April 27, 2012

17/52 Lemon Poppy-Seed Cake

I totally had no idea which cake to make this week. So I started thinking...

Something simple and plain but not boring.
Something healthy but not too healthy.
Something with a little less calories but still full of flavor.
Something citrusy to match the sun that's coming out more and more.

And after random searching, I found this recipe and decided to give it a go:

Lemon Poppy-Seed Cake
Adapted from Eating Well

350 g (2 1/2 cups) flour
25 g (1/4 cup) poppy seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soday
1/4 teaspoon salt
250 ml (1 cup) buttermilk
50 ml (1/4 cup) vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons lemon zest, freshly grated
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 eggs
2 egg whites
300 g (1 1/4 cup) sugar

75 g (3/4 cup) powdered sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon water

  • Preheat oven to 180°C (360°F).
  • Mix flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
  • Combine buttermilk, oil, vanilla extract, lemon zest and juice in a cup or bowl.
  • Beat eggs and egg whites with sugar on high for about 5 minutes until thick and pale yellow.
  • Taking turns, fold in flour mix and buttermilk mix with a spatula.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.
  • Let cool in pan for about 10 minutes before taking out of pan.
  • For the glaze, sift powdered sugar into a bowl, add lemon juice and water and mix well. With a brush, coat cake with glaze and let cool and dry completely.

My modifications:
The original recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour and 1 cup all-purpose flour. I only used all-purpose flour because that's what I had at home.
I did not toast the poppy seeds in a dry skillet just because I was a bit lazy.
I used sunflower seed oil instead of canola oil.
For the glaze I used lime juice to give it extra citrus flavor. I also didn't poke any holes into the cake before glazing which still worked fine.

The taste:
I love it. The cake is moist, light and fluffy. The lemon or lime glaze adds flavor and makes it more interesting. You can't really taste the poppy seeds but maybe that's because I didn't toast them beforehand.

What cake are you in the mood for at the moment?

April 22, 2012

16/52 Blueberry Cheesecake

New York Cheesecake is my absolute favorite! I just felt that you should know that before I continue...

It was my friend Martina's birthday last week and I told her that I would bake her any cake she wanted. So after some thinking, she decided that she wanted a cheesecake. But not the NY kind...
It is hard to believe but there are actually people out there who do not like NY cheesecake! And Martina happens to be one of them. She likes the German version that uses 'Quark' (curd cheese or fromage blanc).

Since I promised to bake whatever she likes, I grudgingly had to give in... But not before trying to convince her to at least add something to the filling, like tangerine slices (very good in cheesecake) or chocolate chips (never tried that but imagine it to be good, too). So she gave in a little as well and decided for blueberries.
Fine by me.

Blueberry Cheesecake

Adapted from here

For the base/crust:
200 g (1.6 cups) flour
75 g (1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon) sugar
75 g (1/3 cup) margarine
1 egg
2 teaspoons baking powder

For the filling:
125 g (1/2 cup) margarine
225 g (1 1/8 cup) sugar
1 packet vanilla sugar (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
1 packet (= 40 g) vanilla pudding powder (or: 4 tablespoons corn starch + 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
3 eggs
500 g (2 1/4 cups) quark
200 g (0.87 cup) sour cream
200 g (0.84 cup) heavy cream, fluid
250 g (1 2/3 cup) blueberries

  • Preheat oven to 180°C (360°F).
  • Mix all ingredients for the crust and quickly combine them using your hands, until you have a smooth dough.
  • For the filling, mix together margarine, sugar, vanilla sugar (or extract), pudding powder, and eggs. Add quark and sour cream. Beat heavy cream until stiff and carefully fold into the quark-mix.
  • Spread out crust into greased springform pan (and don't forget to pull it up the sides as well). Using a fork, put some holes in the crust bottom and arrange blueberries on it.
  • Pour cheese filling on top and bake for about 1 hour.
  • When done, leave oven door open for a couple of minutes before taking out the cake so that it doesn't collapse too quickly. Be prepared for it to collapse though, that's how it's supposed to be!

