Salted caramel popcorn

Salted caramel popcorn

Do you have movie nights in your house? We used to until the kids came along. Sleepless nights and all the other kid-things that needed our time and energy meant that 90 minutes of action or romantic dialogue was just too long. 30 minutes was perfect, 60 was achievable when I had managed an afternoon nap. We spent the last 4 years wondering if Leonard and Penny would make it (The Big Bang Theory), what the relation is between Red and Liz (The Blacklist) and if Mike Ross was ever going to get caught (Suits). However lately, I’ve noticed we aren’t as tired as we used to be. Maybe we are ready to go back watching movies.

With movies come movie snacks. And since we never really plan these things, we usually only have 1 thing in the house: corn. I store it in a cute jar and label it with the words: Corn for Popping. Yes, microwave popcorn is quicker, but homemade is cheaper and better and it only takes a couple of minutes longer to make. Plain popcorn is good, flavoured is better but popcorn with salted caramel is the best!

A spoonful of salted caramel sauce

The recipe for the sauce is part of this scrumptious cake by Linda Lomelino. I just love her photo’s, don’t you? For perfect homemade popcorn I turned to this beautiful blog and it does give you a perfect batch every time.

What’s your favourite movie snack? Or your favourite movie for that matter? 

 

Salted caramel popcorn

Ingredients for the popcorn:

corn for popping

3 tbsp of coconut oil

ingredients for the sauce:

115g sugar

75ml cream, heated (not boiled)

50g cold butter, cubed

1/4 tsp fleur de sel or coarse sea salt

Method:

1. In a pot with a lid, heat up the coconut oil on a medium heat.

2. Add 3 corn kernels and wait until they pop.

3. Once they have popped, add the rest of the kernels and make sure they form one, even layer at the bottom of the pot. Close the lid and remove the pot from the heat. Count to 30.

4. Put the pot back onto the heat and let the corn pop. You shouldn’t have to shake the pot but if you do feel like you need to move the corn around, move the pot back and forth so the kernels move on the service of the pot and don’t get thrown around.

5. When the popping die down and stops, take the pot off the heat and pour the popcorn into a bowl.

6. Pour the sugar in a saucepan and melt it over a medium heat. Then let it turn golden. If using a thermometer, it should read 170-175 degrees C.

7. Add the butter and stir so the butter melts and is fully incorporated. Be careful as the caramel will bubbel and splatter a bit.

8. Now add the cream and stir. Then add the salt and stir. The sauce should be smooth and creamy.

9. While still hot, pour it into a clean, heatproof, glass jar and let the sauce cool down at room temperature. You can now store it for about a week.

10. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

11. Pour 100ml of salted caramel sauce onto the popcorn and use a wooden spoon to mix it all together. All popcorn pieces should be coated in the sauce.

12. Spread the popcorn in a single layer on the baking tray and place in the oven for 15 minutes.

13. Let the popcorn cool and eat straight away.

ENJOY!!

Adding salted caramel sauce to popcorn

Galette de Rois – 3 Kings pie

Galette de rois

Happy New Year!

I know it’s already been a week since we all stepped into 2016 but nevertheless I wanted to wish you all the best for the coming 366 days. If this is the start of a new beginning for you, I wish you luck on your journey. If you mean to keep going as you did when 2015 ended then I hope it keeps going well for you.

As a child, I remember very well how we celebrated the arrival of the 3 kings (or wise men) on January 6th. We would dress up, cut a star out of cardboard and attach it to a stick then find something that could pass as a small treasure chest. We then went on our way around the neighbourhood singing the 3 kings song to any one who opened their front door. As a reward, we would get a chocolate gold coin or a clementine. When we had enough treasure we would go home to warm up and eat 3 Kings cake, or galette de rois as its called in French. My mother made a different version of the galette de rois than the one I’ve made but the concept is the same: make a cake or pie, stick in a coffee bean or almond or small toy and then see who gets the slice with the surprise. The lucky winner is crowned king for the day. Something we took very seriously as we got older (as in, we would boss around our siblings because, you know, we were the king).

Celebrate with a 3 kings cake called galette de rois

This galette de rois is not difficult to make. Buy yourself some ready rolled puffed pastry and the rest is just a matter of mixing and assembling. The recipe is for 1 galette enough to feed 6 people but I chose to make smaller versions because we’ve been eating so much cake in this house lately (Christmas, New Year and 2 kids celebrating their Name Day in the space of 14 days) that I wanted to tone it down a bit.

