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Chocolate Stout Cake

2015-03-21 20.57.00
Even tough it’s still quite cold here, the first signs of spring have arrived. The air feels fresher, the birds are singing beautifully each morning and the sun stays longer. Everything I’ve been waiting for. Except for the warmth, but it will come soon enough.
For now I keep myself warm with bits of chocolate every now and then.
This week I give you something that will make the prolonged wait for spring a bit cosier – an amazing Chocolate Stout Cake. It’s a chocolate cake that is incredibly light and actually feels refreshing. Those marvellous properties are thanks to the mix of a raw cocoa powder and a dark, bitter stout beer. If you can get your hands on some dark microbrewery beer, go for it, if not, a good old Guinness will do just fine here. If you’re up for making it a bit heavier, I would suggest making a dark chocolate ganache or a cream cheese frosting (maybe with a splash of some warming spirit in it). I like it without extra additions, just beer and chocolate will do for me.

Chocolate Stout Cake
inspired by Nigella
  • 250 ml stout beer,
  • 250 g  butter,
  • 80 g raw cocoa powder,
  • 300 g raw cane sugar*,
  • 145 g full-fat Greek yoghurt,
  • 3 eggs,
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract,
  • 275 g flour,
  • 3 tsp bicarbonate of soda,
  • pinch of salt.
  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and butter a 24 cm bundt cake spring form (make sure to butter well all the nooks and crannies).
  2. Place the beer and diced butter in a wide saucepan – it should be quite big, you will mix all the ingredients in here. Warm it up on a low heat until the butter is melted.
  3. Whisk in the cocoa powder and sugar to the beer-butter mixture.
  4. In a separate bowl lightly whisk the yoghurt, eggs and vanilla extract.
  5. Mix the yoghurt and egg with the beer-butter mixture and beat in the flour, soda and a pinch of salt. Pour the batter into the form.
  6. Bake in the middle of an oven for 50 minutes to an hour, or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let it cool completely in the spring form.
Enjoy!
Note: The amount of sugar depends on the stout you use. If you go for a very bitter one, 300 grams is perfect, if you use Guinness, I would suggest going down to 200-250 grams, depending how sweet do you like your cakes.

Tiramisu

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There are some desserts that everybody loves and Tiramisu is definitely one of them. It’s actually extremely easy to make and takes almost no time. In my opinion there are 2 very important ingredients that can make it special: good coffee and time. It’s very important to let it stand overnight in the fridge, it will be far better than any rushed version. You also need good, strong and flavourful coffee AND you need to really just lightly dip the lady fingers in it, leave them for too long and the whole thing will be soggy and not appetizing at all. So it’s simple, but don’t underestimate, done right it will deliver a great pleasure 🙂

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Classic Tiramisu

adapted from Emiko Davies

  • 3 eggs, separated,
  • 120 gr sugar,
  • 500 gr mascarpone,
  • 250 gr lady finger biscuits,
  • 100 ml strong, black coffee,
  • Powdered cocoa, unsweetened.
  1. Whip the egg yolks with sugar until light and fluffy – the sugar should be dissolved. Add the mascarpone and whip just until combined.
  2. Whip the egg whites until they hold a firm peak. Fold the egg whites into the mascarpone in 3 batches.
  3. Pour the coffee into a shallow dish, one that will fit the full lady finger.
  4. Put very briefly one side of the lady finger in the coffee – this is crucial for getting the perfect texture of your tiramisu, be very quick, otherwise your tiramisu will be soggy.
  5. Place lady finger in the container coffee side up. Repeat until you have a tight layer that cover the whole dish.
  6. Cover the lady finger with a layer of the mascarpone. Continue layering lady fingers and mascarpone cream. Depending on the thickness of the mascarpone layer you should be able to make 2-3 layers. Finish of with a layer of the cream.
    Chill in the fridge overnight.
  7. Just before serving dust with bitter cocoa powder.

