Saturday, August 29, 2015

Zucchini Bread

Zucchini are very happening at our household at the moment. I always have a batch of them at home since Jacqueline recently claimed that she likes them so much. Also, I have started to feed Julia some veggie purée and she, too, seems to like zucchini a lot. Zucchini can also be used for baking wonderful cakes. They have a very neutral taste and they give this cake its tender and moist texture. I like the addition of black chocolate chunks, dried cranberries and walnuts. The round and full flavor comes from the cinnamon and the nutmeg. This lovely cake can be prepared in no time - as you know, to me, this is one of the major selection criteria when choosing recipes these days ;-) If you prepare it a day ahead, the flavor can intensify. And, by the way, meet our cat Mia (see photo at the end of this post). She loves to sneak around while I photograph my cakes and, this time, she even made it onto one of the pictures.

(from the fabulous smitten kitchen)

makes 2 loaves or approximately 24 muffins:

3 large eggs
235 ml olive or vegetable oil
350 grams cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
375 grams all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
55 grams chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
115 grams dried cranberries, raisins or chocolate chips or a combination thereof (optional)

Preheat oven to 175°C. Grease and flour two 25cm loaf pans. Alternately, line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Mix in oil and sugar, then zucchini and vanilla. Combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt, as well as nuts, chocolate chips and/or dried fruit, if using. Stir this into the egg mixture.

Divide the batter into prepared pans. Bake loaves for 60 minutes, plus or minus ten, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Muffins will bake far more quickly, approximately 20 to 25 minutes.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Lemon and Hazelnut Cantuccini

I haven't made cookies for quite a while now. I stumbled over this recipe when I was looking for something suitable for coffee with my neighbour and her two girls. I actually had a healthy snack in mind, like granola bars or something, but when I saw this recipe, I couldn't resist. So cantuccini it is - granola bars can wait.

(from the fabulous "Homemade" by Yvette Van Boven)

1 pinch of salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
250g flour
2 eggs, beaten
125g sugar
1 sachet of vanilla sugar
grated zest of 2 lemons
50ml sunflower oil
50ml milk
100g chopped hazelnuts

Makes about 24 cookies.

Preheat the oven to 175°C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

In a bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat two thirds of the eggs (you will need the rest to brush the biscotti with later). While beating the eggs, add sugar, then vanilla sugar, lemon zest and oil.

Sift in flour and beat well. Then, add milk. If your dough seems to thick, add more milk. Add the chopped hazelnuts and mix well. Divide the dough into two even portions and, on the baking tray, form two loafs. Brush with the leftover egg mixture.

Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Take out of the oven and let cool a bit. Then, with a sharp knife, cut into pieces (about 1.5cm thick). Line the cantuccini on the baking tray again and bake for ten minutes on each side. Then, let cool on a wire rack.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Red Currant and Ricotta Muffins

I'm not a huge fan of red currants - too sour for my taste. But when they are baked into a cake, now that's a whole different story. Then, they harmonize wonderfully with the sugar. And in this case here, they are a perfect contrast to the plain ricotta. These little muffins would be a wonderful addition to any summer buffet or picnic.

(Original recipe in German here)

150g ricotta
1dl milk
1 sachet vanilla sugar
60g butter
150g sugar
1 egg
250g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch of salt
200g red currants (original recipe suggests fresh or frozen raspberries)

Preheat the oven to 180°C and prepare 12 muffin cases.

In a bowl, mix ricotta, milk and vanilla sugar. Melt the butter. Let cool slightly and add to this mixture. In another bowl, beat egg and sugar until pale and fluffy and fold this into the ricotta-mixture. Sift in flour, baking powder and salt and mix well. Then, carefully fold in the berries. 

Fill the mixture into your muffin cases and bake for about 20 minutes.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Chocolate Cake with Pears

I love to cook for special occasions. Of course, with Julia around, it's simply not possible anymore to spend a whole day in the kitchen preparing dishes for the evening. However, I still managed to cook a simple dinner for Edi's birthday. And there had to be cake! He had wished for something with chocolate and pears - a match made in heaven.