What about you, do you stop baking for a while after all the celebrations or do you just opt for healthier or smaller bakes?

Galette de rois

(serves 6)

Ingredients:

500g puffed pastry

125g soft butter

125g sugar

125 almond meal

2 eggs

1 tbsp Amaretto

1 egg yolk for glazing

1 coffee bean, almond or small heatproof toy

Method:

1. Using a standmixer with whisk (or a handmixer) cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

2. Add the eggs one by one mixing in between each egg. Mix well until the eggs are COMPLETELY combined. This can take a couple of minutes.

3. Add the Amaretto and mix.

4. Using a spatula, fold in the almond meal.

5. Cut 2 plate size circles out of the puff pastry. Place one on a baking tray lined with baking paper.

6. Add a about 1/2 a tsp of water to the egg yolk and mix. Using a pastry brush, brush the edge of the circle with the egg yolk (about 2-3cm thick).

7. Spoon the almond cream into the middle of the circle. Spread out until it nearly reaches the egg yolk. Be careful not to pile the cream too high. You might have some left over cream. Now place the bean/almond/heatproof toy somewhere in the cream.

8. Place the second circle of pastry on top and lightly press the edge down onto the bottom circle edge. The egg yolk will help the circles stick together.

9. Decorate the edge of the galette like this using the back of a knife.

(this image is from http://www.blogdechataigne.fr)Galette de rois: how to do the edges

10. Decorate the top of the galette if you want to. Using a sharp knife draw out a pattern without cutting through the pastry. Then brush the entire galette with the egg yolk and stick it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

11. While your galette de rois is in de fridge, preheat your oven to 220 degrees C.

12. Take the galette out and put it in the middle of your oven. After 15 minutes, turn down the temperature to 190 degrees C and bake for another 20 minutes.

13. Take out the galette when its a nice shiny, dark brown colour. Let it cool on a wire rack.

Make sure that if you use a small toy as surprise it can withstand high temperatures. Also, if you have small children it might be best to skip the surprise because of the possible chocking risk. 

If you want to try making smaller versions, reduce the oven times to 5 minutes at 220 degrees followed by 10 minutes at 190 degrees C. 

ENJOY!!

3 kings and galette de rois

Crispy and chewy chocolate biscuits

As this is my last post for this year I want to start by wishing you all a very merry Christmas and best wishes for the new year.

It’s the third week of advent and it seems that it is entirely dedicated to baking. Although, to be honest, I am suffering from a very annoying cold which means I’ve had to scale back my plans a bit.

Did you enjoy last week’s post on St. Lucia? We were in Spain staying with my Swedish parents-in-law for the occasion. We ate a lot of saffron buns and gingersnaps and the kids dressed up as Lucia and the gingerbread man.

Being on holiday in Spain, we ate a lot of good food. Between tapas, paella and ice-cream there was also room for local cured meats, traditional Spanish Christmas treats and these crispy and chewy chocolate biscuits courtesy of my mother-in-law.

These thin chocolate biscuits are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. They are easy to make and take very little time. You probably already have most ingredients in the house.

When these biscuits come out of the oven it will look like they’re not done. Don’t panic. This is exactly how they’re meant to be. You need them to be soft so you can cut them into thin strips before they cool and harden. I made these crispy and chewy chocolate biscuits for my son’s kindergarten Christmas party yesterday. I took an empty box back home so I think they were well received.

The original recipe calls for light syrup (like Lyle’s Golden Syrup) which I can’t find in my local supermarket. Instead, I used treacle which is darker in colour and slightly different in taste. The result was the same though. Speaking of syrup, what kind do you use for baking gingerbread houses and men? Or does your recipe not call for it at all?

Crispy and chewy chocolate biscuits

(makes about 30-40)

Ingredients:

100g butter at roomtemperature

90g sugar

2 tbsp light syrup or treacle

130g flour

2 1/2 tbsp cocoa (NOT the chocolate drink kind)

1 tsp vanilla sugar

1/2 bicarbonate of soda

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C.

2. In the bowl of a standmixer fitted with a whisk (or use a handmixer) cream the butter, sugar, vanilla sugar and syrup until light and fluffy.

3. Sift in the flour, cocoa and the bicarbonate of soda and keep mixing.

4. When all the ingredients are well mixed together, take out the dough and shape it into a ball on a floured surface. Divide into 2 equal parts and the roll the balls into sausages about 5cm in diameter.

5. Place the sausages on a baking tray lined with baking paper about 15-20cm apart. Flatten them slightly with floured hands.