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Enjoy!

Buche Mont d’Or

2014-12-30 23.04.06

Past couple of weeks were a crazy mixture of work and holidays. For sure I was in a real need for the later ones. I spend a week in Rome, filling my belly with wonderful food. I could easily live in that city, it’s absolutely wonderful. It would probably require stepping up with the running routine to compensate for all the deliciousness, but still, definitely would be worth it.
Back in the Netherlands the winter seems to be still holding a grip. Hopefully not for too long, I cannot wait for all the wonderful flavour that he spring will bring. Today’s recipe is actually something that should be done during Christmas period, as the original Yule Log is. It is an incredibly light cake tough and I think it’s worth making a little bit more often. The filling is a kwark based mousse – very light and easy to combine with many different flavours. Here I used the apricot jam and a passion fruit juice, but I can only guess how well it will work with fresh fruit (actually I will probably test that as soon as they are available ;)).
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I think this will be the last recipe from the “Patisserie – Mastering the Fundamentals of French Pastry” book. It starts to get more complicated in there. I will of course continue my challenge, but if you guys want to do it with me, I suggest you get the book, it’s really way easier to do with the photos and you do need to read the recipe carefully. It is very exciting, but requires quite some time in the kitchen (I am obviously not a proffessional, but every recipe that’s supposed to take an hour according to Mr. Felder, somehow takes 3 for me. I’m pretty sure not so many people are crazy enough to spend that time on one cake ;).
But don’t worry, I won’t abandon the blog. I will be happy to share with you more of my own recipes, a bit simpler one and easier to make during the working week. It will still be delicious for sure :)!

 Passion Fruit-Fromage Blanc Yule Log
adapted from Christophe Felder
For the Lemon Sponge Cake:
  • 4 eggs separated,
  • 1 lemon,
  • 100 g sugar,
  • 100 g flour.
  1. Whip the egg whites until the hold a soft peak.
  2. Grate in the lemon zest, add the sugar and whip again until stiff and glossy.
  3. Very briefly whip in the egg yolks.
  4. Fold in the sifted flour in batches.
  5. Spread the batter thinly and evenly on a lined baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes at 180 C, until lightly browned. You should rotate the baking sheet half through baking, so that it colours evenly.
  7. Cover with a damp tea towel and let cool on a baking sheet. This way the cake will remain moist and easy to roll.
For the Fromage Blanc Mousse:
  • 300 ml heavy cream,
  • 4 gelatin sheets,
  • 250 g fromage blanc (or fat free kwark),
  • 2 egg yolks,
  • 75 g sugar,
  • 1 tsp. passion fruit juice.
  1. Pour the cream in a large bowl and chill.
  2. Soak the gelatin sheets in cold water until softened, around 5 minutes,
  3. Lightly whisk the fromage blank and return it to the fridge.
  4. Whisk the egg yolks with sugar until pale and thick.
  5. Warm up the passion fruit juice on a low heat. Squeeze the gelatin sheets and stir into the juice until completely dissolved. Scrape into a large bowl.
  6. Whip the chilled cream until it holds a firm peak.
  7. Carefully whisk in the egg yolk and sugar mixture into the warm passion fruit juice.
  8. Beat 1/3 of the whipped cream into the passion fruit mixture to loosen it up.
  9. Gently fold in the remaining whipped cream. Then fold in the fromage blanc.
Assembly:
  • 150 ml of passion fruit juice,
  • 150 g apricot jam,
  • 100 g white chocolate.
  1. Remove the tea towel from the sponge cake. Invert on a sheet of a parchment paper and carefully peel off the parchment. Turn it again so that it’s right side up, with the long side facing you.
  2. Brush the cake with the passion fruit juice.
  3. Spread a thick layer of the mousse in the upper third of the cake, leaving around 7 cm on top.
  4. Fold the top of the cake over the mousse and spread a thin line of an apricot jam next to the mousse.
  5. Fold the top of the parchment over the cake and snugly tuck the paper under the cake with a piece of cardboard. Roll it tightly. Chill for 15 minutes. Chill the remaining mousse
  6. Carefully remove the parchment. Spread the remaining mousse on top of the cake.
  7. Shave the white chocolate with a serrated knife on the top and side of the rolled cake. Transfer to a serving plate and chill for an hour.
Enjoy!

