Havuçlu Kek (Turkish Carrot Cake)

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This Sunday I made two different carrot cakes, 1) because I was curious to try out this recipe, and 2) because I’d grated too many carrots for the one I had initially decided to make, which was already in the oven, and so it seemed meant to be that I should bake this particular cake right this instant.

Please excuse the lack of pictures – I managed to gobble up all of the cake but for one little tinfoil-wrapped piece, which I hurriedly took a picture of before eating it for breakfast a few days ago. This is different to any carrot cake I’ve tried, more a cinnamon-spice cake really, than a classic carrot cake. It’s super moist but somehow less ‘wet’ than most, containing about half the amount of grated carrots than other carrot cakes, sweet and subtle and perfectly studded with roughly chopped walnuts. It’s my favourite carrot cake to date, and that’s saying a lot, as it’s hard to go wrong with any carrot cake, in my opinion. While I don’t think any carrot cake really needs frosting to begin with (I know that this may come as a shock to most of the die-hard classic cream cheese frosting fans out there, but I am not one of them!), this cake is somehow even more unassuming than other carrot cakes, and is just perfect as is – no muss, no fuss, and no frosting. Just perfectly moist cake with cinnamon and walnuts, and a hint of grated carrot. I even ended up bringing all of the carrot cupcakes with lemon-orange frosting I’d just made to work with me the next day to give to my colleagues, although they were perfectly delicious, because I only want to eat this one right now. It also seems completely perfect for this time of year, red and yellow leaves on the trees and ground, and brisk autumn winds and all 🙂 the same way spiced cider and big, woolly scarves do.

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Long story short, I’ll certainly be making this again 🙂 and most probably not just in autumn.

Havuçlu kek (Turkish carrot cake)
Adapted slightly from Hayriye’s Turkish Food and Recipes

  • 3 eggs
  • 300 g sugar (1 1/2 cups)
  • 240 ml (1 cup) olive oil (or whatever oil you prefer)
  • 250 g (2 cups) flour
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2-1 tsp salt (I used 1 whole tsp because the salt I have is fleur de sel, but if you’re using fine table salt, then I suggest cutting the amount to 1/2-2/3 tsp)
  • Grated zest of one half to one whole lemon, depending on how big your lemon is. If in doubt, go for half (I didn’t have any oranges, but I will try adding orange zest as well, next time I bake this) (*I’ve now tried adding the zest of one orange as well, and while I don’t think it makes a huge difference in taste, it certainly doesn’t hurt!)
  • 1 cup finely grated carrot (240 ml)
  • 100 g (1 cup) roughly chopped walnuts

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together with an electric mixer, until pale and foamy. Add the oil, and mix well. Add in the grated carrots, lemon/orange zest and chopped walnuts. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt, then fold this into the wet ingredients.

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Pour the batter into a well-greased and lightly floured bundt cake tin, and bake in a preheated oven at 180°C/350°F for about 45 minutes, until the cake is golden and a tooth pick comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the tin, then carefully cut around the edges with a very thin knife, to loosen it from the sides of the tin. Turn the cake out onto a plate, and enjoy 🙂

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Keeps well for several days wrapped in tin foil.

 

Marble Crumb Cake

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A while back, I’d planned on making a blueberry crumb cake to bring to a dinner I was going to. I was also going to make a tomato tart, and a vegan tahini and orange blossom cake. It didn’t quite work out that way, because on my way home from work, I got caught in a summer storm (told you it was a while back!) of epic proportion; it was pretty great 🙂 I love a bit of dramatic weather. I left work, and the heat and humidity hit me like a wall as soon as I left the clinically cool air conditioning of my office. Everyone was wearing shorts and skirts and mellow ‘gee it’s hot ‘ end-of-the-work-day expressions. I was  sitting on the tram, lost in thoughts about the week, when the sky went almost completely black. When the tram stopped and the doors opened to let people on and off, you could feel the drop in temperature, the wind picking up, and a sort of collective sigh of relief going through the passengers, despite the sudden darkness and promise of rain.

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I got off at my stop, and immediately big fat raindrops began to hit the hot asphalt, so I legged it to the supermarket, trying to dodge the worst of it (unsuccessfully, but gleefully – lightning and thunder overhead, and the wind making my umbrella turn inside out). I did my shopping, drenched. And legged it on home with my groceries.

