A delicious trip around the world

Because I don’t have time to travel around the world, even though I am a student at a university and people always tell me that this is the time to travel, I made a culinary trip instead. During the last weeks I did culinary continent hopping.

Mandeltofu_Final_2First stop was Asia (China, to be precise…a land I am familiar with….), a perfect non-threatening beginning for the trip. In my experience, Chinese love everything made of jelly. And, surprisingly, I ate the best strawberries ever back in Beijing. The dessert of choice is vegan almond milk tofu (杏仁豆腐)   

For this you’ll need:
300ml almond milk
3 tbsp. sugar
almond extract
½ tsp. agar agar

Cook everything for about three minutes. Afterwards pour the mixture into mold of your choice and let it cool for a few hours. I served it with fresh strawberries…yummy.

Pavlova_finalAfter Asia, I continued the journey to Australia. The famous Pavlova was invented here (or in New Zealand, they still argue about the origin). Pavlova is a great summer dessert as it is light, fruity and not too sweet (even though there is a lot of sugar in it).

You can use this recipe:
(but I did not add sugar to the cream)

NYCheesecake_final_01From Australia I traveled eastbound, to the US. After having been
to New York, only one dessert came to mind: New York Cheesecake. The most delicious and most caloric dessert ever.
I somehow always struggle with cheesecake.  The fat is always oozing out…not too dainty. With this recipe however, the oozing was minimal and the cake super luscious (of course it was, it’s a Jamie Oliver recipe after all ;) )

Empanadas_FinalAfter having stored the last bit of the US delicacy in my deep
freezer, I traveled on to South America. Never been there, not
too interested until now, but the empanadas with banana and
dulce de leche might just change my mind.

For the Empanadas you’ll need:
114 g butter
85g cream cheese
125g flour
2 EL sugar
dulce de leche (ready bought or made by cooking sweet condense milk)
2 very ripe bananas
cinnamon and sugar

Prepare the crust some days in advance at it has to rest in the fridge for several days. For the crust just knead everything until it just comes together. After a few days of chilling in the fridge, roll out the crust, cut it and fill it with mashed bananas and dulce de leche. They have to be baked at 190°C for 15-20 mins. When they are golden brown, remove them from the oven and roll them in cinnamon and sugar.
They really are a heartwarming treat on grey days.

Mhanncha_final_1The last stop after returning to Europe is Morocco. I love, love, love Oriental spices, so the choice for the African continent was easy.
I made this cake as a barbeque dessert and everyone enjoyed it.
The Moroccan snake cake M’hanncha is spicy, extremely crunchy and delicately sweet. I served it with pistachio ice cream and fresh raspberries.
You can use this recipe but make sure to add spices like cardamom, cinnamon, fennel seeds, anise and nutmeg…and be easy on the rose water!: http://www.them-apples.co.uk/2012/03/mhanncha-or-the-moroccan-snake/

For good old Europe I decided on the French classic croquembouche … but this one you have already seen last time.
What baking project could I tackle next? I would love to hear some suggestions.

Flower Pots

ImageOver a week has passed and I still have to deliver on my promise to post what I have baked for Mother’s Day (as I was kindly reminded yesterday).

Since it is spring, almost summer actually, I made something fitting. This time of year I spend my spare time not only baking but also with my hands in soil (I must admit, baking and digging in dirt is not the most appetizing combination ;D). I am lucky enough to have a small garden and I really enjoy seeing the plants grow. Especially the ones I can harvest.

For my Mother’s Day baking session I combined both and made cute little flower pots filled with chocolate- and cheesecake. They look very realistic since I used clay pots and real flowers. Very ambitious people could make the pot and the flower from fondant…I think they are adorable enough the way I made them, though. :D

I served them with freshly made berry compote to add a little fruity tanginess.

For 3 pots of 9cm diameter you’ll need:

Chocolate Cake
30 g butter
80 g dark chocolate
200 g flour
100 g sugar
2 TL baking powder
1 vanilla sugar
4 tblsp. cocoa
200 ml milk
2 eggs

+ 50g dark chocolate (chopped)

Cheesecake Filling
250g cream cheese (or Quark)
30g sugar
1 egg
pinch of salt

First water the clay pots for 30 mins.
In the meantime melt 80g of chocolate and the butter. While the chocolate is melting, prepare the cheesecake filling by whisking all ingredients together.
Preheat the fan oven to 180°C.
Put the milk and the eggs into a large bowl. While whisking, gradually add the slightly cooled chocolate butter mixture. Then add the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, vanilla sugar and cocoa).
Lastly add the chopped chocolate.
Now take the clay pot from the water and put a muffin paper inside (otherwise the cake will leak). First, pour in the chocolate batter, then cheesecake filling and end with chocolate batter. Do not overfill the pots (2/3 is enough).
Bake everything for about 45 mins.
Once the cakes are cooled, even the surface by cutting off some cake. Use the leftovers for the soil by blitzing them into fine crumbs. Cover the cake-tops in jam and add the crumbs (the jam makes the crumbs stick to the cake).
Decorate with real, crafted or bought plastic flowers. To prevent the flowers from touching the cake, I first inserted a piece of straw.
The cake tasted really nice and fooled everyone. You should try eating it in public and tell me about the reactions ;)




A Trial of Patience

ImageThis week I got inspired by the many layers of clothing I am wearing because of the indecisive weather outside (5°C, rainy, feet are freezing, rooms are overheated). So, I made a layered cake, a German Baumkuchen (trans. Tree cake). Everyone was like “Oh god, that’s too hard to make!” But it really isn’t. Everyone just thinks it is, because it is so traditional and every pastry chef has to make one in his master exam. Typically it is made on a rotating spit behind which open fire is burning. The batter is poured over the spit repeatedly so that layers are created. These are supposed to resemble growth rings, hence the name.

Here is a picture of the traditional baking process:

But, since I don’t have rotating spits and open fire, I baked the cake just layer by layer in my oven and suddenly it is a very easy cake to make…. If you are a patient person.  

For the Baumkuchen you will need:

6 Eggs

100g icing sugar

120g Caster Sugar

200g Butter (room temperature)

150g Marzipan (in pieces)

100g flour

1/3 Vanilla bean

Lemon zest of ½ Lemon

+ Apricot jam

+ 200g dark chocolate

  1. Line a 24cm baking tin and preheat the oven to 250°C
  2. Separate the eggs
  3. Beat the egg whites with some salt and the caster sugar until forming peaks
  4. Beat the butter, marzipan, icing sugar, vanilla and Lemon. Gradually add the egg yolks.
  5. Fold the egg whites and the flour into the butter mixture
  6. Spread 2-3 tbsp. of the batter into the tin
  7. Bake for 4 minutes. Then spread 2-3 tbsp. of batter onto the baked layer and bake again for 4 min. Repeat that procedure until there is no batter left.
  8. Let the cake cool.
  9. Let the apricot jam (about 100g) come to a boil. Then brush the cake with it.
  10. Once the cake is completely cooled cover it with chocolate.

I cut out small round cakes and painted a flowery embroidery pattern with white chocolate on top of them (obviously I am too patient).

The cake is really delicate and not hard to make. I mean, it takes some time to bake all the layers but if you skip the fussy painting part, and leave the cake in one piece, it’s done in under one hour (excluding cooling time). So, try it.