(German Version here)

for the dough:
150g butter, soft
175g sugar
1 pinch of salt
3 eggs
150g dark chocolate, melted
2 tablespoons cream
100g ground hazelnuts
225g flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder

for the pears:
3 ripe pears, peeled, cored, cut into slices
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons sugar

for the glaze:
100g - 150g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
100ml cream

Preheat the oven to 180 °C. Line a 26-28cm diameter springform pan with parchment paper and grease with butter.

In a bowl, beat butter with an electric hand mixer until pale and fluffy. Add sugar and salt and mix well. Add the eggs, one by one and keep beating until the batter is pale. Add melted chocolate, cream and hazelnuts. Sift in flour and baking powder. Beat well until all is well combined. Pour your batter into the prepared springform pan. Arrange your pear sliced on the cake. Brush them with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for about 40-45 minutes.

When the cake has cooled, heat up the cream in a small saucepan. When it is bubbling, take away from the heat and stir in the chocolate pieces. You will need at least 100g. I usually use a bit more until I have the consistency I like. With a spoon, spread the glaze over the cake.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Apricot Cake

My summer can't go by without apricot cake. When Edi and Jacqueline brought home a large batch of them from their usual weekend grocery tour, I immediately got the idea to use some of them for baking. Here comes a really simple, but delicious cake I found in this lovely book. I added some vanilla seeds to the dough because apricot and vanilla always strikes me as a winner combination.

(slightly adapted from "Fräulein Klein lädt ein")

90g soft butter
80g sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar (I used a teaspoon of vanilla extract and the scraped out seeds of one vanilla pod instead)
2 eggs
190g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
90ml milk
350g ripe apricots (you could also use other fruit or berries as well)
icing sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a springform pan of 24cm diameter with parchment paper and grease with butter. 

Wash the apricots, cut them in halves and remove the stone. Set aside.

In a bowl, beat butter, sugar and vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract and seeds) until pale and fluffy. Then, add the eggs and beat until creamy. In another bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Add this to the other mixture and combine. Then, add milk.

Fill your dough into the prepared springform pan. Place your apricots onto the dough, cut side face down. Sprinkle with some sugar before putting the cake in the oven.

Bake the cake for about 45 minutes (I suggest you test whether it's done a bit earlier - with my oven, it only took less long, about 35 minutes). When your cake is done, take it out of the oven, let cool and dust with icing sugar before serving.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Yogurt Cake with Raspberries and Dark Chocolate

Things are getting easier. My days have some sort of rhythm again. I had time to bake last Sunday morning - like in the good old times. Julia was also wide awake so I placed her bassinet right beside me in the kitchen and explained to her exactly what I was doing while I was preparing the cake batter. She watched my every move and seemed kind of delighted. I noticed that she also likes to watch me while I'm eating. She keeps looking at my mouth, smiling at me and imitating the movements. I really wonder whether she will become as much of a sweet tooth as I am, but that's left for her to decide.

(slightly adapted from Annemarie Wildeisen's "Heissgeliebtes Backen")

100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
180g raspberries (the original recipe suggests sour cherries)
100g butter
2 eggs
150g sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar (I used a tablespoon of vanilla extract instead)
180g plain yogurt
300g flour
1 sachet of baking powder

Preheat the oven to 170°C and line a 26cm cake tin with parchment paper. Grease the edges with butter.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and let cool a bit. In a large bowl, mix eggs, sugar and vanilla sugar. You can use an egg whisk for that. The recipe says that one should not overmix so I didn't use the electric hand mixer. Add yogurt and melted butter and mix. In another bowl, mix flour and baking powder. Add the chocolate pieces, then the raspberries. Mix and add this mixture to the wet ingredients.