But when I emptied my shopping bag, lo and behold, I’d forgotten blueberries. And the tomatoes. And also several of the ingredients for the vegan cake. It didn’t really seem all that dramatic, what with everything else in my head, so I just sort of shrugged my shoulders, and decided I’d buy a Spanish tortilla the next day, to bring to the dinner instead of the tomato tart, and, in the name of improvisation, to make the crumb cake, but to try substituting apricot jam for the blueberries (this really, really amazing apricot jam I got in Provence). But let me tell ya, it did not taste good. Way too sweet, too much lemon zest, and the jam just sort of fused itself to the crumble topping, making a sort of hard but chewy layer, rather than crispy, buttery crumbs. I must have not swirled the jam into the batter properly. But at least I learned that, were I to make it again, and this time with actual blueberries, I will definitely cut both the lemon zest and sugar quantities down a bit.

Anyways, there I was, sans (edible) cake. So I flipped through one of my baking books, and, since I’d had my heart set on crumb cake in particular, decided to try out this one recipe I’d been meaning to for years but somehow never got around to (and for which I happened to have all of the ingredients): a marble crumb cake – vanilla and cocoa pound cake with chocolate chips, and a thick layer of dark cocoa streusel on top. And thankfully, it was really good! Phew 🙂 And very, very moreish. I had a piece of it warm, at 11 pm, for testing purposes. And another for breakfast, still for testing purposes. Still good. And even though there were plenty of other desserts at the dinner the next day, there was barely any cake left over to bring home. Even my friend who doesn’t like chocolate cakes liked it. I think everyone likes crumble 🙂 I even made it again a couple of times over the following weeks ’cause I was craving the dark and not too sweet, intensely cocoa-ey streusel topping.

So here is a super comforting, super easy, and super quick-to-make cake, one that can very easily be made the day before as it doesn’t go dry. I baked it in a square baking tin, but I think next time I might try a loaf tin! I’m really into baking things in loaf tins at the moment. Like carrot cake. And this dense chocolate loaf cake.

I don’t think there are many situations or shitty weeks that can’t be made a little bit better by including cake of some sort; and if nothing else, it can’t make things worse… And the process itself, even if the result isn’t always what you’d hoped, is so soothing… at least to me. It’s the only thing that makes my mind go quiet for a bit. I’m terrible at meditation, and making my mind be still. It’s always buzzing, ah-ing and ooh-ing over something, thinking about that thing that I forgot to do, or that thing I need to do tomorrow. Or that time, 10 years ago, where I spilled coffee all over myself and the floor of a newsagent’s when trying to purchase a newspaper, by dropping said newspaper, bending over to pick up said newspaper, spilling the hot contents of the coffee I’d just purchased 5 minutes earlier all over my hand (ouch) and said newspaper. With people all around, staring. You know, stuff like that. Buzz buzz buzz. Anyways, my point: baking quietens that buzzing. And then, afterwards, there’s cake. 🙂

A friend of mine sent me this article from the guardian because it made her think of me, all about how baking is inherently feminist, even though some consider it to be a feminine cliché, a step backwards for feminism. The author posits that “Women who bake and write about it want you to understand what is impossible to understand without personal experience. They want you to know about the magic of it: how you combine a heap of powders which have no real-world meaning (to conceptualize flour, for example, feels impossible), and add something wet, and heat it up, and watch it change. There’s some power in this. And more than that: baking requires (and imbues) a kind of trust that is absent in everyday cooking.”

And I loved this sentence: “People can’t see wild yeast, even though it’s all around us all the time. Wild yeast is what is used in sourdough bread, but here’s the thing about it: you have to catch it.” 🙂 🙂 🙂
I need to start baking some bread. But in the meantime, there’s cake.

Marble (Chocolate Chip) Crumb Cake
Adapted from Dan Lepard’s recipe from How to Bake

Crumb topping:

  • 125 g flour
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 75 g cold butter
  • 75 g sugar (preferably light brown or unprocessed cane sugar)
  • a few good pinches of flakey sea salt

Cake batter:

  • 175 g sugar
  • 175 g butter, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla sugar
  • 175 g flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp cocoa
  • 100 g dark chocolate, chopped into medium chunks

Line a cake tin (about 20 cm/9 inches) with baking parchment, and preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F.

Make the crumb by mixing the flour, cocoa, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl, then rubbing the butter into it with your fingers. Add a few drops of cold water to the mixture to bring it together, leaving some bigger chunks in amidst the rubble-like crumbs, and set aside while you prepare the batter.

