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

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) 

 

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?

 

 

Oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies – Baking with kids

Oat and chocolate chips cookies in a child's suitcase

If you have toddlers and you travel with them, be it by car, plane or train, you have at some point googled this subject. And on every list op tips and tricks there is an entire paragraph dedicated to snacks. Not only to keep hungry travellers happy but also as a bargaining tool when said travellers refuse to go through the metal detector at the airport or fights the carseat belts.

drawing of Madagascar by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski

Here’s the thing with snacks. No mini-traveller will accept carrot sticks as a bribe. And no parent will give hungry tummies a packet of gummy bears pretending it’s a meal (although… I can totally see how a situation could arise where this would be the only way forward…). If you want to keep things on the healthier side, you’re better off making the snacks yourself. But if you’re in the middle of packing and the munchkins want to help by throwing every possible item of clothing they own in your suitcase, the last thing you’ll want to do is spend a lot of time on baking “responsible” cookies. The effort required for these cookies is minimal. One bowl, one spoon, one scale (or 1 set of measuring spoons in Cups) and 3 minutes of elbow grease. Or take some time out from the holiday prep and get your mini-travellers involved. I’ve been making these oat cookies with my daughter since she mastered some sort of stirring motion around her first birthday.

The cookies are practically crumb free so no post-car journey vacuuming required.  And if you add raisins instead of chocolate chips you will also arrive at your destination without chocolate fingers on your new T-shirt. I hope your travels this summer will not involve too much munchkin stress. And if you think you’re going to lose the will to ever travel again, just grab a cookie! Safe travels!

oat and chocolate chip cookies

Oat and chocolate chip or raisin cookies (no refined sugar)

(makes 9 cookies)

Ingredients:

80g or 3/4 cups oats

40g or half of 3/4 cups flour

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp baking soda

30ml or 1/8 cup honey

30ml or 1/8 cup maple syrup

30ml or 1/8 cup rapeseed oil (or another neutral tasting oil, no olive oil)

1/4tsp vanilla essence

1 banana, mashed, no lumps (for a more crunchy cookie, use 1/2 banana)

4 tbsp chocolate chips or raisins

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

2. Using a wooden spoon, mix all the ingredients in a bowl.

3. Spoon 1 tbsp of the mixture at a time onto the baking tray, making 3 rows of 3.

4. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

5. Cool on a wire rack.

Note: These cookies do lose their crunch quickly even when stored in an airtight container.

ENJOY!

Child's suitcase with toys and books

The Children’s Atlas “Alle Welt” is by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinska translated to German by Thomas Weiler and published by Moritz Verlag, Frankfurt am Main.

The book “Nijntje vliegt” is by Dick Bruna and published by Mercis Publishing, Amsterdam.

The book “Mumin Var är Lilla My?” is published by Alfabeta Bokförlag AB, Stockholm. It is translated from the English version “Moomins lift-the-flap Hide and Seek” which is published by Puffin Books, Penguin Group.  

This recipe has been adapted in several ways over the last 3 years. I do not remember the blog I found the original recipe on. 

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

Easter – what we did

Some of you already know that we don’t live a Monday to Friday, 9-5 kind of life. Sure, the kids and I do to a certain degree, but my pilot husband-to-be does not. His schedule doesn’t take into account holidays, celebrations and weekends. But we are used to it. It’s our life and there are some great perks that come with this lifestyle.

So what to do come Easter weekend when most people are out of town visiting grandparents or taking a well deserved family holiday? What to do when P. is hanging about the European skies and the kids are shouting “I want to go outside!” at 7 in the morning? You take your iPad, that’s what you do. You skip the Lego Train building game and the Youtube app and you go straight to 2 of my new favourite blogs. Thanks for your help in keeping us entertained this Easter weekend Isa and Claudia at Hauptstadtmutti and Jenni at Museum Diary.

On Good Friday we made and ate a lot of marshmallow top hats. You will find the recipe here. They are perfect for little people with little fingers.

child's hand putting smart on top of marshmallow

On Saturday the sky was blue and the sun was out and it felt like spring was finally on the way. I love our street on days like these. The fountains are back on now that winter is over and the trees will soon be full of luscious green leaves. Oh, and this is where my daughter will grasp the art of cycling a “big” bike.

