty, fruity, salty….  So, I made a new batch tonight. This time I choose ingredients similar to those of the package I originally bought in Ellsworth, with figs and kalamata olives. With the briney-ness of the olives I like these ones even better than the cranberry walnut rosemary ones from last time (although they are excellent!). 

Due how I prepare the figs and olives, the ‘bread’ (result of the first baking phase) is slightly more soft and crumbly, so it has to cool to be better able to slice it thinly. 

Fig Olive Raincoast Crisps (makes about 48 crisps);
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/8 cup honey
  • 1/8 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup dried mission figs, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 2 TB balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup brined kalamata olives, sliced (best from the olive bar!)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup raw pepitas (Trader Joes!)
  • 1/4 cup white sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh or dried rosemary
Preheat oven to 350F, and spray a 5X12 pan. Set aside.

In a pan, heat the red wine and the balsamic vinegar together with the chopped figs to reconstitute the figs and add more flavor to them. Slowly simmer the figs until all of the moisture is evaporated, and the figs are almost dry in the pan. Let cool. 


Sift together the dry ingredients, mix the wet ingredients, and add both together (a standmixer is fine). Now, add the warm figs, the kalamata olives, and all the nuts and seeds. Mix well. Fill into the prepared pan and bake for 45 –50 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool thoroughly. 


Slice very thinly with a serrated bread knife. Set oven to 300F and place slices on cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes. Turn over and bake for another 12-15 minutes until crisp. If you give them a whiff with an organic canola or olive oil spray, they bake extra crispy. Cool on a cookie rack, and store in airtight container.


Here are the originals --- it might be good to only quarter the figs and not slice the olives to get the same texture.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Maine Coast Crisps

It is a gray day and we’ve been told it would rain around 10am for the rest of the day, of the weekend, but it 2pm, John Mayer is singing “someone like Olivia”, and I made it both through the farmers market as well as my other grocery run without a drop of rain. At the farmers market I bought a creamy local goat cheese that would go perfectly with my baking adventures from last night: reinventing the delicious (but pricey) raincoast crisps from Canada. 

They are made similarly to biscotti: twice-baked. First, a loaf is baked, cooled, thinly sliced and the slices are baked again to crispy perfection. The combinations are endless (just as the originals), I added ingredients that I had at home: cranberries, pepitas, and walnuts and rosemary. It would work well with kalamata olives, dried figs, caramelized onions and pecans. I am pretty sure I won’t have to wait too long to make the next batch: perfect snack for friends coming over for a glass of wine. 

Home-made these crisps are inexpensive, delicious, and really easy to make. 


Maine Coast Crisps
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raw pepitas (Trader Joes!)
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh or dried rosemary
Sift together the dry ingredients, add the wet ingredients and stir (I mixed them by hand). Now, add the “flavorings”. Fill into a sprayed 5X12 pan and bake at 350F for 45 minutes. Let cool thoroughly. Slice very thinly with a serrated bread knife, set oven at 300F and place slices on silicone lined cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes. Turn over and bake for another 12-15 minutes until crisp. If you give them a whiff with an organic canola or olive oil spray, they bake extra crispy. Store in airtight container. 

The batch mades about 42 crisps; each crisp has about 60kcals.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Lemon olive oil bundt cake

How is your long weekend? After much socializing  and catching up yesterday, I took it easy today, and baked a fabulous bundt cake: with a fruity olive oil, lemon zest (and extract) and some quinoa flour and almond milk. If it would not be for the eggs, it would be vegan. It is wonderfully light and flavorful, perfect for a potluck or picnic at the beach.


Lemon olive oil bundt cake

Ingredients (small cake, 6 cup pan)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour
  • 1 ts baking powder
  • 1 cup organic cane sugar
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1/2 cup fruity extra virgin olive oil (like an Arbequina olive oil)
  • 1/2 ts pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 ts lemon extract
  • 3 free-range large eggs
  • 1/2  cup almond milk
  • Zest of 1 lemon

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray the pan(s). Combine the flours and baking powder. Set aside.

