Thursday, November 27, 2008

Not just a piece of cake

I was really really nervous. All that talk about 'balancing fat with acid and protein JUST RIGHT' scared a beginner like me. Not forgetting the warnings and safety precautions of preparing the caramel syrup - which I did finally get right on my third try.
I took this as a three day project. On the first day I made the syrup. Although it scared the hell out of me, I would recommend this to everyone. Not only because it's sometimes good to conquer your fears, but also because it tastes so good, is (after all) quite simple (and cheap!) to make, makes a great gift and goes great with fruit, ice cream, hot milk, with plain yoghurt... I could go on, but at this point I have to admit that I almost gave up while running to the shop to buy more sugar during my attempt to get it right. But that's irrelevant.
Next day I baked the cake. I Used three different sized glass jars instead of one springform and baked them for almost an hour. Of course I was stressed and afraid about how they would turn out, but when the sweet scent of caramel spreaded across the kitchen, I was sure it couldn't have gone completely wrong.
Then the third day was frosting day. It went quite well although I was still worried if my caramel syrup had the right consistency. I did everything exactly as in the recipe and found myself tip toeing around the ingredients to keep them happy and co-operative.
After that it was pure pleasure. I liked how the salt and caramel tasted together. And the cake itself was amazing. In all I'm proud that I completed my first ever Daring Bakers Challenge and I'm already looking forward to the next one!
Thank you Lisa and Yvonne, and Thank you Shuna for the recipe!

To see other Daring Bakers creations, go here


10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350F

Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.

Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.

Sift flour and baking powder.

Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}

Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.

Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.

Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.


2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)
In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly (colour should be dark amber) without mixing it.

When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.

Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}

Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.


12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste

Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.

Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month.
To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light

Recipes above courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon, as published on Bay Area Bites

Co hosts this month ( are Alex (Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo:, Jenny of Foray into Food ( And since none of us know jack about alternative baking, we’ve once again turned to Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go ( to assist us.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Saying good bye and moving forward

This Sunday was a special one for me. I woke up and discovered the mountains outside my window all white and snowy; winter had arrived to Freiburg. Conveniently this happened the same day as the traditional Weinachtsmarkt, christmas market was do to open.
Of course that snow is already gone and is substituted with cold rain and sleet but what stayed was my christmas feeling, from which there's no return. The only obstacle was, that I hadn't yet had the chance to close the earlier season properly.
There I was with a few Boskoop apples, a friend coming over and an urge to bake. What happened next was an apple pie so fluffy, mellow (can this word be used in this contents..?) and delicate, that I could at peace leave this one as the last autumnal pastry for this year and hereby state that christmas is exactly ONE MONTH away from this day. Welcome woolen stockings and gingerbread and everything related to it!

Apple Pie from Alsace

200 g flour
100 g butter
1 egg yolk
30 g sugar
hint of salt
2 tablespoons cold water

4 large sour apples (I used Boskoop)
2 tablespoons lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
100 g sugar
3 eggs
the seeds of one vanilla bean (or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract)
1/8 liter cream

Measure all the ingredients from the crust into a bowl and knead either by hand or with a mixer until you have one block of dough. Wrap it in aluminum foil and place it in the fridge for an hour.

Preheat oven to 200 °C (400 F). Press the dough on the bottom and sides of a 26 cm springform (I used two rectangular glass dishes) and poke some wholes to the bottom with a fork.
Peel the apples and cut into thin slices. Arrange the slices on the pie crust.
Bake the whole thing in the lowest part of the oven for 35 minutes. If it starts getting brown, just put a foil on top.

For the filling combine the eggs and sugar and whisk until fluffy. Add the vanilla and cream and pour on top of the apples. Bake again for 25 to 35 minutes until it gets some colour. When ready, let cool almost completely before cutting out pieces.

This was wonderful when almost completely cooled but still slightly warm. Didn't even need ice cream or whipped cream but they won't do any harm either!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

just a little something

This Greek dish had been on my to do -list for a long time. I had just been waiting for the right occasion to make it. Nothing big, maybe just several friends coming together around one big round table, some candles and bottles of wine on a warm night, with a guy playing the bouzouki on the background. No. Wait! that was too much. Let's go back to a few good friends. And the wine, maybe. This is still Germany and it is November.
Anyway, I had a picture of Pastitsio being something grandiose and complicated to make. I was wrong. This is how I see it:
1. Making the filling
2. Boiling the pasta
3. Béchamel

Then you just put it all together and shove it in the oven and everyone is impressed.Sometimes life can also be easy.

