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A Few Tips for a Wonderful Picnic and Two Picnic Recipes

Picknickkorb

Are you also such a big fan of picnics? I just love the idea of sitting on a blanket, enjoying a few treats I prepared beforehand and breathing some fresh air in nature. A picnic to me is the best way to relax. Below you will find two recipes perfect for a picnic. One is a berry salad infused with lavender honey, the other is homemade pesto, which I used on a sandwich as a spread, but which may be used as a dip or with some cooked pasta. All of below tips are also from my first-hand experience as a huge picnic lover.

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Homemade Peanut Butter Cookies For Your Dog

Süßer Welpe mit selbstgemachtem Hundekeks

Guys, we have a new family member! Her name is Hazel! It is an Australian shepherd, she is about 9 weeks old. Obviously I had to bake something for her as well, I mean, isn’t she a cutie pie? Since she loves peanut butter (I have so far only met one dog in my entire life who didn’t like peanut butter), I decided to make her some peanut butter cookies.

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Russian Napoleon Torte

Russische Torte Napoleon

Warning, this cake requires a lot of work! Especially the cake layers take there time as you will need to make 12 cake layers in total and usually can only bake two at the same time. But if you are up for the challenge, you will get a delicious and impressive cake, which is made with quick puff pastry and a decadent caramel cream very similar to dulce de leche. This Russian cake was invented for the 100th anniversiary celebrating the “victory” over Napoleon when he tried to conquer Russia 1812. What once started as a smaller triangle to represent Napoleon’s hat, changed to a traditional cake and is known throughout the world as one of Russia’s finest cakes. I had the pleasure of eating it during several Russian-German weddings where it is traditionally served.

Russische Torte NapoleonEven though you “only” need to make two components, beware, this cake requires quite a bit of work. You will need to make quick puff pastry and roll out 12 (!) cake layers, which all need to be baked. After that you will need to make the cream and spread it on each of those cake layers. Since puff pastry is rather stiff, I highly recommend allowing the cake to chill overnight for the cream to soften and marinate the cake layers. So this cake can and should be made in advance. There are two different creams commonly used for Napoleon torte, the one with dulce de leche below or one, which is similar to a custard-based buttercream. If you prefer this type of cream, feel free to use the one from this recipe.

Russische Torte Napoleon

Russian Napoleon Torte

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Serves: One 20 cm/8inch ∅ springform
Prep Time: 2hrs Cooking Time: 1hr 20min Total Time: 3hrs 20min

This Russian Napoleon Torte is made with quick puff pastry and filled with a caramel-like cream.

Ingredients

  • Dough
  • 130 grams of water
  • 45 grams of vodka
  • 1 tablespoon of vinegar
  • 2 eggs
  • 690 grams all-purpose flour
  • A good pinch of salt
  • 400 grams of cold butter

  • Filling
  • 250 grams of butter at room temperature
  • 2 cans of 397 grams of dulce de leche made from sweetened condensed milk, how you can make it yourself, I explain here
  • 200 grams of cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • A good pinch of salt

  • Optional
  • Fresh berries for decoration

Instructions

1

For the dough mix together water, vodka, vinegar and eggs and set asode. Then look for a big (!) bowl and mix together flour and salt. Add the cold butter in cubes and work this mixture into crumbs the size of peas. Try to do this as quickly as possible. Now add the wet ingredients and work everything together, it is OK if you still see a few patches here and there. The dough will be sticky, but try not to add any futher flour. Form into a ball, cover and chill for at least one hour. Then divide this into 12 equal parts (I like to weigh each one to be sure they are the same). Put back 10 pieces into the fridge and only keep 2 to work on.

2

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. First form a small ball and then roll out into a circle on a floured surface. Using a plate, springform or similar, look for something with a diameter of 20cm. Place the rolled-out dough onto the baking sheet and cut out the circle on there. Do not discard the scraps, but leave them on there. Repeaht the procedure with the second piece of dough, rolling out, placing on the baking sheet and then cutting out the circle, but leaving the scraps on. Bake these two circles for about 10-11min, it is OK if they are barely golden. Let cool.

3

While the two circles are baking, continue with two more pieces. Repeat the process with all 12 pieces, you should have 12 baked circles and scraps at the end, let everything cool. If you want to, you can continue the next day. Cover tightly or freeze until further use.

4

For the cream beat the soft butter for about 7-10 minutes until fluffy and much lighter in color. Slowly add the dulce de leche by the spoonful. Only cream in cream cheese, vanilla extract and salt last and mix until combined.

5

Now take one bake circle as the bottom and evenly spread about two heaping tablespoons of the cream on it. Place a second circle on top and repeat this procedure until you have stacked the 12 circles, each time with cream in between. You still should have enough cream left to frost the outside of the cake. Now either create crumbs with the sraps using a zip-lock bag and a rolling pin to smash them, or a food processor. Pat these crumbs onto the top and sides of the cake. You should do this as long as the cream still is soft as it will serve as a glue. Once done, chill at least for one night or longer. This time is needed for the cake layers to soften and for the cream to marinate the quick puff pastry. Otherwise it is going to be hard to cut through.

6

I served the Napoleon cake with some frozen raspberries, which I cooked with some sugar to create a sauce, but kindly note that this is not traditional for Napoleon. However, all my test eaters prefered it with it.