6. Bake them in the middle of the oven for 15 min. The dough will spread a lot and become very flat. Take them out and let cool for about 3 minutes, no more! Take a sharp knife and cut strips about 3cm wide along the length of the baked dough.

7. Leave the biscuits on the baking tray to cool completely. Then store in an airtight container so they don’t lose their crispness.

ENJOY!

(No pictures yet as I am having trouble uploading them to this post. You will find some on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook though)

Traditional Swedish saffron buns

It’s the second week of my Christmas countdown. Did you have a go at last week’s Sinterklaas treat? How did you find it?

This week we’re leaving the Belgian traditions behind us and heading north to Sweden. St. Lucia is the beautiful celebration of light in the winter darkness. Kids dress up as Lucia in a white long dress and wear a wreath with candles on their head. Others choose to dress up as a gingerbread man, a small Santa or a star boy. This is will give a better idea of how it goes.

Saffron gives these St Lucia buns their golden colour

No Lucia celebration is complete without Lussebullar or Saffron buns. Saffron isn’t cheap but for this special occasion really worth the expense. Its colour is bold and bright and I find it smells divine. Last year I made this lovely golden loaf for Lucia but this year I wanted to keep things really traditional. The kids absolutely love them and for P. it’s pure nostalgia. These saffron buns also freeze really well so go ahead and make a big batch. They are perfect when coming in from the snow, perfect to munch on while watching a classic Christmas movie or have them for breakfast on boxing day (26th December). Either way, I think you should submerge yourself in a little, golden Swedish saffron tradition. Have I convinced you?

Swedish saffron buns

 

Traditional Swedish saffron buns (Lussebullar)

makes 15 buns

Ingredients:

7g dry yeast

80g butter

250ml milk

0,5g saffron (yes, it is a lot of threads)

1/2 tsp salt

85g sugar

400g flour

for glazing: 1 egg

for decorating: raisins

Method:

1. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Then add the milk and heat up to about 37 degrees C. Your finger should neither feel hot or cold when you put it in the mixture.

2. Put the yeast in a bowl and pour the sugar over it. Then add the salt on top of the sugar. Add the saffron threads and then the warm butter-milk mixture. Mix it on a low speed if using a stand or handheld mixer. You can also just use a whisk. Mix until the sugar, salt and yeast has dissolved and the saffron is giving off its yellow colour.

3. Add most of the flour, leaving several tbsp to one side. Let the machine knead the mixture (or use your hands) and check after 5 minutes. If the mixture is too wet, add a tbsp of flour. Continue to knead and check. I used nearly all the 400g of flour.

4. Knead until the dough is no longer sticky and comes away from the mixer bowl.

5. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and let it rise until double in size (approx. an hour).

6. Knead the dough again for several minutes then divide it into 15 equal bits.

7. Roll out the dough bits into sausages about 20cm long and the shape them into an “S” making sure the tops are really curled in, like a snail’s house.

8. Put the buns on a baking tray lined with baking paper and then cover with clingfilm and let double in size.

9. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C. Whisk the egg and brush the buns with the egg wash. Put a raisin in the middle of each “snail-house” and bake for 10-12 minutes until golden.

Enjoy!

Christmas time in Sweden-Lussebullar or Saffron buns

Traditional Belgian Sinterklaas treats

Christmas flatly with red

That moment when November turns into December it’s like a switch in my head flips and I am in full Christmas countdown mode. Taylor Swift’s latest album gets pushed to the side and Michael Buble and Bing Crosby take over my playlists. I poke my nose in every bit of fir and spruce I can find and get excited about peeling a mandarin (oh the smell!). Yes, December first marks the start of the Christmas countdown in this house.

This is how it looks:

1st December: Start of Advent

6th December: Sinterklaas

13th December: St. Lucia

24th December: Christmas Eve

We started with lighting the first candle of our Advent wreath and opening the first door of our Advent calendar. This coming weekend we will celebrate Sinterklaas with the kids and next week St. Lucia, thus keeping their Belgian and Swedish Christmas heritage alive. And then we finish off with family dinner and presents on Christmas Eve.

I talked about Sinterklaas in this post and this one too. If you want to have a go at putting together a Sinterklaas treat for your kids (or yourself) here is what you will need:

Traditional Sinterklaas treat

– Speculaas (Biscoff) cookies are a must. Try making your own with my recipe.

– Flemish Christmas buns or Sinterklaaskoeken are perfect for breakfast or afternoon coffee. Make sure to spread them thick with butter. Here’s my version of these sweet yeast buns.

