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

Pear and cardamom crumble cake

Pear and cardamom crumble cake

pears

When does autumn start in your book? Do you stick to the official start on the 21st of september? Or does a certain event signify the start of grey days followed cozy evenings? A lady in my dance class recently told me that she refuses to acknowledge autumn until she is back from her late september sunny holiday. When I was younger, I considered summer to be over when school started.

I love the colours of the trees this time of year. The chestnuts on the ground which promptly get picked up by my kids and put in my handbag for safekeeping. The first scarves and gloves early in the morning. A cup of tea in the evening. The smell of our old radiators as they get switched on after months of rest. My Converse being put to the back of the shoe pile because they may be stylish but they are definitely not rain and puddle proof.

Autumn always makes me crave warmth in everything I eat or drink. Cinnamon in my porridge. Ginger in my tea. Cloves in my rice. And cardamom in my baking. I just want to wrap myself in a blanket of spices at this time of year. What’s your favourite autumn moment?

Warming pear and cardamom crumble cake

Pear and cardamom crumble cake

Server 6-8

Ingredients:

60g soft butter

50g sugar

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla sugar

75g flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

Pinch of salt

1/2 tsp cardamom

2-3 ripe but firm pears, pealed, cored and cubed

For the topping:

30g flour

25g sugar

30 ice cold butter in cubes

3 tbsp chopped, blanched almonds

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C.

2. Grease and flour a baking tin about 20×26 cm

3. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla sugar until light and fluffy.

4. Add the egg and beat well until completely incorporated.

5. Mix in the flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom.

6. Pour the mixture into the tin and press it into the corners. The mixture will be thick and will spread out thin to fill the whole tin.

7. Top the mixture with the pear cubes.

8. Make the topping by using your fingers to rub the ice cold butter cubes, flour and sugar together until it forms crumbs. Then add the nuts.

9. Sprinkle the topping on top of the pears.

10. Bake in the middle of the oven for 35-40 minutes.

11. Let cool in the tin and cut into squares.

ENJOY!

Pear and cardamom crumble cake perfect for autumn

Cappuccino cake

 

Who wouldn't want a bite of this delicious cappuccino cake?

Do you know the show “The Great British Bake Off”? If not, have a look at this and then make your way over here. If you love baking, this is the most exciting thing on TV every Wednesday night. Actually, it’s the most exciting thing on TV all week! I have watched every series and I recommend you do too (get VPN if you’re not in the UK).

I am a good baker but certainly not as good as the guys and girls on the show. But sometimes, I like to think that I am a genius with the flour and the eggs. I pretend that I have just invented a new sensational flavour combination and that I am the master of the 6-strand braided bread. Am I the only one in this?

I bought Mary Berry’s “Baking Bible” a couple of year ago because of #GBBO (that’s Twitter speak for the Great British Bake Off and one to follow) and I am slowly baking my way through it. Last month I made these beautiful madeleines and this week I decided on the chocolate, coffee and cream combination in this cappuccino cake.

Coffee and cream combined with chocolate in this gorgeous cake

Cappuccino cake 

(adapted from Mary Berry’s recipe in “Mary Berry’s Baking Bible”)

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

50g cocoa powder (unsweetened)

3 tbsp boiling water

2 eggs

25 ml milk

100g flour

3 tsp baking powder

50g soft butter

100g sugar

200ml whipping cream

1/2 tsp instant coffee granules dissolved in 1 tsp of very hot water

some cocoa powder for dusting

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and flour a springform cake tin with a diameter of approx. 18cm.

2. In a large mixing bowl, mix the cocoa powder and boiling water into a smooth paste. Then add the eggs, milk, flour, baking powder, butter and sugar and mix until just combined. Do not overmix.

3. Pour the mixture into the tin, level the top and put it in the middle of the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

4. Leave to cool for 5 minutes then remove from the springform and cool the cake further on a wire rack.

5. When the cake is completely cooled, slice it horizontally into 2 disks.

6. Whip the cream until it holds its shape. Spread about half of the cream onto one of the disks.

7. Put the second disk on top of the cream.

8. Mix the coffee granules with the hot water. Let it cool down for a couple of minutes and then fold it gently into the remaining cream. Spread the coffee cream on top of the cake and smooth it out using a palette knife (a regular knife will work too just use the smooth side (not the cutting side).

9. Decorate the cake with a dusting of cocoa powder.

ENJOY!