Make the batter: In a large bowl, beat together the sugar and butter till light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs one at a time, and the vanilla.

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, salt and baking powder, then beat this into the butter mix.

Spoon blobs of batter around your pan, leaving gaps, using about 3/4 of the batter. Mix the remaining 1/4 with the cocoa powder, and stir in the chocolate chunks. Spoon blobs of the chocolate batter into the pan, between the blobs of vanilla batter, then make swirls with the handle of a wooden spoon. Even the batter out a little bit but not too much. Little peaks and valleys are nice 🙂

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Bake for about 15-20 minutes, then remove from the oven and add the crumb topping. Bake for a further 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out with no batter
on it.

Leave to cool in the tin (but be sure to taste some as soon as possible – be careful not to burn your tongue on the buttery crumb topping). I don’t like milk, but if you do, I imagine this would be very good with a glass of cold milk.

Should keep for at least a few days covered in tin foil, if you have any left over.

Travels well in the tin. Serves 8-12 people 🙂

Mini Oreo Crust Raspberry Swirl Cheesecakes

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So… I’ve been a pretty rubbish blogger as of late. That’s not to say I haven’t baked, or cooked, plenty of things, things that I had planned to post about. But the actual posting just never happened. Some of the things I baked deserve to be shared though, I think, even if I made them over a month ago. Like these mini raspberry swirl cheesecakes. With Oreo crust. They were just too pretty not to be blogged about. And yummy! And easy! And I don’t even really like cheesecake. I think I’ve mentioned that.

My friend Julia does, however, and since it was her birthday one Saturday, I decided to Google cheesecake recipes. And then I thought, maybe something “raspberry-y”, to hide the nasty taste of cheesecake. And then I thought, maybe an Oreo crust, to conceal it even more. And the result is a tiny bite of cheesecake that even I can enjoy! Heavy on the Oreo, heavy on the raspberry coulis, and somehow not heavy at all. Very moreish in fact (well, if you like that sort of thing).

It was a little bit stressful bringing a cake to a party when I hadn’t been able to fully taste-test it (I mean, it tastes perfectly ok to me, tangy and sweet and Oreo-y, but I’m not exactly a cheesecake expert/aficionado…).. But after substantial feedback, I think I can confidently say that this recipe is a keeper, and super easy to boot! Two colleagues even said this was the best thing they’d ever eaten, when I brought a batch to work the following Monday. So I think I’ll be making these again, and I think you should, too.

There is a tiny bit of fiddling about (first in getting the crust into the individual cupcake liners, and then in making the little raspberry hearts). But all in all it doesn’t take too long, no more than an hour or so, to get them in the oven, although you do need to make these well in advance to allow for cooling (at least 4 hours in the fridge, after letting them come to room temperature). They are prettiest on the day they’re made, but they taste just as delicious the next day. And if you don’t want to have a go at making little hearts, or you simply don’t enjoy the look or want something less dainty-looking, then simply make fewer raspberry dots and make a swirly design with your toothpick instead 🙂

Now, I replaced the graham cookie crumbs with Oreo cookie crumbs, and therefore omitted the sugar the original recipe calls for for the crust. But although I used the same amount of cookies/crumbs,
i.e. 1 1/2 cups, and used 1/2 Tbsp for each cupcake liner, instead of a full Tbsp, I found that the amount of crust only allowed for 18 mini cheesecakes, not 34. So I had a LOT of cheesecake filling left over 🙂 But I put it in the fridge, bashed up another 1 1/3 packs of Oreos the next day, added 80 g (5 1/3 Tbsp) of melted butter, and made 24 more mini cheesecakes, which I then brought to work on Monday. In case you think making 42 mini cheesecakes is a bit overkill, I’ve put the amounts for both 18 and 42 respectively, down below 🙂 the one for 18 first, and the one for 42 at the end of the page (although I highly recommend making 42 😉 ). If you make the 18 variation, you will still have a tiny bit of the filling left over.

Mini Oreo Crust Raspberry Swirl Cheesecakes
Adapted from: annie’s eats and livestrong food and drink

To make 18:

Oreo crust

  • 1 packet of Oreo cookies (1 1/2 cups of Oreo cookie crumbs) – I think there’s about
    14 cookies to a packet
  • 60 g (4 tbsp.) butter, melted

Filling

  • 450 g (1 lbs) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 150 g (3/4 cups) sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 large large eggs, room temperature

Raspberry topping

  • either use store bought raspberry coulis, like I did, or make the one from the original recipe! 🙂 I was perfectly happy using store bought, since it’s made up of just raspberries and sugar anyways, and can be purchased form the frozen foods isle/doesn’t contain any additives. I used a 50 g packet, and it was more than enough for either the 18 or 42 mini cheesecakes.