– clementines

– chocolate coins

– Nic Nacs which you can buy or make yourself. Here is a recipe you can try.

Next week I’ll be baking traditional Swedish saffron buns to celebrate St. Lucia. In the mean time, what does your December countdown look like?

Vintage Sinterklaas postcard

(image source: Vintage images, http://vintageimages.org) 

 

Speculaas spice mix

A few weeks ago I made these crunchy, spiced speculaas cookies. There is rarely a Belgian household that doesn’t have at least one packet of them laying around. This time of year though, people make an effort to bake them at home or to buy them at the local baker’s. Why? Because in Belgium (and in the Netherlands) Speculaas is very much associated with Sinterklaas, or St. Nicholas, which we celebrate on December 6th.

To make this yummy treat, you need a Speculaas spice mix. Maybe you are lucky enough to find one ready-made where you live. But if you live outside Belgium or the Netherlands, chances are you won’t find it or it might be expensive. So here is my version. Use it to make Speculaas or add it to your favourite sugar cookie recipe. Try it sprinkled on top of your latte or hot chocolate. Use it for this year’s Thanksgiving pumpkin pie.

Cardamom, mace, cloves, cinnamon and ginger

Speculaas spice mix

4 measures of ground cardamom

8 measures of ground cinnamon

2 measures of ground ginger

1 measure of ground cloves

1 measure of ground nutmeg

1 measure of ground mace (optional)

Mix the spices together and store in an airtight container.

What will you use this spice mix for?

ENJOY!

Peanut butter oat squares with chocolate chips

Beautiful pink and green hydrangea

I love simplicity. I like how a pavlova is called just that and not “meringue pie with cream and fresh fruit”. Or what about eclairs? One word to describe what is essentially “crème patisserie filled pastries with chocolate glaze”. A macaron is a macaron just like biscotti is not a “twice baked crunchy Italian cookie with almond pieces”. Simple.

I love creativeness. I like how a simple cake recipe can be the basis for something even greater. I get excited when someone somewhere decides to add salt to caramel and thousands of new recipes are born. Or when you find yourself wondering how browned butter would impact the taste of your pie crust. All great recipes are the result of someone’s creativeness.

Time for tea and peanut butter oat squares with chocolate chips

There are so many good bakes out there. But what do you do when there is not one word that describes your creation? Do you make one up? Sure, you could be really creative in that too. But would anyone find your recipe? Would people know what it actually is? If I told you I could name this week’s recipe “Moira squares” (*) then I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t know what I was talking about. But when I keep it simple and clear and call them “Peanut butter oat squares with chocolate chips” then you can already start to imagine what it would look like and taste like. I suppose the creativity lies more in the recipe than in the name. What do you think? What is your signature bake and what would you call it if it was up to you?

A delicious peanut butter oat square with chocolate chips

Peanut butter oat squares with chocolate chips

(6 big or 8 small squares)

Ingredients:

for the base:

120g soft butter

100g sugar

1 tsp vanilla sugar

2 eggs

150g flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

For the filling:

400g sweetened condensed milk

6-8 tbsp peanut butter

For the topping:

60g flour

50g sugar

60g cold butter

6 tbsp rolled oats

100g chocolate chips

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

2. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla sugar in a stand mixer or use a handheld one. Once light and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time. Mix thoroughly.

3. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix until smooth and no more lumps remain.

4. Spread into a greased and floured baking tin about 26x20cm in size.

5. Bake for 20 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, mix the condensed milk and the peanut butter in a bowl using a whisk. Set aside.

7. Make the topping by putting all the ingredients, except the chocolate chips, in a bowl and rub them together with your fingers until they form thick crumbs. Now add the chocolate chips and set aside in a cool place (even the fridge is good).

8. Once the base has baked for 20 minutes, take it out of the oven. Pour the condensed milk-peanut butter mixture in top and spread evenly. Then scatter over the topping.

9. Return to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes until the topping starts to turn a golden brown.

10. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely before serving. I find the these taste even better the next day.

Enjoy!

Take one or two of these delicious peanut butter oat squares with chocolate chips

(*)I used to live in a beautiful small village in Northern Ireland called Moira. A couple of years before we left a new shop/deli/eatery opened called The Fat Gherkin. I loved it even before I tasted their food. This recipe is my take on their “Oaty Squares” and why I will call them “Moira Squares” from now on.