Fill your mixture into your prepared cake tin. Bake for about 50 to 60 minutes. Check with a wooden skewer whether your cake is done. No cake batter should stick to the skewer. Let cool. Dust with icing sugar before serving if you like. A chocolate icing would also be nice.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Blackberry Mini Cakes

May went by without cake. I mean, not that I didn't eat any cake - I just didn't bake one. My daughter keeps me busy. Still (who would have thought that I would be saying this someday) being a mom is the single most wonderful "job" I've ever had. Getting to know my little girl better brings me such joy. And now that she is almost three months old, she's making progress almost every day. She's discovering her world with her beautiful curious eyes and she's laughing and babbling. Of course, she can also express her needs or discomfort by crying at quite a volume… Well, no doubt she must have inherited her voice from her mother. But overall, we're having a really good time.

I made these mini cakes today because I wanted to use up some leftover blackberries before they would go bad. I'm quite happy with the result. Nothing too fancy, just simple and straightforward - a nice summer treat. You could use any kind of berries you like. Adding some white chocolate chunks would probably be a nice idea, I thought, but I had none at home and there was no time for shopping. Why don't you add some chocolate chunks to your batter or some nuts to give those cakes a crunch.

(slightly adapted from Leila Lindholm's Piece of Cake)

100g butter
200ml milk
1 lemon, grated zest
2 eggs
120g sugar
1tsp vanilla sugar or one teaspoon vanilla extract
240g flour
2tsp baking powder
1 pinch of salt
1 or 2 tablespoons creme fraiche
200g blackberries
icing sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 175°C. Line a muffin tray with paper cases or prepare your mini cake paper cases.

Melt butter, add milk and lemon zest. In another bowl, beat eggs, sugar and vanilla sugar until pale and foamy. Mix egg batter with milk batter. Mix flour, baking powder and salt and mix with the liquid batter. Add creme fraiche and mix. Add blackberries and fold in carefully with a ladle. Fill your mixture into the prepared paper cases.

Bake for about 20 minutes. Test whether your cakes are done with a wooden skewer. No cake batter should stick to the wooden skewer.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Blueberry and Lemon Scones

Tomorrow, our baby girl will be three weeks old. I think that, every day, I fall in love with her a little bit more. Sometimes, I look at her and I'm overwhelmed with the fact that something as wonderful as this has been growing in my belly. But, before you think I'm going to sugarcoat it all now, yes, those are demanding times and, yes, we're totally sleep deprived. At night, I have to get up two or three times. And during the day, our baby is often hungry exactly when we're about to eat or when I wanted to take care of something else. There's no way you can adhere to your own rhythm as a mother. But, once you get to know your baby a bit, there are moments you can use to do something for yourself. Most of the time, I opt for taking a nap! I started practicing Qi Gong again and I even have some time to take care of this blog. I find that it helps to at least make a little room for certain things you used to do before the birth of your child because during the remaining time, the world revolves around her - which is exactly how it's supposed to be and which is, as exhausting as it may be, still the most fulfilling thing in the world.

As you know, baking is something that usually doesn't exhaust me, it fills me with joy. At the moment, I go for "mix all ingredients in one bowl, pour the batter into your cake tin and bake for so-and-so many minutes"-kind of recipes (last week's banana bread was one of those). Leila Lindholm's scones, too, are always a safe bet. The basic dough is thrown together in a few minutes and there are some nice variations to your classic scone recipe. I went for blueberry and lemon this time since I thought that would fit for a sunny spring day. We enjoyed them together with coffee when Julia's grand-parents came over to visit last Wednesday.

Blueberry and Lemon Scones
(from: Leila Lindholm - Piece of Cake)

510g plain flour
0.5 teaspoon salt
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
40g brown sugar
125g cold butter
1 egg
200ml milk
grated zest of 2 lemons
100g blueberries (fresh or frozen)

one more egg (lightly beaten) and a little brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 250°C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Combine flour, salt, baking powder and sugar in a bowl. Cut butter into pieces and rub into the flour mixture with your fingers. Mix the egg, milk and lemon zest and add this to the flour mixture. Also add  the berries (try not too crush them too much) and combine to a dough.

