Chocolate-almond cake

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There are chocolate cakes and they are great chocolate cakes. Then there are flourless chocolate cakes. Total different ball game. Ground nuts stand in for the flour and while lending support & substance they also keep the cake moist. Butter, of course, lends extra flavour and richness where egg whites keep it airy, light and tells you to have your cake and eat it too. Let’s start with two slices each… Continue reading

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Lingonberry cake

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This is a marvellous winter cake: a rich, flourless chocolate-hazelnut base is topped with the mildly sweet compote of wild lingonberries. The tart, acetous berries have a bitter note that reminds of heather and forest and provides such a wonderful contrast to the toasted nutty notes of the cake while both are balanced by a layer of cool, silky whipped cream and a final sprinkling of chocolate shavings (or for sentimental reasons: sprinkles). Don’t be tempted to use any other chocolate than dark, rich, bittersweet chocolate high in cocoa solids (60% plus) and Dutch processed cocoa, no milk chocolate or sweet cocoa shall touch this cake for it lives of these adult smoky flavours that call out for a strong cup of coffee (or something even stronger) – perfect for a post Christmas afternoon with coffee, hot chocolate and tea to battle the fog, ice and snow. Continue reading

Black chocolate-espresso cake with single malt whisky glaze

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Well, this was rather a longer hiatus than the small break I intended to take. Lots of stuff to sort out here, feeling a bit under the weather & a whole Downton Abbey Marathon is taking place right now after the final series arrived and naturally needed to be watched immediately – quite the task for one to accomplish if one wants to finish in time for the Christmas Special (yeah, only slightly obsessive, I’d like to think). And more laziness ensued while I was making and eating bagels and shortbread and chicken pot pies and swoon over a plate of fabulously simple but delightful truffle tagliatelle and indulge in all the kale I could get my hands on rather than telling you about those things, my bad. I intend to make it up to you with this wonderful cake full of the most marvellous flavours, which came out (to stay in the Downton vocabulary) in honour of my husband’s birthday a while ago.
Black chocolate-espresso cake with single malt glaze

Extra dark cocoa, rich espresso & coffee flavour a mysteriously light chocolate cake crowned with a boozy single malt whisky glaze – a cake evoking a Country house smoking room or a traditional gentlemen’s club. Continue reading

German apple torte – gedeckte Apfeltorte

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I did not even plan to make an apple cake this weekend – weird, right? After all, autumn is apple time and therefore apple cake time. Well, luckily these apples found me. My go-to vegetable & fruit lady at the local market told me about these heirloom apples, an old cooking apple variety which is best for cakes and suddenly I was totally set on apple cake. I got a few Golden Nobles (Gelber Edelapfel), a variety that was found around 1800 in Norfolk and has been cultivated since 1820. It is an excellent cooking apple, very low in sugar and, according to Dr Wikipedia, suitable for diabetics. Above all it is beautiful in its yellow-pale green colour. Peel it as thinly as you can and discover why it is also called Wachsapfel (wax apple) since the skin comes off like a fine shaving of a candle and the pale yellow-green skin colour stays on the apple flesh.

Anyway, this noble apple demands a special cake, a traditional German gedeckte Apfeltorte which is covered apple torte where a magnificently juicy soft apple layer studded with raisins and almonds is encased in a soft (yes) shortcrust pastry and covered with a lemon-sugar glaze. It does not get any more German than this. Sourcing recipes, I found one in a cookbook from 1894 (I love old cookbooks) for a Hamburg apple torte that sounded like the one I was searching for and was about to start when my Mum rang – excellent timing. Naturally, I told her about the market, the apples and that I was about to embark on baking (we talk about food a lot) and she told me about this old family recipe that she had been given by my grandmother’s twin sister and swore that Tante Martha’s apple torte is the best apple cake ever. As I said, excellent timing. Danke, Mama!

The recipe arrived post-haste (well, email) and my Mum is right, it is the BEST apple cake EVER, the apple slices melded together into a soft apple layer, juicy but not runny, tart and sweet with plump raisins and little almond nuggets (I’ve added those since I love raisins and almonds in an apple cake, soak them in rum if you like a boozy note but of course water is fine, too), a well tempered hint of cinnamon (not too much). This fabulous apple filling is balanced by the soft & crumby pastry and finally, the sweet lemony glaze – serve with lashings of whipped cream after that first autumn walk in the forest. Best on Grandma’s china, if you’ve got some, for the true German experience. Continue reading

Tarte aux apricots d’André Lerch

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This apricot tart is a little different, sure there is a heavenly buttery pâte brisée sucré base (aka sugary short crust) and juicy apricots with nearly charred but wonderfully caramelized tips but there is more! – an extra filling for the apricots to nestle in, vanilla scented, buttery batter that amalgamates with the sugary apricot juice into something otherworldly. Thanks to this batter the cake stays moist and juicy for days, I thought I mention this, just in case you are thinking of baking it just for yourself… Continue reading

Rhubarb-almond-orange loaf cake with streusel

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Spring is not really spring without asparagus, strawberries, may bugs, sweet woodruff, peas, broad beans – ok, the list is endless. But what would spring be like without rhubarb and rhubarb cake? In my book a proper rhubarb cake is absolutely essential when the crisp air turns balmy and fragrant with all the sweet, fresh vernal scents while daylight returns. Just what I need when I have been working hard moving flower pots and planters about, scrubbing the terrace without ANY help – human or machine (I am not bitter, though) – and after the immediate danger of frost has waned, planting herbs and other delicate plants outside.

