Easter Special: Apple Roses Cake

Warning: This cake takes time. A lot of time. I usually like simple recipes, I am not somebody who spends hours and hours in the kitchen. Except for special occasions. Really special occasions. Like Easter and Christmas. So this cake is my Easter Special. I mean, it does require a lot of work. Be prepared.

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The good thing is that you can prepare it in advance. In fact, it will taste better the second or third day. In has so many great parts.

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Base: Pound cake. This is a classic pound cake with a wonderful twist. Ever tried the combination apples with rosemary? I hadn’t. It is wonderful! The rosemary flavor really complements the apples. As you simmer the apples and rosemary first with a little bit of butter, you do taste the rosemary, but it is not too dominant. It adds some nice spice.

Mid-Section: Once you got the cake out of the oven, you put a thin layer of apricot jam on the top and sprinkle the edges with some almonds to make it look pretty. Another nice layer you can later enjoy.

Apple Roses: This is the fun part. In order to get them to really twist and turn, you boil the apple slices in sugar water for about 30 seconds. Once you place them on the cake, you will brush them with apricot jam and bake the whole cake for another 10 minutes. This seals the apple roses so they don’t turn brown, but also helps to caramelize the top layer. Do I need to say anythings else?

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I promise, making this cake takes a lot of time, but it is not hard to make. Let’s see:

Apple Roeses Pound Cake

  • Servings: one cake of ∅24 cm
  • Time: 20min preparation pound cake + 1 hour baking time + 45min making apple roses + 10min baking time
  • Difficulty: easy, but you need patience
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An apple rosemary pound cake topped off with apple roses

Credit for pound cake: “Anniks göttliche Kuchen” (German cookbook), page 16

Ingredients

Pound cake:

  • 2 apples (for baking, e.g. Boskop) (säuerliche Äpfel wie z.B. Boskop)
  • 2 tablespoons of butter (Butter)
  • 2 tablespoons/20 grams of fresh rosemary, finely chopped (frischer feingehackter Rosmarin)
  • 2 tablespoons of apple juice (Apfelsaft)
  • 1 tablespoon of regular sugar (weißer Zucker)
  • 170 grams of unsalted butter at room temperature (it has to be soft) (weiche Süßrahmbutter)*
  • 170 grams of brown sugar (brauner Zucker)
  • 1 tablespoon of molasses (can be omitted) (Zuckerrübensirup)
  • 3 eggs, size L at room temperature (Eier)**
  • 250 grams of all-purpose flour (Mehl, Type 405)
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda (Natron)
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder (Backpulver)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon (Zimt)
  • a pinch of salt (Prise Salz)
  • 125 grams of sour cream (Schmand/Saure Sahne)

Topping:

  • 1-2 tablespoons of apricot jam (Aprikosenmarmelade)
  • 1 liter of water (Wasser)
  • 200 grams of regular sugar (weißer Zucker)
  • 50 grams of blanched almonds (gehobelte Mandeln)
  • 6 red apples (Äpfel)

*The butter has to be at room temperature. Either heat it up a bit in the microwave or place in a warm, sunny place to be sure it has the right consistency.

**Put eggs into a bowl with warm water for five minutes if you forgot to take out the eggs on time.

Directions

Pound cake

  1. Peel the apples, slice each into 4 pieces, take out core and chop into cubes.
  2. Melt butter in a saucepan and simmer apple cubes and rosemary for about 5 minutes with the apple juice.
  3. Add sugar and let simmer for about 1-2 minutes, set aside.
  4. Meanwhile prepare all other ingredients and butter and flour a springform of ∅ 24cm. Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius.
  5. In a large bowl cream the butter until fluffy, then add the brown sugar. Once very creamy, add molasses. Mix in eggs, one at a time.
  6. Sift (sieben) the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt on top of the butter mix. Mix slowly with a mixer.
  7. Add the sour cream and mix until you have a heavy and creamy batter with no lumps.
  8. Fold in the apple rosemary mix with a wooden spoon.
  9. Pour into the springform and bake on middle rack for about an hour. Inserted toothpick should come out clean.

Apple roses topping

  1. Meanwhile slice all 6 apples into 2mm slices (I used my bread cutting machine), don’t use the apple core, but stop shortly before you reach the center. So you will slice each apple from two sides and have the core left to throw away.
  2. Bring one liter of water with 200 grams of sugar to boil. Stir so that sugar dissolves. Put in all apple slices at once and wait until water boils again. Take apple slices out and drain. Set aside to cool off a bit.
  3. Take cake out of the oven and spread a thin layer of heated-up apricot jam on top with either a spoon or a brush, about 1 tablespoon. Place the almonds around the edges.
  4. To make the apple roses always start with a small slice and roll up. Place another slice around. For each apple rose you will need about 4-6 apple slices. Always start with smaller slices and keep the biggest slices for the outer part of the rose. Make a small cut of about 1 cm in the center of the cake. Place the first apple rose into this cut and work your way to the edges of the cake, making small cuts for each apple rose.
  5. Once done, brush the apple roses with about 1 tablespoon of heated-up apricot jam and bake for 10 minutes at 180 degrees on middle rack. This will help for the apple roses not to turn brown, but also to caramalize the jam.