Beautiful Chocolate cake with cream filling and coffee cream on top

Swedish sticky chocolate cake – Kladdkaka

kladdkaka with cream and blueberries

In Sweden, where P. is from, there is this tradition that on Saturday everyone goes to the supermarket and fills a big bag full of sweets from the huge pick and mix stand. When you get home, you can keep your lördagsgodis (Saturday sweets) in the bag or put them in a large bowl and munch away all weekend long. This mix of bonbons, chocolates, fudges, caramels and more is a colourful display.

Sometimes, I think our little family is a bit like that bowl of mixed colours and flavours. P. is Swedish, I am from Belgium, the kids were born in Northern Ireland and we chose to settle in Germany. Berlin is our home and we plan to stay here. But how do you answer the question: Where are you from? In my case, I answer by saying that I am from Belgium but live in Germany. P. answers the same way. But what about our kids? They are not from Belgium. They are not from Sweden. They are essentially from Germany.

Blueberries on black background

I’ve been thinking about these things a lot lately. How will our kids deal with all of this? What sort of questions will they ask when they are older? What nationality will they take when they turn 18 and have to choose? How will they give Belgium, Sweden and Northern Ireland a place in their life? In their being? Who will they be and how will they define themselves?

Whatever the answers, we will give them the freedom to search and find their way. Their roots might be growing in German soil, but their heritage, their seeds of life, that has come from 3 beautiful and inspiring places.

P. and I wil make sure they know about their heritage. And part of this heritage for me personally is food. And not just the national dishes, but the simple tomato soup Oma (grandmother in Belgium) makes or the lobster thermidor Farfar (grandfather in Sweden) cooks on special occasions.

This week’s recipe is a Swedish sticky (Kladd) cake (kaka). It’s easy and requires just 1 bowl and something to mix the batter with. I bet you my nearly 4 year old could do this. So let the lesson “this is your heritage” begin…

kladdkaka with bowl of cream and bowl of blueberries

 Swedish sticky chocolate cake – Kladdkaka

Serves 8

Ingredients:

2 eggs

270g sugar

60g flour

1 tsp vanilla sugar

2 heaped tbsp unsweetened cocoa

100g melted butter

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C. Grease and flour a round springform tin (important!).

2. In a bowl, use a handmixer or whisk to mix all the ingredients together until the mixture is smooth.

3. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for  30 minutes.

4. Let the cake cool in the tin.

5. When ready to serve, remove the springform side. Do not attempt to remove the cake from the bottom of the tin, it is too sticky and fudge-like. Use a cake cutter (preferably one that won’t scratch your tin) to cut and scrape/lift a piece of the cake. It will come loose, it’s just nice and sticky.

6. Serve with some vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, berries, toasted nuts or sliced, fresh fruit

ENJOY!

 blueberries rolling out of bowl

Red current crumble cake

It’s summer! I want to jump and dance around! I want to eat lots of ice cream and drink lots of fresh juices. I want to feel the warm summer breeze on my bare shoulders as I cycle down our street. Oh yes, I want to grab this moment, this start of summertime, this transition from cold and grey to bright and sunny and hold it ever so tight.

a square of red current crumble cake

These moments when the seasons change are moments I love. It marks the end of one thing and the start of another. I remember as I child, autumn meant the start a new school year. I was always excited about the first day of school (the excitement disappeared about 24 hours later though). Then winter would come and with it the smell of burning wood and the feeling of cold, numb fingers. And just when I would get fed up with darkness and cinnamon scented candles, spring would wake up and tap me on the shoulder reminding me that it’s her turn. She’s a bit of everything, one day she’s feeling hot and the next she just doesn’t want to make an effort. And when she’s done, summer takes over. Suddenly, windows are left open all the time, socks get banished to the back of the drawers and flip flops make their way onto our shoe rack. I think I might just get up from my desk now and do a little joyous dance…

5 squares of red current crumble cake with icing sugar

But for my friends and blogger colleagues who live south of the equator it’s the start of hat-and-scarf-time. They are about to huddle together to keep warm. Iced tea becomes hot tea and ice cream… well, ice cream will always be ice cream and is always appropriate no matter what time of year it is.

red current crumble cake on a grey napkin

This cake is for all of us. For those of us waking up from our winter sleep and for those who are about to start one. Which one are you?

Red current crumble cake squares

Red current crumble cake

(makes about 16 squares)

Ingredients for the cake:

120g soft butter (1/2 cup)

100g + 1 tbsp sugar (1/2 cup + 1 tbsp)

2 eggs

1 tbsp vanilla sugar

150g flour (1 cup)

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

280-300g red currents (about 3 cups) fresh or frozen. If using frozen, defrost in a sieve and catch the juices. You don’t need the juices, just drink them!