 Books, tea and beautiful hydrangea

Halloween

When I was 8 my parents packed all of our stuff into a container and we moved half way around the world to Hong Kong. It was the 80’s and we were living in Belgium. Hong Kong was a country. Or was it? Back then it was still a British colony. Everyone around us had to take the atlas off the bookshelf and look up exactly where this small bit of land was.

When we finally arrived we were in a totally different world. I remember the smell of the traffic. I remember being amazed at the bamboo scaffolding. I remember the red taxis and the double decker busses. The Starferry that sailed between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island with its first class upstairs and second-class downstairs. I remember the Lion Rock Tunnel which meant we were almost home in the New Territories. In a world were multimedia was non existent, everything was new.

I went to a British school and by the time my first Halloween came around my English was fluent enough that I understood the concept. The theory was simple: dress up, do something scary, get sweets. My friends took me trick-or-treating and we felt very proud of the scary stories and jokes we had memorised in order to get treats.  Do kids still do that these days?

Later, I went to an American school and my Halloween memories then started to include Jack-o-lanterns, caramel apples and popcorn balls. In 1994 we moved back to Belgium and Halloween sort of disappeared out of my life. No one had heard of it. No one was interested in this “American” tradition. But then someone decided it would the ideal theme for a student party. And over the years, Halloween filtered down from young adults to teenagers to kids and toddlers.

Last year my kids’ kindergarten wasn’t having any of the Halloween madness. But this year they have embraced it. And what really impressed me was that my 4 year old knows the story behind Halloween. Her 20-something educator explained what it’s all about and why there are lanterns made from pumpkins. Even more impressive is that we live in Berlin and Halloween is not even part of the German heritage.

This week , I have no new recipe for you. Instead, I want to share with you the things I will be making for my kids’ Friday evening pre-Halloween treat feast (I think we’ll skip dinner tonight :-)).

– I made these Rice Krispie treats for my daughter’s Kita Halloween party. I made individual treats using a bat cookie cutter and covered them in milk chocolate.

– I unexpectedly found sugar eye decorations in the baking section of our small supermarket. I’m going to stick them onto some crackers and make these cute little spider treats.

– Popcorn has recently become a new favourite in our house and today it will be covered in caramel sauce according to Linda Lomelino’s recipe featured in this month’s German version of Flow Magazine.  Linda Lomelino has one of the most beautiful blogs I’ve come across. Just look at those pictures! Her crunchy caramel popcorn is part of her recipe for Chocolate Cake with Caramel Buttercream and Crunchy Caramel Popcorn.

– And when my little monsters are asleep tonight (P. is on evening shifts) I plan to tuck into some of this with the left over caramel sauce.

Are you celebrating Halloween? Is there a sweet or treat you make every year?

 

 

Speculaas – Speculoos – Biscoff cookies

Perfect speculaas cookies (homemade biscoff cookies)

For the past 5 days Berlin has been covered in a blanket of greyness. The sun obviously thought that it also deserved a week of autumn holiday like all the school kids in the city. Rubber boots were the preferred choice of footwear and every puddle on the way to Kita had to be jumped in. I would have joined my kids in this fun activity but I don’t own rubber boots. I did attempt to buy a pair yesterday but it turns out, they are not really stocked in shoe shops. The adult version, that is, kids boots are available everywhere. But guess what, today we woke up to blue skies. It has since clouded over a bit but the rain has stopped. And so has my search for boots.

Next time it rains, I will of course end up with wet feet again. P. will point out that I should really get proper footwear for the season. I will tell him that he is right and that I will order some online tonight. We have had this same conversation for the past 3 autumns here in Berlin…

Traditional speculaas cookies

So we’ve had our first week of proper awful autumn weather in the city and this can only mean one thing. People are moving indoors in search of comfort and cosiness. Tables outside of restaurants are empty and iced coffees are swapped for hot chocolates and ginger teas. And since the ice cream shops have closed for the season, sweet temptations have to be found elsewhere. When was the last time your home smelled of freshly baked cookies? More to the point, has your home ever been filled with the smells of ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and my favourite, mace?

Speculaas (or speculoos, or Biscoff cookies) are spiced cookies which can be found all year round in Belgium. The spice mix needed to make them comes ready-made and can easily be bought in shops or bakeries. I started making my own speculaas mix because these packets are not available in Berlin and maybe where you live either. The cookies will not taste like the Lotus brand of Biscoff cookies though. They are the kind you would buy at the traditional bakery on the corner of the street.

Cardamom, mace, cloves, cinnamon and ginger

A quick note on the spices:

– Cardamom comes in pods or already ground. If you can only find the pods, ground the seeds with a spice grinder or coffee grinder until you get a fine powder.