Tips:

  • The key to making a pound cake is to have all ingredients at room temperature, especially the butter and eggs.
  • Pound cake means to mix ingredients thoroughly. Especially when you prepare the butter part, take your time before you add new ingredients and make sure there are never any lumps seen.
  • Yes, you can only make the pound cake. Also very delicious without apple roses.
  • The apple roses are not that hard to make. You just need to be sure that you can twist the apple slices the way you want. Boiling the apple slices for a bit in sugar water really does the trick, it should not be hard to create the roses.
  • Make sure you make the apple slices thin enough, 2 mm is about perfect.
  • This cake tastes even better on the second or third day. Keep in the fridge for 5 days.
  • It is very easy to make the pound cake (you can even freeze it) in advance and make the apple roses another time.

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Best,

Jenny

Salty Dark Chocolate Cookies with a Caramel Surprise Center

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I have a treat for you. Think a very dark chocolate cookie with chocolate chunks and a surprise caramel center inside. Add some flaky sea salt and you got this price-winning cookie. I am not kidding. Sally from Sallysbakingaddiction.com actually won a baking contest with these cookies. It doesn’t surprise me, they are really and truly worth every bite!

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They are this type of cookie which make you close your eyes so that you don’t miss a tiny little bit of its wonderful flavor. Even my husband, you doesn’t like the sweet and salty combination in cookies got excited. That really means something. Actually a lot.

They are not hard to prepare, the only part that takes a little bit of time is actually rolling them and placing the caramel in the middle of two smaller cookies. Other than that they are very straight-forward.

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Sally recommends to use Rolos for the filling. However, as they not that easy to find in Germany, I went for a simple caramel toffee, they can be find in regular grocery stores such as Rewe, etc. Mine were called “Sahne Muh-Muhs“. I have seen “Kuhbonbons“, “Werther’s Original” and “Durchbeißer“. Either of them will do. Obviously you can go with a Rolo. Just look for a caramel toffee and you will be fine.

But now let’s get to business and bake this delicious cookie!

Salty Dark Chocolate Cookies with a Caramel Center

  • Servings: about 12 cookies
  • Time: 30mins preparation + 1hr chilling time + 14mins baking
  • Difficulty: fairly easy
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A salty chocolate cookie worth every caramel bite

Credit: Sallys Baking Addiction (she won a price with this recipe)

Ingredients

  • 115 grams of unsalted butter (Süßrahmbutter), at room temperature*
  • 50 grams of regular white sugar (weißer Zucker)
  • 70 grams of brown sugar (brauner Zucker)
  • 1 egg, size L at room temperature**
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, see here how to make your own
  • 125 grams of all-purpose flour (Mehl, Type 405)
  • 50 grams of unsweetened cocoa powder (ungesüßtes Kakaopulver)
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda (Natron)
  • a pinch of salt (Prise Salz)
  • 2 tablespoons of milk (Milch)
  • 200 grams of semi-sweet chocolate chunks (zartbitter Schokolade, kleingehackt)
  • 12 caramel toffees (Karamelltoffees, wie z.B. Rolo, Wether’s Original, Durchbeißer, Kuhbonbons)
  • sea salt (Meeressalz)

*Leave the butter in a sunny place in summer and on the heating in winter. It will soften very quickly

**If you forgot to take the eggs out on time, simply put them in a small bowl with warm water, they are ready in less than 5 minutes

Directions

  1. Cream the butter in a large bowl for a minute. Add the sugars and cream for a couple of minutes.
  2. Add the egg and mix a little more. Add the vanilla extract and make sure the batter is all creamy and no lumps are seen.
  3. Sift (sieben) the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt on top of the butter mix and mix with a mixer on low speed until evenly dark brown.
  4. Stir in the milk, then fold in the chopped up chocolate chunks.
  5. Chill for at least one hour or over night in the fridge.
  6. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsisus and line two baking sheets with parchment paper (Backpapier).
  7. Take dough out of the fridge and use about one tablespoon per cookies. You should be able to make 24 cookies. Roll them with your hands until each has the size of a walnut and is round.
  8. Now take the caramel toffees (I cut mine in half as they were too big) and place 12 caramel toffees on 12 cookies. Take the left 12 cookies and put them on top of the cookies with the caramel.
  9. Create one big cookie out of the two cookies with the caramel toffee in the middle. Now the size should be the size of a tennis ball. Make sure that the caramel toffee is securely stuffed inside. Repeat with all 12 cookies.
  10. Sprinkle with sea salt and bake for about 14 minutes. The center should still look soft and only the edges should be brown.
  11. Let cookies sit on baking sheet and add some more sea salt.