Ingredients for the crumble:

60g flour (1/2 cup)

50g sugar (1/4 cup)

60g ice cold butter cut into cubes (1/4 cup)

20g oats, not quick-cooking (1/4 cup)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C.

2. Grease and flour a baking tray (approx. 20x30cm or 8x11inch).

3. In a standmixer with a paddle (or use a hand mixer and a large bowl), cream the butter, 100g of sugar and the vanilla sugar until light and fluffy.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix thoroughly until the eggs are completely incorporated.

5. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix until the mixture is thick and sticky.

6. Use a spatula to spread the mixture in the baking tray. Press it into the corners and flatten the surface.

7. Spread out the red currents on top of the mixture and lightly press them down a bit.

8. Sprinkle 1 tbsp of sugar over the red currents.

9. Make the crumble by mixing the flour and sugar with a wooden spoon in a bowl.

10. Add the ice cold butter cubes and use your finger to rub it all together until it starts to look like small breadcrumbs. Then, add the oats and mix.

11. Sprinkle the crumble on top of the red currents.

12. Bake in the middle of the oven for 50 min or until the crumble has turned golden.

13. Let the cake cool in the baking tray. Once cooled, cut into squares.

(I tried to include cup measurements. Please let me know if you notice any mistakes)

ENJOY!

2 squares of red current crumble cake

one square of red current crumble cake

Mini apple cakes

Mini apple cakes with coffee and book

Today is the start of the Easter weekend here in Berlin which means that tomorrow I will be doing (read: attempting) all sorts of Easter projects with the kids. I’ve found some really fun and simple things I can do with my two toddlers. I’ll report back to you on how that goes…

But before that, some baking and blogging needs to be done. So here goes!

I recently bought a stack of mini silicone moulds. I was persuaded by their pastel colours which made me feel all happy and ready for spring. By the way, it’s been snowing here for the last two days so I don’t know where spring is but I’m assured it’s on its way. Make it hurry up! Back to the moulds. I made these mini lemon cakes a couple of weeks ago and loved how easy they just “dropped” out of the moulds. And then I remembered my mom had given me some tart moulds a while ago which until now I had never used. As per usual, my grand plan to make fruit tarts (make pastry, cut fruit, make creme patissière) did not happen because I am still new at this blogging business and I am still learning how to manage my time.

This is a recipe my mother gave me. She in turn got it from a friend who got it from somewhere else… You get the idea, right? I have adjusted it a bit to suit the mini mould situation though.

mini apple cakes with book and glasses

Mini apple cakes

(makes 6, depending on the size of your tart mould)

If you are using silicone moulds, refer to the manufacture’s instructions with regards to greasing. If you are using conventional metal moulds, grease with a bit of butter and dust with some flour, discarding any excess flour.

6 tbsp flour

1/2 tbsp baking powder

5 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp vanille sugar

4 tbsp milk

3 tbsp vegetable oil

1 egg

1 large apple, pealed, cored and cut into small cubes (approx. 60g of cubes)

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C

2. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients, except the apple cubes, together. You can also use a mixer at low speed.

3. Gently stir in the apple cubes.

4. Fill the moulds to 3/4 of the way.

5. Bake for 25 minutes.

6. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the moulds than remove the cakes and cool on a wire rack.

Enjoy!

mini apple cakes

mini cakes with cup of coffee book glasses

one mini apple cake

Mini lemon cakes

Mini lemon cake with spring background

Is it spring yet?

I hope so. Walking around our neighbourhood I’ve noticed the cafe’s and restaurants have brought out the tables and chairs. Coffee can now be consumed out in the sun with a fleece blanket wrapped around your shoulders (provided by the cafe of course. Imagine having to carry your own blanket around when going for your daily caffeine shot). Spring flowers are bursting into view and I no longer need my mittens and hat when I cycle around Berlin.

