A humble crumble

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Sometimes you are in need of a dessert, one that can be made without planning, something to soothe the sweet tooth. I think that the best solution then is a crumble. If you have any kind of fruit at home: apples, pears, plums, berries, anything, you can make a crumble. And it does take literally 30 minutes to prepare and bake it (of which 20 is spend in the oven). It doesn’t get any simpler, but still it’s incredibly satisfying.
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Grape and Pear Crumble
adapted from Christophe Felder

For the crumble:
  • 75 g flour,
  • 30 g light brown sugar,
  • 25 g granulated sugar,
  • 75 g diced butter,
  • 75 g ground almonds,
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon,
  • 2 pinches of salt.
For the filling:
  • 4 ripe pears,
  • 1 lemon, juiced,
  • 30 g sugar,
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon,
  • 1/4 tsp. coriander,
  • 20- 30 red grapes (or as much as you have).
  1. Warm up the oven to 180 C.
  2. Put all ingredients for the crumble in a big bowl and rub them together with you fingers until they come together into a dough.
  3. Peel the pears and sprinkle some lemon juice over them. Cut them in half, core and cut each half into 3-4 long stripes.
  4. In a bowl combine sugar with cinnamon and coriander.
  5. Toss the pear slices in the sugar with spices.
  6. Divide the pears and grapes between 4 ramekins.
  7. Crumble the dough over the fruits.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is golden.
Eat warm. Enjoy!

Buchty with Apricot Jam

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Sometimes you need a bit of comfort. When it comes to food I think there is nothing more comforting than sweet, buttery buns filled with some jam or fresh fruit. I remember when I was a kid my mom used to make us buchty with apricot jam. It used to be one of the only 2 ways we would eat the apricot jam (second one with crepes of course). And we used to have a lot of that apricot jam around. We had 2 huge apricot trees in the garden and it was always a horrible chore to pick them up in the summer. There was so many of them that we would always end up with half a pantry filled with the apricot jam. And it was the least favourite jam for everyone.. It’s funny how much I miss it now.
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Buchty with Apricot Jam
adapted from my mom 
  • 3 egg yolks,
  • 40 g sugar,
  • 50 g butter,
  • 150 ml milk,
  • 20 g fresh yeast (7g if using dried yeast),
  • 280 g flour,
  • 1/2 tsp. salt,
  • zest from 1 lemon,
  • 1/2 jar apricot jam,
  • egg white,
  • powdered sugar.
  1. Beat the egg yolks with sugar until they are pale and the sugar dissolves completely.
  2. Melt the butter and let it cool a bit.
  3. Warm up the milk (to 30-35C) and mix with the fresh yeast.
  4. Add milk and butter to the egg yolk and give it a whisk.
  5. Sift the flour and salt into the bowl with milk and egg mixture. Knead the dough until it’s uniform and elastic.
  6. Let the dough rise until it doubles in size (1 to 2 hours).
  7. Divide the dough into 8 parts. Make a bowl from each piece and flatten it. Put a spoon of the apricot jam in the middle and close the dough around it.
  8. Put the filled balls in a round form, giving them 2-3 cm of space in between. Let them rise for another hour.
  9. Warm up the oven to 180 C.
  10. Before putting them in the oven cover the top lightly with the egg white.
  11. Bake for 20-30 minutes in the middle of the oven.
  12. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

Taste best served slightly warm. Enjoy!

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Pate Brissee Fondante with Berries and Pistachios

As my patisserie challenge continues I discover more and more types of short pastry. It’s funny how a small twist can change the final result. I made a pastry that the French call Pate Brissee Fondante, a soft sort pastry, and, oh my, it’s wonderful! It’s a bit salty (which I absolutely love) and very crumbly. It’s perfect for filled tarts, you just have to make sure to give it a bit more time to set nicely and become crispy at the bottom. Combine that with berries and pistachios in the filling and you will get a wonderful tart (and before you will fully appreciate the taste it will be gone…).