Pastitsio (for 4 to 5 friends)

olive oil for cooking
1 onion
1 tablespoon parsley
1 clove of garlic
400 g mincemeat
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
50 ml white wine
200 g canned tomatoes
225 g Bucatini pasta (the long tubular pasta) or penne
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon dryed mint


60 g butter
60 g flour
500 ml warm milk
a hint of ground nutmeg

Heat the olive oil in a pan and cook the diced onion until soft and golden. Add the parsley and the chopped garlic and cook for a while before adding in the mincemeat. Cook for a few minutes, until the liquid has faded and it starts to get colour. Season with salt and pepper and add the bay leaf and cinnamon.
When the meat is done and brown, pour in the wine and let it cook until the wine has faded.
Add in the canned tomatoes and a five tablespoons water and continue cooking on low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the tomatoes have become creamier. At this point the meat should not get dry, add water if this happens.
Remove the pan from the heat.

Heat oven to 180 °C (350 F). Meanwhile cook the pasta about two minutes less than directed on the package. Pour all of the water away and mix the butter and mint into the pasta. Then lay half of it into an oven dish (I used a 16cm x 25 cm dish), spread the sauce over it and put the rest of the pasta on top. Press with a spoon to make it compact.

Preparing the béchamel:
Melt the butter in a pan. Add the flour and cook for a few minutes constantly stirring. Then begin to add the warm milk, whisking as you pour it. Cook and stir until the sauce becomes thicker. Then add salt, pepper and nutmeg and continue cooking for a few minutes.
Pour it then all over the pasta and bake in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the surface gets golden brown.
Let it stand for 10 minutes before serving, so that the béchamel stiffens and doesn't spread when cutting pieces.
It's nice with a fresh green salad!

Source: Falling Cloudberries, Tessa Kiros

...on how to deal with a problem

Finland's answer to Oreos are Domino cookies. Dominos are as well known and classic in Finland as their American cousins are in their homeland. I find the taste of Oreos a bit deeper and somehow saltyer than Dominos, and depending on the day and my mood, prefer the original ones more than the crunchyer finnish equivalent.
Because I live in Germany at the moment, access to either one of these cookies doesn't exist. There for the big question is: what do I do when I desperately begin craving for sandwich cookies?
The first thing to do: Breath. The second part: neglect my high demands and thoughts on what kind of consistency they must have and settle for compromise. Number three: Proceed from whining to action, scan for sandwich cookie recipes in the internet and take out my blue bowl and whisk. And finally: Set my mind and heart open for a creation that might not be a Domino, nor an Oreo, but something even better that I could never even imagine putting in my mouth. A cookie that gives a new meaning to the saying 'melt in your mouth' and brings juicyness to the vocabulary of describing a cookie.
The teaching of this story? Next time you want something good, consider this recipe.

Sandwich Cookies

3 dl flour
(1 1/4 cups)
1,2 dl dark cocoa powder (1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3,4 dl sugar
(1 1/2cups)
10 tablespoons butter (room temperature)
1 egg


100 g cream cheese
powder sugar (depending on how sweet you like them. I used 3 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 190 °C (375 F). In a bowl combine together flour, cocoa powder, soda, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix with an electric mixer and add the butter and then the egg. Blend until you have one solid mass of dough.

Take small pieces of dough and roll them in your hands into balls. I made 2 cm thick balls, but you can decide yourself depending on the size of the cookies you want. I propose you try out with a few and then you will see how much they spread in the oven. Also try to make them about the same size, so that it it easier to pair them in the end.
Remember to leave some space between them on the baking sheet.
Press the balls of dough with your fingers to flatten them slightly. And bake for 9 minutes.
Don't be confused when taking them out of the oven. In the beginning they may seem raw and too soft. The cookies will settle after letting them cool on a rack for some time, nevertheless they do maintain a soft and juicy consistence.

When you've baked the cookies and they have cooled down, it is time to make the filling.
It's simple, just whisk together all the ingredients. Then put a teaspoonful of filling on a cookie and press another cookie lightly on top. And there you have it! The first homemade, oreo/domino-like sandwich cookie. Now, do the same to the rest of the stuff.

P.s They taste even better the next day!

