Sunday, August 03, 2014

Baileys Brownies with Hazelnut Topping

When Nadina and Matthias invited me over for dinner this weekend, I insisted on bringing dessert. They asked me whether I could bring along something with chocolate. They are currently both finishing their final university papers and seemed in desperate need of comfort food. Brownies, of course, were the first thing that came to my mind. So I began to browse through my baking books in search of a brownie recipe I hadn't tried before. And I found one. You want comfort food?! I give you comfort food. As for consistency, these brownies are just what brownies should be like. The flavor of the Baileys goes wonderfully with the dark chocolate and a hint of coffee. Final touch: the hazelnut topping. 

(from the wonderful Sweets by Nicky Stich)

200g dark chocolate
150g butter
1/2 teaspoon coffee powder
3 eggs
150g brown sugar
50g white sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
125g flour
25g cocoa powder
60ml Baileys
50g chopped hazelnuts

Preheat the oven to 190°C and line a brownie tin (about 20x20) with parchment paper.

Coarsely chop the dark chocolate and, together with the butter and the coffee powder, melt over a hot water bath in a metal bowl, stirring occasionally. 

In another bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the sugar and beat for at least 3 minutes until creamy. Add chocolate-butter-mixture, cinnamon and salt. Then, sift in flour and cocoa and mix. Then, add Baileys and beat until all is well combined.

Fill your dough into the prepared tin and smoothen with a ladle. Then, sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts on top. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 25-30 minutes. They should not be thoroughly baked, otherwise, they will go dry too soon. If the middle is still a bit wobbly at the end of the baking time, that's perfect.

Let cool in your tin first, then release from the baking tin and let cool completely.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Little Apricot Cakes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bake for about 30-40 minutes until golden brown.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Chocolate Layer Cake with Chocolate Coffee Buttercream Frosting

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

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

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

for two 20cm diameter springform pans

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

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

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

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

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

Prepare your buttercream:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Blackberry and Hazelnut Cake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Cherry and Vanilla Cake with Walnuts

Well, here I am again. It's been almost a month, I know. But, you guys, there's just so much going on at the moment, I'm having a hard time catching up with everything, let alone take some time for blogging. And I've stopped to squeeze that in just because I think I have to. Baking cakes in a hurry usually leads to unsatisfying results and to uninspired photos which are not worth posting. But today is a slow day. One of those rainy sundays. Perfect occasion to take up blogging again. Here comes a cake I created from several recipes in one of my favorite books. I wanted to bake something with cherries. And you know me by now, I always have to add spices. This time, I went for vanilla because that goes so well with cherries. The sour cream in the dough renders this cake moist and the walnuts give it a crunch. Crumbles on top, now who doesn't love that?!

(slightly adapted from one of my new favorites: The Hummingbird Bakery - Süsse Sünden)

190g soft butter, plus some more for greasing the pan
190g sugar
3 eggs
190g flour, plus some for the pan
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
25g sour cream
seeds of one vanilla pod
ca. 100g cherries, pitted, halved
50g walnuts, coarsely chopped

For the crumble:
25g flour
10g cold butter
15g sugar
20g chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 170°C (convection oven 150°C). Grease a 20cm cake tin and dust with flour.

Put all the ingredients for the crumble into a small bowl and rub together with your fingers until you have crumbles. Set aside.

In a bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs one by one. Scrape down the bowl with a ladle from time to time.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Add the flour to the fluffy batter in two portions. When all is well combined, add sour cream and vanilla. Then, add the walnuts and incorporate with a ladle. In the end, add the cherries.

Fill your dough into the prepared tin. Scatter the crumble over your cake. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 50 minutes. Test if the cake is done by inserting a wooden skewer. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. Let cool in the tin first. Then, release from the tin and let cool completely.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Rhubarb and Almond Muffins

So I gave some of my photos a second chance. Remember, I told you last time that I have become quite a stickler when it comes to my food photos. This morning though, I browsed through last month's pictures again and thought what a pity it was that I haven't posted these delicious muffins. And I even discovered some photos that, at second glance, I liked quite much. So here they come. Almond and rhubarb - winner combination. And the almond topping adds a sweet crunch to those wonderfully tender and moist muffins.

(available in German: here)

for the dough:
400g rhubarb
150g sugar
100g butter
125g flour
100g ground almonds
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs
100 sour cream or crème fraiche

for the topping:
50g butter
50g sugar
50g heavy cream
100g slivered almonds

For 12-16 muffins.

Wash and peel the rhubarb. Cut into pieces of about 0.5 - 1cm. Put in a bowl and mix with 2 tablespoons of sugar.

