Semlor – Swedish Lent buns

Traditional Swedish Lent buns called Semlor

Next week we will be celebrating Fasching here in Germany, but you might call it Mardi Grass, or Carnival. The day is traditionally one of indulgence and different countries have different foods that they make to celebrate with. In the UK for example, pancakes will be in the menu. In Berlin, there will be a type of jam-filled donut called Pfannkuchen. And in Sweden people will feast on semlor.

Semlor are sweet yeast buns that smell beautifully of cardamom. They are filled with a simple almond paste and some cream, then finished off with a dusting of powdered sugar. Simple and elegant, these buns look like they could be part of an afternoon tea as well as being a nice addition to a late winter Sunday morning brunch. But first and foremost, they are Sweden’s Fat Tuesday treat. I suggest that you immerse yourself in some Scandinavian baking this week and make these your pre-Lent treat.

Next week I’ll be working on Valentine’s Day recipes. If the sky was the limit, what would you want your loved one to bake for you?

Simply Swedish Semlor

 Semlor – Swedish Lent buns

(makes 8)

Ingredients:

125ml milk

50g butter

1 tsp instant yeast

pinch of salt

20g sugar

1/4 tsp cardamom

1 egg yolk

225g flour

plus: 1 egg, whisked, for glazing

For the filling:

50g ground almonds

50g powdered sugar

2 tbsp water

100 ml whipping cream

plus: icing sugar for dusting

Method:

  1. Heat the milk and the butter in a saucepan on medium heat until the butter is melted. Do not let the mixture boil. Set aside and let cool for about 5 minutes.
  2. In the bowl of a standmixer fitted with a dough hook, add the flour, yeast, salt, sugar and cardamom. Let it mix for a couple of seconds.
  3. Pour the milk mixture in the middle of the bowl and mix for a couple of seconds. Then add the egg yolk. Mix the dough for about 10-15 minutes. The dough will be slightly wet and feel sticky.
  4. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with clingfilm. Let it rise for about 2 hours or until the dough has double in size.
  5. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
  6. Take the dough out of the bowl and divide into 8 equal parts. Shape them into balls and place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Then place a damp tea towel over the dough balls and let them rise for another 30-45 minutes.
  7. Remove the towel and brush the balls with the whisked egg. Then place the baking tray in the middle of the oven and bake for a total of 10-13 minutes, turning the baking tray half a turn after 6 minutes to ensure even browning. The semlor should be a light golden brown.
  8. Take the tray out of the oven and place to one side. Cover the semlor with the damp tea towel while the buns cool.
  9. Now, make the almond paste by mixing the ground almonds, powdered sugar and 2 tbsp of water in a bowl.
  10. Once the semlor are cooled, carefully slice off the top and scoop out the center. Put the crumbs in a bowl and add to that the almond paste and 2 tbsp of the cream. Mix it all together.
  11. Fill the semlor with 1-2 tsp of the almond paste mix.
  12. Whip the rest of the cream until stiff and scoop or pipe it on top of the almond paste mix. Then put the “lid” of the bun on top of the cream.
  13. Dust with some icing sugar to finish them off.

ENJOY!!

Selmor - Swedish Lent buns

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

Chantilly cream (Belgian recipe)

Blueberries and chantilly cream

This time last week P., the kids and I spent a lovely day at a lake just outside Berlin. The temperature had been above 30C all week so we decided our family needed a bit of cooling off away from car noise and hot concrete pavements. 2 days later, on Sunday evening, the heavens opened and thunder rumbled late into the night. On Monday, Berlin temperatures had dropped down to a comfortable and warm 25C. But summer is still in town even though you can feel that it is starting to make its way out. The air is cooler and cardigans are again part of out morning walk to Kindergarten. I know that pretty soon, socks and jackets will have to come out of the wardrobe and our windows, which have been open all summer, will have to be shut. At least during the nights. No amount of blankets will take away that horrible feeling of a frozen cold nose at 3 in the morning. But for now, we are still holding on to these last summer moments.