Adapted from:

Monday, November 17, 2008

Crumpets crumpets crumpets crumpets

The word gets me in such a good mood everytime I say it. I used to eat these for breakfast with lots of butter when I lived in London. I had actually forgotten the existance of crumpets until I bumped into the recipe again. We used to get them from Sainsbury's and it never even crossed my mind at the time, that it would be possible to make them at home.
Well, this weekend I did, and I am happy I tryed them out because the taste was even better than I remembered. And they are actually quite simple to make and don't require any special ingredients; just time for the batter to stand and a couple of egg cooking rings (or round cookie dough cutting rings about 8 cm diameter) for the frying part.

Crumpets (makes about 12)

225 g flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
280 ml milk
50 ml water

and oil or butter for cooking

Heat the milk and water lukewarm. Pour it then into a cup and mix in the sugar and the yeast. Let it stand in a warm place for about 15 minutes, until the surface begins to look bubbly.

Meanwhile measure the flour and salt into a bowl and make a hole in the middle.
When 15 minutes have passed, pour the liquid in the middle and start mixing with a wooden spoon until the batter is smooth. Then leave it again in a warm place, covered with a cloth. The batter will become light and frothy.

After 45 minutes, grease the cooking rings and the frying pan and place over a medium heat. Fill the rings to the middle* (or a little bit less) and cook for 4 to five minutes. At this time the small bubbles on the surface will explode, leaving them their characteristic holes.
Then with the help of two forks, turn the rings and the crumpets over to cook from the other side for another minute.
Grease well the rings and pan again for the next batch.

*if the stuff floods over the edges the first time cooking, fill the rings a bit less on the second round. It depends on the on the batter how much it rises.

Serve the crumpets while still warm with butter and jam or marmalade. They are also delicious the next day when toasted!


Haasteruokaa - challenge food

Tämän reseptin myötä osallistun ensimmäistä kertaa kuukauden ruoka haasteeseen. Itseasiassa halusin osallistua jo lokakuussa mutta tuoreen kalan ja etenkin silakoiden löytäminen Etelä-Saksasta osoittautuikin niin suureksi haasteeksi, että jätin suosiolla osallistumatta.
Melukylän Krisu valitsi marraskuun teemaksi lampaan ja niin kuin hän blogissaan kirjoitti sesonki- ja lähituotetun ruoan suosimisesta, päätin minäkin hyödyntää kaalia. Tällä hetkellä Freiburgin torit ovat täynnä mitä erilaisimpia kaalilajikkeita, joista yksi suosikkini on ehdottomasti savoijinkaali, joka tunetaan myös nimellä kurttukaali.
Siispä otin askeleen kohti uutta ja muutin hieman perinteistä kaalikääryle ohjetta.

Savoijinkaalikääryleet lammastäytteellä (6 kpl)

6 isoa savoijinkaalin lehteä
200 g jauhettua lampaanlihaa
1 sipuli
1 dl keitettyä täysjyväriisiä
1 kananmuna
0,5 dl kermaa
nokare voita
0,5 tl hunajaa
2 dl lihalientä
1 rkl tummaa siirappia

Hienonna sipuli ja kuullota paistinpannulla tilkassa öljyä. Lisää liha ja ruskista hieman (ei tarvitse kypsentää täysin). Ota liedeltä ja anna jäähtyä.

Keitä sillä aikaa kaalin lehtiä kiehuvassa vedessä 5 minuuttia. Kuivaa lehdet talouspaperilla ja veistä kovia kantoja/ruotoja veitsellä pois.

Sekoita kulhossa keskenään sipuli-lampaanliha, kerma, kananmuna ja hunaja.
Mausta suolalla, valkopippurilla ja hunajalla.

Aloita sitten kääröjen teko: Jaa täyte kuuden kaalinlehden kesken ja painele tiiviiksi. Taittele lehdet paketeiksi ja asettele voideltuun uunivuokaan taitoskohta alaspäin. Kaada lihaliemi pohjalle.

Sivele kääröt voisulalla ja valuta siirappia päälle.
Paista 175 asteisessa uunissa noin 40 minuuttia. Tarjoile esimerkiksi perunamuusin ja puolukkahillon kanssa!

The theme of November's food blogger's challenge is lamb, so I am taking part to the competition with the following recipe.