Berries and pistachio tart
by Christophe Felder
Soft short pastry:
  • 185 g of butter,
  • 25 ml warm milk (around 35-40 C),
  • 1 egg yolk,
  • 1 tsp salt,
  • 1 tsp sugar,
  • 250 g flour.
  1. Beat the butter in a mixer until it softens (paddle attachment works best).
  2. Add warm milk and egg yolk. (Note: Milk has to be warm, otherwise it won’t combine with butter)
  3. Add salt and sugar. Beat until smooth.
  4. Add the flour and beat until you get a smooth dough.
  5. Wrap in foil an chill for 2 hours.
Tart filling:
  • 3 eggs,
  • 25 g ground almonds,
  • 100 g sugar,
  • 150 ml heavy cream,
  • 30 g unsalted pistachios,
  • 25 g melted butter,
  • 1/2 tbsp sherry or other fruity liquor,
  • 1/2 tbsp flour,
  • 200 g berries (Note: I used a mix of blueberries and raspberries),
  • powdered sugar to sprinkle on top.
  1. Whisk all the ingredients (except for the berries and powdered sugar) together until fully incorporated (and sugar is dissolved).
Assemble the tart:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. On a floured surface roll out the chilled short pastry dough to about 3 mm thick.
  3. Transfer to the 24 cm tart pan and trim the excess dough.
  4. Prick the bottom of the tart with a small knife.
  5. Spread the berries and pour in the filling.
  6. Bake in the bottom 1/3 of the oven for 40 minutes or until fully set and lightly browned.
  7. Cool completely and sift with the confectionery sugar.



Tarte a l’Orange or an Orange Cream Tart

For a while now I was trying to move on with my patisserie challenge, after all there are some deadlines (like getting into the Christmas recipes part of the book right on time..). It was hard. I spend almost 2 weeks trying to buy a simple kitchen torch. All of the sudden all three kitchen gear stores in my town where out of stock (isn’t that a bit suspicious?).
Anyhow, here we are, at lesson two. It’s again a short pastry, but one that is very different from the plum tart. Most importantly it needs very few liquid, just one egg yolk to be precise. That way you get a more crumbly and buttery pastry, it is actually almost like a pastry for shortbread. It works perfectly when pre-baked and filled with a cream, jam, fruits, whatever you fancy. I filled it with an orange cream. It is a very simple cream actually and you can use lemon, lime or maybe even grapefruit instead of oranges. It’s easy to make, you just need to allow it to cool completely.

Orange cream tart
by Christophe Felder
For the pastry:
  • 250g flour
  • 140 g butter
  • 100g sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  1. Combine flour with sugar.
  2. Dice the butter and add to the flour and sugar mixture.
  3. Rub the butter with the flour until you get uniform crumbs.
  4. Add the yolk and knead quickly into a ball.
  5. Form a flat disk and wrap in foil. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours.
  6. Take out of the fridge and let slightly warm up for 10-15 minutes.
  7. Roll into a disk 3-4 mm thick. Roll around the rolling pin and transfer into a buttered 24-cm tart pan with a removable bottom.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes in the middle of the oven (180 degrees).
  9. Let cool and remove from the tart pan.
For the orange cream:
  • 230 ml freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Zest from 2 oranges
  • 75 g sugar
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 25 g cornstarch
  • 185 g sugar + 50 g for the finishing
  1. Bring the orange juice an zest to boil over a medium heat
  2. In the same time beat the sugar with the whole eggs, egg yolks and the cornstarch until well combined and sugar is completely dissolved.
  3. Remove the juice from the heat, let cool slightly.
  4. Gradually whisk in the egg mixture to the juice.
  5. Return to the heat and whisk constantly until it thickens. Let boil for a couple of seconds.
  6. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. You should get a silky smooth and shiny cream.
  7. Scrape into a shallow bowl and cover the surface with the foil (Note: it is important to cover the surface of the cream directly, otherwise a skin will for on the top and you will need to discard it later).
Assemble the tart:
  1. Spread the orange cream in the tart shell and smooth with a spatula.
  2. Put in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle evenly with 50 g of sugar.
  4. Brown the sugar with a kitchen torch.

Italian Semolina Cake

When it comes to food I’m a compulsory buyer. Whenever I see some ingredient that could possibly be changed into a delicious cake/dinner/breakfast I buy it. The result is that my pantry is full of different types of, for example, flour that are not so easy to use in a regular bread recipe. But there is an upside to this: I absolutely hate throwing out food and always try to use every edible bit of fruit and veggie, so I look for new recipes and experiment (is there anything better in the kitchen?). Whenever I feel like making a cake (which to be honest happens a couple of times per week, the only factor keeping the amount of the cake coming out of our oven more or less restricted is our capacity to eat it..), I first need to search for a new and yet unknown dessert using one of the ‘not-so-necessary-to-have’ pantry products. 