For the dough, melt butter in a small pan over low heat. Take the pan away from the heat and let the butter cool a bit. In a bowl, mix flour with the ground almonds and the baking powder.

For the topping, pour heavy cream, sugar and butter into a pan, let melt together and cook for about a minute. Add slivered almonds and let cook for further one or two minutes, until the mixture is not too liquid anymore.

Preheat the oven to 180°C and line your muffin pan with paper cases.

In a bowl, mix melted butter and remaining sugar with an electric hand mixer. Add the eggs, one after the other. Then, add sour cream.

With a ladle, fold in your flour mixture. Drain the rhubarb pieces, then add to the dough and mix. Fill your dough into the prepared muffin cases. Add a bit of topping onto each muffin.

Bake for about 30 minutes until they are golden brown. If the almond topping browns too much, cover with aluminium foil. Then, take out of the oven and let cool.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Pear and Hazelnut Muffins

Good morning, everyone. I know, it's been a while. But during the last few weeks, I either didn't have time for baking or the photos I made of my cakes did not live up to my expectations so I decided not to post them. When it comes to my food pictures, I've become quite a perfectionist. So I often find myself sitting in front of my computer, looking at the photos for ages, comparing and post-processing them until I feel comfortable with the result. Sometimes, the first few shots I take are just perfect and sometimes, it just doesn't work the way I wanted it to, no matter what I try… I am quite happy with the outcome of today's photo session, though. I felt like baking something with pears. Pear still is my favorite fruit and combined with hazelnuts or almonds it yields, at least in my opinion, the most comforting and heart-warming baked goods. These muffins would be wonderful for breakfast or as a snack in the afternoon.

(from here)

Yield: Theoretically, 12 muffins (I got 17)

2 small-medium firm pears
85 grams butter, melted and cooled slightly
125 grams natural cane sugar, such as Turbinado, light brown or granulated sugar
240 ml buttermilk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
75 grams rolled oats
125 grams all-purpose flour
60 grams whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, which I replaced with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, which I replaced with 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
120 grams toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
85 grams bittersweet chocolate chunks (optional, I left them out)

Heat oven to 220°C. Butter a standard 12-cup muffin tin or line it with papers.

Peel (if you so desire, can be skipped) pears, then halve and core them. Grate pears on the large holes of a boxed grater into a large bowl. Stir in melted butter, sugar, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla until combined.

In a separate bowl, stir together the oats, flours, baking soda, baking powder, spices, salt, all but 1/2 of the coarsely chopped hazelnuts, and chocolate chunks, if you’re feeling extra indulgent. Gently fold this dry ingredient mixture into the wet batter until just combined; do not overmix.

Fill muffin cups almost up to the top and sprinkle with the reserved hazelnuts. Place muffins in oven and immediately reduce the heat to 190°C. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of muffins comes out batter-free.

Cool muffins in pans for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Muffins will keep for 2 days at room temperature in an airtight container.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Matcha and Lime Cookies

Next to the colored eggs and my Easter bunnies, I also made these green little cuties last weekend. I just didn't have time to post them here yet since I've been away on holiday for a few days last week. At a car racing training in Germany, can you believe it?! Co-driver only, of course, but guys, that was quite a ride. And now that Edi brought me home in one piece, I finally have time to share this recipe with you. I had bookmarked it in one of my cookbooks ages ago and ever since I've cleaned out my kitchen cupboard and found my tin of matcha powder again, I've been wanting to give this recipe a try. I thought that these cookies would make nice Easter goodies. They get their bright-green color from the matcha powder which, in Switzerland, you can get in Asia shops. Color-wise, matcha and lime are the perfect combination and their flavors go together wonderfully. Complex and bitter versus fresh and sweet - builds a perfect harmony.

(from Delicious Days by Nicole Stich)

80g icing sugar
2 teaspoons matcha powder
3 limes
150g cold butter
1 pinch of salt
200g flour
25-50g corn starch
3 egg yolks
75g sugar

Sift icing sugar and matcha powder into a large bowl. Wash one of the limes with hot water and grate the zest. Cut butter into cubes and, together with the lime zest and salt, add to the sugar. With your electric hand mixer (I used the dough hook), mix until you have a bright-green smooth dough. Then, add flour and corn starch. Mix again. Then, add the eggs.

Form the dough into a flat disk and wrap into cling film. Put into the refrigerator for at least one hour. You can also leave this dough in the fridge for about 2 days.