My modifications:
The original recipe does not include any fruit or other additions to the filling.

The taste:
I love New York Cheesecake. Wait... did I mention this already?
But - I have to admit that this cake is delicious! It looks perfect and it tastes perfect. You should definitely try it!
Oh, and in case you're wondering why I know how it tasted if I made it for Martina - we agreed that we will split the cake so she got half and I got half. That's fair, right?

Do you like cheesecake? Which is your favorite version?

April 15, 2012

15/52 Coconut & White Chocolate Cake

Coconut and white chocolate. What a combination.
Up until not too long ago, I would not have liked it much. But this is a great example of how taste can suddenly and unexpectedly change.

I am not sure when I started liking coconut. I never hated coconut but I would never eat a Bounty chocolate bar, for example. Or coconut macaroons, which my grandma always made for Christmas - I would eat 2 in December and that was it for the year.
Maybe it was just those things that were very coconutty. Like Bounty or coconut macaroons. But now I'm okay with that.

My grandpa loved white chocolate. I never really understood why. Sure, I would eat it if I craved something sweet and white chocolate was the only thing that was around (which never really happened).
But a couple of weeks ago, the hubby brought me some Lindt white chocolate Easter eggs that had a smooth white chocolate filling (exactly like the white Lindor balls) and I haven't been interested in any other chocolate ever since! (Okay, that might not be completely true, but you know...)

So when I visited Chocolate & Zucchini in search of a nice cake recipe that I could make this week, the Coconut & White Chocolate Cake practically sprang into my face.
It would be the perfect flavor to banish that cold, wet, uncomfortable April weather.
And to satisfy my white chocolate cravings (I hope).
The coconut also fits our next vacation which we just booked two days ago: Puerto Rico. Coincidence? Probably not. Even though I wouldn't go as far as to say that the cake recipe influenced our vacation planning. No, definitely not...

Coconut & White Chocolate Cake

225 g (3 cups) coconut flakes
200 g (1.6 cups) flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
115 g (1 stick) butter, room temperature
200 g (1 cup) sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
250 ml (1 cup) plain yogurt
140 g (5 oz) white chocolate
  • Preheat oven to 180°C (360°F). 
  • Put coconut flakes on a baking sheet and let it roast in the oven for about 5 minutes. Take out and let cool. 
  • In a bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and baking soda. 
  • Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 
  • Add the eggs one at a time. Then add the vanilla extract and yogurt. Add flour mix. Fold in 2/3 of the roasted coconut flakes. 
  • Bake in prepared round pan (25 cm/10 in) for 30-50 minutes. Let cool. 
  • Melt the chocolate and spread evenly on top of the cake. Sprinkle with the remaining coconut flakes.

My modifications:
The original recipe suggests an optional tablespoon of rum to be put into the batter. Since I don't like rum, I added a teaspoon of white chocolate sirup which I happened to have at hand. 
My cake was done after 30 minutes of baking, even though the original recipe calls for 50-60 minutes baking time. 

The taste:
Very coconutty and moist. Tropical. Delicious.
The hubby's question to me after the first bites: 'Since when do you like coconut?'     Ha...

Is there something you never really liked eating but all of a sudden did?

April 8, 2012

14/52 Hefezopf

Hefezopf is just one of those things that somehow loses its identity when trying to translate it into English. But options could be Plaited Yeast Bun, Braided Yeast Bread, Twist,...
Or simply Yeast Braid, if you translated it literally.

Anyway, a Hefezopf should not be missing on any (Easter) brunch table.
It is so versatile because it is neither sweet nor salty, so you can top it with anything you like.
Like a slice of toast, if you will. Just so much better!

You can also fill it with a nut or poppy seed mixture but that transforms it to more of a cake, so I personally like the plain (bread-like) one better for breakfast or brunch.