– The same applies for the cloves. If you can’t find the powder, grind them into a thin powder.

– Use only ground ginger and nutmeg.

– Mace is a spice derived from nutmeg. You will also need it in powder form. I find this spice tricky to find where I live. It can be left out.

Speculaas – Speculoos – Biscoff cookies

(makes 15-20 depending on what cookie cutter you use)

Ingredients:

250g flour

150g butter, softened

140g dark brown sugar

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

4 tbsp milk at room temperature

1 tsp ground cardamom

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground mace (optional)

Method:

1. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl.

2. Add the milk and the butter and kneed until the dough stops sticking to your hands or the dough hook of a standmixer.

3. Roll the dough into a ball them flatten into a thick disk. Wrap it in baking paper (or clingfilm) and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Overnight is even better as the flavours will really develop.

4. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

5. Lightly flour your work surface and roll out the dough until 5 mm thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes. Transfer the cookies to a baking tray lined with baking paper.

6. Bake the cookies in the middle of the oven for 12-15 minutes.

7. Let the cookies cool on a wire rack and store in a airtight container.

ENJOY!

Stacks of crunchy, spicy speculaas cookies

Sacher Torte – Austrian chocolate cake

Sacher Torte

Have a slice of this delicious Austrian chocolate cake - Sacher Torte

Every Sunday I look at my diary and see a pretty straight forward week: work Monday and Tuesday, day off on Wednesday, blog on Thursday and Friday then settle down for the weekend. And then Monday morning comes around. I find myself at my desk with said diary, a pencil and an eraser and everything changes.

A friend moved away earlier than I had expected. In other words, a last-minute get-together had to be arranged quickly. Another friend who I hadn’t seen in years found herself unexpectedly with a day off in Berlin. So Tuesday’s work got cancelled and off we went for a delicious catch up breakfast. I spent most of Wednesday on the sofa fighting a cold so that I could at least work on Thursday. And now we are at the end of the week and I’m looking after my oldest who was sick last night and this morning and therefore can’t go to Kita. Oh, and I did get that cold…

The advantage of having our business is that I can be flexible. If I don’t get it done during the day because I need to take my daughter to the doctor, I can catch up in the evening. If P. has his days off during the week, I can spend the day with him if I plan work and blog around it. It’s not a perfect system, and like this week, it all sort of became a bit chaotic.

I tried very hard to bake something good in all this chaos. I forced myself to step out of the stress lane and focus. Work slow. Be precise. And it worked… until I sort of dropped the cake and it cracked. I hid it with the icing so it looked a bit nicer. In a weird way, it reflects many parents’ life. You might think we’ve got it all under control. It may look like we have the perfect balance of kids-work-us but in reality it’s more like my Sacher Torte this week: a bit cracked, a bit crumbly, a bit not how it should be but still fabulous. How has your week been?

(Here’s a view of the beautiful Café Sacher, home to the original and secret recipe for this delicious cake)

Sacher Torte - delicious Austrian chocolate cake

Sacher Torte (Austrian chocolate cake)

(adapted from a recipe by Mary Berry)

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

150g dark chocolate

150g soft butter

100g sugar

1/2 tbsp vanilla sugar

5 eggs, separated

75g ground almonds

40g plain flower

For the topping:

6 tbsp apricot jam

150g dark chocolate

200ml whipping cream

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease a 23cm round cake tin and line the base with baking paper.

2. Break the chocolate into pieces and melt it gently in a bowl set on a saucepan with 2-3cm of simmering water. Let it cool a bit. Meanwhile, beat the butter until really soft and then gradually add the sugar and the vanilla sugar. Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.

3. Add the cooled chocolate to the mixture and beat again. Then add the egg yolks, one at a time, and beat until fully incorporated.

4.Whisk the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold it into the mixture. Then pour it all in the cake tin. Level the top.

5. Bake for 45-50 minutes until a skewer comes out clean and the top of the cake is springy. Remove from the oven and let cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning the cake out onto a wire rack and pealing off the baking paper.

6. When the cake is completely cooled, make the topping. Heat the apricot jam in a saucepan. Strain it to get rid of any lumps and bits. Brush the jam on the top and sides of the cake. Let the jam cool.

7. Melt the chocolate and the cream togheter in a bowl set on a saucepan with 2-3cm simmering water. Allow to cool and thicken a bit. Then pour the chocolate in the center of the cake and let it cover the cake completely. Now leave it to set.

 Enjoy!

Delicious chocolate cake - Sacher Torte