Using a standmixer with the paddle attachment, beat the olive oil, cane sugar, salt, vanilla, lemon extract, and lemon zest in a large bowl until well blended. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, for ca 2 min for each egg. Add the almond milk.

Add half of the flour mixture and beat at low speed just until blended. Add the remaining flour, and mix in. Use a silicon spatula and scrape the batter into the pan(s).

Bake the tiny cake for ca 30min, and the small bundt cake for 1 hour, until cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan(s) on a rack for about 15 minutes. Then turn the cake right side up on a rack to cool completely.  

lemon_olive_oil_bundt_cake lemon_olive_oil_bundt_cake3

Monday, May 21, 2012

Glutenfree marbled cake

Over at Bea’s, she left us with a small marbled cake recipe before she travelled to Fance. Love her style of taking silicone molds with her on vacation to bake cakes. This time, she used it to make a small marbled cake, similar to my hazelnut cake a few weeks ago, but small, for the small family or the small occasion. Instead of a whole stick of butter, I only used a half stick and added instead a 1/2 cup of pre-cooked cannellini beans. You would never taste the difference. There was enough dough to make the small cake and 2 tiny individual cakes.


Small GF marbled cake with cannellinis:

  • 1/2 stick (55 g) unsalted butter, soft 
  • 1/2 cup cooked cannellini beans  (best home-cooked from dry w/o salt)
  • 3/4 cup (100 g) millet flour
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) quinoa flour
  • 2 TB flax meal
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) almond meal
  • 1/2 TB  baking powder
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) blond cane sugar
  • 3 large organic free-range eggs at room temperature
  • 1/2 TB vanilla extract
  • 1 TB strohrum
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) buttermilk
  • 1.5 tablespoons sifted unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a small cake or cake mold or muffin pan. I use a small silicone mold (needs no spraying).

In a food processor, chop the butter and the beans to a soft mousse. Add to the bowl of a standmixer with a paddle attachment. Add the sugar, and whisk until both are well combined. Add 1 egg at a time, and mix in. Add the vanilla extract and the rum and buttermilk, and whisk well.

In a separate bowl, combine the flours, flax meal, almond meal, baking powder and salt, and mix through. Slowly add to the wet ingredients until well combined. Remove about 1/3 of the dough and mix with the cocoa powder. Fill 1/3 of the ‘white’ dough in the mold, add the chocolate dough and top with the remaining “white” dough. Bake for ca. 40min. Cool for 15 min and remove from mold. Eat!


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

White Bean Hazelnut Cake

The weather is rather abysmal, endless rain and cold, and so I did what I often do in bad weather: I baked a cake. Ever since I saw Joy’s luxurious white bean bundt cake I was intrigued. Cannellini beans in a cake? Sounds healthy and … interesting. I had chocolate fudge dessert in Korea that was made mostly with kidney beans, very little sugar, cacao and little much else, and it tasted just like chocolate fudge (without the sugar high). A cannellini bean cake must be like the blonde equivalent of it.

I added my own tweaks to the recipe, adding hazelnut flour and Justin maple almond butter.
I am not sure about the glaze yet. White would be good, but something not too sweet.
Here we go. 


Cannellini Bean Hazelnut Cake
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup hazelnut meal
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cannellini beans, cooked or from a can, drained and rinsed
  • 2 TB unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract (optional)
  • 2 TB Justin’s maple almond butter
  • 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Spray a bundt pan with baking spray and set aside.


In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and hazelnut flour.  Set aside.

Add beans and butter to a food processor.  Puree until beans and butter are a smooth puree.  In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the bean/butter mix, the cane and brown sugar and beat on medium speed until all ingredients are well incorporated, about 3-5 minutes.  Add the egg and eggwhite and the almond butter.  Beat in vanilla and almond extract (if using).

