January 29, 2012

4/52 Buchteln

It's totally ridiculous. And I didn't expect it.
But already now, in week 4 of this baking journey, I needed a little cake-break.

But don't worry, I still baked something. Buchteln, to be more precise.
Actually, maybe not precise enough for all my English-speaking readers.
Since I was not able to find a translation for Buchteln, I will do my best to describe them to you:

Originally from the border triangle of Bohemia, Austria, and Bavaria. Yeast rolls. Dry and airy. Lightly sweet. Filled with plum butter. Or apricot jam. Or poppy seeds. Dusted with powdered sugar. Can be served with vanilla sauce.

I think you get the picture, right? If not, please read on and check out my pictures below.

I saw a recipe for Buchteln in a magazine recently and remembered that my husband talked about Buchteln a couple of times, telling me that his grandma in Croatia used to make them. I had never eaten them before today (similar sweet rolls, yes, but Buchteln, no) so I thought it was a good idea to make them. But then - and this makes me feel old - I totally forgot where I saw the recipe (I hope this happens to all of you as well... Please say yes...)! So I googled it and just chose a recipe that sounded good:

adapted from ARTE "Zu Tisch in..." (a TV series called "At the table in..."), that week it was Bohemia

For 16 pieces you need:
20 g (0.7 oz) fresh yeast
60 g (1/3 cup) sugar
350 g (2 3/4 cups) flour
200 ml (0.8 cup) milk, lukewarm
80 g (0.7 stick) butter, melted
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
zest of 1 lemon
pinch of salt
    For the filling:
    300 g (10.5 oz) plum butter (jam) or
    300 g (10.5 oz) apricot jam or
    poppy seeds
      For finishing:
      20 g (1.5 tablespoons) butter for the pan 
      50 g (3.5 tablespoons) butter, melted, for brushing the Buchteln 
      50 g (6 tablespoons) powdered sugar
        • Crumble yeast into a cup, add 100 ml of the lukewarm milk, stir. Add 50-100 g flour to make a starter dough. Covere and let rise for about 30-45 minutes or until surface is bubbly.
        • Mix egg yolks, melted butter and remaining milk. Add starter dough to this mixture.
        • Mix with all other (dry) ingredients and knead until smooth and shiny. Let rise another 60 minutes.
        • Preheat oven to 230 °C (440°F).
        • Form dough to a long roll and cut off 16 slices. Put a bit of jam on each slice, form ball around jam and put balls, seam down, on a buttered pan.
        • Brush with melted butter and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.
        •  Let cool a bit before dusting with powdered sugar.
        My modifications:
        I didn't bother making a long roll and cutting off slices to form the balls, I just plucked off pieces from the dough and that worked really well. 
        And as you can see, I filled half with plum butter and the other half with apricot jam. I personally like the apricot ones better, my husband the plum ones.

        These taste very good when they are still a bit warm. Bake them fresh on a Sunday morning (let the dough rise in the fridge over night). Or for your next tea party. Or pretty much whenever you like. You can't go wrong with these.

        Anything special that you like to bake for a nice Sunday breakfast?

        January 22, 2012

        3/52 Gâteau au Chocolat Fondant

        Chocolate... Oh chocolate... Who doesn't love chocolate?
        (I don't know anyone who doesn't but if I did, I wouldn't be very understanding towards them.)

        Some days, chocolate cake can be even better than 'just' chocolate though. When having coffee with family and/or friends, for example. Or when celebrating someone or something. Like, a wedding.
        At least that's when Molly Wizenberg, the creator of Orangette and writer of A homemade Life, made the chocolate cake that I'm about to introduce you to. And please be so kind and introduce yourself to Orangette if you haven't already. You won't be sorry, I promise!