Savoy cabbage rolls with lamb filling

6 large savoy cabbage leaves
200 grams minced lamb meat
70 grams cooked brown rice
1 onion
5 tablespoons cream
1 tablespoon butter
0,5 teaspoon honey
200 ml meat bouillon
1 tablespoon dark syrup

Cut the onion into small dices and cook in a frying pan until golden. Add the lamb meat and cook for a few minutes (it doesn't have to be completely done). Put it then to a bowl and let it cool down.

Boil the cabbage leaves in boiling water for 5 minutes. Dry them with a cloth and cut the hard parts away with a knife.

Add the cream, eggs and honey to the mixture in the bowl and mix. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Then divide the mixture equally on the middles of the cabbage leaves, and form them into tight packages.
Set them on a griesed oven dish so that the folding areas are faceing down. Pour the bouillon on the bottom of the dish.

Spread the melted butter and the syrup on top of the rolls and bake for 40 minutes in 175 °C (325 F) until golden.
Serve with mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bircher Müsli muffins

Please tell me when I start to bore you with my yoghurt obsession. It's just that these recipes seem to be haunting me and when something as brilliant as a Bircher Müsli Muffin catches my eye... well you know the rest. I mean Bircher müsli and muffins - two dear things to me - combined into one! I'm in breakfast heaven.

These go great with some cream cheese and a cup of coffee on a weekday morning and stay fresh and moist when kept in an airtight container... and I'll say it just this one time anymore: It's the yoghurt and apple that do it!

Bircher Müsli Muffins (10 muffins)

4 dl (1 3/4 cups) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3,5 dl (1 1/2 cups) untoasted müsli and extra to sprinkle on top
1,20 dl (1/2 cup) brown sugar
0,5 teaspoon mixed spice (I used cinnamon)
1,20 dl (1/2 cup) plain natural yoghurt
0,60 dl (1/4 cup) milk
0,60 dl (1/4 cup) canola oil or basic cooking oil
1 egg
1 apple (preferably Granny Smith)

Preheat oven to 180 °C.
Mix together all the fluid ingredients: yoghurt, milk, oil and egg.
Grate the apple and add to the mixture.
Mix flour and baking powder together and combine with all the other dry ingredients: sugar, müsli and spice mix.
Mix lightly together the dry and fluid ingredients, just until they are combined and spoon the mixture into muffin cups or tray until 2/3 full.
Sprinkle with extra müsli and bake for 20 to 25 minutes and let cool completely before eating. If you can!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Chantarelles with Fettuccine and a chocolate savarin on Sunday

My mother was visiting me for over a week and we ate out a lot. We ate typical german as well as italian and asian food, to name a few. We were both happy with everything Freiburg had to offer, except for one thing, my mom had been craving for since she arrived; simply fresh chantarelles with some speck (bacon) and pepper. She had eaten something like this in a restaurant last time visiting, but this time I had to make it myself since the restaurants didn't have anything like this on their lists. And as dessert... well, a damp, bittersweet chocolate savarin. The king of flourless chocolate cakes.
As a dinner for her last night here, she finally got what she wanted and my dessert fantasy came to life.

Chanterelles and bacon with Fettuccine

250 g Fettuccine

300 g fresh chanterelles
1 large onion
80 g bacon (cut into thin and stringy pieces)
olive oil
fresh parsley
lemon juice

Pour water into a kettle (for the pasta) and bring to boil.
Meanwhile cleanse the mushrooms if needed. Cut the onion and sauté on a pan with some olive oil for a few minutes and add the bacon. Add the chanterelles (crumble them with your fingers if they are very big) and some salt and black pepper.
Cook the pasta in boiling water as instructed. Remember not to over cook it!
Add a couple of tablespoons from the pasta water to the mushrooms and stir carefully. Or if you happen to have a white wine bottle open, add that instead of water! Cook the chanterelles only for 4-5 minutes and set aside until the pasta is ready.
Pour the cooking water away, drizzle in some olive oil and combine with the mushroom mixture.
Season with salt and pepper to taste and set the parsley, parmesan and slices of lemon individually to the table so that everyone can season their own portion as they want!

Chocolate savarin (three to four portions)

75 g butter
100 g dark chocolate ( 70 or 75%)
80 g sugar
2 eggs
whipped cream for serving

Preheat oven to 200 °C.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan and remove from the stove. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until it becomes a smooth and shiny mixture.

Add the sugar and eggs and stir again until smooth.
Pour it either into one half liter round mold or, as I did, to three small molds (200 ml each). Remember to butter the dishes first.