Stop the mixer and add half of the dry ingredients; mix in with a spoon then restart stand mixer again.  Beat until incorporated.  Add the buttermilk and mix until incorporated.  Again stop the stand mixer, add the remaining dry ingredients, mix in with a spoon and then mix them until incorporated.  

Spoon batter into prepared pan. 


Bake for 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the cake come out clean.   Remove the cake from the oven.  Allow to rest in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.


Think about a glaze while cake cools. 

This post needs a pretty cat photo. Unfortunately, my cats do not sit in bowls but Chanelle still will sit on anything that makes him look good.


Raincoast crisps

The heavens are gray and heavy, no rain yet but soon. A good day to stay inside, take care of things, and think about cakes to bake. Yesterday, I picked up a box of Lesley Stowe’s raincoast fig and olive crackers --- delightful. Now, I just have to figure out how to make them myself. Great with goat cheese and a glass of wine.

This one could be a good start. 


Monday, April 23, 2012

Chocolate glazed Hazelnut Cake (the recipe)

The verdict is in: “Silvia, your best one yet!” Word of mouth travelled fast today at work, and by 2:30pm there was not much left of the hazelnut cake. I had even cut myself 2 slices to save for later, which I rarely do because as usual I bake a mini-cake for myself (but it was without the glaze!). 

I agree, this is wonderful cake which I have loved since childhood, but I must give credit solely to my late aunt’s recipe. She is really my mom’s aunt, so more like a grand-aunt to me. She would be 100 years old this year if she would be still alive, but I am sure she still watches closely when I make this cake. I am also sure she was delighted today to see that her recipe has still so many (new) fans and happy bellies. She was a proud, accomplished baker, and her cakes are legendary.  

I must note that the ‘it’ factor of this cake is also due to a uniquely spiced Austrian rum, the Strohrum, which my aunt always used and I use, too. The cake is just not the same without it. Typically, I buy the rum over the internet (e.g. It is not cheap, it is also 180 proof (but there are lower proof versions, which work just as well, it is really the spiced taste of the rum that makes the difference --- anyone who ever skied in the Austrian Alps will have had this rum in the “Grog” that is served in the ski huts). The rum lasts a long time and it is my secret weapon for many baked goods, chocolate mousses, and mulled wine in the winter. 

So here it is, my Aunt Jenny’s hazelnut cake recipe.


Aunt Jenny’s Hazelnut Cake
  • 200 g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 250 g organic cane sugar
  • 4 very large or 5 large free-range organic eggs, at room temperature
  • a pinch of salt
  • 200 g hazelnut meal (finely ground hazelnuts)
  • 100 g bittersweet dark chocolate, grated or chopped into tiny cubes
  • 2 TB Strohrum (or 3 TB warm milk)
  • 2 TB warm milk
  • 1 ts vanilla extract
  • 250g all-purpose flour
  • 1 ts baking powder
Preheat the oven to 360F. Spray a baking form (bundt cake pan or a large enough rectangular bread loaf pan) with baking spray. Set aside. 

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment whisk the butter and the sugar until well-combined and slightly foamy. Add one egg at a time and combine well. Add the pinch of salt, the rum, the vanilla and the milk, and let it be whisked together. Now, add the hazelnut meal, large spoonfuls at a time, and let it combine with the standmixer continuously running. Once all the hazelnut meal is integrated, add the grated chocolate. 

Mix the flour with the baking powder, and turn off the standmixer. Then add in a 1/4 of the flour. Turn on the mixer on very slow until the flour is integrated in and turn in the speed to the 2-3 setting. Add in all the flour this way, but avoid over mixing.

Fill the batter into the cake pan, and bake at 360F for ca 55min. Let the cake cool in the cake pan for 15min, then gently flip on a cooling rack, and let cool completely. 