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Tips:

  • The cookie dough can be made the day before. You will only need about half an hour to have the cookie ready to eat.
  • Obviously you can stuff the cookie with any other small sweet. I was thinking of the famous Toffifee, Nutella or some other deliciousness. Go wild!
  • These cookies taste even better the second or third day! Keep them in an airtight container in the fridge.
  • For the caramel to melt in your mounth, microwave cookies for a little bit or put on a toaster.

Greetings from Jenny

Overnight Danish Buns with Yoghurt

I currently live in Hamburg, not that far away from the Danish border. One thing I notice is that you find a lot of Scandinavian products here. Cheeses of various kinds, Rødgrød (English red berry sauce, German rote Grütze), and Flæskesvær (English fried pork rind, German frittierte Schweineschwarte) are only a few. It probably comes as no surprise that I felt I wanted to try a Danish recipe for buns.

Danish people are probably as obsessed with bread as are Germans. They have perfected the simple cold cuts on a delicious slice of bread, their Smørebrød is known worldwide. The buttered rye bread is crowned with a creative topping, this can be a cold cut, but ranges from vegan to extremely meaty options. I was fortunate enough to try Smørebrød when I was in Copenhagen and can highly recommend it. If you have the chance, try it, I find it extremely delicious (see also pictures).

Smørebrød as found in Copenhagen

Anyway, so as I was saying, since I live so close to Denmark now, I felt it was time to try a Danish recipe. I decided for a bun with wheat flour. When I was looking for a recipe, I learned that Danish people like buns to be light and fluffy, that’s why they often add yoghurt to the mix and why the dough will feel really soft. I was very tempted to add more flour when I was kneading (kneten) the dough, but I must warn you, the more flour you add, the more likely it is that your buns will taste dull. Moist is a word Danish like to use a lot to describe how the bread or bun should be. Light in texture, like a feather, but also full of flavor.

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When I was in Copenhagen I managed to buy some local flour our host recommended to us (no, I am not paid to show this flour), but I am sure you will also find some way to create the right flour mix or to buy good high gluten flour. It is definitely worth it. The flour is Type 815 in Germany, which, as far as I can tell, can only be found in some of the larger EDEKAs, or on Amazon. I believe in the U.S. it is not as hard to come by. You will have to look for a high gluten flour. Please let me know in the comments if you found good places where to get the flour.

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This is a bun which is prepared the day before. The yeast does its magic in the fridge, which means that it takes longer as it is not that warm. I think they are totally worth to wait for.

Overnight Danish Buns with Yoghurt

  • Servings: about 16 buns or 2 bread loaves
  • Time: 15min preparation plus 10 hours resting time plus 20min baking time
  • Difficulty: easy
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A fluffy and light bun with lots of flavor and yoghurt


Credit: As found on the back of the flour package Okologisk Ølandshvedemel from Meyers (in Danish)

Ingredients

  • 600 milliliters of lukewarm water (lauwarmes Wasser)
  • 60 grams of plain yogurt (Naturjoghurt)
  • 1 tablespoon of honey or molasses (Honig oder Zuckerrübensirup)
  • 22 grams of fresh yeast (half a cube) (Frischhefe)
  • 5 grams of salt (Salz)
  • 750-800 grams of Okologisk Ølandshvedemel (English: High gluten flour, German Halbweißmehl, Type 812, kann hier bestellt werden oder selbst angemischt werden, z.B. siehe hier)

Directions

Day 1

  1. Stir water, yoghurt, honey, and salt together in a bowl and dissolve the yeast in it. Add about 400 grams of flour and stir with a wooden spoon.
  2. Add 200 more grams of the flour while stirring.
  3. Add the remaining 150 grams of flour and stir with a wooden spoon. Then change and knead (kneten) dough with your hands in the bowl. The dough will be sticky, but try not to add too much flour. If need be, pour a little bit of oil on your hands so that the dough doesn’t stick as much.
  4. Form dough into a ball and leave in bowl. Cover with a kitchen towl and transfer to fridge. Resting time should be at least 8 hours, but it can easily be kept in the fridge for up to 24 hours. The flavor will intensify. Resting time 8 hours or more

Day 2

  1. Take dough out of the fridge and let sit at room temperature for an hour. Resting time 1 hour
  2. Divide dough into about 16 equal pieces and roll each piece in some flour before placing all on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper (Backpapier). Cover again with a kitchen towel and let sit for at least half an hour to an hour. Resting time half an hour to an hour
  3. Preheat oven to 250 degrees Celsius. Place a container with about 500 milliliters of water at the bottom of the oven. Lower temperature to 230 degrees.
  4. Put the first baking sheet with the bund on lower rack and bake for about 20 minutes or until buns are golden brown. Take out the container filled with water after 5 minutes and reduce temperature to 200 degrees. Repeat with the second batch. I do not recommend to bake with circulating air.