The baking time depends a lot on what size molds you are using. 12 minutes was enough for the small ones. A large, 1 liter dish required 30 minutes and half liter mold between 15 and 30 (logically!).
The best way is to test a few times with a toothpick. The consistency should be damp and moist...

...When ready, let cool for some minutes and carefully turn savarins out of the moulds up side down for serving and garnish with whipped cream.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Plumcake allo yogurt


As soon as I saw that this recipe uses yoghurt, I knew I had to make it. Everything with yoghurt and quark and what they do to bread and food in general make me happy at the moment (new recipes are very welcome!!). This Italian breakfast cake was no exception. It represents exactly what it is that I like so much about cakes using yoghurt; they are moist, dense and stay long fresh without drying out and they have a yoghurty sourness which I often crave for. Thank you, Veera from Prinsessakeittiö for the recipe!

The original classic plumcake was made with dryed fruit when they were imported to Europe in the old days. A cheaper version of the cake used plums, and addition to the name have the main ingredients stayed the same.

Plumcake allo yogurt

130 grams powder sugar
2 eggs
120 grams cooking oil (for example rapeseed oil)
400 ml natural yoghurt
zest of one lemon (preferably organic)
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract)
280 grams flour
1 tablespoon baking powder

Mix together the sugar, eggs, oil, yoghurt lemon zest and vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder together and add to the yoghurt mixture. Stir well, cover with a towel and leave in a warm place to rise for 1,5 hours.
Grease a regular loaf pan (I used several small ones) and fill them up to 3/4 .
Bake for 40 minutes at 200 ° C . Let it cool before serving.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies

The victory of Obama was a good reason to make these soft and chewy PBJ cookies, for which I had been craving for a long time. The taste brought back childhood memories of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on school lunch breaks and these cookies turned out just as I wanted; soft and chewy from the inside and crispy on the outside.
I also baked a portion without jam and flattened each one with a fork to make a criss-cross pattern.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies (makes about 35 cookies)

260 grams peanut butter (crunchy or soft, as you like)
110 grams softened butter
200 grams white sugar
1 egg
45 ml milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
155 grams flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
your favorite fruit preserve ( I used cherry jam)

Preheat oven to 190 ° C (375 degrees F).
In a bowl mix together peanut butter, butter and sugar. Beat in first the egg, then milk and vanilla extract.
In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Combine it all with the peanut butter mixture.

Make small balls (about a tablespoonful) from the dough and place them on a baking sheet. Leave two or three cm space between the cookies, as they will spread.
Press a hole in each cookie with your finger and put some jam into the dented center with a small spoon.
Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, until the edges become golden but the surface of the cookie still has a light colour.
The cookies brake easily when hot, so let them cool before removing from the baking sheet.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A second appearance of The Brioche

I have a memory of bread pudding from a cafe in Helsinki, where I ate it many years ago. I remember the cinnamon and the comforting taste of custard on a wintery day. Eating it was like wrapping myself into a fleece blanket and putting woollen socks on my feet. This tasted at least as good and it didn't even need to be served with whipped cream or ice cream, as many recepies that I browsed through suggest.
This one was made from the left over brioches, I had from Saturday. It was baked in a water bath, so it stayed really moist and had creamy custard dripping between the fluffy and spongy bread bits. I found this recipe from joy of baking and addapted it a bit to suit my needs. I didn't add any raisins or other condiments because I felt like putting something simple and modest in my mouth, but you are free to add for example pieces of apple, banana, berries or sultanas, if you like.
The five brioche buns I had left were enough for this pudding. The quantities for other kinds of breads (for example french bread, italian, croissant or almost anything you happen to have) are below.

Bread pudding (makes about five servings)

about 1 liter (or 5 cups) of bread cubes


2 large eggs

100 g sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
or 1 teaspoon vanilla sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter melted and cooled
5 dl milk

Preheat oven to 150 °C. Grease an oven dish (I used a round dish, 20cm diameter, 10 cm high) and place the bread cubes in the dish.

Prepare the custard: Beat the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy and thick (about 4 to 5 minutes). Add the vanilla and cinnamon and beat in the melted and cooled butter and milk.
Pour the custard mixture on the bread cubes and press with a fork so that all of the bread bits are covered.

Then place the dish in a larger oven dish and fill the larger one with hot water. The water should be half up-sides of the 20 cm x 10 cm dish.