Adapted from recipe on package of Streich-Mühle's Zopfmehl (braid flour)

500 g (4 cups) Zopfflour (which is extra fine flour, in this case half wheat, half spelt)
20 g (1.8 oz) yeast
300 ml (1 1/3 cup) milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
50 g (3.5 tablespoons) butter
1 egg yolk
  • Dissolve yeast in lukewarm milk.
  • Mix with flour, salt, sugar, and butter.
  • Knead well until dough is smooth and elastic.
  • Let rise in covered bowl for 1 hour (or overnight in the fridge - see below).
  • Form 3 strings and braid. Note that the strings do not have to be equally thick but should be the same length.
  • Brush with egg yolk.
  • Bake in preheated oven at 200°C (390°F) for 40-55 minutes.
My modifications:
But for the first time, I let the dough rise over night in the fridge. I was a bit sceptical but it worked really well. This is perfect for all yeast baking you want to do for breakfast because that 1 hour of dough-rising is just too much in the morning...

The taste:
Plain with just butter.
Or topped with jam, honey, chocolate spread, peanut butter.
But also with cheese, meat, veggies.

What do you bake for Easter? Or for any other brunch occasion?

April 1, 2012

13/52 Tortano with Mozzarella, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Olives

This week, it's time for some savory baking again. Italian. And cheesy.

With the weather being so nice (= sunny and warm), BBQ and picnic season seems to have started. Freshly baked bread is always a great addition to barbecued meat or veggies.

Even better, especially for picnics or just light outdoor meals in general, is freshly baked filled bread. And that's exactly what a Tortano is. An Italian bread, shaped as a wreath, filled with everything you can think of:
Ham. Mozzarella. Sun-dried tomatoes. Hard-boiled eggs. Feta. Olives.
Salami. Grilled veggies. Goat's cheese. Nuts. You name it.

Oh, and with Easter coming up, you've got yourself the perfect Easter brunch bread that will make everybody happy. 

Up until now, I have always used one of Jamie Oliver's recipes for the Tortano (from this book), filled with Parma ham (or without for vegetarians), hard-boiled eggs, cheese, and sun-dried tomatoes. It was always a huge hit with everybody who tried it.
Since I said that I would only try new recipes for this blog, I used a recipe from Leila Lindholm today. She presents various different fillings in her book, but I chose the very classical mozzarella and sun-dried tomato filling, just adding green olives.
You just can't go wrong with a filling like this, can you?

Tortano with Mozzarella, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Olives
Adapted from Leila Lindholm's book One More Slice

For the bread:
15 g (0.5 oz) fresh yeast
300 ml (1 1/3 cup) water, lukewarm
2 tablespoons tomato oil (in which the sun-dried tomatoes are preserved)
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 tablespoon sea salt
500 g (4 cups) flour

For the filling:
6 sun-dried tomatoes (those preserved in oil), cut into stripes
8 green olives, pitted and cut into slices
2 balls (250 g / 8.8 oz) mozzarella, cut into slices
1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • Crumble the yeast into a bowl. Add water, oil, honey and salt and dissolve yeast.
  • Add flour and using your hands, work into an elastic dough.
  • Cover bowl with a kitchen towel and allow to rise until doubled in size (about 40 minutes).
  • On a surface covered with flour, carefully push and pull dough to a rectangle that's about 1 cm (0.4 in) thick.
  • Put filling on the dough. Brush edges with a bit of water and fold up lengthwise, then form a wreath and close.
  • Preheat oven to 250°C (480°F).
  • Transfer wreath to baking sheet covered with parchment paper. If not already covered in flour, put a bit of flour on top. Cover again with towel and let raise for another 30 minutes while oven heats up.
  • Reduce oven temperature to 200°C (390°F) and bake on middle rack for 35 minutes. 
  • Let cool on a wire rack.
Modifications for different fillings:
Just use olive oil instead of the tomato oil and replace the filling by any other filling or combination you desire.

The taste:
It tastes like a summer vacation in Italy. Right there in your mouth.
No, but seriously, the bread is really fluffy and the tomatoes and olives give a great amount of salty but fresh flavor. Just perfect!

What do you bake for picnics? Do you bake your own bread?