Blueberries with chantilly cream

Have you ever been to a pick-your-own-fruit orchard? Last year we took the kids and came home with so many plums that we ate them and baked them until we couldn’t stand the sight of them anymore. This year we plan to go for the berries. Toy buckets full of raspberries, tupperware boxes filled to the brim with blueberries and lots of berry stains on everyone’s clothes.

Late summer memories are made of squashed blueberries and raspberry smudged faces. And we like to make a bit more special by skipping the ice cream and whipped cream and serving our pickings with this Belgian version of Chantilly crème (which is no where near the recipe for the French version but this is what we call this smooth, creamy crème).

top view blueberries and chantilly cream

Belgian chantilly cream

Serves 4 big portions or 8 small portions

Ingredients:

750ml milk

50g sugar

80g cornstarch

1 egg yolk (optional, see Note at the bottom)

1 egg white (optional, see Note at the bottom)

70g soft butter

70g powdered sugar

1 tbsp vanilla sugar

Method:

1. Measure out 750ml milk and then take 200ml from this and set aside.

2. Pour the remaining 550ml milk in a saucepan and add the sugar. Heat on a medium heat until it starts to simmer.

3. While the milk is heating up, mix the 200ml of milk with the cornstarch in a separate bowl. Make sure the cornstarch is completely dissolved and no lumps remain.

4. When the milk simmers take it off the heat and add the cornstarch-milk mixture while continuously whisking. The milk will thicken quickly and you will be left with a pale, shiny crème.

5. Let the crème cool. You can speed up the process by placing the saucepan in a sink or bowl filled with cold water. Stir now and again so it cools evenly.

6. While the crème cools, mix the butter, powdered sugar and egg yolk until smooth and creamy. You can do this with a fork or use a mixer on low speed.

7. Add the butter-powdered sugar-egg yolk mixture to the crème and stir until completely incorporated.

8. Whisk the egg white with the vanilla sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold it into the crème.

You can top the crème with all sorts of berries or just dip sweet strawberries in it.

ENJOY!

Note: This recipe contains raw egg so be sure to use a very fresh egg. If you don’t want to use raw egg, you can just leave it out. The crème will still be delicious.

2 pots of chantilly cream and blueberries

No churn cookies and cream ice cream

cookies and cream ice cream with cookie crumbs and spoon

16 years ago I was a couple of months away from turning 20 and my ambition was to become an airline pilot. I had just spent a year in the classroom taking notes, studying all sorts of weather phenomena and mechanical machines, figuring out the difference between propellors and jet engines and on top of that taking the hardest exams ever to prove I had the theoretical knowledge to fly a plane. I passed.

And so I traveled to Scottsdale, AZ in the U.S.A. to complete 6 months of intensive flight training. One of the first days there, my good friend  C. and I walked the 10 minutes from our flat to the nearest supermarket to buy several large bottles of water. I think we emptied an entire bottle after getting home. We were not used to desert heat at all.

scoop of cookies and cream ice cream and a spoon

Our time in Scottsdale was tough and intense. We worked really hard. Our time off was usually spent relaxing by the pool, shopping in P.V. Mall or Fashion Square, drinking coffee at Coffee Plantation and eating our weight in M&Ms and Skittles. But our most favourite treat was Dreyer’s Cookies and Cream ice cream. I don’t think our freezer was ever without a tub of it.

A good Cookies and cream ice cream seems to be a luxe flavour here in Europe. I have only ever seen it as part of the Haagen Daz range which is not cheap in this part of the world. So when I stumbled across this recipe I couldn’t resist. It is simple (no ice cream maker needed) and the possibilities are endless. The ice cream is very smooth and creamy. And with the temperatures here in Berlin having been above 30C these last 2 weeks, it only seems right to sit down and eat this ice cream while remembering my time in the Arizona desert. I made 2 versions of this ice cream, one with the original Oreos and one with my favourite Belgian cookie: Speculoos or Biscoff.