Russische Torte Napoleon

Gougère cheeseballs from Switzerland

Gougère Schweizer Käsebällchen

Today you will get Gougère from Switzerland! Gougères are cheese balls made from choux pastry. They are super light and airy. If you like eclairs and profiteroles, these are for you, a savory snack made from exactly the same  dough, choux pastry is first boiled before eggs are added. If you are interested in sweet choux pastry, how about profiteroles with raspberry filling, black forest eclairs, eclairs with coffee cream or peanut butter filling. Below cheese balls are a wonderful fingerfood, snack, or can be served for any gathering.

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Authentic Mexican Tacos and Tacos al Pastor

Rezept für mexikanische Tacos al Pastor

Guys, can you believe it, I do have a full category with all Latin American recipes on this blog, but so far not a single Mexican recipe. That’s a shame, because the Mexican cuisine has so much to offer. My favorite Mexican food is tacos and for that reason we are going to make tacos from scratch, the whole thing. Because tacos are super basic, you need three ingredients: cornmeal, salt, and water. So for that reason tacos are gluten-free and also vegan. As always you will find a lot of tips below for your tacos to be successful from the start.

Tacos are as important in Mexico as are arepas in Colombia and Venezuela. However, true Mexican tacos are never “hard shell” as often suggested by the chain Taco Bell, tacos are eaten with your hands and are soft and flexible, they are a small tortilla after all. For that reason you will see them all flat on my pictures, this is how I learned to eat tacos from Mexicans. You only bend them in your hands. Tacos are usually made with cornmeal and not flour. As far as I know flour tacos are only known in the north of Mexico, but the rest of the country uses corn. Tacos are super popular in Mexico and are usually served with some spicy §slasa” or sauce. But now let’s get started.

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Sandwich Bread with Buttermilk

Toastbrot mit Buttermilch

Finally another bread recipe on my blog! If you have been following for a while, you may know that our entire bread is baked by my husband. He has become quite an expert and for that reason I rarely ever post recipes even though we do eat our fair share, simply because my policy is that it is me who needs to have tried the recipe so that I can answer any questions you may have and be sure that it was successful. But this time I had a reason, I wanted to make French toast, I love French toast and thought I might give this sandwhich bread a try, it seemed simple enough.

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Healthy Ginger Muffins with no Refined Sugar

Gesunde Ingwermuffins ohne Haushaltszucker

It has been four years since I put these ginger muffins on the blog the first time. Partially they are made with whole wheat flour, the traditional butter is replaced with coconut fat and we will not use any refined sugar, but instead sweeten them with molasses. Since they contain feshly grinded ginger, they are super moist and delicious. Of course you can argue if this really is “healthy”, but at least they are healthier than your average muffin. At least I didn’t feel guilty eating them happily with some joghurt and more molasses for breakfast.

Gesunde Ingwermuffins ohne Haushaltszucker

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My Ten Favorite Layer Cakes

Meine neun Lieblingstorten

My ten favorite layer cakes, today I am going to introduce them to you! I have to spill a few secrets today, one of them is that you make me so happy! Just looking at the reader’s favorite recipes from 2019 and 2020, I am astonished that so many layer cakes made it to the top. You know, a layer cake usually means several different components. A layer cake means quite a bit of work. This is not like a simple cookie, layer cakes will take time. Yes, and I have also learned a thing or two along the way. Did you know that I didn’t dare to cut a cake into more than two layers? The cake layers were so crooked, it was aweful. Until I learned that you don’t cut through immediately, but you will go around just about a centimeter or so and slowly work your way through. That’s how you get even cake layers! Yes, I have also failed, cakes didn’t turn out or melted away, but regardless, I love making cakes. You apparently, too, at least you seem to really make a lot of them.

And let me spill another secret. I have been making my own birthday cake for years. Each time I am like, OK, I don’t care what people want or which recipes may go viral, I will simply invent a cake I like and which is something for MY tastebuds. And then I sit down and invent a recipe I like. Since I am chocoholic many of my cakes will have some chocolate part. Interestingly enough, many of these layers cakes I made not caring about readers’s interest or whether this was something worth posting, have made it to the top ten. I am beyond happy that you seem to have a very similar taste. I mean, maybe I should only post cakes I like and then somehow they will make it to the top. That makes me so happy! But now let’s get down to business, below you will see MY favorite layer cakes. Don’t ask me how long I had to think about which ten to include, there are simply so many…

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Colombian Torta María Louísa

Torta Maria Louisa aus Kolumbien

Today I am introducing a Colombian cake to you, which is similar to the Victoria Sponge Cake, it is called Torta María Louisa! The main difference is that you will soak it in orange juice and instead of jam fill it with caramel cream made from sweetened consdensed milk. Torta María Louísa is not only common in Colombia, but also in Venezuela and El Salvador. Whereas I have seen recipes with two different fillings and a meringue outside, I decided to stick to the classic and keep this cake simple. Two layers of orange cake sandwiched together with caramel.

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Overnight Sourdough Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce

Sauerteig-Pfannkuchen mit Heidelbeer-Soße

I have said this before, but I don’t mind repeating it yet again, I am a huge fan of breakfast that can be prepared the night before. These overnight sourdough pancakes definitely fit the bill. I decided to serve them with a delicious blueberry sauce. If you are anything like me, it hurts each time you have to discard some of your sourdough starter. I personally find it so delightful to actually use these discards and make some deliciousness out of it. For this recipe we will need 200 grams of sourdough starter, so nothing is going to be wasted. Are you in the mood for trying this recipe?

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