Preheat your oven to 160°C/325°F.

Line 18 holes in your cupcake tins.

Place your Oreo cookies in a sturdy freezer plastic bag, preferable one that can be sealed at the top (otherwise just twist the top and hold on to that end), and proceed to bash the living daylights out of it with a rolling pin. This is very therapeutic.

When there are no big chunks left, and the cookies look like black sand and teeny tiny rubble, pour them into a small bowl, and add the melted butter, mixing well.

Put about 1/2 Tbsp of the crumb mixture into each cupcake liner, and push it down with the back of a teaspoon, to form a tight and uniform layer.

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Bake for 5 minutes (although I forgot mine in the oven for 8, and they were fine).

Set aside and make your filling:

If you’ve remembered to take your cream cheese out of the fridge a couple of hours in advance, awesome. High five to you. If you haven’t, place the cream cheese in a bowl, and microwave on high for about 10-15 seconds at a time, stirring well after each time, until the cream cheese has come to room temperature and is soft and easy to mix with a fork.

Beat the room temperature cream cheese with an electric beater until fluffy. Mix in the sugar, beating until smooth. Add the salt and vanilla, and then the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg.

With an ice cream scoop, scoop the filling into the cupcake liners, filling them about two thirds.

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Using a small spoon, make 6 or so little dots of rasberry coulis on each mini cheesecake, then pull a toothpick through the dots quite carefully, to make a little circle of hearts. Alternately, makes a few dots, then make a swirly pattern with your toothpick 🙂

Bake for about 20-22 minutes, until the filling is set, rotating the pans halfway through baking.

The cheesecakes will puff up a bit, but won’t stay puffy once cooled. Place the baking tins on a wire rack and let cool to room temperature, then place in the fridge for at least 4 hours, before serving.

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And should you wish to make 42 🙂 :

Crust:

  • 2 1/3 packs of Oreo cookies (5 cups)
  • 140 g (9 1/3 tbsp) butter, melted

Filling:

  • 900 g (2 lbs.) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 300 g (1½ cups) sugar
  • 2 pinches of salt!
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature

Raspberry topping: store-bought or home-made raspberry coulis.

 

Gin & Tonic Drizzle Cake!

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Two weeks ago the hot weather seriously hit Brussels, and I went to my first BBQ of the year. It’s still nice and balmy, with a few cooler/grey days, and some serious thunderstorms in between! I kind of love thunderstorms though, I’m not a huge fan of the cold, but I like dramatic weather (within reason)! Nothing like a good Summer storm to clear the air 🙂

For the BBQ I made this Gin & Tonic cake, because 1) the host loves G&T’s, and 2) it’s a bit of an inside joke we have, because years and years back when he was dating my sister, we went to their high school graduation ball, and the bar quickly ran out of anything but G&T’s (and I hate gin, it gives me the heebie jeebies). But I’d managed to lose my wallet, and he managed to find it for me (it had fallen out of my teeny tiny bag). So we celebrated with G&T’s (me somewhat begrudgingly). And yeah.

Random little side story for ya there. You probably had to be there 😉

Aaaaaanyways. I stumbled across this recipe a few weeks prior to the BBQ, and decided to throw caution to the wind and try it out. And let me tell you – G&T cake: much, much better than actual G&Ts. It has a slight hint of gin, mainly from the glaze, but in reality it’s much more of a lime syrup cake. It’s kind of like that dangerously perfect cocktail that isn’t too sweet, but isn’t too boozey either (so you end up drinking three because it tastes like dessert in a glass. With booze).

Originally meant to be baked in a bundt cake tin, not owning one of these I made it in a loaf tin, and it was completely fine. It isn’t really like a loaf though, because it’s only about 4 cm high, and 20×10 cm wide. I am definitely making it again, it’s the perfect little Summer party/BBQ cake, and takes next to no time to prepare. I’m also thinking this would make for seriously scrumptious little cupcake-sized cakes!