Feuillete Mandarine

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I always loved puff pastry. The incredible amount of layers and an irresistible buttery taste are just on top of the list of the reasons why I like it so much. There is just one trick – if you want a really good one, you have to make it yourself. You have to use a proper 82% fat butter and spend several hours rolling the pastry and chilling it. It’s a commitment you make, but every second you spend on it will be worth, the end result is amazing. But, I don’t always have the time to make that commitment, sometimes you have to make a small short cut. I discovered this Quick Puff Pastry recipe. It is actually really simple and works perfect for both sweet and savoury pastries (I think some savoury stuff will be coming next week maybe).
The final texture is very flaky and taste taste buttery. I was honestly surprised by how good this pastry is compared to the amount of work you need to put in. I’m not saying it is a perfect replacement of a puff pastry, because I think you should take the time to make some at least once, but, it’s a good quick option. Definitely worth a try.
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Quick Clementine Neapolitans
adapted from Christophe Felder
For the Quick Puff Pastry:
  • 200 g flour,
  • 2 tbsp sugar,
  • 2 tsp salt,
  • 240 g butter, chilled and diced,
  • 90 ml ice-cold water,
  • 25 g confectioner sugar.
  1. Place the flour in a big bowl and make a well in the middle.
  2. Add the sugar, salt and butter into the well and rub the flour and butter together until you get fine crumbs.
  3. Add the cold water and knead the dough to bring it together.
  4. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth.
  5. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes in a freezer.
  6. On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough until it’s 3-4 mm thick.
  7. Trim the tough to a 30 by 40 cm rectangle and transfer to a baking sheet
  8. Prick the dough with a fork and cover with a parchment paper. Place a wire rack or another baking sheet on top on the pastry.
  9. Bake for 15 minutes at 180 C, until golden.
  10. Remove from the oven. Turn the temperature up to 220 C.
  11. Sift confectioner sugar on top of the pastry and return to the oven for 2 to 3 minutes, until the sugar is caramelised. Watch it carefully, so that it doesn’t burn.
For the Pastry Cream:
  • 250 ml whole milk,
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped,
  • 60 g sugar,
  • 3 egg yolks,
  • 25 g cornstarch,
  • 25 g butter, diced and softened.
  1. Bring the milk, vanilla seeds and half sugar to boil.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks, cornstarch and the rest of the sugar together in a separate bowl.
  3. Whisk the egg mixture into the milk. Cook for about a minute, until it thickens, whisking constantly.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter.
  5. Put it in a small shallow bowl and over the cream directly with a foil.
To finish:
  • 6 clementines, peeled and divided into segments.
  1. Using a serrated knife cut the pastry into 6 by 9 cm rectangles. Cut each rectangle on the diagonal into a triangle.
  2. Whisk the pastry cream until it’s smooth, pipe a strip of a pastry cream in the centre of half the triangles. Arrange clementine segments around it. Top with the remaining triangles. Serve immediately.
Enjoy!

