October 27, 2014

Daring Bakers October 2014 Challenge - Sachertorte

The October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Korena of Korena in the Kitchen. She took us to Austria and introduced us to the wonders of the Sachertorte.


Well, while most of the steps to make a Sachertorte are not too difficult, once again I had to learn, that chocolate glazing and I aren't best friends… While last time it was too runny and didn't properly solidify, this time it was too thick and hardened within seconds of pouring it on the cake. This gave my cake a rather rustic finish - so to speak - and I didn't think trying to pipe the word "Sacher" on it would have made it any better

The taste was good, though. The cake was actually lighter and fluffier than I remembered Sachertorte usually to be, and while a little whipped cream was nice to go along with it, it wasn't absolutely necessary as the cake was moist enough by itself.

The complete recipe can be found here.

September 27, 2014

Daring Bakers September 2014 Challenge - Kolaches

The September Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Lucie from ChezLucie. She challenged us to make a true Czech treat – Kolaches!

We had a choice of three different recipes (details can be found here) and I decided to make the Chodské koláče (Kolache from Chodsko) because I love quark and poppyseed. 

The recipe for the dough worked great - nice silky and soft texture. I'm not sure the poppyseed filling was optimal - it wasn't as homogenous as I expected it to be. And since I didn't have a good piping bag my patterns turned out a bit rough :-) But the taste was excellent!

Thanks for a fun challenge, Lucie!

Kolache, cut up in pieces
Finished Kolache


July 27, 2014

Daring Bakers' July 2014 Challenge - Surprise Cake

For the July Daring Baker’s Challenge, Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to bake a cake. But not just any cake; she asked us to add in a special surprise for our eyes as well as our taste buds! Her instructions can be found here.


Now, there are many fun surprise cakes out there. There's rainbow cakes, checkerboard cakes, there's cakes with hidden shapes inside or with filled with chocolates.


But for me this challenge was the perfect opportunity to finally tackle the Mondrian Cake. Ever since I bought Caitlin Freeman's formidable book of Modern Art Desserts earlier this year, I wanted to try my hands on this pièce de résistance.


The cake is not per se difficult to make, but it requires mainly lots of time. The first step is to bake cakes in 4 different colours and let them cool over night. The next day the cakes have to be cut into different sized strips and glued together with chocolate ganache. In the end, the whole cake is covered in chocolate ganache.

The cake Caitlin Freeman suggests is Rose Levy Beranbaum's White Velvet Cake, tinted with food colouring for the coloured strips. I used a little more salt (3/4 Tsp.) and replaced the 300g cake flour with 250g all purpose white flour and 50g corn starch.

Here are the cut up strips before I started covering them in the chocolate ganache
The cake was quit firm and cutting the strips was not as difficult as I thought it would be. But as it turned out, my chocolate ganache was too liquid and seeped into the cake. This means that the lines between the squares are not as clean as they should be. At least the pattern is still clearly visible, so I'm pretty happy with it, considering it was my first try.

Blurry lines, but still clearly a Mondrian Cake :-)
The next day I was wondering what to do with all the leftover cake. While the cake itself has a nice taste, I still felt it needed a bit more. It is quite a sweet cake and I thought it would pair nicely with a little fruity acidity. So I cut the leftover cake into slices and filled it with lemon curd, passion fruit curd, whipped cream with raspberry jam or caramel spread. With the pieces and crumbs that were too small to be filled, I made cake pops. I crumbled them up in the food processor, mixed them with a little chocolate ganache, shaped them into little balls and covered them in chocolate icing. In the end, it took quite some time to make use of all the leftover cake, but I just couldn't throw perfectly fine cake out. And my office liked that they got so many extra sweets.

From back to front: red cake with raspberry cream, white cake with caramel spread, yellow cake with lemon curd, blue cake with passion fruit cake and cake pops
Thanks for a great challenge, Ruth!

June 27, 2014

Daring Bakers' June 2014 Challenge - Cinnamon Rolls (no cinnamon required)

This month the Daring Bakers kept our creativity rolling with cinnamon bun inspired treats. Shelley from C Mom Cook dared us to create our own dough and fill it with any filling we wanted to craft tasty rolled treats, cinnamon not required! The recipe can be found here.

