A Special Treat: Apple Spice Bread

Apple Spice Bread

When the weather turns colder I love to eat fruit cake. Admittedly I have never had the traditional English style fruit cake, but I love the German and Swiss fruit cakes of my childhood. Usually these fruit cakes take a while to make and some ingredients are a bit hard to find.

Recently I found a recipe for Apple Bread that I had never tried out. I had all the ingredients on hand and started right away. It was easy to make and tastes delicious. I enjoy a slice with a bit of butter spread on. Unfortunately it is not a quick recipe, because the apples have to soak in the sugar for a few hours.

The recipe is vegan and I think it could be a good candidate for using a gluten-free flour as well.

Here it is:

Apple Spice Bread

750g apples

200g sugar

250g raisins

150g  whole hazelnuts, cashews or almonds

1 Tbsp cocoa powder

2 Tbsp rum (optional)

1 Tbsp cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp. anise seeds

1/8 tsp. ground cloves

a dash of salt

500g all purpose flour

4 tsp baking powder

Peel, core and grate the apples. Combine with the sugar and let stand for about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 200 C ( 400 F). Grease a rectangular loaf pan.

Add the raisins, nuts and spices to the apples. In a separate bowl mix the flour and baking powder. Add the flour to the apple mixture and stir until well combined. You can do this by hand.

Bake for about 60 minutes.

Enjoy!

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Rhubarb Compote

Rhubarb

When I was in second grade I lived with my grandparents for a year. It was a wonderful time and there are many memories I cherish. One day I went on a school trip and my Grandma wrapped my sandwich in a rhubarb leaf claiming it would keep it cold. I remember I was intrigued and embarrassed at the same time.

I never found out if that was something that people did in the good old days or if she just ran out of a container and had a rhubarb leaf lying around. You could say she was way ahead of her time with her eco-friendly packaging. Anyway, whenever I see those big leaves it makes me smile.

As it happens there are many of these big leaves in my garden right now and I decided to make a rhubarb compote. This is a good old-fashioned dessert, that charms with flavour more than looks.

I found this recipe called Norwegian Rhubarb Pudding and it turned out great. For me the sweetness is just right. The compote still has a tart flavour, but it is sweet enough to enjoy it.

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cup water

3/4 cup sugar + 2 Tbsp Vanilla Sugar

1 1/2 pounds fresh rhubarb, peeled and sliced

1/4 cup cold water

3 Tbsp corn starch

Bring the water and the sugars to a boil, add the rhubarb and cook it for about 10 minutes until the rhubarb falls apart. Dissolve the starch in the water, add it to the rhubarb. Bring it to a boil, stirring constantly and let it cook for another minute. Pour it into a serving bowl and let it cool. Serve with whipping cream or milk drizzled over it.

If you think the compote is pretty boring as is, then check out this website where you can find many ideas how to add it to your favourite desserts.

I Am in Love

Bouchon Bakery

I recently found this book at the library and only a few hours later I decided that I had to have it. This baking book is very different from others. First of all it is very heavy and in that aspect more a coffee table book. It is not a book you can take to read comfortably in your bed. Thankfully my son made me a very sturdy book stand for the kitchen so I am all good.

The recipes are very unusual for a home chef. They call for glucose, vanilla paste and pate a glacer. The recipes have metric measurements which are silly accurate as in 342g flour. I have never seen that. The techniques used to make all the treats are very professional and that is exactly why I bought it. If you have ever wondered how the pros make beautiful eclairs, tarts and macarons this book will tell you.

Last week I made Madeleines. They were my stepfather’s favourites and I always think of him when I see them. I bought a Madeleine baking pan years ago, but the recipe I tried then did not turn out that tasty and I had put it aside. These Madeleines were great.  The recipe calls for three types of sugar: white, brown and honey. It tells you to let the dough rest in the fridge overnight and put the buttered baking pan in the freezer for a moment, so that the Madeleines come out of their molds more easily.

My little cakes came out perfectly and looked and tasted great. Unfortunately I did not take any photos.

Anyway, if you want to improve your baking, learn from the professionals and eat wonderful food I highly recommend this book!

Bavarian Cake


When my husband was little his Grandma made him a cake for his birthday. He declared it his favourite and from then on she would make it for him on every birthday and any special occasion. The tradition went even so far that the cake was renamed after him and I think his sister was jealous, because she did not get that special honour.

I have learned to be careful when I promise to make a “special” recipe for my husband, because I don’t always get it right. Who knew for example that his Mom makes a carrot cake with chocolate icing?

Luckily the Bavarian Cake comes very close to what his Grandma used to bake for him and our children like it too.


Here is the recipe:

Bavarian Cake

200g butter
200g brown sugar
6 eggs
200g ground hazelnuts
200g ground semi-sweet chocolate*
125g flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
200g semi-sweet chocolate
25g coconut oil

* Chopped nuts and chocolate chips work as well, but that naturally changes the texture of the cake.

Preheat oven at 350 F/ 180 C degrees.

Butter and flour cake pan.

Beat sugar and butter until creamy, add eggs one at a time, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add chocolate, nuts, flour, cinnamon and baking powder. Beat until well combined.

Pour batter into cake pan and bake for 1 h 10 to 15 minutes.

Let cool, remove from pan.

Melt chocolate and coconut oil in double boiler. Frost the cake with the warm chocolate.

You can find an easy to print pdf document here.

Chocolate Cupcakes

One could say I don’t “get” cupcakes. It seems to me cupcakes are all about the looks. Do you really enjoy eating a mountain of artificially dyed, overly sweet icing on top of an insubstantial small and again too sweet cake? Before you call the cupcake police I have to say in my defense that probably my German upbringing is to blame for my attitude: I’d rather eat something that looks plain, but tastes great.

Then again cupcakes have their advantage. They are quick to make and a great treat for kids. You can even pop one in a small containers and take it to school. That is why I have not given up on them and am very pleased that I came up with a recipe that received everyone’s approval.

As a side note and since I am already so opinionated today I can just go ahead and tell you about my hunt for vanilla. I don’t care for vanilla essence. The alcohol flavour is just too strong and does not work well for many recipes. For years I have used Dr. Oetker vanilla sugar, but that is an artificial flavour, which I am trying to avoid as well. So now I have gone back to the old-fashioned way and added a sliced open vanilla bean to a jar of sugar. It has a wonderful vanilla flavour. I use it to the rate of 2 Tbsp of Vanilla sugar for every 1 tsp vanilla essence and reduce the amount of regular sugar accordingly.

Chocolate Cupcakes

( makes about 30)

3/4 cup butter
3 eggs
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 Tbsp instant coffee
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sugar ( minus 4 Tbsp if using vanilla sugar)
2 tsp vanilla ( or 4 Tbsp vanilla sugar)
1 cup chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups milk

Preheat oven to 350 F/ 180 C

Combine flour, coffee, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
Add butter and sugar to another bowl, beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time then vanilla.
Add flour mixture and milk until just combined then add the chocolate chips.
Spoon batter into cups.
Bake for 18 to 22 minutes.

Icing
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cups cocoa powder
2 – 3 Tbsp milk

Mix sugar and cocoa, add small amounts of milk. Stir until spreading consistency.

You can find this recipe as an easy to print pdf document here.