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Tips:

  • Remember that this is an overnight bun. Leaving the dough in the fridge helps to develop the flavor and is also a slower version to have the yeast do its magic. I do not recommend a first rise at room temperature.
  • Bread doesn’t like ovens with circulating air (convection oven). Make sure that you have an extremely hot oven when you put the buns in and that the air is humid (this is where the water container comes in). Only lower the temperature after 5 minutes for buns and about 10 minutes for bread loaves.

Healthy ginger muffins with no refined sugar

In February, I did a little experminet: I didn’t eat any refined sugar. For 24 days it was honey, molasses, raisins or dates. So I had to check what I could eat for breakfast because I like sweet breakfast. In February I would eat a slice of bread with peanut butter, molasses and banana, but that got boring. So I checked what else I could try. I know that it is not that common in Germany to have a muffin for breakfast. I mean, that sounds like eating cake for breakfast, right? Not going to happen during my sugarfree month. But if you think of a muffin without refined sugar and a lot of whole wheat flour, it suddenly doesn’t sound that bad. If you add some fresh ginger  (much better than ground!) and dark molasses to the mix, you suddenly got me interested. I enjoy mine with plain yoghurt. Try it, it really is an awesome combo!

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They are nice and juicy, with a strong ginger flavor and you won’t be hungry. Cut them in half and put some plain yoghurt on them while you enjoy your coffee. I promise you, you will make them again. I most definitely did!

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Healthy Ginger Muffins

  • Servings: 12 regular muffins
  • Time: 20min preparation + 20min baking time
  • Difficulty: easy
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A healthy ginger muffin with a strong cinnamon flavor and whole wheat

Credit: Pinch of yum

Ingredients

  • 60 grams of fresh ginger, ground (frischer und geriebener Ingwer)*
  • 115 grams of butter
  • 150 grams of molasses (Zuckerrübensirup)
  • 150 grams of plain yoghurt with 3.5% fat (geschmacksneutraler Joghurt)
  • 160 grams of milk
  • 1 egg, size L
  • 170 grams of whole wheat flour (Mehl, Type 1050)
  • 170 grams of all-purpose flour (Mehl, Type 550)
  • 1½ teaspoons of baking soda (Natron)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon (Zimt)

*You can use ground ginger, but it is not as good. I would suggest about 2 teaspoons.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and and fill the muffin pan with muffin papers or grease muffin pan with butter.
  2. Grind the peeled fresh ginger (Ingwer reiben), then melt the butter and transfer both to a large bowl. Add the molasses, yoghurt, and milk and whisk for a while. Once everything is evenly distributed, add the egg and whisk again.
  3. Put the flours, baking soda, salt and cinnamon on top and gently fold the whole mixture with a wooden spoon. Don’t overmix, but just make sure that no white flour can be seen.
  4. Fill the twelve muffin holes, each should be filled 3/4 at least.
  5. Bake for about 20 minutes, toothpick (Zahnstocher) should come out clean.

Tips:

  • When preparing muffins, don’t overmix the “wet” ingredients with the “dry” ingredients. Just mix enough that you don’t see any white flour spots.
  • Always preheat the oven.
  • You can also sprinkle the muffins with some sugar/cinnamon mix
  • Made muffins freeze beatifully and can be made in advance
  • They are also great for a bread replacement with some butter and honey

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Fudgy brownies

If you ask me which recipe is universally loved around the world, I would say it is brownies. Chocolate in cake form, a delicious square, which can be prepared in under twenty minutes and is the traditional crowd pleaser. Brownies make me happy, brownies are comfort. They are so simple and easy! Oh, and in case you forgot, they have everything to be in chocolate heaven: lots and lots of high quality chocolate, butter, eggs, and sugar.

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I don’t know about you, but brownies are something special to me. Sometimes brownies need to be more like a chocolate cake, filled with walnuts, sometimes I prefer brownies to be more fudgy with a gooey center. Among the many brownie recipes, I decided to go for the one from Tessa for this blog entry. She experimented a lot to find the perfect recipe, check out her blog, she gives good explanations as to how each ingredient has an impact on the final result.

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This brownie is definitely more of the fudgy kind. If you want something more cakelike, look elsewhere. This brownie has a gooey center and a rich chocolate flavor. No, there is nothing healthy about this, on top of the large amount of chocolate, you add a lot of eggs and butter. But if you want to indulge yourself, this is it. Dig in!