Preheat the oven to 170°C (fan-assisted: 150°C) and line two baking trays with parchment paper. Wash the other two limes with hot water, grate the zest and grind in a mortar together with 1 tablespoon sugar. Mix with the rest of the sugar and put into a bowl.

Dust your work surface with a little flour and roll out your dough (about 5-7 millimeters). Cut out your cookies with a cookie cutter of your choice. Toss the cookies into your sugar-lime mix until they are covered with lime sugar. Align the cookies in the tray and bake in the middle of the oven. Depending on how thick the cookies are, that takes 10-15 minutes. They should be baked thoroughly, but they should not be brown around the edges. Take out of the oven and let cool on a wire rack. Keep in an air- and light-tight container.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

Friday afternoon at Sibylle's was a blast. I just loved spending time with her family in their cozy little house. She's a wonderful host and a big thank you goes out to her - we all had such a great time. And on the pictures below, you can see some of the beautiful eggs we colored. Sibylle had also made a delicious plaited loaf and it reminded me of how much I actually like to bake bread. Since it's Easter, I decided to make little bunnies instead of a plait. One of these is going to be a little Easter present for Edi, my one and only. Time to formally introduce the man to you guys since, for quite some time now, he's been such a precious part of my life. It all started with me bringing cake over to his office - which is why I usually jokingly tend to claim that I've enchanted him with cake. Cooking or baking for your loved one just is a wonderful thing. I truly believe that all the love and affection goes into the food. Well, Liebe geht durch den Magen, or how do you say in English?! The way to a man's heart is through his stomach.

(from Betty Bossi - Knuspriges Brot und köstliche Brotgerichte)

Makes four bunnies:

500g flour
1/2 tablespoon salt
ca. 15g yeast, in crumbs
1/2 tablespoon sugar
125g soft butter
3 - 3.5dl milk
1 egg yolk
a splash of cream

In a large bowl, mix flour and salt. Add yeast, sugar, butter and milk and knead (with the kitchen aid or with your hands) until you have a soft and smooth dough (if you do it with your hands like I did, it takes about 10 minutes). Form a ball, put into your bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place until its size has doubled (about 2 - 3 hours).

Spread a little flour on your kitchen surface. Cut your dough into four equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long thick strand. Then, cut off about a fourth of the strand to form the bunny head. Form a ball and with a knife or with scissors, make a cut to make the bunny ears. To make the body of the bunny, make a knot into the longer strand. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Put the two "body parts" onto the tray. The head and the body will stick together better if you use a little water on the spot where they come together. Repeat for the other three bunnies and let them rise again for another half hour.

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Use a raisin to make a bunny eye. In a small bowl, mix egg yolk and cream and brush onto your bunnies. Bake them in the middle of the oven for about 25 minutes. If you take them out of the oven and knock onto the bottom with your finger, it should make a hollow sound. Let cool on a wire rack.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Vanilla Cupcakes

Is it Easter already again?! Time flies, doesn't it? But I've been having a slow start today and I'm looking forward to a few days off now. This afternoon, I'm going to go over to Evelyn's sister Sibylle. As usual, she has invited her family and a bunch of other people to her house for the annual Easter egg coloring session. Last year, it was big fun and I have no doubt that we are going to have a great time today as well. I just finished decorating these cupcakes which I'm going to bring along for the dessert buffet and I thought, I might just have time to share them with you before I have to leave. Happy Easter you guys!

(from one of my absolute favourites: Cake Days by The Hummingbird Bakery)

For the dough:

80g soft butter
280g sugar
1/2 sachet of vanilla sugar
240g flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
240ml milk

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line a 12-mould muffin pan with paper cases.

In a bowl, mix butter, sugar, vanilla sugar, flour, baking powder and salt with an electric hand mixer on low speed until you have a fine crumbly batter.

Mix milk and eggs and add to the cake batter in three additions while constantly mixing. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula from time to time. Mix until you have a smooth batter.

Fill your batter into the prepared cases. Don't overfill them or they will spill while baking! Two thirds is fine. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 20 minutes. Check with a wooden skewer whether they are done. Let cool completely after baking.

For the frosting:

500g icing sugar
1/2 sachet of vanilla sugar
160g very soft butter
50ml milk

In a bowl, mix butter, icing sugar and vanilla sugar with an electric mixer on low speed until you have a powdery batter. Slowly add the milk while constantly mixing. On high speed, mix until you have a fluffy batter. Then, add the dulce de leche and mix well.

Spread the frosting on your cupcakes with a palette knife and decorate with sugar flowers or sugar pearls… whatever you feel like or fits for the occasion.

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