Gin & Tonic Cake
Adapted from: Great British Chefs

Cake:

  • 110 g butter, at room temperature
  • 110 g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 110 g flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • zest of 5 limes
  • 30 ml / 2 tbsp gin
  • 30 ml / 2 tbsp tonic water (or two tbsp of lime juice, should you have forgotten to get tonic water)

Syrup:

  • 125 g sugar
  • juice of 4 limes
  • 15 ml / 1 tbsp gin
  • 15 ml / 1 tbsp tonic water (or, 1 tbsp extra lime juice, if you’ve still forgotten to buy tonic water)

Icing:

  • 15 ml / 1 tbsp gin
  • 15 ml / 1 tbsp tonic water (or, 1 tbsp extra lime juice, if you’ve still forgotten to buy tonic water)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 400 g icing sugar, sifted

Zest of 1 lime, for decorating the cake.

Make the cake:

Preheat your oven to 180°C / 350°F. Grease your loaf tin (or bundt tin, if you have one!).

Mix together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, then whisk in your eggs and flour, and finally the lime zest, gin and tonic water.

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Scrape into your tin, and bake in the middle of the oven for about 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Make the syrup while the cake is baking, by mixing the syrup ingredients together in a small saucepan, and stirring them over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.

When the cake is done, wait ten minutes before turning it out onto a cooling rack. Place a tray or some grease-proof paper underneath, then stab little holes all over the top of the cake with a tooth pick or some such, before spooning the syrup over the cake as patiently as you can, to make sure it has time to absorb and doesn’t all run down over the sides (although some will!). Leave the cake to cool completely.

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Finally, when the cake is cool, make the glaze. I had to seriously up the amount of icing sugar (from 50 g to 400 g!), because the glaze was way, way too wet to sit on the cake (even though it is a glaze, it need to have some body to it, and mine was more like water at first). And even so, it was still do wet to ‘sit’ on the cake in neat little lines, but spread out (which I actually prefer in the end, because it looks pretty and locks in moisture). I suspect my lime might have had more juice in it than the one used in the original recipe. So I might half the glaze portion next time, as I only used about a third of it. Or, I might just make two cakes, but the same amount of glaze 😉 the cake is quite small anyways, and keeps really, really well because of the syrup!

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Drizzle the glaze over the cake, and sprinkle with lime zest.

I imagine this keeps for at least three days, but alas, I didn’t have any leftover but a tiny piece I had hidden, and ate the next day for breakfast (hair of the dog and all that 😉 and it hardly contains any gin, really).

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(here slightly smushed from being wrapped up and taken to the BBQ!)

P.s.: This can apparently very easily be made gluten free, by substituting rice flour for normal flour! The original recipe is gluten free, but I didn’t have rice flour on hand, and it was still light and lovely, not at all heavy 🙂

P.p.s.: I’m thinking this could also be really delicious as a mojito cake, by switching the gin and tonic for rum!..?

 

Spring and Subpar Stone Fruit

 

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When something bad happens to you and knocks you off course for a while, it’s good to try to stay busy, productive, be kind to yourself, watch copious amounts of Game of Thrones and Nashville, and avoid listening too much to the radio (because songs). Except country music. Also wine. Wine is good.

So I got these nectarines because they smelled like summer. But alas, they didn’t taste like summer, so I decided to bake them into something, because even subpar fruit will tend to get sweet and luscious in the baking. And browned butter can heal any heartache, and make anything taste heavenly.

Almond, Browned Butter and Nectarine Financiers
Adapted from hint of vanilla – yield: 8 little cakes

  • 60 g almond flour/almond meal (I had almond flakes,
    and pulsed them into almond meal in the blender)
  • 60 g flour (all-purpose)
  • 145 g icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 medium-large egg whites (about 144 g)
  • 100 g butter, browned
  • 1 nectarine
  • Butter for the muffin tin

Brown the butter, by putting it into a saucepan over medium heat. Don’t stir it, but give the pan a little twirl once in a while, keeping a sharp eye on when it begins to brown (it’s a matter of seconds for it to go from browned to burnt). Turn the heat down to to medium-low, the butter shouldn’t splutter, just foam. When it turns deep golden, about 5 minutes, take it off the heat, pour into a bowl (and do make sure you scrape out all the bits from the pan with a silicone spatula). Leave to cool while you prepare the rest.

Mix flour, almond meal, icing sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Add your egg whites a bit at a time, whisking until just combined. Now gently stir in the browned butter.

Lightly butter 8 holes in a muffin tin; divide the batter between them.

Cut your nectarine into thin slices (cut in in half, around the pit, then cut as many thin slices as you can). Spread three nectarine slices on each financier.