Frankfurter Alee

Happy Easter! We hunted for easter eggs and made this fresh, pink rhubarb juice. I got the recipe from the ladies at Haupstadtmutti. I can only recommend drinking lots of this home-made juice because it is simply the best. I’m pretty sure this is going to be a staple in our house this spring and definitely this summer. You’ll find an english translation at the bottom of this post.

Rhubarb juice in carafe view from above

On Monday I took 2 overly excited kids on 2 subway trains (the fact that we needed to take 2 different ones was a big deal) to the Berlin Currywurst Museum near Checkpoint Charlie. So it’s not the MoMa or Tate but it was the perfect place for us on Easter Monday. The highlight was smelling and looking at all the spices. And the fact that apart from another family we were the only ones there (we arrived as they opened) and the kids could run around without getting in any one’s way. If ever in doubt about going to museums with your kids, read this article by Jenni.

Currywurst museum Berlin looking at ginger

I hope you had a lovely easter weekend.

LIES X

English translation of Rhubarb Juice as featured on Hauptstadtmutti (original recipe by Marie Langenau)

1 kg fresh rhubarb

400g sugar

juice of 2 lemons

Wash the rhubarb thoroughly making sure all the dirt is gone. Peal and chop into 2-3cm chunks. Place the rhubarb in a pot with 2 litres water and let it all boil for about 15 minutes. Strain the juice into a second pot. Add the sugar and lemon juice and stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Pour the juice in 2 clean bottles.

Baking with kids – Top hats

 

top hat sweet with yellow smartie

The Top hat. If it hadn’t been for my daughter I don’t think I would ever have come across these treats. Backtrack 2 years and we were still living the countryside-life in beautiful Northern Ireland. My daughter was 18 months and our son was just born. Two days a week, S. would happily trot up the street to her nursery. Some days she would come home with a painting or some sort of art project, but now and again she would present us with something that resembled a cookie or cupcake. I’m sure it took every last bit of her concentration to put the sprinkles on top of the icing. Or place the raisin in the exact spot she wanted it. It was always nearly a shame to eat her creations.

child's hand putting smart on top of marshmallow

So one day she came home with one of these cute sweets. A top hat. And all it really is, is marshmallow, chocolate and smarties. And they are so easy to make. She helped make them when she was 18 months and now my 2 year old son is also loving making these fluffy creations. The perfect young toddler’s “baking” project.

child's hand picking smarties

Baking with kids – Top Hats

20 mini cupcake cases

100gr melted chocolate

20 big marshmallows to make top hats

(more marshmallows to taste, poke and pull apart)

20 coloured smarties

(more smarties to eat, spill and lick before sticking on the top hats)

Method

1. Melt the chocolate (parents or older kids). I prefer to melt my chocolate in a glass, heatproof bowl set on top of a saucepan with about 3 cm (1 inch) of simmering water. I take the bowl off the pan (careful, it’ll be hot) when nearly all the chocolate is melted. I then stir to melt the remainder. Set the bowl to one side to cool slightly while you and the kids get the cupcake cases ready.

2. Spoon 2-3 tbsp of melted chocolate into the cupcake cases.

3. Put a marshmallow in the middle of the chocolate filled cupcake case.

4. Use a teaspoon to put a generous drop of melted chocolate on top of the marshmallow and stick a smartie on.

5. Put all the top hats on a tray and put them in the fridge for at least 30 minutes so the chocolate cools and becomes solid again.

6. Taste and have lots of wipes/wet cloth/napkins ready because the chocolate will leave its mark.

As with all my recipes for baking with kids, have a look at my tips and tricks. In the end, you know your child best and what her or his abilities are. The important thing is to let them try things and to have fun.

Enjoy!

making top hats

Belgian waffles (the quick version)

IMG_3890

So yesterday was waffle day in Sweden. And since my kids are 50% Swedish it went without saying that waffles were going to be backed. I had plans. Grand plans even. I wanted to introduce my little nordic munchkins to the delights of the authentic Belgian waffle: thick yeast dough baked to perfection. Crispy on the outside and a soft, fluffy on the inside. However, things didn’t really go as I had hoped. What happened, you ask? I ran out of time. Simple as that. When you’re a mother of 2 toddlers and your pilot hubby gets called out to cover a flight and unexpectedly has to stay the night in Italy, then you’re on your own. And all your previous plans go out the window.

