Category Archives: Baking

Memories.

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I often tell my family that I don’t feel my age. Not that I’m that old yet, but sometimes I just don’t feel like I’m almost 22. Other times however, the times when I think about my childhood in Indonesia,  it seems like I must be almost 100 years old and it’s been forever ago since we’ve lived there because I can barely remember the amazing time we had.

My time in Indonesia was definitely one of the best times in my life so far and the few memories that I still have of that time are of some of the most important days in my life that I spend with my family and my two best friends, one was from England, the other from Australia. I spent day after day with my friends and have learned so much from them. Examples: My English friend taught me to drink milk or chocolate milk with my dinner (something that I did too excessive I think because today I rarely ever drink pure milk just like that!). From my Australian friend I learned about some of the most wonderful and most delicious cakes ever. We used to spend hours in the kitchen, licking cookie batter and decorating butter cookies and on special occasions we made these…

… Lamingtons are sponge cakes coated in chocolate icing and desiccated coconut. If you ask me they are one of the most delicious cakes on earth! And I’m sure you will agree!

Lamingtons

makes 16-20 cakes

For the sponge cake you will need:

  • 75g self-raising flour
  • 75g plain flour
  • 70g corn flour
  • 6 eggs
  • 215 g caster sugar

For the icing you will need (recipe from Family Circle: Little Aussie Cookbook):

  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 30g butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 3 cups desiccated coconut
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C and brush a square cake tin with butter or oil.
  2. Sift flours and corn flour together into a large bowl. Add eggs and  sugar and mix everything until the ingredients are well incorporated.
  3. Pour mixture into the cake tin and bake for about 35 minutes.
  4. For great results, trim crusts from sides of the cake. Cut the cake into 16-20 even squares.
  5. For the icing, sift together icing sugar and cocoa. Combine with butter and milk in heatproof bowl.
  6. Stand the bowl over a pot with simmering water, stirring the icing until it is smooth.
  7. Using two for forks or skewers, roll a piece of cake in chocolate icing, allow excess icing to drop off and then roll in coconut. Repeat with the rest of the cakes.

 

Hope you like these as much as I do. For extra good results, prepare the cake the day before coating it with icing. Trust me, it works wonders!

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Chocolate Rum Balls

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Yesterday I made the 11th (and I’m sad to say) final cookie flavor for this year’s cookie collection. We have always made rum balls in the past but they’re not really a family favorite as most people in my family don’t like rum. But being the good sister that I am, I made these especially for my older brother Alex, who I know doesn’t mind the taste of rum that much…..so he better appreciate my effort! I also included lots of nuts (healthy fat) to make up for the unhealthy fat from the chocolate and cream.

Rum Balls

makes about 50 rum balls

You will need:

  • 1/8 l cream
  • 300g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 200g grated nuts (walnuts or hazelnuts)
  • 4 cl rum
  • desiccated coconut
  • chocolate sprinkles
  1. In a pan, heat up the cream and wait for it to boil. Then turn down the heat.
  2. Add the chocolate and stir until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Then add the nuts and rum. Mix well.
  4. Let the mixture cool for a couple of minutes. It should then have the perfect consistency to form small balls.
  5. After forming the balls roll them in chocolate sprinkles or desiccated coconut.
  6. Store in an airtight container.

 

Chunky Dark Chocolate Honey Granola

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I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to create my own granola when it’s one of the easiest things to make! I bought a bag of granola at Le Pain Quotidien in October which was really good, but the bag is now empty which meant that I had to get creative and make my own granola. I threw in all the nuts and seeds I could find and as an extra touch at the end, added dark chocolate chunks…yummy!

Perfect with milk, yoghurt, on top of your oatmeal….

or simply as a snack…

Chunky Dark Chocolate Honey Granola

makes a lot!

You will need:

  • 300g oats
  • 100g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup coconut flakes
  • 1/3 flax seeds
  • 1/4 sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup nuts (cashews, almonds, walnuts)
  • 3 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 water
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a pot, heat up the water, honey, sugar and vanilla extract. Stir and wait for the sugar to fully dissolve.
  3. In the meantime mix together all of the dry ingredients (except for the chocolate, coconut flakes and flax seeds) in a large bowl.
  4. Stir the sugar-honey mixture in with the dry ingredients and mix well.
  5. Transfer the mixture onto the baking sheet and bake for 40-50min. Check on the granola occasionally while baking and stir to ensure even browning and crispiness.
  6. After the granola is done (or golden) let it cool completely.
  7. Transfer to an air-tight container and add in the chocolate, coconut flakes and flax seeds.