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Bake at 160°C/325°F for 20-25 minutes, until the cakes are nicely brown and a tooth pick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin.

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I think next time I’ll make these with raspberries or blackberries – nothing better than a fruity, tangy berry pressed into a moist almondy cake – and I also think I’ll try making them with walnuts instead of almonds, for a bit more sharpness. Ooh and apricots!

P.s.: I have since made these with blackberries (yum!), with raspberry jam (also yum!), and my most favourite, with rhubarb compote 🙂

 

Tebirkes (Danish Poppy Seed Pastries)

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I bought a big bag of poppy seeds the other day, thinking I’d try this lemon drizzle and poppy seed cake recipe out over the weekend. But this morning I woke up feeling like I wanted something less sweet, more bready and breakfasty.

Tebirkes are the Danish pastry, a Danish institution if you will. So it’s funny that they aren’t to be found anywhere other than in Denmark, since Danish pastries are kind of a worldwide thing .

They’re basically a Danish with a sweet filling and lots of poppy seeds on top. The also come in a twisted variant called a ‘frøsnapper’ (a frog snapper). Who the heck knows why. In Belgium they actually have a type of frøsnapper, called a tortillion (a ‘twisty’), it’s as close as I’ve gotten to a tebirkes outside of Denmark, but they don’t always come with poppy seeds, alas (sometimes they even decide to put raisins in them, blegh).

Tebirkes are generally made with puff pastry, but really, who has time for puff pastry in the morning. These are kind of a pastry-roll hybrid – the slightly flakey dough, and the butter and sugar remonce filling make them something between a Danish pastry and a cinnamon roll/scone. Which is a lot of goodness in just one little roll.

A lot of recipes say to put marzipan in the remonce filling, but since I didn’t have any on hand, and this particular recipe didn’t call for it, I decided to opt for marzipan-free remonce. I am going to try it with marzipan though, because I like for my pastry to have even more ‘gunk’ in it than this one! But I am definitely going to make these again, they’re so delicious and easy to make, and taste so so good split open with a thick lashing of salted butter.

In fact, I’m gonna go eat another one.

Tebirkes (from bageglad.dk)

For the dough:

  • 100 g (just under 1/2 cup, or 0.45 cups) butter
  • 100 ml (just under 1/2 cup, 0.42 cups to be precise) milk
  • 12.5 g instant yeast, 25 g active dry yeast, or 50 g fresh yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 350 g (2 and 4/5 cup) flour

(Since the original recipe is Danish and uses grams and ml to measure, it really doesn’t convert all that well to cups and I’d advise you to use kitchen scales if you have them! But since it’s bread, and thus less ‘fiddly’ than cake, I’m sure it would still turn out delicious if eye-balled…!).

For the remonce/filling:

  • 50 g butter, softened
  • 50 g sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar/vanilla extract

Topping:

  • 1 egg, beaten, for brushing
  • about 4 tbsp poppy seeds

Melt the butter, add the milk and sugar, and making sure the mixture isn’t too hot (so it doesn’t kill the yeast), add the yeast (I used instant). Stir, and leave to bubble up for a bit (I left mine for 15 minutes, but that’s because I forgot about it 😉 ).

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Add the lightly beaten egg to the mixture, then the salt, and then one third of the flour. Stir it in to the wet mixture with a fork, then another third, and then the final third, until it won’t absorb any more flour. Now go at it with your hands, kneading until you have a soft, smooth dough (at least a few minutes).

Roll the dough into a big rectangle, about 15 x40 cm (5×15 inches). You won’t need to flour your work top, the dough isn’t at all sticky.

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Smush together the butter, sugar and vanilla, then spread onto the middle third of the rectangle, in a long line. Fold one of the sides of dough over the middle covered in remonce, then the remaining side over again, so you have three layers. Cut into about 12 pieces, and place on one or two baking sheets covered in baking parchment.

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Cover in a clean kitchen towel, and leave to rise for about half an hour.

Preheat your oven to 215°C/430°F (for a convection/fan oven – if yours isn’t convection, bake at 225/450, but watch the rolls closely in case they start to burn). Beat an egg, then brush the pastries with egg and sprinkle them generously with poppy seeds. Bake in the middle of the oven for 8-10 minutes, until they’re nice and golden.