We are almost slipping over into early summer now, so while this cake comes a bit late to the party it is crammed with extra flavour that lives up to the challenge: almonds and oranges with a dash of ginger in a dazzling almond streusel topping. Continue reading

Maple & walnut buttermilk scones

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A proper Devonshire cream tea with scones, clotted cream & strawberry jam is pure joy for me and luckily my parents-in-law live in the wonderful West Country where there’s no shortage of quaint & pretty places to enjoy this true British delight (along with many other fantastic regional specialties). Unfortunately, it is really hard to get the proper stuff, namely Cornish clotted cream outside of Western England but scones can easily be made at home anywhere.

This is a delicious British-American hybrid brimming with the inviting flavours of Maple syrup, vanilla, brown sugar. Add walnuts (or pecans if you like) and you have got a treat for breakfast or tea with a dab of slowly melting salted butter or a quickly stirred maple butter. Just mildly sweet, I think they can go either way: for a sweeter tooth drizzle the scones after baking with a maple icing or try the unadulterated scone with a stronger blue cheese or ripe cheddar and some spiced chutney. Therefore, they might be just the ideal thing for brunch.

 

 

Maple & walnut buttermilk scones


Maple & walnut buttermilk scones

Makes 16. Adapted from Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito: Baked. New frontiers in Baking.

 

640g / 4 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
90g / ½ cup light brown sugar
345g / 3 sticks cold butter, diced
1 egg
180ml / ¾ cup buttermilk
2-3 tablespoons maple syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
110g / 1 cup walnuts, only very coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons buttermilk to brush the tops
1-2 teaspoons raw cane sugar (or maple sugar) to sprinkle a pinch on each scone

maple butter (optional): softened butter mixed with a little maple syrup

maple icing: make a semi-runny icing by mixing a little icing sugar and a tablespoon or two of maple syrup

 

Mix flour with baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt & sugar and rub together with the cold butter (hands). Whisk buttermilk, egg, maple syrup & vanilla extract and knead briefly into the dry ingredients, add walnuts and only just push it all together into a rough dough. Do not overknead, it is fine if there are still a few butter patches visible! Divide into two portions and form two rounds, ca. 3.75 cm or 1½ inches thick (on a lightly floured board or directly on a sheet of baking parchment). Cut each disc into 8 slices and arrange on baking sheets covered with parchment paper. Brush each wedge with a little buttermilk and sprinkle a pinch of raw cane sugar or maple sugar on top.

Bake in a preheated oven (175°C / 350° F) for 15 minutes, turn the oven trays back to front and bake for another 15 minutes until the scones are light golden brown. Serve warm with salted or maple butter or leave to cool and drizzle with a maple icing made from icing sugar & maple syrup.

 

 

Maple & walnut buttermilk scones

 


Ahornsirup & Walnuß Buttermilchscones

Ergibt 16 Stück. Adaptiert von Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito: Baked. New frontiers in Baking.

 

640g Mehl
1 TL Backpulver
½ TL Natron
½ TL Salz
90g heller brauner Zucker
345g kalte Butter, in Würfel geschnitten
1 Ei
180ml Buttermilch
2-3 EL Ahornsirup
½ TL Vanilleextrakt
110g Walnüsse, sehr, sehr grob gehackt

2 EL Buttermilch zum Bestereichen
1-2 TL roher Rohrzucker oder Ahornzucker zum Bestreuen

Ahornsirupbutter (optional): weiche Butter mit ein wenig Ahornsirup verrührt

Ahornglasur: Puderzucker mit ca. 1 EL Ahornsirup zu einer dickflüssigen Glasur verrühren

 

Mehl mit Backpulver, Natronpulver, Salz und Zucker vermischen, Butter hinein geben und mit den Händen verreiben. Buttermilch, Ei, Ahornsirup & Vanilleextrakt verrühren, kurz mit der Mehlmischung verkneten, Walnüsse hinzufügen und die Masse zu einem Teig gerade eben zusammenschieben. Es ist sehr wichtig, den Teig nicht zu überarbeiten! In zwei Teile teilen und zwei runde Scheiben von ca. 3,75cm Dicke formen (auf einer leicht bemehlten Oberfläche oder direkt auf Backpapier). Die Scheiben in 8 Stücke schneiden, diese auf mit Backpapier ausgelegte Bleche legen mit Buttermilch bestreichen und ein wenig Rohrzucker oder Ahornzucker darauf streuen. Im vorgeheizten Backofen (175°C) für 15 Minuten backen, dann die Backbleche drehen und weitere 15 Minuten backen bis die Scones goldgelb aufgegangen sind.

Leicht abgekühlt mit der Ahornsirupglasur beträufeln oder pur und warm mit ein wenig Salz- oder Ahornsirupbutter servieren.