Bake for about an hour, until a toothpick comes out clean. You can also test it by pressing the surface gently with a fork. If any custard rises to the top, it needs to be in the oven a bit longer.
(After an hour, I turned the oven off and left it in for another five minutes.)

Remove the pudding out of the water bath and let it cool down 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

It can be served hot or cold, with whipped cream or ice cream or with what I prefer - simply a dusting of powder sugar. Yum!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

So, this is how they survived before bakeries were invented...!

I am already so used to getting fresh rolls on weekend mornings from the bakery downstairs, that as this Saturday, because of All Saint's day, it was exceptionally closed, I had to make my own bread. It gave me a reason to bake brioche, something that has been on my list for a long time, but what I never actually got to making myself. It just seemed to be to much work compared to the fresh things the bakery has to offer.
Brioche is not the quickest thing to make but now that I tryed it out for the first time, I have to say it was fully worth all the waiting and dough rising. It's best enjoyed with butter and marmelade fresh from the oven, when it is still warm and moist from the inside.

Brioche (makes 12 muffin sized buns)

500 g all-purpose flour
20 g fresh yeast or half tablespoon active dry yeast
200 g warm milk
5 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt
75 g soft butter (use the real stuff, not margarine!)
2 eggs

Put the flour into a bowl and make a hole in the middle. Crumble or sprinkle the yeast in it, dependeng on which one you are using, and pour just enough warm milk in to cover the yeast. Then mix the yeast and milk mixture once or twice. Leave in a warm place, covered with a kitchen towel for 15 to 20 minutes, until the surface starts to look bubbly.

Add the rest of the ingredients and knead well, either with a kitchen machine or with your hands until the dough is easy to remove from the bowl and isn't sticky anymore. Add more flour one tablespoon at a time if needed.
Cover the bowl again with a towel and let it rest for one hour, this time not in a warm place.

If you want to bake the brioches in a muffin tray, grease a 12 hole tin with some butter or fill the holes with paper cups. It is also possible to bake them in one bigger springform cake pan or in glas jars, as I did (I just didn't have a muffin tray or paper cups, so I got creative). Anyway, what ever you are using - grease it!

Heat the oven to 200 ° C.

After a hour should the dough be about double sized. Knead it once more in the bowl and then put it on a floured working surface. Cut it into 12 equal sized pieces and set aside a small amount for the small balls put on top of the brioches for their typical look.
Roll the pieces in your hands into 12 same sized balls and place them either in the muffin holes or in a cake pan (leave one or two cm space between them).

Press a small hole on top of each brioche with your finger, roll small balls from the dough that you set aside and place them on the holes.

Brush the brioches either with some egg or melted butter and let them rest for a final 15 to 20 minutes, again covered - this time with foil.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until they are golden brown. If they start to get brown too early you can cover them with parchment paper.

When ready, take out of the oven and release them carefully from the tins. These ones taste the best when fresh from the oven, with some butter and marmelade!

Recipe adapted from

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The healthiest mousse au chocolat I ever ate

As much as I like chocolate, 99 % chocolate is just too much chocolate. 85 % is the limit and still that is very strong to my taste. I'd been saving a 99 % chocolate bar, that I got for my 24th birthday, for something special and this week I found the perfect recipe for it.
My mother arrived today to visit me for one week (yey!), and I wanted to make her something good. This avocado based mousse au chocolat was perfect since she can't have any dairy products. The avocado adds a soft taste to the bitter chocolate and makes the mousse so silky that eating it was pure pleasure. I had to make some changes to the original recipe which uses cocoa powder instead of dark chocolate. So if you prefer that, just use 3-4 tablespoons of cocoa powder and forget the whole thing with the chocolate melting.

Thank you, Monkeyfood for this awesome recipe! It was the perfect welcoming dessert.

Mousse au chocolat végan - the healthiest chocolate mousse I ever had

1 ripe avocado
40 grams 99 % chocolate (or 0,60 dl cocoa powder)
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
60 ml warm water
powder sugar to taste

Scoop the flesh of the soft avocado into a blender (or a bowl if you are using a handblender) and add the lemon juice, cinnamon and warm water.
Carefully melt the chocolate in a pot (make sure it doesn't heat more than necessry, that is, until it has melted) and add it to the other ingredients.
Blend the ingredients until you have a smooth mixture.
Adjust the sweetness to your taste by adding powder sugar. Some like it more bitter as some enjoy it more sweet!