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Place on a cooling rack, and eat as soon as they won’t burn the roof of your mouth (or cool, if you prefer), with or without salted butter. 🙂

 

Fudgy and Chewy Bittersweet Brownie Cups

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I’ve been less than active on the blogosphere as of late, not because I haven’t been baking, but simply because I haven’t baked anything noteworthy.. other than several banana cakes for which I’ve already posted the recipe (here). I had a real hankering for all things lemony all throughout January, and tried several different lemon and coconut cookie recipes (one with toasted coconut and white chocolate which had a lovely flavour, but lacked the crunchy-chewy texture I was after), but was left slightly ‘meh’ every time, it was really frustrating! So I went back to my trustee old banana cake, which never disappoints me. I’ve recently discovered that it’s even better if you microwave it for 20-30 seconds before eating, as the chocolate melts and it’s just like eating it fresh out of the oven, gooey chocolate streaks and crunchy bits of walnut. It’s really one of my favourite cakes ever.

But I thought it was time to try something ‘new’, and by new I mean a new recipe for an old faithful, namely a brownie. I already have a favourite brownie recipe, but this one uses unsweetened chocolate, and I like my brownies seriously dark, not too too sweet, and fudgy and chewy at the same time (NOT cakey). Since Deb’s (of smitten kitchen) recipes have yet to fail me, I went for this here recipe. To maximise chewiness, I decided to opt for individual-sized brownies.

They take minutes to stir together and pop into the oven, and the smell in my apartment as they were baking alone would be enough to make me bake them again. They yielded a frustrating 11 in a 12-hole cupcake pan, but never mind. Next time I’m doubling the recipe anyways.

Anyways, should you decide to make these, here’s the recipe 🙂

Fudgy and Chewy, Bittersweet Brownie Cups
From smitten kitchen 📠

  • 85 g (3 ounces) unsweetened chocolate
  • 115 g (1 stick) butter (I used salted because that’s what I had)
  • 265 g (1 1/3 cups) sugar (I used unprocessed cane sugar)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp flakey sea salt (I used Maldon)
  • 2 eggs
  • 85 g (2/3 cups) all-purpose flour
  • Butter or cooking spray to grease the tin

Preheat your oven to 175°C/350°F.

Grease (liberally, to help the brownies come out after baking) 11 holes in a 12-hole cupcake tin.

Melt the butter and chocolate together (either in a bain marie or in the microwave for 30 seconds to a minute, just until all the butter and some of the chocolate is melted, then taking it off the heat and stirring until the rest of the chocolate is fully melted).

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Whisk in the sugar, then the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla and the salt, then fold in the flour with a spatula.

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Scoop into the cupcake tin (I used an ice cream scoop), even out a bit with a teaspoon, then bake for 15-20 minutes (I baked mine for 20), until a toothpick comes out clean.

Leave to set in the cupcake tin for at least 5 minutes on a cooling rack, then gently go around the edges with a thin knife, making sure each brownie is completely loose before gently lifting it out onto the cooling rack. Two of mine broke in half horisontally (?!), but I sandwiched the parts back together and put all of the individual brownies in cupcake liners, so no one will be any the wiser 😉

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The brownies keep for a few days in a cookie tin or air-proof container! And they travel well stacked on top of each other in individual cupcake liners 🙂

P.s.: According to Deb the brownies freeze well!

The brownies can also be baked in a 8×8 inches/20×20 cm pan lined with baking parchment (in this case bake the brownies for 25-30 minutes, then cut into squares once they’ve cooled), or in a mini muffin tin (bake for 16 minutes, yield: 29).

P.p.s.: I have since tried this recipe with 70% dark chocolate, because that was all I had in the house! I lowered the sugar dosage to 215 g, and added 15 g unsweetened cocoa powder when adding the flour. And I think they turned out great! Also, I managed to eke out 12 brownies from the portion of batter, and it was completely fine, and I’ve also doubled the recipe with great success! You can also pour the batter directly into liners, and although some of the brownie will stick to the liner, it’ll be completely fine and much easier than getting the brownies out of the tin/placing them in cupcake liners after baking (especially if you’re making a big batch).

