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

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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

Hot cross buns

 

Hot Cross Buns – Korinthenbrötchen (deutsches Rezept am Ende)

Hot cross buns

In case you did not know, I am married to an Englishman, which has only furthered my Anglophilia and deeply rooted affection for extremely expensive paints & wall papers, Earl Grey tea with milk, P.G. Wodehouse, a fried breakfast, B&B’s, the countryside, picnics, the National Trust, Deborah Devonshire, British cuisine and to top the by no means finished list – a pinch of charming eccentricity.

Hot cross buns

In England, Hot cross buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday (the cross symbolizes of course the Crucifixion). Maybe you know the nursery rhyme and song? A relative of the gorgeous Dutch Krentenbollen (soft currant buns, a sure thing to eat in Holland & bring a bag for my your Mum) these are firmer, saffron-golden and have a distinct and intense spiced taste. Other sources state that Hot cross buns have been served during the whole of Lent. I am a little bit puzzled how these rich golden buns, full of aromatic currants & expensive spices like saffron, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves & ginger could have been a daily occurrence and fit the concept of restraint (though once marzipan was considered a fast food!). The luxurious ingredients seem to me more the feast at the end, the break of the fast and beginning of the Easter celebrations.

Hot cross buns

I have failed these buns for years with some resembling fruitcakes (how to say it politely: not my thing), some turned out great – as building material, other recipes took the glazing a bit too far: a triple douse of apricot jam & sugar syrup??? Finally, Felicity Cloake presented How to cook the perfect Hot cross bun (not a moment too soon) and the next day I had several winners on my plate and never looked any other bun in the eye again: Only the tiniest of adaptations (e.g. I prefer a pure currant bun without mixed peel) and a few nips & tucks at the method.

Hot cross buns

 


 

Hot cross buns

Makes 16, adapted from Felicity Cloake’s Perfect Hot cross buns from the Guardian

update: the American cup measurements and weight in ounces are there now

 

200ml milk = ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons = 13½ oz
a few pistils of saffron (a good pinch)
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3 green cardamom pods, lightly bruised
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves
20g fresh yeast (never made this with dried yeast, though substitute a sachet of 7g)
50g caster sugar = ¼ cup
450g strong white flour (bread flour or type 550 flour) = 3 cups = 16 oz
100g butter = 3.5oz = 1 stick minus 1 tablespoon
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground ginger
3 (2+1) eggs
200g currants = 1 cup or 7 oz
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon hot water

Gently heat (do not boil) the milk, throw in the spices: saffron, nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon & cloves and leave to infuse for a few hours. Warm again until tepid, strain and dissolve the yeast & feed it with a pinch of sugar.

Cut your butter into small pieces and add them to the flour into a large mixing bowl (or use a pastry blender), rub together, then mix with sugar, salt & ground ginger. Make a well in the middle, add the two eggs and beat with wooden spoon before you add the yeasty spiced milk and stir together. Continue kneading the dough by hand (at least 10 minutes) until soft & smooth. Add more milk if your dough seems too dry or hard to work. Grease a bowl, lift the dough into it & cover with a large plastic bag or tea towel and leave to prove until it has doubled in size (anything from 2 hours in warm place, more in a cooler area).

Briefly knead the dough on a flour-dusted counter & incorporate the currants until evenly distributed. Divide the dough into 16 pieces, roll those into buns (no need to count the currants in each one) and place onto lined baking sheets. Score the top crosswise, cover again with a large plastic bag and leave in a warm place to double in size.

Meanwhile preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) and make an egg wash from the remaining egg with a little water or milk. Stir the flour with a miniscule amount of water into a really thick paste (like putty) and spoon this into one corner of a (tiny) plastic bag. Brush each bun with the egg wash and using your freezer bag as a piping bag (cut of the corner’s tip) draw crosses onto the buns. Bake for about 25 minutes until the buns are golden and the flour cross is still relatively white. Glaze them as soon as they are out of the oven with the tablespoon of sugar dissolved in the hot water, then leave to dry & cool.

 

 


 

Englische Korinthenbrötchen zum Karfreitag

16 Brötchen, Rezept adaptiert von Felicity Cloakes Rezept aus dem Guardian

 

200ml Milch
eine Prise Safranfäden
¼ TL Muskatnuss
3 grüne Kardamom Kapseln, leicht gestoßen
1 Zimtstange
2 Nelken
20g frische Hefe (ich benutze hierfür nie Trockenhefe, wenn gewünscht: 1 Paket à 7g)
50g Zucker
450g Mehl (Type 550)
100g gute Butter
½ TL Salz
½ gemahlener Ingwer
3 (2+1) Eier
200g Korinthen
3 EL Mehl
1 EL Zucker
1 EL heißes Wasser

Die Milch langsam erhitzen (nicht sprudelnd kochen) und darin Safran, Muskatnuß, Kardamom, Zimt & Nelken für mindestens 2 Stunden ziehen lassen. Danach die Milch wieder erwärmen (Körpertemperatur), durch ein Sieb gießen und dann die Hefe darin auflösen und mit einer Prise Zucker füttern.

Das Mehl und die in kleine Stücke geschnittene Butter in eine große Schüssel geben und zwischen den Fingern zerreiben (oder einen Teigmischer / pastry blender benutzen), dann Zucker, Salz und Ingwer hinzugeben und vermischen. In die Mitte eine Vertiefung machen und darin 2 Eier verquirlen. Die Hefemilch hineingießen und alles mit einem starken Holzlöffel verrühren bis ein weicher Teig entsteht. Danach mit den Händen (für mindestens 10 Minuten) kneten um einen glatten und elastischen Teig zu erhalten. In eine leicht gefettete Schüssel geben, mit einer großen Plastiktüte (oder einem Küchenhandtuch) abdecken und an warmem Ort zur doppelten Größe aufgehen lassen (mindestens 2 Stunden).

Den Teig auf eine bemehlte Arbeitsfläche geben und kurz durchkneten, dann die Korinthen einarbeiten bis sie sich gleichmäßig verteilt haben. 16 gleichgroße Brötchen formen und auf mit Backpapier belegte Bleche legen, wieder abdecken und aufgehen lassen bis sie ihre doppelte Größe erreicht haben.

Den Backofen auf 200°C vorheizen und das verbliebene Ei mit etwas Milch oder Wasser verquirlen. Aus dem Mehl und ganz wenig Wasser eine Paste formen (ähnlich wie Fensterkitt oder Knete) und in einen kleinen Plastikbeutel füllen. Die Korinthenbrötchen mit der Eiglasur bestreichen und anschließend eine dünnes weißes Mehlkreuz obenauf spritzen. Dazu von der Plastiktüte eine klitzekleine Ecke abschneiden und sie wie einen Spritzbeutel benutzen. Für ca. 25 Minuten backen bis die Brötchen goldbraun und die Mehlkreuze noch weiß oder nur leicht gebräunt sind.

Sofort mit der Zuckerglasur (1 EL Zucker in 1 EL heißem Wasser auflösen) bestreichen, dann trocken, abkühlen lassen und essen: sehr lecker mit Butter & einer guten Tasse Tee.