Home-made chocolate glaze:
  • 200 gr bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 4 TB unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 tablespoons warm milk
  • 1 TB Strohrum
  • 1 ts vanilla
Pour the chocolate chips in a glass bowl or a ceramic bowl, and set it over a pot with boiling water on the stove (the bowl should not touch the water!). Stir continuously until the chocolate chips start to melt. Add in the butter, and melt it with the chocolate chips. Once it is all a creamy, lump-free consistency, add in the milk, the rum and the vanilla extract. Once incorporated, take the bowl off the pot, and continue to stir while adding in the confectioners sugar. Keep stirring. Place the cooled cake on a baking rack on top of a baking sheet lined with paper, and using a brush generously “paint” the cake with the chocolate glaze. The glaze will thicken when cooled, and it is great to have a 1/4 of an inch thick glaze on the cake.
Let cool and dry for about 4-5h before serving. The cake actually tastes better with time; at the beginning it is dry and light and slightly crumbly, and after a week it becomes moist with an intense nutty flavor. It should be stored cool and airtight.  


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Chocolate glazed Hazelnut Cake

It is a dreary, cold, rainy Sunday, and what better to do on a day like that than baking a comforting cake (aren’t all cakes comforting?) . I used my late aunt’s recipe for one my childhood favorites: a hazelnut-chocolate cake. Today, I glazed it  and it looks luxurious (I will post the recipe later).

Now, I am watching “The Help” for the second time. Although it is beautifully filmed and true to book the racism of the time just makes me sad. I listened to the audiobook version last summer, and I remember the sweetness of Abileene talking to Mo-mogli, and the funny parts that made me laugh out loud, and the scary parts of writing a socially critical book, the role confinement of women at the time and, yes, the racism.  It is hard to believe that all this happened only 40 years ago.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

My first cupcake

Hard to believe, but I never baked cupcakes before. What is the difference between muffins and cupcakes? Cupcakes have a sweet creamy frosting, but muffins not? So, maybe it is still not even a real cupcake ;-)

Nevertheless, today I took Giada’s di Laurentiis strawberry jam filled cupcake recipe she linked to on twitter (Jade’s favorite Easter treat) and got started. Loved that it has quinoa flour as ingredient, and Giada is pretty reliable with the quality of her recipe (or also Ina Garten). However, half of the batter I used to make tiny tea cakes. This was another adventure; I had bought this beautiful pan years ago but so far I had no succeeded to actually get tea cakes out of the pan (they always got stuck). This time it finally worked! However, the impressions on the tea cakes are still not pronounced. But, at lest they came out and they taste very good. Progress. The other half of the batter became the original cupcakes. Not sure if I add frosting. Eating a cupcake is already going like into sugar overdrive. Nevertheless, I proudly present my first cupcake!


Tea cakes / cupcakes (make 24 tea cakes and 6 cup cakes): (adapted from link)

  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup quinoa flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1 stick butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • ½ cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ⅓ + 6 ts cup strawberry fruit spread or jam

Frosting (optional)

  • 1/2 stick butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 TB whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoons strawberry fruit spread or jam

Mini Teacakes and Cupcakes

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and reheat the oven to 360 degrees F. Spray a teacake pan liberally with baking spray (combination of oil and flour) and set aside. Line a 6-cup muffin pan with paper liners and set aside.
Whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In a stand mixer, add the butter and sugar and beat on medium speed until well combined and fluffy. Add the eggs, milk, vanilla and strawberry jam and combine well. Spoon-wise add the dry ingredients on low speed of the stand mixer, and mix until just blended. Spoon half of the batter into the prepared tea cake pan, and fill each tea cake about 3/4. Bake at 360F for 15 min. Remove from oven, and cool for 2 min. Remove from the pan. Let cool and dust with confectioners sugar.

Use the prepared muffin pan and fill each cup with ca. 2 tablespoons of batter. Spoon 1 teaspoon of the strawberry fruit spread into the center of the batter of each cupcake. Spoon the remaining batter on top to cover the fruit spread completely. Bake until puffed and the cake springs back when touched, 15 to 17 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely, about 30 minutes.