Tarte Tatin

IMAG0522
It has been a while since my last post, but it was a very busy period work-wise. Hope some of you will keep reading after this big break..
A couple of months ago I went to Paris. This trip was of course connected to my big fascination with patisserie and French cuisine in general. It’s funny, but if you would ask me a couple of years ago I would most probably say that French cuisine is not really my thing. Well,  lot of things happened lately that made me change my mind about it. I decided to buy a classic cookbook, supposedly used by almost every home cook in France. It’s really great that those kind of books are being translated into English lately. I must say that “I know how to cook” by Ginette Mathiot is an amazing discovery. All recipes are very short, to the point and, so far, all deliver delicious dishes.
On of the most interesting chapters is about cakes and pastries (of course). The recipes here are completely different that at Mr. Felder book. A completely different approach. I love the Tarte Tatin recipe though. I must say it’s the simplest recipe for this pie I ever tried (not that it’s ever a difficult cake to make) and definitely the best one. I was always under the impression that you should use French pastry for the original Tarte Tatin. Turns out that it’s actually a very simple shortcrust pastry (but, this recipe works perfectly also with French pastry, so feel free to replace it). It’s a delicious cake. The total time it takes to make is around 40 min, of which 30 min it spends in the oven. Perfect for any time you crave a warm, delicious cake (and it is winter, so that’s going to happen sooner or later). Just go and make one!
2015-01-11 20.12.23

Tarte Tatin
adapted from Ginette Mathiot
For the shortcrust pastry:
  • 250 g flour,
  • 1 tbsp flavourless oil (like sunflower or rapeseed),
  • 1/2 tsp salt,
  • 125 g butter, diced and chilled,
  • 1-2 tbsp ice-cold water.
  1. Place all the flower in a bowl and make a small well inside.
  2. Add oil, salt and  butter into the well. Rub the butter into the flour.
  3. Use the water to bring the dough together. Knead a couple of times – the quicker you do it the better is the pastry.
  4. Wrap in foil and chill for at least 30 minutes.
For the filling:
  • 125 g sugar,
  • 500 g of apples (around 4),
  • 40 g butte
Use a pan or pie-dish that can be used both in the oven and on a stove.
  1. Put 100g of sugar into the pan with 1-2 tbsp of water. Place the dish on a medium low heat and make a dark caramel. Make sure that the whole base of the dish in covered with caramel and allow to cool.
  2. Peel and core the apples. Slice them thinly.
  3. Arrange the apples close to each other in the dish with caramel. Put dollops of butter on the apples.
  4. Roll out the short pastry to 5 mm thick.
  5. Cover the apples with the pastry, making sure to tuck a bit of the dough on all sides, so that the apples are completely covered.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes at 200 degrees, in the middle of the oven.
  7. Take out of the oven and turn out immediately onto a serving dish (the caramelised apples will be on top). Eat straight away.
Enjoy!

Christmas Cookies Jars

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For me Christmas is a time of sharing. I want to share things I can do best and things that give me pleasure with people I care about. Every year I would send Christmas cards to family and friends. It’s really nice to receive them. This year I decided to make some cookie jars instead. Making cookies takes almost no time and it will be greatly appreciated by your friends and family.
I decided to go for some Leckerlis* – gingerbread cookies with candied citrus peel and Green Anise Cookies. Both of them are very easy to make with a stand mixer and are a pretty delicious substitute for a Christmas card. You still have time to make some tomorrow 🙂
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This will be my last post before Christmas, so Happy Holidays everyone. Hope you have a wonderful time!
* To make Leckerlis you can use the same recipe as for the Gingerbread Cookie and you add 100 g of mixed lemon and orange candied peel and cover with an icing while still warm.

Green Anise Cookies
adapted from Christophe Felder
  • 3 eggs,
  • 250 g of sugar,
  • 15 g green anise seeds,
  • 250 g flour.
  1. Combine the sugar and eggs in a bowl of your stand mixer.
  2. Whip for 10 minutes at a high speed and then for 10 minutes at a medium speed.
  3. Fold the flour and anise seeds into the beaten eggs.
  4. Pipe the batter on a buttered and floured baking sheet. Make them around 2.5 cm wide, leaving around 2 cm space in between.
  5. Let them dry out on the baking sheet for around 4 hours, until a dry crust forms.
  6. bake at 180 degrees for 6 to 8 minutes, until the tops are puffed, but still pale. Let them cool on the baking sheet.
Enjoy!