 

Austrian Vanilla-Almond Crescents

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In Austria, baking a variety of Christmas cookies is a tradition that is passed on from generation to generation. Each year I cannot wait for my mum to start baking our favorite Christmas cookies because it officially marks the beginning of the holiday season. We usually bake somewhere between 7-10 different kinds of cookies (a little on the extreme side!), some with chocolate, some with jam and our family favorite Vanilla-Almond Crescents (“Vanillekipferl”). Additionally to the flavors my mum bakes, my grandparents also bring their cookies when they come for Christmas so you can imagine that there is lots to choose from. As good as the other cookies are, these Vanilla-Almond Crescents will always be my favorite and I highly recommend you trying the recipe very soon. I promise you won’t regret it!

 

Austrian Vanilla-Almond Crescents

You will need:

For the cookies:

  • 250g all-purpose flour
  • 210g unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 100 g ground almonds
  • 70g confectioner’s sugar

For the sugar dust:

  • 50g confectioner’s sugar
  • 50g vanilla sugar
  1. Start by sifting together the flour, ground almonds and confectioner’s sugar. Mix well. Then add the chunks of butter and by using your hands form a dough (shortcrust).
  2. Once the dough is all clumped together form a big dough ball and wrap it into cling film. Let it chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  3. Once you are ready to bake the cookies preheat the oven to 180°C. Line baking trays with parchment paper.
  4. Unwrap the cling film and start forming the dough into small crescents. Try to shape them into even sized crescents so the baking time stays the same. Place the crescent onto the parchment paper.
  5. Bake the cookies for about 8 minutes. They should not be brown but rather still be fairly light.
  6. Whilst the crescents are baking prepare the sugar dust by sifting together the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla sugar into a bowl.
  7. When the cookies are done baking and whilst still warm carefully roll them into the sugar mixture. (Be careful as the warm cookies tend to break easily!)
  8. Once cooled store them in an airtight container or eat them immediately!

 

Ideally you will want your cookies to look like this…

…but my stomach and I don’t discriminate so we eat them whatever their shape or size!

I hope you enjoy these cookies as much as I do!

I hope you like Cheese…

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…because if there is one ingredient that sums up these heavenly Ricotta Muffins that I made today it would be Cheese. Although they are called Ricotta Muffins, they taste more like the Gruyère I added. To be honest, this is one of the best recipes I have tried out in a very long time so if you share my abnormal love for cheese and like muffins (who doesn’t?) then this is a recipe for you. I’m still licking my fingers, that’s how good they were!

Even though I’d like to take credit for this recipe and say I invented these muffins, this goodie was created by the same man who coincidentally founded Le Pain Quotidien (my favorite Bakery, if you didn’t already know), Alain Coumont. I found it in the Cookbook “Alain Coumont’s communal table – memories and recipes” which they sell at the Bakeries.

 

The recipe in the book makes 12 muffins, but I decided to reduce the amount of ingredients so I’d get 3-4 muffins, because I’m not quite sure if I could eat 12 muffins (well, yes I could) and I can’t freeze them because my freezer drawer is full of other goodies I have yet to share with you. So settling for 4 muffins seemed a reasonable amount. But being the kind soul that I am, and to make your life easier, I will give you the ingredients for 12 muffins.

Ricotta Muffins

  • 220g ricotta
  • 110g full fat sour cream or fromage blanc
  • 110g whole milk
  • 110g sunflower oil
  • 330g flour
  • 6g baking powder
  • 175g grated Gruyère, Emmenthal or Comté cheese
  • 25g finely chopped chives
  • 4 eggs
  • 12g salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • oil for the muffins tins
  1. Heat the oven to 180°C
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the ricotta, sour cream, milk, oil, eggs, salt and pepper using a spatula. Ensure that a smooth and creamy mixture is produces.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and the baking powder. Gently blend the ricotta into the mixture with a wooden spatula.
  4. Add the grated cheese and the chives. Mix well and fill the pre-greased muffin tins with the mixture.
  5. Bake at 180°C for 12-14 minutes.
  6. When the muffins have been removed from the oven leave them to rest for 5 minutes before turning them out onto a cake rack.

