Saturday, 12 April 2014

Rhubarb Magic Cake

One Batter, seperating into three layers: soft, melt-in-your-mouth cake on top, a thick custard in the middle and a thin cake layer on the bottom - this is what makes up the magic custard cake/pie.

Now it's already fabulous on it's own already but imagine pairing it up with some speckles of fresh rhubarb, cooked with a little brown sugar and cinnamon: magic cake perfection!

I've had my veeeery last day of school yesterday, eight years of grammar/high school have passed really fast and the past months have been an emotional roller-coaster between total euphoria and depressional moments - happiness about starting into a self-determined post-school life while yet leaving the structure that was well known for years. But hey, that's life and I'm all in for the great moments that are ahead once the missing exams and viva voce are done and once I (hopefully and finally) hold my leaving certificate in my hands.

But back to the cake, before I am boring you with my inner mindset about studying all the stuff of the past two years...
Magic days call for magic cakes and thus this one was created, based on the awesome version from the White on Rice Couple which can be found here.
I've used a little less sugar and obviously added in the rhubarb which gives the cake a nice fruit-y and spring-y accent. The thick custard layer is incredibely light which makes this recipe perfect for the warm days - bake it a day before serving, leave it in the fridge over night and you're ready to go the next morning/day (And btw will be the hit of the party when you tell them that this cake is made out of just one batter!)! No rhubarb? No problem, just switch it up with some berries, apples or pears according to your liking. I've also seen chocolate chips being added in in some places ;-). Now try it out on your own and be surprised by the magic that can happen in your own oven! Hope you all are having a nice start into the spring break/easter holidays - take it slow (bake some cake ;-)) and enjoy the days off with family and friends!

Rhubarb Magic Cake
adapted from this recipe by White on Rice Couple, yields one 8x8 inch cake
- ~400g Rhubarb
- 1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
- 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
- 115g/ 1/2 cup Butter
- 480ml/ 2 cups Milk
- 4 Eggs
- 1/2 tsp Vinegar
- 100g/ 1/2 cup minus 1 Tbsp Sugar
- 1 Tbsp Water
- 120g/1 cup All-purpose Flour

1. Wash, peel and cut the rhubarb into cubes. Mix it with the Brown Sugar and Cinnamon. Then either heat it in the microwave on high for 2 minutes or in a small saucepan on medium high heat for 5 minutes until soft yet not falling apart completely. Set in a fine sieve to drain off most of the liquid and set aside to cool down.
2. Preheat your oven to 325 °F/ 160°C. Grease or line an 8x8 inch pan with parchment paper. Melt the butter and set aside to cool.
3. Warm up the milk until warm to the touch.
4. Seperate your eggs and whip up the egg whites with the vinegar until stiff peaks form.
5. Beat together the sugar and egg yolks, then add in the butter and water and continue beating until well mixed for 1-2 minutes.
6. Quickly add in the flour and then carefully beat in the milk until well incorporated.
7. Carefully fold in the egg whites (I've done this in two batches, the original recipes calls for adding it in 1/3 at a time).
8. Slowly pour the batter into the prepared pan, then sprinkle the rhubarb on top and bake it for 50-60 minutes until the top is golden brown and a skewer inserted comes out with just some custard attached. Take it out and leave it to cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then put it in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to overnight. Enjoy!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Quiche with Smoked Salmon and Sundried Tomatoes

Ask one about the indicators for spring and he or she will probably give an answer like "twittering birds in the morning, first green and colourful spots in nature and dishes with fresh veggies and fruit". While I totally won't argue about those facts, as I am a great fan indeed, I've found yet another factor to show me that the warmer seasons has arrived: quiches!

Yes, those crisp crusts filled with an egg mixture and savoury or sweet produce which start to pop up at every corner in the digital as well as the real-life world in the moment: in cafeterias and food galleries. And I'm totally with that vibe: nothing comes close to the taste of a fresh homemade quiche enjoyed at a picnic or get-together on one of the first warmer evenings! (how can one not love the changing of the clocks - okay, minus the hour that was "stolen" and the all-dark-again mornings...).

Conclusion is: ithappens to be springtime - I've also munched on the first aspargus this week and to kickstart the endorphine production decided to bake up a quiche that already tastes like summer with yet a touch of spring: Smoked Salmon and Sundried tomatoes get accompanied by fresh basil leaves and a dash of parmesan.  The red splash of colour and sunny tastes pairs beautifully with the smoky nuances and the basil leaves can also be found in the crust to give it all a fresh, green-dotted appearance. Happy springtime!