        In 'A Homemade Life', Molly saves this recipe for the last chapter of the book. The cake is actually called The winning hearts and minds cake or, our wedding cake. Just now, when looking up the recipe on her blog, I learned that Molly adapted and renamed it from Gâteau au Chocolat Fondant de Nathalie from the book Je veux du chocolat. Since I don't know Nathalie, I decided to just call it Gâteau au Chocolat Fondant.

        Gâteau au Chocolat Fondant
        Adapted from Molly Weizenberg/Orangette (who adapted it from Je veux du chocolat)

        200 g (7 ounces) dark chocolate (of excellent quality; I used 100 g mild and 100 g intensive 70% Lindt chocolate)
        200 g (7 ounces) butter
        250 g (1 1/3 cup) sugar
        5 large eggs
        1 tablespoon flour
        • Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F).
        • Grease a round pan (∅ 20 cm/9 in) with butter. Line the bottom with baking parchment and grease the paper as well.
        • Melt chopped chocolate and butter in a bowl over simmering water. Stir frequently to combine.
        • When smooth, stir in the sugar. Set aside to cool off a bit.
        • Stir in one egg at a time, mixing well after each.
        • Add the flour and stir well.
        • Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes.
        • Let cool in pan for about 15 minutes, then remove from pan.
        My modifications: Since I only own round pans that are bigger than 20 cm, I used a square one in that size.

        Molly advises to check the cake after 20 minutes of baking when it should still be 'jiggly'. Check again every 2 minutes until it is only slightly jiggly, if at all. I took mine out after 24 minutes of baking, when I thought it had the correct 'jigglyness'...
        According to Molly, this cake is even better when eaten the next day. Let's see about that!
        Update: It really is so much better the next day!﹜
        Update 2: And it is even better when eaten 2 days after baking it!﹜
        It is also supposed to freeze well but needs 24 hours of defrosting at room temperature.
        Are you a chocolate lover? 
        Please share your favorite chocolates, chocolate recipes, or chocolate-related anecdotes, I would love to hear them!

        January 15, 2012

        2/52 Chocolate Orange Bundt Cake

        I loooove the combination of chocolate and orange. And I love Joy the Baker.
        So it makes total sense to try the Chocolate Orange Bundt Cake from Joy's website, right?
        Glad you agree.

        To me, chocolate and orange is a perfect combination for wintery days. But then again, it's a very summery combination as well. I guess it's that sweet freshness, or fresh sweetness, that is appealing year-round.
        And that very 70s brown-orange color combo which immediately comes to mind when thinking about chocolate and oranges makes me feel all warm inside. Probably because it's the decade I was born in...

        Chocolate Orange Bundt Cake
        Adapted from Joy the Baker (who adapted it from - but didn't link to - the Gourmet Cookbook)
        • 565 g (3 1/2 cups) flour
        • 1 tablespoon baking powder
        • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
        • 1 teaspoon salt
        • 226 g (2 sticks or 1/2 pound) butter at room temperature
        • 430 g (2 cups) sugar
        • 4 large eggs, left at room temperature for 30 minutes
        • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
        • 450 g (2 cups) sour cream
        • 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
        • zest of 1 large orange
        • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
        • 100 g (1/2 cup) chocolate chips
          My modifications:
          To reduce my consumption of sugar just a little bit, I reduced it by 45 g (a little less than 1/4 cup) which means that I used 385 g (or about 1 3/4 cups).
          Instead of orange extract, I used 100 ml (a little over 3 oz) Cinzano Orancio, an orange flavored Vermouth. Just because I wanted to try that.
          My batter turned out a little too thick, so I added orange juice to both batters, 200 ml (a little over 6.5 oz) each. I figured that a little orange flavor wouldn't hurt the chocolate batter.
          I used chocolate cubes instead of chips simply because you cannot buy chocolate chips in Switzerland or Germany (or I just haven't seen them...). It's either tiny cubes or so-called 'drops'. Not a huge difference when used for baking though...
            • Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F).  
            • Combine sifted flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
            • Beat together butter and sugar at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  
            • Add one egg at a time, beating well after each, then beat in vanilla.  
            • At low speed, mix in half of the flour mixture until just blended.  Add sour cream, mixing until just combined, then add remaining flour mixture and mix until smooth.
            • Divide the batter evenly into two bowls. Stir in orange extract and orange zest in one bowl, cocoa powder and chocolate chips in the other bowl.
            • Pour the orange batter into the prepared Bundt pan. Pour the chocolate batter on top of the orange batter. Swirl together if you want to.
            • Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour (depending on the 'wooden stick test').
            • Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for about 30 minutes. Let it cool completely on a cooling rack, removed from the pan. 
              Just like last week, I had to bake this cake a little longer: 80 minutes total. This might be due to two reasons: I think that the Bundt cake pan I used (a silicone one) is not perfect and requires longer baking. This happened to me before when using this pan, I am not even sure if I will use it again. Another reason might be that my oven is not heating accurately. I have never used an oven thermometer until now but will buy one tomorrow. Should be an inexpensive but important addition to my kitchen tools.

