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

Amarena cherry cheesecakes with lemon jelly

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There is no day like Valentine’s Day for a special dessert and what a great time to finally tell you about these gorgeously light and airy cheesecakes with dark Amarena cherries and beautifully transparent, intensely lemon jelly cubes. And yes, light, these cheesecakes are made with quark! A thin layer of biscuit provides a delicate cake base for these tangy-vanilla cheesecakes when Amarena cherry pieces with their deeply dark, amaro and almond flavour surprise within and are wonderfully balanced by the citrus flavour. Dusted with just a hint of icing sugar and drizzled with a little of the cherry syrup they make for a stunning primrose & black plate (while being extremely easy to prepare in advance) at any dinner party or romantic dinner for two. Continue reading

Salad with smoked trout and pickled mustard seeds

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One of my favourite starters this year, a delicate herb salad of beautiful reds & greens supports smoked trout with piquant pickled mustard seeds – each one a tiny caviar pearl bursting with flavour. Is there a better combination than dill, trout and mustard as a start to a nice dinner, oh – did I mention quails eggs yet? Cooked to waxy-soft perfection (achievable in just 2½ minutes!) they are my favourite part of any starter. A quick but quite elegant salad with minimum hassle and no tweezers, easy to prepare in advance if you so wish and light enough not to completely fill you up before anyone has even mentioned the main course. You know, just a little something that awakens your appetite and does not extinguish it, a real appetizer. 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

Sweet woodruff syrup – Waldmeistersirup & Maibowle

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It is near impossible imagining Germany in May without Waldmeister, sweet woodruff. The faint vanilla-sweet smelling herb infuses the traditional Maibowle (may wine punch), imparts its astounding fresh aroma onto vivid green coloured jelly, ice creams and green gummy bears. Waldmeister syrup mixes with sparkling water for a herby-sweet spring lemonade and flavours a refreshing Berliner Weisse (beer). But drizzle it onto a perfect ball (or two) of mascarpone ice cream, add the best strawberries and you might as well find yourself in paintings by Watteau or Boucher: Continue reading