Spoonful of biscoff ice cream

No churn cookies and cream ice cream 

(ever so slightly adapted from the original recipe by Kirbie’s Cravings)

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

1 x 400g tin of sweetened condensed milk

400ml whipping cream

4 Oreo cookies

6 Biscoff cookies

Method:

1. In a stand mixer with whisk attached (or use an electric hand mixer), whip the cream until stiff peaks form.

2. Pour the condensed milk into a second bowl. Gently, fold in the whipped cream until it is completely incorporated.

3. Divide the mixture into 2 bowls. Crumble the cookies and add the Oreos to one bowl and the Biscoff to the other. Gently mix.

4. Divide the mixture into 8 small pudding pots and put them in the freezer.

If you prefer to use just 1 type of cookie, use 8 Oreo cookies or 12 Biscoff cookies. Or any other cookie you like. Just crumble a few, mix it into the mixture and see of it you want more or not. Then use a cake tin to freeze the mixture.

5. Let the pots sit in the freezer for at least 8-10 hours. I left them for 24 hours as after 10 hours I found the taste of the condensed milk was still a bit too overpowering.

ENJOY!

left over melted ice cream and cookie crumbs

This recipe is my version of Kirbie’s Cravings No Churn Cookies and Cream Ice Cream

Strawberry and chocolate cake

slice of chocolate cake with strawberries and cream

Is there such a thing as baker’s block? If not, there should be. I bake on Thursdays and by Wednesday afternoon this week my mind was still blank. Frustration set in. Instead of forcing the issue I cleared my mind and did some other stuff. And by stuff I mean planning a wedding.

Stack of wedding magazines

4 months until we indulge in a little champagne and decadence. I can’t wait! The initial momentum I experienced right after the “will you-yes I will” moment disappeared after a couple of months. So with a venue booked, caterer chosen, dress bought and photographer and DJ picked, I went into wedding hibernation mode. And that’s where I’ve been for the last 6 months. Now I’m desperately trying to get it back so I can finish off the last bits and pieces. Any tips?

And then I saw this tweet:

Natalie

I met Natalie in April at the Hive Conference in Berlin. She is a fabulous woman with bundels of energy and enthusiasm. She is part of Apartment Diet and I am bummed I missed their workshop at the event. Anyway, Natalie just published a book called “The Wedding Virus” (find it here) and I downloaded it last night. I am now counting the hours until I can start reading it this evening.

Now, back to that Tweet…

cake, strawberries and wedding magazines

I was sitting at my dining room table, wedding planner open and budget spreadsheet on my laptop, baking still in the back of my mind and then I read this quote on Natalie’s Twitter Feed. And I had a moment. I sighed and thought: “Yes, and you can add chocolate and champagne to that”. So I did! I immediatly got out of my baker’s block and then I got rid of the line in the planner that said: start wedding fitness routine.

(P.S. Feel free to enjoy this cake with champagne in the bath. But I will not be held responsible for the consequences.)

Chocolate cake with strawberries and cream on cake stand

Chocolate cake with strawberries and vanilla mascarpone cream

(Glas of champagne optional but recommended)

Serves 6

Ingredients for the chocolate cake:

2 eggs

180g sugar

100g flour

1 tsp vanilla sugar

2 heaped tbsp cacao, unsweetened

100g melted butter

Ingredients for the vanilla mascarpone cream:

200ml whipping cream

200ml mascarpone

3 tbsp sugar

1 1/2 tbsp vanilla sugar

250g-500g strawberries (depends how many you want inside the cake) roughly all the same size

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C

2. Line(or grease and flour) 2 18cm/7inch springform tins.

3. Throw all the ingredients for the cake in a standmixer (or a bowl and use a handmixer) and mix with the paddle attached. Be careful that your melted butter isn’t too hot or your eggs will cook.

4. Divide the mixture equally between your 2 tins. If you only have 1 tin I suggest you make half the batter, bake it and then make another batch.

5. Bake for 20 minutes.

6. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then cool fully on a wire rack.