Place the dough onto a surface sprinkled with a little flour and flatten it until it's about 3cm thick. Cut it into triangle pieces (or you can also use a big round cookie cutter).

Place the scones onto your baking tray. Brush with the egg and sprinkle some brown sugar onto them. Bake for about 10 minutes. I usually have to give them a little more time. Try not to overbake them, though. As you can see, mine almost turned too dark.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Banana Bread with Millet

I've got big news for you! On March 23, our precious daughter Julia was born and we're happy to report that she's healthy. She's undoubtedly the most amazing thing that ever happened to me and I enjoy every day with her. Of course, she keeps us up at night, but I guess it could be worse. Most of the time, she's an angel and it's so exciting to get to know her. And somehow, despite my lack of sleep, I found myself in the kitchen yesterday morning, baking banana bread. It spontaneously overcame me when I looked at three over-ripe bananas on our fruit plate and I remembered this simple recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I'm a big fan of millet and I had been wondering how this cake would turn out. The uncooked grains add a crunch to the smooth and moist dough. I like it a lot. Also, it's not that sweet and it's just as perfect for afternoon tea as well as for breakfast.

(from the fabulous Smitten Kitchen)

3 large ripe-to-over-ripe bananas
1 large egg
80ml virgin coconut oil, warmed until it liquefies, or olive oil
65g light brown sugar
60-80ml maple syrup, depending on how sweet you like it
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 pinch of ground cloves
180g flour or spelt flour
50g uncooked millet

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Line a 22-25cm cake tin with parchment paper.

In the bottom of a large bowl, mash bananas with a potato masher, the back of a wooden spoon or with a fork until virtually smooth but a few tiny lumps remain. Whisk in egg, then oil, brown sugar, syrup and vanilla extract. Sprinkle baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves over mixture and stir until combined. Stir in flour until just combined, then millet.

Pour mixture into your prepared pan and bake until a tester comes out clean, about 40 - 50 minutes. Cool loaf in the pan or on a wire rack.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Vanilla and Poppy Seed Muffins

This post goes out to you in order to let you know that I haven't completely disappeared. After having been put on bed rest for the past few weeks, I had no other choice but to let go of everything and to accept the fact that the little girl in my belly and I apparently need lots and lots of quiet. My pregnancy taught me once again that life just has its own ways and that things don't always go as planned. But the most important thing is that my daughter and I are fine. I'm allowed to get up again and last weekend, I even felt like baking again. I chose a very easy recipe which would not take much effort and time. The result was still very satisfying - perfect for these first spring days.

I'm very much looking forward to taking up baking and blogging again. First, however, I will enjoy the remaining time with my baby so close to me and then, when she's finally here, I guess, it will take some time to get used to a new rhythm. But I'll be back, I promise!

In the meantime, I wish you all the best. Love, Katrin

(from the lovely Zucker, Zimt und Liebe by Virginia Horstmann)

190g flour
280g sugar
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
one pinch of salt
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
120ml milk
2 tablespoons greek yogurt or crème fraiche
240ml vegetable oil
3 eggs
vanilla seeds of one vanilla pod

for the icing:
100g icing sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk

The recipe says that these ingredients make about 8 muffin-sized cakes, I ended up with more.

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line your muffin tin with paper cases.

In a bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds and set aside. In another bowl, combine milk, crème fraiche (or yogurt), oil, eggs and the vanilla seeds. Add the dry ingredients this this mixture and beat well until you have a smooth batter. Don't overmix, the cakes won't be as fluffy otherwise.

Fill your dough into the prepared cases and bake for about 20-25 minutes. Test with a wooden skewer, whether they are done. No dough should stick to the skewer.

When the cakes have cooled down, prepare your icing. In a bowl, mix icing sugar and milk until smooth. Spread onto your muffins and sprinkle with poppy seeds or sugar pearls. Stored in an airtight container, these little cakes keep for about 3 days. I even thought, their flavor improved after one day.

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