In celebration of the marvellous event that is the start of spring (whether this weather lasts or not is beside the point. Once something has started it needs to continue in some shape or form. It’s called momentum) I decided to try something new. At least something new to me. In all my years of baking and adventurous food tasting I have never had a lemon cake (shock horror!!!). Not that you need to be adventurous to taste lemon cake. I don’t know why I never tasted this fresh and light cake. What was holding me back? I’m glad to report that whatever it was is now gone. I LOVE lemon cake. Or in today’s case, mini lemon cakes.

mini lemon cake

 

Mini Lemon Cakes

(makes 12)

150g soft butter

150g sugar

3eggs

150g flour

2 tsp baking powder

juice of 1 lemon

for the garnish:

250ml water

220g sugar

zest of one lemon

2 tbsp sugar

powdered sugar

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

2. In a standmixer (use the paddle) cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. You can also use a handmixer for this.

3. Add the eggs and mix well.

4. Add the flour and baking powder bit by bit and mix.

5. Pour the batter into 12 mini moulds or use cupcake cases in a muffin tin.

6. Bake for about 20 minutes (or until a toothpick or skewer comes out clean) and then let cool on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes.

7. Using a toothpick or skewer, poke several holes in the tops of the cakes. Pour 2 tsp of lemon juice over every cake and let the cake soak up the juice.

To make the sugared zest garnish:

In a saucepan, combine sugar and water. Bring to the boil. Add the zest and simmer until the zest starts to become translucent (3-5 minutes for very thin zest). In a freezer bag, put the 2 tbsp of sugar. Remove the zest from the saucepan with a slotted spoon and put it in the freezer bag. Close the bag and shake to cover the zest with sugar. Let cool further on baking paper.

Decorate the completely cooled cakes with powdered sugar and sugared lemon zest.

mini lemon cake on paper

(These can be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 days. However, because the lemon juice was added after baking the cakes can get sticky and wet. They shouldn’t become soggy though.)

Enjoy!

My mother’s apple cake

Hi!

Welcome!

How are you?

I’m glad you’re here. Did you bring your apron? Don’t worry if you didn’t, I’ll lend you one. You and I are going to create some amazing things. Sometimes we will achieve perfection and other times frustration will make us yell very loudly at the oven. But we will endeavour and try the best we can.

I think it’s always a good idea to start new things in an easy and simple manner. We can do complicated later when we’ve had chance to get to know each other better. So today, for our first baking project, we will be baking my mother’s apple cake.

The simplicity of this recipe is what makes it appealing. My mother would make this often for when we would come home from school, hungry and tired. She would make it into cupcakes if we had friends over to play on Saturdays. And she still makes it for the coffee break during her watercolour class.

The ingredients are few and simple: eggs, butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, the tiniest bit of salt and apples. If you live in a country where the shops sell self-raising flour, than you can scrap the baking powder and salt leaving you with just 5 ingredients. Few and simple.

IMG_1830

The first thing is to cream the sugar and butter. Use an electric mixer, a stand mixer or a whisk. Just mix,mix, mix. This is one of my favourite processes in baking. Creamy butter and sweet, sweet sugar… I could probably spread this on slice of bread and eat it very, very slowly with a content smile on my face.

IMG_1844

Add the eggs and watch it turn a lovely, warm, orangey yellow. Perfect colour for this time of year. Make sure the eggs are well incorporated into the mixture. Next, throw in the flour, baking powder and salt (or self-raising flour). If you have time you can sift the flour and fold it in. Whatever method you use, the result will be delicious guaranteed.

IMG_1883

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now add those sweet, juicy apples and give it all another couple of stirs with a wooden spoon. That’s it! Preparations done.

IMG_1901

Now for the baking bit. Make sure you have your cake tin ready. Grease it or line it, the choice is yours. I prefer greasing with butter and dusting with flour.  Then fill it 2/3 full, put it in the middle of your oven and patiently wait (what?!?) while your house fills with gorgeously, delicious smells of apples and soft, spongy cake.

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Add coffee because it just makes sense at 3 in the afternoon.

IMG_1956

And try not to eat it all on your own.

IMG_1981

Recipe:

Apple Cake 

200g soft butter

200g caster sugar

200g flour (or self-raising flour)

2 tsp baking powder (eliminate if using self-raising flour)

pinch of salt (eliminate if using self-raising flour)

4 eggs

2 apples

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C.

Line or grease a cake tin.

Peel, core and cut your apples into cubes.

Cream butter and sugar using a hand mixer/stand mixer/whisk.

Add the eggs one by one mixing well between each egg.

Add the flour to the mixture.

Sir in the apple cubes with a wooden spoon.

Scoop the batter into the greased cake tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 30-45 minutes. Make sure when you insert a toothpick or skewer that it come out clean before you switch off the oven.

Let the cake cool for 5 minute before taking it out of the tin. Let it cool further on a wire rack.