7. Make the cream when the cakes have completely cooled down. Do this by putting all the ingredients in the bowl of your standmixer which is now fitted with the whisk (or use a bowl and handmixer). Mix on high until the mixture becomes thick and creamy.

8. Wash the strawberries and cut the tops off flat so that they can stand on their own, upside down as it were. Slice in 2 vertically. When you have enough to cover the circumference, stop cutting the strawberries in half. Keep them whole with the tops off.

9. Take your (cleaned) springform tin and put one of the cakes in. Put the sliced strawberries on the cake around the edge with the cut side lightly pressed against the springform.

10. Put the rest of the unsliced strawberries inside the strawberry edge you’ve just made. Strawberry tops onto the cake surface so they don’t fall over.

11. Carefully fill the gaps with the mascarpone cream. Smooth over the surface when you have covered all the strawberries. Don’t overfill with the cream. You’re looking to just cover the strawberries.

12. Place the second cake (top side down) on top of the cream.

13. Put the cake in the fridge so it can set a bit. When ready to serve, take it out of the fridge and carefully remove the springform. Let it sit for about 15 minutes so that it can warm up a bit to room temperature.

Optional: dust lightly with powdered sugar and serve with some champagne and the rest of the strawberries.

Strawberries and champagne

ENJOY!

close up slice chocolate cake with strawberries and cream

close up chocolate cake with strawberries and cream

Rhubarb and cream cake

Rhubard and cream cake with vintage Agfa camera and spring flowersSpring has put its foot down and reclaimed Berlin from winter. The trees are turning lusciously green and there are blossoms everywhere. Ice cream shops are thrown into mayhem with kids and adults desperate to buy their first cone of the season. Benches in parks and outside seating at popular coffee houses are becoming prime real estate for those of us trying to take a break from office life. Oh how I love those first days of spring when I can cycle through the Kiez (neighbourhood) wearing just a light jacket.

spring flowers yellow and purpleWith the arrival of warmer weather people inevitably start thinking of summer (I know, we get one day of sunshine and t-shirt weather and already we want more!). And summer tends to mean that it’s time to take a step back and relax. Are you planning to escape to even sunnier places? Or are you staying home and enjoying BBQ’s and lazy evenings in your very own garden (or balcony) paradise? In any case, I am nearly certain you will be planning some sort of an adventure this summer. Wether it be on exotic beaches or in a trendy city, planning is half the fun. Flipping through guidebooks, searching maps for interesting places and checking out this brilliant travel blog. All best done on a lazy Sunday afternoon with coffee and this simple but delicious cake.

Rhubarb and cream cake with vintage Agfa camera and vintage London guide book  5 ingredients is all it takes unless you are motivated enough to make your own jam. But lets face it, you’ve worked hard all week and you spent most of Saturday running around doing the shopping, washing clothes and putting up that new IKEA bookshelf. You deserve a summer-travel-break (and a slice cake)!

Vintage London guidebook with vintage London bus and subway tube map

Rhubarb and cream cake

(serves 8)

Ingredients:

3 eggs at room temperature

75g fine sugar

75g sifted flour (sifted is very important)

200ml whipping cream

Rhubarb jam or a jar of the very best and tastiest jam you can find

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.

Line a round cake tin (approx. 20cm in diameter) with baking paper.

In a standmixer with the whisk attached (or use a handheld mixer), whisk the eggs and sugar until they turn a very pale, creamy colour. The mixture will triple in volume and will be thick.

Slowly and carefully, fold in the flour. You need to keep the air and volume in the mixture. Make sure all the flour is incorporated.

Pour into the tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 25-30 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out clean).

Let the cake cool in the tin for 10 minutes before taking it out an carefully pealing off the baking paper. Let it cool completely on a wire rack.

Once the cake is completely cooled, whip the cream until nice and thick. Then spoon it onto the cake.

Top the cake with jam. As much as you like!

Enjoy!

Rhubarb and cream cake

Vintage London subway Tube map

Rhubarb and cream cake with spring flours and vintage Agfa camera Vintage London guide book