Beat the butter in a medium bowl until light and smooth, using stand mixer. Beat in 2 cups of the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Stir the strawberry fruit spread and the remaining 3/4 cup powdered sugar into the other bowl of frosting and stir until smooth. Frost the tops of the cupcakes with strawberry frosting using a small spatula. Allow the frosting to set for 20 minutes before serving.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Stout chocolate cake 2.0

After my success with the first version of the stout chocolate cake, I made another one last weekend. Unfortunately, contrary to the first one the second cake came out bland and soggy. I scratched my head --- what had gone wrong? Did I underbake it? For the second cake I had completely followed Heidi’s recipe but for the first one I had improvised and added my own tweaks. So, how to recreate my original version? After some thorough analysis and inspecting the photos for additional clues I was able to recreate the cake.

Changes: I had added a few ingredients to bring out the chocolate flour, such as espresso powder. It is also important to simmer the beer, butter, cacao powder and espresso powder together on very low for about 15min. I do not reduce the mixture to half of the original 2 cups of stout, but with all ingredients, including butter and chocolate, I still have 2 cups of liquid. To make up for the extra liquid, I add an extra 1/2 cup of flour. Also, I only use all-purpose flour since it just rises better than whole wheat in my experience. Instead of 340ml yogurt, I only use 170ml (1 container). I also add molasses and vanilla extract. This time I followed my original recipe, and the cakes were rising well in the oven, and the texture is light, yet moist, again and only lightly sweet but chocolate-ly taste is back. I am always amazed that slight changes can make such huge differences in flavor and texture, when baking. It is an art and a science.

So, here it is, stout chocolate cake, 2.0. Enjoy!


Stout chocolate cake, 2.0


  • 2 cups St. Pete’s cream stout beer, reduced only to 1 1/2 cups of stout
  • 8 tablespoons/1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup Dagoba authentic cocoa powder
  • 1 TB instant Megdalia d’oro espresso powder
  • 2 1/2 cup King Arthur Flour all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 140 ml Brown Cow Maple cream top yogurt (1 container)
  • 3/4 cup Maine maple syrup (I use the whole foods brand and Stonewall kitchen)
  • 1/2 TB vanilla extract
  • 1/2 TB organic black strap molasses

Chocolate Buttermilk Icing:

  • 3/4 cup / 2.75 oz / 75 g powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup / 25g natural cocoa powder (non-dutched)
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • flaky sea salt, to serve

Preheat oven to 360F, with a rack in the center. Spray a regular sized and a small bundt cake pan with baking spray. If you use another cake pans, just make sure to avoid filling the pan(s) more than 2/3 - 3/4 full. Adjust the baking time as well - baking until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, and the center tests clean when you insert a knife.

In a saucepan simmer the 2 cups of beer down to 1 1/2 cup. Add in the stick of butter cut into pieces, and whisk in the chocolate powder and the espresso powder. Continue simmering on very low for another 15 min. The mixture develops a strong, rich chocolate aroma (make sure to not to scorch it by simmering on too high). Remove from heat, measure that it makes 2 cups, and let cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a standmixer with the paddle attachment, combine the eggs, yogurt, and maple syrup. Mix until nicely blended and uniform in appearance. Gradually add the (cooled) stout mixture, while still mixing. Add the flour mixture, tablespoon by tablespoon/

Transfer the batter to the prepared pans and bake for 45 minutes if using the bundt pan. You really don't want to over bake this cake - err on the slightly moist side if anything. Remove from the oven, and turn out onto a cooling rack after seven minutes.
Once the cake is completely cooled, whisk the icing by combining the powdered sugar, cocoa, and buttermilk. The icing should end up smooth and creamy looking. Run the icing around the top with an offset spatula and let it set.