But, when you’re a mother of 2 hungry toddlers and you’re wingman is gone, then you improvise. And so we had waffles in the end. I suppose you can still call them Belgian waffles because they are my recipe and I am Belgian :-) But I do owe you all the recipe of the authentic version.

Waffle heart with powdered sugar

The classic way to eat these is with just a dusting of powdered sugar. Or you can opt for a brown sugar. My favourite sugars are those of T-Sugars. I adore their light brown sugar.

3 sugars

Since toppings on the waffles tend to be sweet I reduce or completely eliminate sugar from the batter. It’s a matter of preference.

Belgian waffles-the quick version

(yield: about 10 waffles depending on the size of your iron)

500g flour

4tsp baking powder

500ml milk

150g butter, melted and cooled to lukewarm

2 tsp vanilla extract

3 eggs, yolk and whites seperated

optional: 80g sugar

toppings: powdered sugar, brown sugar, fruit, honey, whipped cream, …

Method:

1. In a stand mixer with paddle attachment (or a hand mixer) mix the milk, melted butter, vanilla, egg yolks and sugar.

2. Add the flour gently.

3. In a second bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold this into the batter. The batter will be thick and stringy.

4. Lightly grease your waffle iron and heat it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

5. Drop 2-3 tbsp of batter in the middle of the iron (it should fill about 2/3 of the iron).

6. Bake according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Eat the waffles while hot and crispy. When they cool they tend to lose their crispiness but a minute in the toaster or warm waffle iron will bring it back.

Enjoy!

waffles with sugars scattered

Waffles lightly dusted with sugar

waffle with brown sugar

Baking with kids: R.O.C. (raisins, oatmeal, coconut) cookies

Do you sometimes feel like time is running away and you are desperately trying to catch up with it? That’s how I have been feeling these last few weeks. It was my 3 year old daughter that reminded me last Saturday that we hadn’t baked anything yet. She came running into the kitchen looking very disappointed and worried and said: “Mama, we still need to bake today!” I then heard a nearly 2 year old son run from the far end of our apartment to the kitchen screaming: “JAAAAAAA, BAKA!!” which is Swedish for “YEEEEEES, BAKE!!” And so we did…

Cookies in dish

I admit, I did have a panic moment as they opened up the kitchen cupboard and took out their aprons. I hadn’t planned anything. I didn’t have a recipe. What on earth were we going to make? Turns out, we ‘invented’ R(raisins) O(oatmeal) C(coconut) cookies (and they kind of look like rocks too).

Three cookies on a white napkin

These are the kind of cookies you literally throw together. Everything goes in one pot. And then you hand the little ones a wooden spoon and let them get on with it. Although, I used my stand mixer and I let them take turns in throwing the ingredients in the bowl (pouring is for adults in case you didn’t know).

One cookie

Tadah! One golden nugget of goodness. Perfect for little hands and no refined sugar. The sweetness comes from the raisins and the agave or honey used. These are so easy and quick to make and so much better and healthier than anything bought in the shop.

Several cookies

Let the kids roll the balls. Or if your child is still too young for this skill, roll the balls yourself and let them place the cookies on the baking tray.

R.O.C. Cookies

(makes 20)

1/2 cup almond meal (about 8 tbsp)

1 cup oats (about 16 tbsp)

pinch of salt

1/4 tsp baking powder

2 tbsp soft, unrefined coconut oil

1 egg, whisked

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup raisins (about 8 tbsp)

2 tbsp agave nectar or honey

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until well incorporated. If using a stand mixer, use the paddle and a low speed.

Makes 20 little balls with about a tbsp or 2 of cookies mixture.

Put the cookie balls on a lined baking tray. If you want flat cookies, press down lightly to form small, thick discs.

Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack.

Enjoy!

You can make this recipe gluten free by using gluten free oats and substituting baking powder for 1 part baking soda plus 2 parts cream of tartar.

Cookies surrounded by toys