The recipe states that the ricotta muffins should be eaten with Blueberry coulis (blueberries, agave syrup and lemon juice), but I had mine with a colorful mixed salad. The texture of the muffin was quite similar to freshly baked bread; the crust was slightly crispy and the inside was warm and still a bit doughy (because of the cheese).

 

What I loved most about these muffins, apart from their amazing cheesy taste is the fact that they gave me a change to finally bake again. Even though I love to cook and create and try out new savory recipes, baking is still something I could literally do everyday but don’t do often enough, especially being away at Uni. I like to say that my “area of my expertise” is making cupcakes (I’m not sure whether the Magnolia Bakery, Sprinkles Cupcakes or the Hummingbird Bakery would agree with me, but I know my little brother does!) and there is a certain thrill to knowing that no matter how the cupcakes will turn out, you still get to treat yourself to some butter cream frosting!

 

I hope you like this recipe, let me know what you think. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Some of my favorite Cookbooks

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A small collection of cookbooks I love...

I’m really excited to share with you some of my favorite cookbooks. They are actually some of my favorite books in general. I love browsing through cookbooks and instantly get inspired by the great pictures. The wonderful thing about cooking is that you can adjust each recipe to your individual taste. If for example you don’t have or don’t like a specific ingredient just exchange it with something else or leave it out all together and you have created your own recipe. Cooking is that simple.

As you can see from the picture I not only love cooking but also baking. Even though I love healthy food, I do treat myself to some wonderful desserts from time to time! Baking is not necessarily more complicated than cooking, you just have to stick to the recipe more closely, especially if you haven’t done it before. But other than that both cooking and baking are a lot of fun.

The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook by Allysa Torey and Jennifer Appel

This is a must-have for everyone who loves cupcakes and has no dietary restrictions. Ever since The Magnolia Bakery was featured in Sex and the City, people have been queuing up endlessly in front of the bakery to get some of the delicious treats. The cookbook features loads of recipes from cupcakes to cakes and pies.

BabyCakes by Erin McKenna

BabyCakes NYC opened  in 2005 and has become famous for its healthy and delicious cupcakes. This cookbook is perfect for everyone who has dietary restrictions as the recipes are vegan, mostly gluten-free and mostly sugar-free….on top of that everything is beyond delicious!

Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook by Dede Lahman and Neil Kleinberg

I first heard about the Clinton St. Baking Company on a segment on MarthaStewart.com. Neil Kleinberg, the owner was baking some of his world famous biscuits. They were so intriguing that I had to order the cookbook and I immediately fell in love with the beautiful pictures. The next time I’m in New York, this is where I’ll have brunch!

The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone

Most people know Alicia Silverstone from the television series Clueless. Today she is an animal activist and promotes a plant-based diet. This book is filled with nutritional information, easy and flavorful recipes and amazing pictures. If you’re thinking of making the transition into veganism this is the book to purchase. It’s great for people who are just experimenting with veganism as well as hard-core vegans.

Notes from my Kitchen Table by Gwyneth Paltrow

I was a little hesitant when I ordered this cookbook but after reading some reviews and looking at some videos on YouTube I was convinced I’d like it….and I was right! In the US this book is called My Father’s Daughter, however from what I’ve heard it includes the same recipes. It’s not a health-food cookbook, which was what I initially expected after learning that Gwyneth Paltrow was following the Macrobiotic Diet for quite some time. However, it still includes vegan and vegetarian recipes as well some great side dishes.

Skinny Bitch – Ultimate Everyday Cookbook by Kim Barnouin

After reading The Skinny Bitch I bought this book because I was intrigued by the way Kim Barnouin illustrates the simplicity and benefits of following a plant-based diet. Similarly to The Kind Diet this book is full of vegan recipes which are also suitable for and will be loved by non-vegans. In addition to this it includes essential information on nutrition.

Living Raw Food by Sarma Melngailis

I bought this book some time ago after hearing about Pure Food and Wine, a raw food restaurant in NYC. The illustrations in the book are amazing. The book includes a bunch of info on alternative ingredients to the highly processed food we are used to. (I will be doing a separate post on healthier alternatives and ingredients some time soon!). A whole chapter is dedicated to Milks, Shakes and Juices which Sarma knows a lot as she also owns a juice bar called One Lucky Duck. If you are into raw and vegan food I highly recommend you check out the link above or visit the restaurant/ juice bar the next time you go to NYC.