Sunday, December 28, 2014

Honey and Pear Layer Cake with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!



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

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

Love, Katrin


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Apple and Cinnamon Crumble Tart

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




Recipe
(slightly adapted from "Weihnachten mit Fräulein Klein")

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes:

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


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Gingerbread with Cranberry Icing

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thursday, December 04, 2014

Pear and White Chocolate Muffins with Gingerbread Crumble

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

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




Recipe
Adapted from: Leila Lindholm's Piece of Cake

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

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

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

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

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

Bake for about 20 minutes.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Corn Bread with Olives

I always say that I would like to bake more bread. And yet, I hardly ever do it. However, when I stumbled over this recipe, I decided to give it a try. I actually like corn bread a lot, but was much more used to the sweeter version with raisins or chocolate chips. This savory version is delicious as well. We had it for dinner lately together with cheese and dried meat. This bread is probably best on the day it was baked or the day after since it tends to get a bit dry after that.




Recipe
(from LE MENU 10/2014)

2dl milk-water mix (1dl milk, 1dl water)
1/4 teaspoon salt
50g polenta (not too coarse)
325g flour
1 teaspoon salt
15g yeast
about 2dl lukewarm water
100g black or green olives, stones removed, cut into slices
some more flour to dust the surface

For a cake tin of about 28cm length.

In a small pan, heat up milk-water with the salt and bring to a boil. Add Polenta while stirring constantly and simmer for about 6-10 minutes until you've got a creamy polenta. Set aside, let cool a bit.

Mix flour and salt. Dissolve yeast in a little water and then, together with the rest of the water and the polenta, add to the flour and knead until you have a smooth dough. In a large bowl and covered with a kitchen towel, let the dough rise until it's got about double its size.

Dust your kitchen surface with flour, take your dough, flatten a bit. Scatter the olives on the dough and press them into the dough a little. Roll the dough up and place your loaf into your cake tin lined with parchment paper and dust with a bit of flour. Let the dough rise for another half hour.

Preheat your oven to 230°C. Place the tin onto a baking tray together with a little heat-proof bowl of water. Bake your loaf for about 10 minutes. Then reduce to heat to 180°C and bake for another 30 minutes. Then, release your loaf from the cake tin, put it back in the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Nutella Muffins

Hey you guys. I'm so sorry for abandoning you for such a long time. This year, it seems, I do not have as much time for baking as I would like to. Last weekend, though, I made it back to the kitchen and I've got a real treat for you. This recipe ought to be a reasonable compensation for my two-month absence. These muffins are popular with children and adults. I've had "test persons" whose age ranged from three to fifty-something and they were all equally thrilled.




Recipe:
(from the fabulous Cake Days by Tarek Malouf)

for 12 muffins (I got 16 muffins out of this recipe)

300g flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
150g sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
250ml milk
2 eggs
85g butter, melted
150g Nutella
30g hazelnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Line your muffin pan with paper cases.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, 120g sugar, vanilla sugar and salt. In a small bowl, combine milk and eggs. Add the milk-egg-mixture to the flour-mixture and beat well with an electric hand mixer. Scrape down your bowl with a ladle. Add the melted butter and then 80g of Nutella. Beat well.

Fill about a fourth of each paper case with the dough. Then, drop a teaspoon of Nutella into each muffin case. Fill the rest of the dough into your muffin cases until their filled up to about two thirds. Sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts and the remaining sugar onto your muffins.

Bake your muffins for about 30 minutes in the middle of the oven. Test with a wooden skewer whether they are done. No dough should stick to the skewer. Let the muffins cool in the tray for a few minutes, then let cool on a wire rack.


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. 




Recipe
(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.




Recipe:
(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.




Recipe:
(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.



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