This weekend I decided it’s about time to use the bag of semolina I got a while ago. I was planning originally to make a lemon polenta cake with it, but semolina and polenta have a bit different texture, so I decided to go for a cake where a very fine grain of semolina can fully shine. I found an incredible blog by Emiko Davies, where she tries to modernise old Italian recipes (awesome, right?). This semolina cake is very easy to make. The final texture is very smooth and delicate. I found it even a bit too delicate. But that is easily fixed by serving the cake with some nice preserves. I think cherries or black currants work magic with this cake and make it an absolutely wonderful dessert. 


Italian Semolina Cake
adapted from Emiko Davies
  •  1 litre whole milk
  • 130 g fine grain semolina
  • 100 g blanched almonds
  • 120 g sugar
  • zest of 2 lemons (1 in original recipe, but i like the more lemony taste)
  • 20 g of butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
Before you start prepare the almond flour. You can either do it in the food processor and blend the almonds until you get the meal and then mix it with sugar. The other (harder and better) option is to do it in mortar and pestle as recommended by Emiko. The result will be more even and the extra oil from the almonds will further improve the texture. It takes some time to prepare but definitely worth the effort.
  1. Heat up you oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Line a 26 cm baking shape with baking paper.
  3. Mix milk with semolina and bring to boil over a small heat. Keep whisking it constantly to avoid lumps and burning.
  4. Cook it for around 8 minutes, until it thickens. It should have a very smooth, velvety texture.
  5. Just before taking of the fire, add the almond meal (mixed with sugar), butter, lemon zest and a pinch of salt and whisk until combine.
  6. Take it off the fire and let cool for around 15 minutes.
  7. Stir in the lightly beaten eggs.
  8. Pour into the buttered and floured form.
  9. Bake for 1 hour or until it’s evenly browned at the top.
  10. Cool it completely and dust with the icing sugar.
Tastes best drizzled with a lightly warmed up cherry preserve.




How you treat your friends

In live we come across many people. I thinks there is as many different ways to connect with people as there are people to begin with and the only thing you can do is to be yourself and be honest. Then it doesn’t matter if you see each other every day, week, month or even every couple of years. I know there are people in my life that will always be there for me and I will always be there for them. Those are the relations worth investing time and effort in. I’m not good with words, I’m good at cooking. That’s why whenever I want to tell someone that I care about them I cook for them. I believe that a piece of a delicious cake can bring a smile to every face and make your day better. So when a dear friend has a birthday you have to make a proper birthday cake (even if you are late).
This recipe is inspired by many tries I made with a sponge cake and creams. I think I found a balance of sweetness and chocolate that is perfect (though I’m always more on the less-sweet part of the sweetness scale). I don’t mind buttercream frosting on cakes, but I know many people find it too heavy. When I want my creams to be slightly lighter I use a mixture of whipping cream and melted chocolate (not exactly light, I know). The process of making this cream might seem a bit odd and complicated, but I think it’s worth the extra effort. You need to beat the cream with melted chocolate over a bowl of ice water. This will ensure that the chocolate starts to set quicker and the resulting cream will be easier to work with. It will also have a velvety consistency of a melted chocolate. Just give it a try!

Double Chocolate and Raspberry Birthday Cake
For the sponge cake: 
  • 120 g flour,
  • 30 g cornstarch,
  • 150 g sugar,
  • 5 eggs, separated,
  • 5 g baking powder.
Dark chocolate cream:
  • 140 g good quality dark chocolate (at least 70%),
  • 500 ml whipping cream,
  • 1 tsp crushed coriander seeds (this is not necessarym but coriander adds really nice freshness to the dark chocolate).
White chocolate & raspberry cream:
  • 70 g good quality white chocolate,
  • 250 ml whipping cream,
  • 200 g raspberries.
Start by making the sponge cake:


  1. Sift the flower with the cornstarch and baking powder (make sure to use fine sieve).
  2. Set the oven to 180 degrees. Line a 20 cm baking shaper with a baking paper or butter and flour the shape.In a bowl of a stand mixer beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks.
  3. At the same time start beating the egg yolks with 50 g of sugar.
  4. When the egg whites are holding their shape, add the remaining sugar (100 g) and beat them further, until they are stiff and shiny.
  5. Beat the egg yolk until they are pale and all sugar is dissolved (Note: It’s important to beat the egg yolk until they are almost white).
  6. Start adding the egg whites to the egg yolks in batches. Mix them very carefully, preferably with a big metal spoon (that will allow you to incorporate more air into the mixture).
  7. Add the dry ingredients in batches and mix delicately.