              But back to the cake: the orange flavor was not as strong as I would have wanted it to be, so if I make it again, I will definitely use more orange zest/extract/juice.

              What is your favorite combination of flavors? 
              And what are your experiences with baking times & oven temperatures?

                January 8, 2012

                T & T: Egg Test

                Welcome to the first post of T & T = Tips & Tricks!

                I did buy new eggs for the Nut Cake. But I also had eggs left from my Christmas baking which expired 3 days ago. In such cases, I always do the 'egg test' which is quick and reliable. All 3 eggs that I tested were still okay, so I did use those for the Nut Cake. The freshly bought ones will find their way into something else at a later point.

                I am sure that most of you already know the 'egg test' but if you don't:
                • fill a glass with water
                • put the egg you want to test into the water
                • if it goes down to the bottom of the glass, it is still good and okay to eat.
                • if it floats on the water's surface, it is not good anymore and should be thrown away.
                Easy, right?

                1/52: Nut Cake

                Happy 2012! Let's get this cake'n'bake party started, shall we?

                The thing is, before Christmas there was a lot of baking going on. Yes, all over the world but also specifically in this household. Ten different Christmas cookies, one 'Stollen' (typical German Christmas cake/bread), and one cake for coffee time on Christmas eve. The cookie tins are still filled with the last bits and pieces, so cravings for new sweet baked goods have not appeared until (and including) today.

                But since this blog was waiting for its first post, I decided to start with something simple. Easy. Quick. Made from ingredients still at home from the Christmas baking extravaganza. So this is it.

                Nut Cake
                adapted from Swedish Cakes and Cookies which was given to me by my Swedish friend Katarina a couple of years ago. Thanks again, Katta!
                • 125 g (1/2 cup) butter, softened
                • 160 g (2/3 cup) sugar
                • 2 eggs
                • 75 g (3/4 cup) ground nuts
                • 110 g (2/3 cups) flour
                • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
                My modifications:
                Since I only had eggs size small, I used 3 instead of 2.
                Ground almonds and grounds hazelnuts were left from Christmas so I used a mix of 40 g almonds and 35 g hazelnuts. I also added 50 g of almond slivers that needed to be used up.
                • Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F).
                • Beat the butter and sugar until light.
                • Add one egg at a time and beat well.
                • Combine the dry ingredients and fold into the batter.
                • Pour into 1 liter (4 cup) loaf pan or 8 inch round cake pan.
                • Bake on a low oven rack for around 30 minutes.
                I moved my cake to one of the top racks for the last 5 minutes, since the top hadn't baked much. I even added 10 more minutes on the middle rack after which it was perfect.
                    This really was simple, easy, and quick, don't you think?
                    Nevertheless moist, tasty, and a real crowd-pleaser, I would say.
                    And a good way to start the New Year after all that Christmas indulgence...