Gingerbread cookies

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Every year we make some gingerbread cookies to put in the Christmas Tree. It’s always a lot of fun to cut out all the different shapes (and let’s be honest, we mostly use the cookie cutters around Christmas time anyway..).
This year I made a Gingerbread recipe from the Patisserie book. They are slightly different. You need to mix the basic dough a week in advance and let the cinnamon and honey develop an incredibly deep flavour. I think they taste great. They will be a bit tough for first few days, but give them some time and they will soften. If you decorate them with some nuts and icing you will have a wonderful Christmas decorations.

Gingerbread cookies
adapted from Christophe Felder
For tha basic dough:
  • 250 g strong dark honey,
  • 200 g flour,
  • 50 g whole wheat flour,
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
For the final dough:
  • 1 egg yolk,
  • 1 tsp. baking powder,
  • 1 pinch cinnamon,
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice,
  • 1 tbsp. sherry.
Prepare the basic dough 1 week before you plan to bake the cookies.
  1. Warm the honey in a small saucepan over a low heat.
  2. Sift both flours with cinnamon.
  3. Add the warm honey and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough is thick and smooth.
  4. Cover it and let stand at room temperature for a week.
After a week mix the final dough
  1. Place the egg yolk on a work surface. Spread the baking powder around it. Smear the baking powder with the flat part of a knife until smooth.
  2. Add the mixture to the basic dough mix with the cinnamon, allspice and sherry and knead the dough in a stand mixer at a low speed for about 5 minutes.
  3. Shape into a ball and flatten. Wrap in a plastic and chill in the fridge for an hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 170 C. Butter baking sheets and dust them with flour.
  5. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until it’s about 3 mm thick.
  6. Cut out the shapes you have.
  7. Bake fr 15 to 20 minutes, until barely firm and slightly browned. Let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheet.
Decorate as you wish!

Gingerbread cake

2014-12-10 21.39.53
There are certain flavours and aromas that I will always associate with Christmas. Like cinnamon, oranges, anise, honey.. And a good gingerbread is a perfect combination of them all. This cake is quite extraordinary as it contains mainly rye flour. It makes it a bit denser, but it is a delicious cake. The combination of flavours will make everyone happy that Christmas is coming, even if it rains outside. It is an easy cake and it’s perfect to make when you are waiting for a recipe for an aged gingerbread (coming next week!) or to change into muffins and take for your work Christmas party.
This weekend I go fully on with baking gift cookies and will share the results very soon. It’s about time to start after all 🙂

Gingerbread cake
adapted from Christophe Felder
For the cake:
  • 100 ml milk,
  • 1 tbsp. star anise,
  • 240 g honey,
  • 25 g all-purpose flour,
  • 150 g rye flour,
  • 25 g potato starch,
  • 11 g baking powder,
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon,
  • 1 tsp. allspice,
  • 240 g orange marmalade,
  • 2 eggs,
  • 80 g butter, softened,
  • 1 tsp. salt.
For the glaze:
  • 200 g apricot preserve,
  • 3 tbsp. orange marmalade.
  1. Bring the milk to boil in a small pan. Add the star anise, remove from the heat and infuse for 10 minutes.
  2. Warm the honey over a small heat.
  3. Whisk both types of flour, potato starch, baking powder, cinnamon and allspice in a big bowl.
  4. Add warm honey and marmalade to the dry ingredients and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth.
  5. Stir in the eggs, butter and salt.
  6. Strain the milk to the mixture and mix until fully incorporated.
  7. Pour the batter into a 24 cm rectangular baking shape.
  8. Bake for an hour at 170 degrees in the middle of an oven. Check if it’s ready with a wooden skewer.
  9. Let it cool for 5 minutes in a shape.
  10. When cooled, spread the apricot jam mixed with orange marmalade on top.
Enjoy!