 

 

 

Smitten Kitchen Lemon Squares

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I have a big, and slightly scattered family (in French we say une famille recomposée, a ‘recomposed’ family), which results in a lot of separate, but equally food-centric, Christmas celebrations. Last night was Christmas number three, with the Belgian family. In Denmark we celebrate on the 24th, with pork and duck (in my family at least), gravy, caramelised potatoes and pickled red cabbage, finishing off the meal with ris à l’amande for dessert, a rich rice pudding with cream and almonds, and served with warm cherry sauce, not at all what you need after a heavy meal, but awesome none the less. We put one or two whole almonds in the pudding, and those who find them have to keep mum whilst everyone else keeps eating and hoping to get the almond. And then the winners get a present, usually something edible 🙂 nothing says Christmas like a little friendly competition 😉

Once Christmas dinner has been consumed, we dance around the tree and sing Christmas songs and carols (and by dance, I mean hold hands in a circle around the tree whilst sort of walking at a brisk pace). It sounds insane, but it’s a great way to digest all the Christmas food and wake up a bit before giving presents! I once had two American friends join me and my family for Christmas, and whilst it’s always slightly embarrassing to introduce non-Danes to some of our traditions, particularly the dancing one, they seemed to enjoy it 😉 as do my brothers’ significant others, none of whom are Danish. Anyways, my point… Christmas number three. On Christmas day we have a big Christmas lunch, just to firmly cement the indigestion and food hangover from the previous night, and by the 26th, I’m a little ‘Christmas food’ed out’. So for the 26th, I decided to make a lemon dessert, something not at all Christmassy, and hopefully a little lighter.

I was given Deb Perelman’s the smitten kitchen cookbook for Christmas (I’ve been wanting to get it since last Christmas!), and in it there is a super quick and easy recipe for these whole lemon bars, no muss, no fuss, heavy on the lemon. I love anything lemony, although I’d never tried lemon bars before. And these are really lovely, the crust sort of caramelises a little bit, and although they didn’t win me over with the very first bite, I kept going back for another taste, and then another, and quickly realised, these are kinda great! And quick, and simple to make, and.. what’s not to love. Everyone at Christmas number three loved them too, so this recipe’s a keeper.

I was lazy and didn’t want to clean my blender twice, so I made the crust by melting the butter and mixing it into the flour and sugar with a fork, before pressing into the tin. This made the crust very ‘shortbready’, a positive in my book. I’ve included Deb’s instructions below as well, in case you’re feeling less lazy! I really like the slightly chewy, caramelly shortbread layer though, and it was super easy to cut too. Anyways, enough rambling:

For the crust, you will need:

  • 125 g (1 cup) flour
  • 65 g (1/3 cup) sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 115 g (8 tbsp / 1 stick) butter, melted

For the lemon filling:

  • 1 medium lemon (mine was about 120 g)
  • 265 g (1 1/3 cups) sugar
  • 115 g (8 tbsp / 1 stick) butter, cut into chunks
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tbsp (15 g) cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat your oven to 180ºC/350ºF.

Line a 20 cm / 8 inch square baking tin with baking parchment.

Mix the flour, sugar and salt, add the melted butter and stir with a fork until the butter has been absorbed into the flour (Deb doesn’t melt the butter, but whizzes everything together in the food processor, before pressing into the baking tin).

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Press into an even layer in your baking dish. If the dough is too warm and buttery, place  in the fridge for about ten minutes before continuing to press into your tin. Prick little holes in the dough with a fork to prevent it from bubbling up, then bake for about 15-20 minutes until nice and golden (mine was done after 15).

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Whilst the crust is baking, make the filling. Cut your lemon in half; if the pith (the white bit between the peel and the flesh) is thicker than 1/2 cm/1/4 inch, to avoid the lemon squares tasting too bitter, cut the peel off of half of the lemon, cutting the flesh into smaller pieces after removing the pith; slice the other half lemon (including pith), and add this and the pith-less lemon chunks, peel and flesh, to the blender. If, like on my lemon, the pith is less than 1/2 cm, just slice the lemon in thin slices and add to the blender (remember to remove any seeds).

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Add the sugar to the lemon slices, and whiz until you have a smooth purée. Add the butter chunks, and whiz again until you have an even mixture. Finally, add your eggs, salt and cornstarch, and whiz in little bursts until everything is blended together.

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Pour over the crust, and bake for 35-40 minutes (mine was done after 35), until the lemon filling is turning golden, and only wobbles slightly when you gently shake the pan.

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Let cool for a bit (5-10 minutes), then put in the fridge and allow to cool completely. When the pan and its contents have cooled, lift the bars out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Slice into little or medium-sized squares (I cut mine into 30 little two-bite squares).

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I prefer to eat these completely cold from the fridge, with a generous layer of icing sugar!

Keep for a few days in the fridge, covered. 🙂