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Photo by Daniel Cuervo

Fudgy brownies

  • Servings: 8-9 large brownies
  • Time: 20min preparation + 40min baking time
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 170 grams of unsalted butter, cut into cubes (kleingeschnittene Süßrahmbutter)
  • 170 grams of high quality chocolate with about 50%-75% cacao (gute Schokolade mit Kakaoanteil 50%-75%)
  • 170 grams of chocolate chips (Chocolate Chips, alternativ Backschokolade)
  • 3 eggs, size L + 1 egg yolk at room temperature (Eier und Eigelb)*
  • 200 grams of regular sugar (weißer Zucker)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (Vanilleextrakt), see here how to make your own
  • 94 grams of all-purpose flour (Mehl, Type 405)
  • a pinch of salt (Prise Salz)

*If you forgot to take the eggs out on time, simply put them in a small bowl with warm water, they are ready in less than 5 minutes

Directions

  1. Put the butter, chocolate chips and chocolate into a pot and melt on low heat. Stir constantly while butter and chocolates melt. Make sure that chocolate doesn’t burn. It will take about five to eight minutes due to the low heat. Cool off once completely melted.
  2. In a large bowl beat the eggs with the sugar for about three minutes with a hand mixer. The color should become lighter and the batter thicker. Then add the vanilla.
  3. Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius and line a typical lasagna form with parchment paper (Backpapier).
  4. Pour the cooled off chocolate mix to the egg mix with a spoon.
  5. Gently fold in the flour and salt. Don’t overmix.
  6. Bake for about 40 minutes on middle rack. Toothpick does not come out clean as the center remains rather soft.
  7. Brownies are easier to cut if chilled.

Tips:

  • Really make sure you don’t burn the chocolate. As I don’t own a microwave and find it complicated to melt my chocolate in a pot inside a pot with boiling water, remember to stir all the time and to have it melt on low heat.
  • Chill the brownies before cutting them into pieces.

Enjoy, Jenny

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Photo by Daniel Cuervo

Roscónes: Colombian sweet bread stuffed with guava paste

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Today I am excited to say that this is a treat you most likely haven’t heard of if you are not Colombian: roscónes. Sweet yeast bread is already a good start, then add some cool guava paste (called bocadillo in Colombia, it has many other names in other Latin American countries) and you have a very exotic mix. I think only Colombians can create something, which is like breakfast and dessert merged into one piece of deliciousness.

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I have come to learn this recipe because my husband is Colombian. Colombia has many exotic fruits nobody has ever heard of (including lulu, curuba, guanábana, etc., etc.) One of these fruits is guayaba, which is the base for this paste or jelly. You won’t see a picture of that fruit on this blog, well, because I have never seen it in Germany so I couldn’t take a picture of it. Feel free to google images. Bocadillo, the guava paste, is a jam you can cut with your knive, it usually comes in blocks. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But this paste is basically the jam Colombians serve with everything. Bocadillo with cheese is very common. Another is slicing a platain (Kochbanane), and stuffing it with bocadillo. Or stuffing a platain with bocadillo AND cheese. Colombians love their bocadillo, just as much as their cheese.

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So no wonder they also created a sweet bread stuffed with bocadillo. Roscónes are sort of the national dessert. Whenever I have asked Colobians of the most typical dessert of Colombia, roscón was always on top of the list. The yeast dough is only lightly sweet because of the bocadillo filling, but contains eggs and a little bit of butter, so is very fluffy and rich. Another typical filling is with arequipe or dulce de leche, sweetened milk, which is heated up and tastes somewhat like caramel.

If you are interested in Colombian dishes, I can recommend this English blog Mycolombianrecipes.com, which has a large section on main dishes, but also many desserts. It does explain many of the exotic Colombian ingredients and has a wealth of traditional recipes. The blog is also available in Spanish.

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But now back to roscónes. The only annoying part of this recipe is that you have to be patient. In total you have a resting time of three hours, so if you were thinking of making this in advance, I would definitely recommend to freeze the final result. The only other option you have is doing part of the resting overnight (see my tips below).

So ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to my favorite Colombian dessert: roscónes!

Roscónes: Colombian sweet bread stuffed with guava paste

  • Servings: 3 big roscónes or 4 smaller ones
  • Time: 20mins preparation + 3hrs resting time + 20mins baking
  • Difficulty: fairly easy, you only need patience
  • Print

A sweet yeast bread with exciting guava paste filling

Credit: My Colombian Recipes (also available in Spanish)

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 1 envelope of yeast, usually 7 grams (Trockenhefe)
  • 4 tablespoons + 200 milliliters of warm water
  • 50 grams + 50 grams of white sugar
  • 580-600 grams of all-purpose flour (Mehl, Type 405 oder Type 550)
  • 70 grams of butter, melted (geschmolzene Butter)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (Vanilleextrakt), see here how to make your own
  • 2 eggs, size L at room temperature*
  • 240 grams of guava paste (you obviosuly can also use jam, Nutella, etc.)**

For the glaze

  • 1 beaten egg
  • 2 tablespoons of melted butter

*If you forgot to take the eggs out on time, simply put them in a small bowl with warm water, they are ready in less than 5 minutes