Make the dark chocolate cream:

  1. Bring 250 ml of cream to boil.
  2. Add crushed coriander seeds and set aside to infuse for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Warm up the cream again and pour it through a sieve to a finely chopped dark chocolate. Do it in 2-3 batches to make sure all the chocolate is melted.
  4. Set aside for 30 min to cool down.
  5. Put the bowl with melted chocolate over a bigger bowl filled with ice water.
  6. Slowly add the remaining 250 ml of cream (it should be cold).
  7. Beat the cream until it hold peaks. It might take a while, so don’t get discourage after a couple of minutes. The chocolate need to cool. Just keep beating. It’s a good exercise for your arm (who needs a gym 😉 ).
Make the white chocolate cream:
Follow the steps as for the dark chocolate cream, just remember that it’s half the quantity of the dark chocolate cream and I skip the coriander.
Assemble the cake:
  1. Cut the sponge in 3 pieces with a bread knife.
  2. You might want to use some alcohol to slightly moist the sponge, I usually mix 10ml of sum with 40 ml of hot water and use it on all layers. You can also skip it.
  3. Put 1/3 of the chocolate cream and cover with another piece of sponge.
  4. Spread 1/3 of the white chocolate cream. Then put the raspberries and spread the remaining cream over them.
  5. Cover with the top piece of the sponge.
  6. Cover the whole cake with the remaining dark chocolate cream.
  7. You can decorate the cake with some more raspberries, almond flakes, hazelnut, whatever you like and have at hand.
It’s best if you make this cake one day before and allow it to stay overnight in the fridge.


Short pastry and plums


No matter what you want to master you always have to start with the basics. I think every person that is not afraid of using their oven attempted to make a short pastry tart. They are quite easy to make and there is no better way to make a delicious, seasonal fruit shine.  One problem that I sometimes get is the soggy bottom of the tart. If you use juicy fruit it will be a problem if you don’t want to pre-bake the tart shell (and sometimes if you do it still might be a bit soggy). Mister Felder gives in his book two wonderful tips how to deal with that. First put some breadcrumbs at the bottom of the shell, they will take the moisture of the fruit and make the bottom more crunchy. A second tip is even better. As you might know fruit when combined with sugar leak out way more juice. A simple solution is to not put sugar, however if you want to add a bit more sweetness to the fruit that is a bit acidic do it just after you take the tart out of the oven. Hot plums (or any other fruit you use) will dissolve and absorb the sugar creating a perfect layer of soft and juicy fruit on top of a crunchy, buttery tart. Yum!


Plum tart
by Christophe Felder “Patisserie. Mastering the fundamentals of french pastry”

Short pastry:
– 125 g butter
– 250 g all-purpose flour
– 1 tsp. salt
– 40 g of sugar
– 125 ml coldwater (I actually use water mixed with 4-5 cubes of ice to make sure it’s as cold as possible)

Fruit filling:
– 50 g fine breadcrumbs
– 500 g plums (or any other seasonal fruit you have at hand)
– 25 g sugar
– 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

For the pastry:

  1. Combine butter, flour, salt and sugar in a mixer bowl and  mix with a paddle attachment until it forms fine crumbs
  2. Beat in the water and mix shortly just until combined.
  3. Form into a flat disk, wrap in plastic and chill in the fridge for 2 hours (or best overnight)
  4. Preheat the oven to 200 C and put the rack in the bottom third of the oven.
  5. Roll out the dough to the tart shape (24 cm with removable bottom would be best) and cut to the size.
  6. Prick the bottom with the fork

For the filling:

  1. Spread the breadcrumbs evenly at the bottom of the shell.
  2. Pit the plums and make a small incision on one end of each plum half (they will look nicer and are easier to arrange).
  3. Arrange the plums in the tart shell.
  4. Bake the part for 35-40 minutes (until the crust is golden an fruit tender)
  5. Sprinkle the mixed sugar and cinnamon on top of the tart.

Tastes best when still warm. Enjoy!