Well, that was fun! I made the rolls with a filling of quark (a kind of curd cheese, common in Switzerland) and cranberries, as I don't care for cinnamon. The dough didn't rise as much as I would have wanted to, but that might have been because I had not quite enough yeast left when I made the rolls. Also, the dough was quite wet so I had to add a lot more flour. I left out the glaze as the rolls were already quite moist from the filling. 

The rolls were delicious nevertheless :-)

Cinnamon free cinnamon rolls



June 11, 2014

Picknick "at the Beach"

A few years ago I prepared a picknick at the beach for some friends. Unfortunately, due to weather circumstances, we had to turn it into a picknick on the balcony. The food was delicious anyway and it made serving the different dishes a bit easier in the end.


So, here's the selection of dishes that I prepared. Most of them can be prepared well in advance, making them ideal for packing up and taking them to the your preferred picknick place (should you be luckier with the weather). 

Fruit Punch

To start the evening off, we had a fruit punch with strawberries, blueberries and mint. It's best to soak the chopped fruit for a few hours in some of your preferred alcohol of choice (e.g. half a bottle of white wine) with some sugar or syrup or fruit liqueur. I usually add some fresh lemon juice as well, because I like a little acidity in my drinks. Keep the infusion in the fridge and ideally transport it in a cold box. At the picknick, spoon some fruit and liquid into the glasses and top off with cold sparkling wine. If you want the punch to contain less alcohol, use lemonade or sparkling mineral water instead.


Tomato Salad with Almonds

For food, I prepared two different salads. Firstly, I simply chopped up various kinds of cherry tomatoes and topped them with toasted and chopped almonds and breadcrumbs. The dressing was a simple Italian dressing of aceto balsamico, olive oil, basil, salt and pepper.


Pea and Feta Salad

The second salad was a pea and feta salad. It's very simple to make. Just chop up a small onion and a clove of garlic and fry it in some olive oil until the dices are soft. Blanch some peas (ca. 300g) and immediately chill them in ice water to preserve their lovely green colour. Dice about 150g of feta and mix it with the peas and onions and some herbs (e.g. mint). Add some aceto balsamico, olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.


Salmon Ceviche

The recipe for the salmon ceviche can be found here. I left out the coriander because I don't really like the taste and the ceviche was great without it. This seems to be the most difficult recipe for a picknick, as the fish should not be brined in the lime juice for too long. It's probably best to keep the fish-mix and the lime juice separate until you've arrived at the picknick spot.


Cold Turkey Breast with Herb Vinaigrette

This recipe can be found here.


Pork Rolls with BBQ Sauce

I found this recipe in one of my many food magazines. Basically, it's pork neck steaks, marinated in garlic, mustard, honey, diced peperoncini, then spread on some pizza dough, seasoned with salt. The dough is then rolled up and cut into slices. Before baking, brush the rolls with some whisked egg.


Cheddar Cheesecake with Whisky Jelly

For dessert I made Tim Anderson's cheddar cheesecake with whisky jelly. As soon as I saw him prepare this cheesecake in the finals of BBCs Masterchef (and subsequently winning it), I knew I had to try it: I love cheddar, I love whisky, and there's certainly nothing wrong with cheesecake. And I'm so glad that I tried it. His cheesecake base is the best I've encountered in my baking life. The cheesecake itself isn't too sweet and has a nice, but not overpowering flavour of cheddar. The jelly is quite spicy because of the ginger beer, and it's definitely not something for people that don't like whisky. Actually, the whole cheesecake is probably more for the adventurous eater, so it was perfect for my friends and me. I've just discovered, that the recipe can no longer be found on the BBC Food website (it's been three years after all), so it's a good thing I still have my printout :-)


Actually, looking at the picture now, I wish I'd taken the time to tidy up the cheesecake a bit. But it was the end of the evening and I remember we didn't feel like waiting for dessert much longer. Guess I'll just have to make it once more - just for the pictures, of course