**Guava paste can be found on Amazon, for example here; alternatively you can go for jam, in Germany I would recommend someting like Hagebuttenmarmelade, which probably is the closest in taste

Directions

  1. Pour four tablespoons of lukewarm (lauwarm) water into a big bowl. Add the yeast and 50 grams of sugar. Stir and let sit for about 10 minutes. Resting time 10min
  2. Add the flour, 50 grams of sugar and 200 milliliters of lukewarm water to the yeast mix and mix with a wooden spoon.
  3. Add the melted butter, vanilla extract and eggs and continue stirring.
  4. Once the ingredients are mixed well, start using your hands and knead (kneten) the dough for about 5-8 minutes. You can knead inside the bowl or move the dough to a lightly floured surface. I usually knead it in the bowl.
  5. The dough should feel elastic and stretch easily once you are done. You may add a bit more flour while keading, but the total should not be more than 600 grams of flour. This is a very soft dough.
  6. Shape into a ball and transfer back to bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise until double in size (about two hours). Resting time 2hrs
  7. After the resting knead the dough for 30 seconds on a clean surface and divide into three equal parts (I get three parts of about 360 grams each). Cover again with kitchen towel and let sit for ten minutes. Resting time 10min
  8. Roll each part into a long rope of about 30 centimeters. Roll out with rolling pin (Nudelholz). The rolled-out rectangle should be about 40-50 centimeters long and about 5 centimeters wide (see pictures).
  9. Place about 80 grams of cut guave paste into each rectangle (see pictures).
  10. Roll up the dough lengthwise. Connect the ends in order to form a ring.
  11. Place all three rings on a baking sheet with parchment paper (Backpapier) and cover again with kitchen towl. Let rise for about 25-30min. Resting time 25-30min
  12. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Cut with some scissors into the dough leaving 2-3 centimeters between each cut. Cut all around each ring (see pictures). Brush the top of the rings first with the beaten egg and then the melted butter.
  13. Bake for 17-20 minutes on the middle to lower rack or until golden. I usually bake on the middle rack and move them down to the lowest rack after 10min to avoid too much browning. I sometimes also reduce the temperature to 180 degrees if the roscónes look too brown early on.

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Tips:

  • Preparing in advance: You may do all steps until step 6. Put in fridge overnight after two hours of resting. Next day take out dough and let sit in room for one hour before continuing with steps 7-13.
  • Don’t be afraid of yeast. Yeast simply likes it warm. Think of it as a living thing (which it actually is) and make sure it feels cozy in your apartment. Don’t let a cold breeze come in, but have it warm all the time.
  • Since you are dealing with yeast, it may take longer or shorter for your dough to rise. Check on the dough once in a while.
  • Once you created the rings, feel free to roll them again to make them nice and round. You should not change their shape after step 11, but until then you can make them look pretty.

How to make vanilla extract

I originally planned to post here once per week, but I am so excited, I am going to ignore that plan and post anyway. There are two reasons why. No. 1: Anna from the blog Teigliebe (German) asked today which was our favorite spice for baking. Which made me think. The answer is really simple: I have come to realize that vanilla extract does give a recipe a very nice flavor. I have often been forced to leave out vanilla extract because it is soooo hard to come by in Germany. But the baked goods taste so much better if you add it. And no. 2 is because, you know, I finally found out how to make my own vanilla extract. It is so simple and easy, I am a bit angry I didn’t know beforehand.

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I stumbled across the idea on the blog Handle the heat. If you want to understand the science behind food and how certain ingredients have an impact on the final result, this is your blog to go to. Tessa from Handle the heat likes to invite guests for guest posts. And the one that got my attention was on how to make your own vanilla extract by Kristin from Bake like a champ.

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If you have ever tried to make an American recipe calling for vanilla extract in Germany, you know why I got so excited. Vanilla extract is unheard of in Germany. We do produce vanilla sugar, which means that vanilla beans are put into sugar and then sold (that’s how I make my own vanilla sugar by the way, just place a few vanilla beans in some sugar), but the extract, forget it. Really hard to get, I have looked, believe me. Vanilla sugar is a joke in my opinion. Try a little bit and tell me if you taste any vanilla. I feel vanilla extract is much better if you are looking for real vanilla flavor. I either had people get me vanilla extract from other European countries (as far as I can tell Germany is almost the only one not selling it in Europe) or asked people visiting from North America to get me some. But that most certainly is over now.

Because, finally, after years and years of baking in Germany and pulling my hair when yet again an American recipe called for vanilla extract (I would usually take vanilla sugar), I finally know how to make vanilla extract. You need two things: vodka and vanilla beans. That’s it. Really, it is that simple. And yes, check your bought vanilla extract, you will be surprised to see that it has 35% of alcohol. Mine did. I had some French and some bought for a lot of money on German Amazon. All had 35% alcohol. You will also be shocked to see how much artifical aroma, sugar and other things are added. I didn’t like that at all. Homemade is much better and so simple, it really is annoying. I will never use bought one again.