Quiche with smoked salmon and sundried tomatoes
- makes enough for one 9 inch pan (I've used several smaller ones and froze the leftovers)
- 200 g flour (I've used whole wheat flour)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- ~4 tbsp water
- a dash of pepper
- a generous handful of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

- 2 eggs
- 200 ml milk
- 2 Tbsps creme fraiche
- dash of each pepper and ground nutmeg
- 200g smoked salmon
- 30g sundried tomatoes
- 50g parmesan, freshly grated
- a few fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

1. Preheat your oven to 175 °C.
2. Mix together the flour and salt, then add in the basil, olive oil and pepper and gradually mix in the water until a soft dough is formed.
3. Roll the dough out and press into a pan. Blindbake for 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile prepare your filling: finely chop the tomatoes and basil leaves and cut the salmon in small stripes. Beat together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add in the grated cheese but reserve about one Tbsp. Take the crust out of the oven, evenly distribute the salmon, the tomatoes and the basil on top, then pour the egg mixture all over. Bake for 30 minutes. Then sprinkle the reserved cheese on top and continue baking until top is golden and middle is set. You might need to temporarily cover the quiche with aluminium foil or a lid to prevent browning. Take it out, let cool for 10 minutes then remove from pan and allow for further cooling or serve straightaway. Best accompanied by a fresh green salad. Enjoy!

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Earl Grey Porridge

Foods have characters right? Some easily pair up with nearly anything others are quite special and their partners have to be picked carefully. Or think of chocolate - most people like it (at least once in their life) and then there are specialist foods like porridge and Earl Grey, totally delightful yet not everyones first choice.

With several recipes like here and here you might already know how much I love black tea and Earl Grey in particular is one of my all time favourites. The fragant sometimes fruity flavour is what gets me every single time. It's not as strong as the breakfast kind of tea (another fave of mine) which makes it perfectly adaptable to use in cakes or other desserts.

To speak about the porridge: a steaming hot bowl is what wakes me up during the cold mornings and a cold overnight version fuels me for long lovely summer days - serve it with some cut up fruit and maybe a little yogurt and I'm all in.

On one of those totally-not-motivated Monday mornings (we all know them, don't we?) a few months ago: I was sitting at the breakfast table, a cup of tea steaming on my right side and a hot bowl of porridge right in front of me, when my mind woke up in the matter of a second with a super easy idea: why not add the tea into the porridge for a little twist on flavour?

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Polenta Coffee Cake

Some days just require cake. And no, I'm not even talking about this one special day once a year in someone's life where you can smash your face with all (ALL) the cake you get your hands on and end up in bed with a total sugar shock in the end... No, I'm talking about those wonderful weekends when all the weather has got in mind is soaking the nature with rain and you can decide to make a cozy home-and-pjs-all-day day.

This is what was going on here and to make staying at home even more reasonable a sore throat came along - because being sick in the middle of the exam period, who cares?
So rainy weather and flu symptoms call for hot beverages, a lot of them. But because the rest of the family was feeling really well and active they requested cake. And not just any cake: an especially light yet sinful one with crumbs and perfect to serve with a huge latte was what my sister begged me for. So I thought (okay, not really, it literally took me about 2 seconds to come up with this cake idea), turned out the ingredients, mixed and an hour later we got to sit down with coffee and a Polenta Coffee Cake with some (not so) optional Cinnamon Streusel - total comfort when still a little warm and without most of the guilt.

I'm still a little sick right know, so my brain's all like blaaaaaaaaah which is why I'll stop at this point with stories about my daily life and just let you devour into the pictures and then -of course - let you have some cake! Have a nice (and hopefully not that rainy and sick) weekend everyone!

Polenta Coffee Cake
- makes one 9"inch cake
For the crumb:
- 3/4 cup and 1 Tbsp /100g flour (I used whole wheat)
- 1/4 cup and 1 Tbsp/66g butter
- 1/8 cup/ 30g brown sugar
- 1 and 1/2 tsp cinnamon

For the cake:
- 1 and 1/3 cups / 160g whole wheat or all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup/60g polenta
- 1/2 cup minus 1 Tbsp/ 100g sugar
- 1 Tbsp honey
- optional: beans from one vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp vinegar
- 1/3 cup / 75g unsweetened applesauce
- 1/3 cup/ 75 ml milk
- 1 cup/ 240 ml water

1. Preheat your oven to 175 °C/350 °F.
2. Make the crumb: Work together flour, cinnamon, butter and sugar until a dough forms. Tear apart or work it into a crumble with a fork, set aside.
3. Make the cake batter: In a medium sized bowl mix together the polenta, the flour, the sugar, the honey, the vanilla, baking powder and soda and the salt. Now add vinegar, applesauce, milk and water on top and stir together until just combined.
4. Grease or line your cake tin with parchment paper. Pour the batter inside, add the crumb on top and bake for 40-60 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
5. Take the cake out, let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove and let sit for further cooling. Cake freezes easily or even tastes better the next day. Enjoy!