This is how it works:

How to make vanilla extract

  • Servings: 1 bottle of 500ml
  • Time: 5min
  • Difficulty: very easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 500 ml of vodka without flavor (Wodka) (such as Absolut, Smirnoff, etc.)
  • 8 whole vanilla beans (Vanilleschoten)

Directions

  1. Cut each vanilla bean lengthwise and place in an empty and washed bottle, which has a lid (Deckel, guten Verschluss)
  2. Pour vodka carefully into the bottle with the vanilla beans and close
  3. Shake and let sit for at least two weeks until bottle starts to have a very strong amber (Rubinstein) color (see pictures). No need to put in the fridge, storing in cupboard is fine
  4. It’s now ready for use!

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This is how you keep homemade vanilla extract for years:

  • You simply use your bottle each time you need vanilla extract. It does not go bad or anything, you can use it for years.
  • If you run low, you can add fresh vodka. Every time you add vodka, add a vanilla bean. The ratio is more or less one vanilla bean per 100 milliliters.
  • No need to take out the vanilla beans, just keep the old ones inside.
  • My husband suggested to use rum instead of vodka. I think he might has a point there. I might do my next bottle with that combination.

Greetings from rainy Hamburg,
Jenny

Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am a huge fan of cookies. If you say chocolate chips, I am in. If you say chocolate chips plus Nutella, you get me excited. Think of a cookie full of chocolate chips plus a soft center plus a swirl of Nutella. I can’t resist that combination.

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I found these cookies on one of my favorite baking blog sites. Sally from www.sallysbakingaddiction.com is somebody you will hear from a lot on this blog. She is my personal heroine. I can only encourage you to check out her site. She got it figured out. Every single recipe I have tried from her always gets raving reviews. I even got one of her books for Christmas. She really is a pro.

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So when I tried these Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies from her blog the first time around, I knew they would be great. I didn’t twist the recipe that much. I only lowered the amount of sugar. American recipes are always too sweet for me. I have come to learn that usually you can cut the sugar amount in half and still feel it is sweet enough. In this instance I cut even to a third. Mainly because the Nutella already contains a lot of sugar, so I felt it was over the top and would be too sweet. But apart from that, I follow her recipe mostly.

As expected the first time I tried her recipe, the cookies were a success. I wasn’t really surprised when my husband requested them this weekend again. They are so simple, easy and delicious. And the best of it: you can enjoy the cookies after half an hour! This includes preparation and baking. So get your glass of milk ready!

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Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Servings: about 20 cookies
  • Time: 20min preparation + 10min baking time
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A cookie filled with chocolate chips and a swirl of Nutella

Ingredients

  • 115 grams of unsalted butter, at room temperature (Süßrahmbutter)*
  • 50 grams of brown sugar (brauner Zucker)
  • 50 grams of regular sugar (weißer Zucker)
  • 1 egg, size L + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature (Ei, Eigelb)**
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (Vanilleextrakt), here you can see how to make it
  • 74 grams + 74 grams of Nutella
  • 295 grams of all-purpose flour (Mehl, Type 405)
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons of baking soda (Natron)
  • 1 teaspoon of cornstarch (Speisestärke)
  • a pinch of salt (Prise Salz)
  • 180 grams + 20 grams of semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate (Chocolate Cips, gehackte Schokolade oder Backschokolade)
  • sea salt (Meersalz) (optional)

*If you are in any way like me and forgot to take the butter out on time, simply take it out while you prepare everything and either leave it close to a heating system in winter or place it in a sunny place in summer. It gets soft surprisingly quickly.

**For eggs to quickly come to room temperature, fill a small bowl with warm water and place eggs inside. They take less than 5 minutes to reach desired temperature.

Directions

  1. Cream the butter  with a hand mixer in a large bowl for one minute. Add the sugars and cream for a few minutes until fluffy.
  2. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla extract, one at a time and cream further on high speed with the mixer.
  3. Add 74 grams of Nutella and mix until batter is evenly brown.
  4. Add the flour, baking soda, cornstarch and salt and mix on lowest speed until incooperated.
  5. Switch to a wooden spoon and add about 180 grams of chocolate chips to the mix by hand.
  6. Add the last 74 grams of Nutella and only slightly mix with the spoon. There should be streaks of Nutella visible.
  7. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  8. Take about one tablespoon for each cookie and roll into the size of a golf ball with your hands. Place about 9-11 cookies on each baking sheet.
  9. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until the edges are brown, the top shows cracks, but the center is still soft. Mine take 14 minutes exactly.
  10. Take cookies out of the oven and leave on the baking sheet for a few minutes. While they “bake” a little more, add to each cookie a few more chocolate chips. Optional: sprinkle with some sea salt.
  11. Enjoy with a glass of milk.

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Tips:

  • Chocolate Chips are hard to come by in Germany. Just chop up some semi-sweet chocolate and you will be fine.
  • If you don’t have vanilla extract, either add some “Vanillezucker“, one package will do, or make the extract yourself, see here.
  • Cookies can be kept up to a week in an airtight container and also freeze beautifully.

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Let me know how yours turned out!

Jenny

Lemon Tart/Tartelette au Citron

I have been encouraged by a lot of people to start yet another baking blog. I know that there are already a million out there. So why create another one? Baking, in my opinion, is about sharing, it is about inviting others to a special treat. It may sound a bit pathetic, but I bake to bring joy to others. If somebody comes to me after having eaten something I baked and asks for the recipe, I feel happy and grateful. Sharing recipes is what this blog is all about. Yes, there are a million baking blogs out there, I know. I simply want to share some of the recipes I have enjoyed and I know others might enjoy as much. As there are so many good recipes out there already, I usually don’t create my own, but modify the existing ones to my liking. I always ask for permission of the recipe creator first, if possible before posting it here.

For my first recipe I chose a Lemon Tart. I chose this recipe, because I am in need of some color. Winter has been dragging on and I would like to sprinkle my surroundings with some fresh yellow. If you have ever been to France and tried a real Tartelette au Citron, you never want to go back. So sour, so good! I especially like the little almond flour of the pastry dough, which complements the strong lemon flavor.

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I am sending you a lot of sun with this post and hope you enjoy it as much as I do (in fact, my husband is probably even more excited about it). Keep in mind: this recipe is really sour! You may want to increase the sugar amount to 200 grams, but let me warn you, it is still nothing compared to an American Lemon Meringue Pie, French people like it different!

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Lemon Tart/Tartelette au Citron

  • Servings: 4 tartelette dishes of ∅ 16cm
  • Time: 30min preparation + 20min baking time
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A fresh and very lemony tart with a hint of almond flavor

Credit: Ôdélices (in French)

Ingredients

For the pastry dough

  • 100 grams of unsalted butter (Süßrahmbutter)
  • 35 grams of icing sugar (Puderzucker)
  • 1 egg yolk (Eigelb)
  • 35 grams of ground almonds (geriebene Mandeln)
  • 170 grams of all-purpose flour (Mehl, Type 405)
  • 1-3 teaspoons of cold water

For the filling

  • 160 grams of brown sugar (warning: this is really sour, increase to 200 -250 grams if you want it sweeter, it is the jucie of one full lemon per tartelette!)
  • 4 eggs, size L (Eier)
  • 4 lemons (Zitronen)
  • 80 grams of unsalted butter (Süßrahmbutter)

Directions

  1. Cut the butter into cubes and mix as much as you can with the icing sugar and egg yolk. Add the flour and almonds and work into a dough. I usually need about 1-3 teaspoons of cold water in order to form a ball.
  2. Wrap ball in plastic and put in the fridge for half an hour or longer.
  3. Cut the dough into four equal parts and roll out first part a little bigger than your tartelette dish. Line your dish with the pastry dough and cut off any overhang. Prick prepared pastry dough with a fork and repeat for the other three.
  4. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and cut out parchment paper (Backpapier) the size of your tartelette dish. Crumple the parchment paper and place it on top of the tartelette form. Place uncooked beans or rice on the parchment paper (this is called blind-baking to ensure the crust retains its shape while baking). Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for about 18-20 minutes on middle rack or until golden. Remove parchment paper and beans/rice and let cool. I usually have my “baking rice” stored in some jar and keep it all the time to pre-bake pies, tarts, etc.
  5. While the dough cools offs, cream the four eggs with the sugar until volume has doubled and color has become much lighter (a few minutes). Add the juice of the four lemons. Melt butter on low heat in a saucepan (please don’t burn the butter!) and pour in egg mix. Whisk constantly while waiting for the lemon curd to thicken (between 3-5 minutes), heat remaining on medium low. Pour the lemon filling into the tartelette forms and cool in the fridge for a few hours (no cover wrap needed).
  6. Serve out of the fridge with either some mint leaves or honey.

Tips:

  • Use the best lemons you can find and the freshest eggs. You will taste all of it.
  • The pastry dough is a bit tricky to handle, I know. Use flour generously when rolling it out.
  • When transferring the rolled-out dough to the dish, a lot can go wrong. I highly recommend to roll out the dough to the desired size and then fold it like you would fold a piece of clothing. Only after you have done that, you may lift it from the surface and transfer it to the dish. Now you can unfold the dough and arrange it the way you like.
  • If you crumple (zerknüllen) the parchment paper (Backpapier) before you blind-bake the dough, it is a lot easier to handle.

I am sending you very yellow greetings,

Jenny